Friday, September 13, 2013

Midwest Nature Quote of the Week

For an hour or two this morning, when I was thinning and transplanting the young broccoli and cauliflower seedlings, the sun was shining and the eastern portion of the sky was mostly blue. So vivid and inviting outside after yesterday’s gloomy pallor, I could hardly keep myself at the kitchen sink stuffing each of the seedlings into its own slot and filling them up with a wet transplanting mix. And two or three times, I couldn’t resist the temptation to go outside in my pajamas and take stock of things in the back yard.

Carl H. Klaus, My Vegetable Love: A Journal of a Growing Season

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Head out to the IC Public Library next Wednesday in Meeting Room A from 7-9:00 p.m. for a free screening of TROUBLED WATERS: A MISSISSIPPI RIVER STORY. The American Midwest boasts some of the world's most productive farmland, but this bounty comes with a price. Excess nitrogen and phosphorous, fertilizers essential to the growth of plants, are contaminating the nation's rivers, lakes and aquifers at the same time as precious soils wash away. This documentary tells the story of changes on the land and the initiatives people are taking to ensure a more sustainable food production system. Co-sponsored by ECO Iowa City. 

Iowa City Book Festival: featuring books from the University of Nebraska Press

The Iowa City Book Festival starts one month from today, but we’re already getting ready! We're happy to say that the University of Nebraska Press, as well as several other Midwest presses, will be joining us this year. UNP will be selling:
For more information on the Nebraska University Press and these books, please visit the press's website. In the meantime, join our Facebook event, and we hope to see you at the festival!

Interview with Nina Furstenau: part 1

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau is the author of Biting through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland, just published this month. University of Iowa Press editor Catherine Cocks asked her a few questions about the book and her experience growing up in Pittsburg, Kansas, in the 1960s and 1970s.

CC: In Biting through the Skin, you write that for a long time you didn’t share your Bengali foodways with others, in part because when you did try to share these foods with friends as a teenager, the friends did not appreciate “the gift presented with each meal,” as you put it. What made you decide to offer that gift again by writing this book?

NF: I think all families are small pockets of culture within the larger landscape and that we pass our heritage to the next generation through our food traditions, or lack of them. I felt that my story was universal in some ways and wanted to explore what it means to be raised apart from your family’s homeland with taste and aroma as your primary link. For me, raised in Kansas, there were no other cultural clues to northern India around me. Food, spice, and the reasons certain dishes were made at certain times became a talisman for my heritage. It became what I had to write.

CC: Why did your parents decide to move from Chicago, their first home in the United States, to Pittsburg, Kansas? How did living in a small town affect your experience of growing up both Indian and American?

NF: They moved because they were adventurous, because they didn’t like the harsh winters in Illinois, because they wanted a connection to the culture of the American Midwest in ways that Chicago did not give them. There, the Indian community was strong but links to U.S. culture less so for newcomers in such a large city. Being raised in a small town meant I was able to connect well to the culture of the Midwest around me, and less well to Bengal. My Kansas hometown, rich in its own story of assimilation, had no particular interest in differences, so I didn’t reveal mine. Like a lot of first-generation immigrants, I grew up slightly apart from both worlds.

Check back next Wednesday, September 18, for the conclusion of this interview!

JCHT Family Day at Belgum Grove, Sunday, September 15, 1-3 pm

Bring your children to Belgum Grove for an afternoon of immersion in nature! Johnson County Heritage Trust conservationists will lead groups into the prairie planting to study seeds and flowers, while other groups can enjoy learning about aquatic life and fishing for bass and bluegill. Free and open to the public. For directions and more information about JCHT, visit

Monday, September 9, 2013

Iowa City Book Festival: featuring books from the Ohio University Press

Make sure to mark your calendars for the Iowa City Book Festival that will be going from October 11-13! We're especially excited to announce that the Ohio University Press will also be in attendance. They'll be selling:
For more information about the Ohio University Press, visit their website by clicking here. If you're looking for more information on our events for the ICBF, please visit our Facebook events page.

We can't wait to see you there!

Raptor of the Week: Merlin

Falco columbarius

The midsize merlin is a rare migrant and a rare winter resident, first occurring during migration in late March and again in late August. A few very old nesting records exist. Two subspecies of this falcon occur in Iowa: the taiga merlin and the Richardson's or prairie merlin, a pale form.

The Raptors of Iowa, paintings by James F. Landenberger