Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Recipe Roundup: Beyond Grape Salad

Saffron and Raisin Buns, known fondly in Sweden as Lussekatter buns.

With the holidays comes the usual flurry of cooking and baking: delicious casseroles and breads, tasty cookies, pies, and other sweets, and grape salad. Okay, maybe not grape salad. (#GrapeGate anyone?) But in any event, we all have our favorite dishes that we love to prepare and bring to our holiday get-togethers.

In the spirit of all things bound to contribute to our waistline this holiday season, we've compiled a few of our favorite recipes from several University of Minnesota Press cookbooks that we hope you'll give a try. Enjoy and we'll see you in the New Year!

Chocolate-Pistachio Cookie Sticks
from The Great Holiday Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

These cookies are utterly irresistible, and you don't need any fancy tools to make them look pretty. The dough molds easily into smooth, fat sticks, and after they're baked they're dipped into chocolate and chopped pistachios.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

For Decoration:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon corn oil
1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the flour a little at a time, beating at high speed until the dough is smooth.

Press the dough through a pastry tube with a #5 star tip or through a cookie press with a star tip directly onto the prepared cookie sheet to make 2 1/2-inch sticks, spaced about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes, until the cookies feel firm and are just beginning to brown. Slide the cookies on the paper onto a countertop to cool.

While the cookies bake, combine the chocolate chips and oil in a small glass bowl. Heat in the microwave, for about 2 minutes, stirring every 10 seconds until the chocolate is smooth and shiny. Or place the bowl over hot water and stir until melted. Place the chopped pistachios in a small bowl.

To decorate the cookies, dip one end of each stick into the melted chocolate, then into the pistachios. Place on the parchment paper and let sit until the chocolate is firm.

Makes about 48 cookies.


Cranberry Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloins are delicate, tender cuts that cook in no time; in fact, the danger is that they'll quickly overcook. Cranberries bump up the flavor and color when added toward the end of the sauté.

2 pork tenderloins, about 1 1/2 pounds each
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup cranberries
1/4 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins and sear, rolling them from side to side, until all sides are browned. Remove the pork from the pan and set it aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions and cranberries to the pan. Cook until the onions are wilted and the cranberries pop, about 3 minutes. Stir in the white wine, and scrape to loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the tenderloins to the pan, and baste them with the sauce. Put the pan in the oven, and bake until the pork registers 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 to 10 minutes. Allow the pork to stand 5 minutes before slicing the tenderloins into medallions. Serve with the pan juices and cranberries.

Serves 4-6.


Maple-Ginger Red Beans
from The Spoonriver Cookbook by Brenda Langton and Margaret Stuart

Better than any baked beans, these red beans are sweet and savory. If you want to add some diced carrots, onions, and celery, simply sauté 1/2 cup of each in a tablespoon of olive oil for 5 minutes and add the sauté to the beans when you add the rest of the ingredients.

1 cup dried small red beans (3 cups cooked) or 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons grated ginger root
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt

Soak dried beans for at least two hours, or longer. Drain and rinse the beans.

Put the beans and 3 cups of water in a pot. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer the beans for 1 hour or until tender. If there is excess liquid, drain off all but 1/2 cup.

If you are using canned beans or beans cooked earlier, place the beans in a pot and warm them over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Add the maple syrup, ginger, soy sauce, and salt to the beans. Cook for a couple of minutes longer and serve.

Serves 4-6.


Saffron and Raisin Buns (Santa Lucia Buns or Lussekatter Buns)
from The Swedish Table by Helene Henderson

These delicious golden buns begin the magical time of Christmas, a glorious celebration of lights, family, and home. Bake a tray full for an early morning breakfast treat for your own Santa Lucia celebration.

1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast (1/4 ounce or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup salted butter
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon saffron threads, chopped fine and soaked in a few drops of water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (to grease bowl)
2 egg yolks, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons raisins

Preheat oven to 400°F. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine 1 tablespoon sugar, warm water, and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes or until yeast begins to bubble and foam.

In a small saucepan combine butter, milk, and saffron. Heat until warm and butter is melted, but do not let boil. Let sit for 8 minutes or until temperature falls below 110 degrees. Add milk mixture to yeast in the mixer bowl. Add flour and 1/2 cup sugar and beat with a dough hook until combined and the dough is smooth and workable; if necessary, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 3 tablespoons. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled (or buttered) bowl, cover loosely with plastic food wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. The dough will be dense and will not rise much.

