Friday, July 29, 2011

Programs for the Week of 8/1

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Is Democracy Coming to China?: MIT Professor Edward Steinfeld cast new light on China as a country that, in his view, is inching its way toward democratic reform, following in the footsteps of Taiwan and South Korea. Particularly fascinating to me were the passing references to artists Han Han and Ai WeiWei who both remind me of Frank Zappa.

Monday: The Dacha Days of Summer: For centuries, Russian city dwellers have spent their summers relaxing and gardening at rural cottages called dachas. (like gotcha!) Mellissa Caldwell spoke to hundreds of "dachniki" about their beliefs in the healing power of land and the strange way time passes in the country, leading to her conclusion: To understand the dacha is to understand the Russian soul.

Tuesday: St. Francis and the Sultan: When St. Francis crossed enemy lines to meet the Sultan Malek el-Kamil during a Crusade, he fully expected to be martyred. Instead, he was embraced as a friend. Hear the full story when I talk with Muslim Sufi master Jamal Rahman and Gabrielle Uhlein, a Franciscan sister, who are teaming up for the Christine Center's third annual interfaith retreat (to be facilitated by yours truly).

To register for this Interfaith retreat, call 715-267-7507 or e-mail the Christine Center at

Wednesday: Norway's Response to Tragedy: In the wake of the recent massacre in Norway, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told the world, "The answer to violence is even more democracy, even more humanity." Will Norway be able to sustain its commitment to openness and tolerance?

Thursday: TBA:

Friday: Kings of Pastry: Sixteen of France's top pastry chefs compete for the ultimate accolade, the collar of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, best craftsmen of France, in the "Kings of Pastry" competition. The contest takes place every four years and involves 16 chefs over three exhausting days concocting 40 different recipes in a race against the clock.

On a personal note, our technical wizard, the man usually responsible for all the great sound and music in the program, Joe Hardtke has suffered an injury, having broken his collar bone last weekend, and undergone surgery on Wednesday of this week. Also soon to be among the missing is our beloved Swiss Miss, Dominique Haller, who will be leaving us next month to become a full-time graduate student in the art department. If you happen to know of any likely candidates for the position of Here on Earth producer, we’re anticipating at least one, and maybe two openings to be announced in the near future. Stay tuned and meanwhile, pray for us!



Friday, July 22, 2011

Programs for the Week of 7/25

We have an amazing line-up next week, beginning with Sarah Chayes unwrapping Afghanistan, followed by some very positive news about the future of China, and then John Nichols weighs in on media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the gathering storm over tabloid email hacking in Britain…

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Saved By Beauty in Iran: Tough, there have been so many great programs this week, - I dearly loved Tony Perrottet’s Sinner’s Tour of Europe, ditto with yesterday’s show about Terence Malick’s new film, The Tree of Life – as Joe said, “It was a chin scratcher” - but since I must choose, my hat goes off to Saved by Beauty, Roger Housden’s harrowing and yet loving account of his two months in Iran. Given the nature of live radio, we never got to the heart of the matter – the profound shift in essential identity that the experience of detention and interrogation brought about in Housden’s psyche. And then he comes home and goes through a parallel experience when he’s questioned by the FBI! Truly amazing stuff.

Monday: The Karzai Brothers and The Future of Afghanistan: Former NPR correspondent Sarah Chayes has been an insider in Afghanistan since she left NPR to help rebuild a country devastated by decades of war. She says there’s a clear connection between what’s going on there now and the Arab Spring.

Tuesday: Is Democracy Coming to China?: Everyone knows about the changes in the Chinese economy. But while much of our political coverage of China focuses on its human rights abuses, some voices are saying that China is experiencing real political change as well. MIT professor Edward Steinfeld joins us to discuss why he thinks that China is on its way to democracy.

Wednesday: Rupert Murdoch’s Empire in Crisis: With all the ink that’s been lavished on the tabloid crisis in Britain, there’s not much being said about Murdoch’s links to the US. What about Fox and the American media?

Thursday: Unnatural Selection: From Albania to Vietnam, fewer and fewer girls are being born. While we are quick to point to patriarchial traditions to explain the phenomenon, we tend to overlook one important aspect of the problem: recently introduced technology that makes what journalist Mara Hvistendahl dubs "Unnatural Selection."

Friday: Mexican Ice Pops: Cool down the heat, bring out the frozen treats! Paletas are the traditional Mexican version of the ice pop, and Fany Gerson, celebrated pastry chef and paletas enthusiast, knows all about how to make the magic of fruit and ice work to perfection.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Programs for the Week of July 18, 2011

Jean’s Pick of the Week: French Seduction: Apart from the chance to air a little of my high school French, my conversation with New York Times Paris correspondent Elaine Sciolino about, La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life, her new book, was easily my favorite this week. Elaine is a dream to talk to – very spontaneous, very American, and very down-to-earth – and her insights into seduction as the governing mode of French life are simply priceless.

Monday: Literature of the Arab Spring: Translation pioneers, Words Without Borders, has just published their first collection of literature dealing with the Arab Spring. Work old and new from Algeria to Egypt that illuminates the revolutionary spirit.

Tuesday: The Sinner's Grand Tour: In his series, Tony Perrottet called his bathhouse and brothel hopping trip through Europe the "pervert's" tour. But, more than the perverse, he found that the hidden history of the erotic reveals more about life, art, and the history of a place than any regular European vacation ever could.

Wednesday: Saved By Beauty in Iran: What happens when, in 2009, a British-American poet fulfills his lifelong dream of exploring Persia's literary tradition firsthand? Iran's spectacular living culture and the depth of its soul is set into relief by his eventual detention and interrogation by Iranian security.

Thursday: Tree of Life: Terrence Malick's latest film garnered both boos and cheers at its premiere in Cannes before winning the festivals main prize, the Palme d'Or. The film's ambitious scope invites us to think about eternal questions: What is the nature of our existence? Why does pain exist if there is a just God? Film scholar and critic David Sterritt and Professor of English, Religion, and Classics Barbara Newman will join us to share their take on this exceptional film.

Friday: Cooking from the Garden: You have a garden, you're excited to cook with your own produce, you religiously stick to your favorite recipe, and: it doesn't taste good. How many times has that happened to you? Deborah Madison joins us to discuss how to slowly let go of that recipe book to better respect our garden's individual quirks.

I'm off to Bear Lake. Have a wonderful weekend!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Programs for the Week of July 11, 2011

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): The Story of Charlotte's Web: My Pick of the Week: It took E.B. White sixteen takes before he could get through a recording of Charlotte’s Web without breaking into tears. I had exactly the same problem when I first discovered the book in reading it