Divide dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into 1-inch-wide, 6-inch-long strips. Coil ends in opposite directions, forming a tightly curled S-shape. Place on baking sheet covered with Silpat liner (or parchment paper) and let rise for 1 hour more. Brush buns with beaten egg yolk and place 1 raisin in the center of each curl, 2 per bun. Bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Makes 16 rolls.


And if you are curious about that grape salad recipe, here it is, or another version here that includes cream cheese. A UMP colleague made it and claims it's actually good. I guess you'll have to make it and see (or taste) for yourself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Goodbye, Marriage Bans. Hello, Duggars.

Two men in handshake during San Francisco Marriage March with banner,
 "We all deserve the freedom to marry." 
Photo from Creative Commons.

Assistant professor of sociology at Trinity University in San Antonio

For about six months I’ve considered writing an update to Gay Rights at the Ballot Box, my book on the history of anti-gay ballot measures from 1974 to 2009. However, I’ve been in the fortunate position of being stymied by the flurry of court cases legalizing same-sex marriage. According to Freedom to Marry, since June 2013, there have been 36 pro-marriage rulings in federal court, 15 issues in state court, and five by federal appellate court.

These rulings frequently have overturned the marriage bans written into state constitutions by anti-gay initiatives that have spread across the country since the late 1990s. The most infamous of these initiatives was the California Proposition 8 in 2008. When I published my book in 2012, these marriage bans were the main form of ballot measure used by the Religious Right to restrict LGBT rights. I had a suspicion that the marriage bans would be overturned by court rulings, although there was the possibility that LGBT campaigns would have to repeal these marriage bans with additional initiatives (and organizers in states like Florida and Oregon were preparing to do so).

Now I can declare that it’s official. The marriage ban ballot measure is dead. I think that these ballot measures, which have happened in over thirty states and have consumed millions of dollars and innumerable other resources from the LGBT community, are never going to be effective again.

However, anti-gay ballot measures are not over. The Religious Right has continued in its longstanding use of referendums on municipal non-discrimination laws that include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Similar to votes this year in Pocatello, Idaho, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, this month voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas, considered whether to repeal the city’s non-discrimination laws. The voters elected to repeal the law by a narrow margin.

When Fayetteville voters considered whether to repeal the law, they were persuaded by the support of nearby conservative reality television stars Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. Michelle Duggar participated in a robocall that reminded me of the first major anti-gay referendum, the Dade County referendum of 1977, which was supported by conservative star Anita Bryant. In her robocall Duggar proclaimed that the law allows “males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.”

In my book, I document the beginning of this claim that transgender-inclusive laws would allow men to come into women’s bathrooms, and the way Religious Right campaigns use it to create hysteria around LGBT rights. This message about the dangers of transgender-inclusive laws is frighteningly similar to Anita Bryant’s claim from the late 1970s that gay men were trying to recruit and molest children. I’ve been tracking these messages created by the Religious Right during anti-gay campaigns, and increasingly the Right is using fear tactics around transgender women (who they almost always describe as “men” or “men in dresses”) using the bathroom. These messages have been deployed all over the United States during these municipal battles about LGBT rights, including in Miami Dade and my own city of San Antonio. Although marriage bans are dead and gone, anti-gay ballot measures still persist.

As much as some things change, others seem to stay the same.


Amy L. Stone is assistant professor of sociology at Trinity University in San Antonio and the author of Gay Rights at the Ballot Box.

"Amy L. Stone crafts a compelling, deeply textured portrayal of the more than 200 anti-gay ballot campaigns in the U.S. since 1974. Through interviews with movement leaders and other sources, Stone deftly analyzes the tension between winning campaigns and building a sustainable movement, between national, urban activists and local, rural communities, as well as debates over tactics and messaging. Gay Rights at the Ballot Box is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the central, disturbing role anti-gay politics has played in contemporary U.S. politics."—Sean Cahill, Ph.D., Fenway Institute and New York University 

"The chapters on the history of right-wing attacks, the extended Michigan cases, and conservatives’ racist and transphobic smear tactics are especially enlightening, but throughout, Stone writes accessibly about big ideas and everyday actions increasingly central to US politics." —Choice 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The continuing influence of the Mexico ’68 Olympics brand

Lance Wyman, designer, Mexico '68 logo, 1968

Assistant professor of art history at Syracuse University

A recent analysis of financial data provided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) attempted to quantify how much the Olympic brand is worth today. The analysis, in many ways a problematic one, found it to be worth $47.5 billion dollars, which positions it above Google and second only to Apple, the corporate giants with which it shares the first three spots of the ranking. A question that arises about precisely what kind of value this analysis measures involves the urban dimension of the Olympics: the dilapidated remains of many Olympic sites, many of which become little more than ruins just after the temporary event is over, indicate that the value of the brand tends not to translate into financial gain for host Olympic cities.

Already a powerful corporation by the mid-twentieth-century, at that time the IOC did not quite possess the unified brand identity it possesses today. It is hard to imagine that it would have acquired it without drawing upon branding efforts associated with specific Olympics like Mexico 1968. While Tokyo 1964, its immediate predecessor, had featured ambitious design campaigns, the total design logic of the Mexican campaign—premised on the integration and translatability of consistent formal elements across a wide range of media—was unique.

An international team headed by Beatrice Trueblood and Eduardo Terrazas, and which included figures like Lance Wyman, Michael C. Gross, and Peter Murdoch, among others, was responsible for the effort, which was commissioned by the Mexican Olympic Committee (MOC), headed by architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. Years later, this architect designed the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters in Lausanne (1986).

The generative image from which much of the campaign stems is Wyman’s Mexico ’68 logo, which combines a series of radiating patterns with the word “Mexico,” the number “68” and the central visual element of the IOC’s brand, the five Olympic rings. Painted pavements surrounding the Olympic sites replicated the same patterns in a variety of colors; postage stamps advertised Olympic events and sites of athletic competitions employing the same formal logic; even the logo itself took on monumental incarnations in a series of urban sculptures located in sites around the capital city.

What exactly was being branded? There was, of course, the ephemeral Olympic event, which lasted between October 12 and October 27, 1968. However, the campaign also advertised to the world, then experiencing a mass media revolution fueled by television—the medium that most significantly increased the profitability of the Olympics in the twentieth century—a distinctive destination, a specific city located in the first developing country to organize such an ambitious undertaking.

Like the Olympic brand itself, the value of the Mexico ‘68 brand is not easy to assess. A landscape of Olympic ruins is not found in Mexico City, whose authorities made strategic reuse of existing sports facilities and, mostly because funds were scarce, built few new ones for the Olympics. And yet, the social and economic cost of the event, which led to the selective gentrification of fragments of the city and took place in a violent environment, was high. On October 2, 1968, ten days before their inauguration, for instance, government forces infamously opened fire against student protesters who denounced the autocratic political regime that commissioned the Olympics.

In strict design terms, the Mexico ’68 brand remains influential. The rainbow pavements designed for the London Olympic Stadium, site of the 2012 summer Olympics, are direct heirs to their Mexican predecessors; Wyman’s career after Mexico ’68, currently the subject of an exhibition in Mexico City, speaks to the influence of that campaign over his wide-ranging practice. And just as the Olympic brand has gradually become tangible and increasingly valuable, a specific Olympics without a clearly identifiable brand would be difficult to even conceive today.

The memory of Mexico ‘68 becomes increasingly relevant as we approach the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the second-ever Latin American city to host such an event. The city is set to host the Olympics shortly after the 2014 soccer World Cup was celebrated in several Brazilian cities this past summer (In Mexico, the order was the reverse: the 1970 soccer World Cup took place in some of the sports facilities used for the Olympics two years earlier).

This past April, the vice-president of the IOC characterized preparations for the Rio Olympics as the ‘worst ever’ in his experience. This critique is reminiscent of the doubts cast on the Mexican authorities’ ability to successfully stage Mexico ‘68, and speak to geopolitical asymmetries that defined the 1960s as well as the present day. The irony is that the social cost of the Olympic brand seems to affect the ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ worlds more evenly today than ever before: the militarized ‘pacification’ of Rio de Janeiro reminds us of the tense environment of Mexico ’68 or Beijing during the 2008 summer Olympics; yet the 2012 summer Olympics in London and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, to name only two examples, also took place in militarized, highly divisive conditions. The aggregate of this historical experience should serve the purpose of assessing how much Olympics are worth in a holistic sense; this approach to designing and planning the events may help to bridge the seemingly expanding gap between the profitability of the brand and its concrete effects on the specific sites it visits every few years.


Luis M. Castañeda is assistant professor of art history at Syracuse University and the author of Spectacular Mexico: Design, Propaganda, and the 1968 Olympics.

"An extraordinary piece of research and, more importantly, historical imagination, this book makes its points clearly, with crystalline and imaginative intelligence, and with massive empirical backing."—Mauricio Tenorio, author of “I Speak of the City”: Mexico City, 1880–1930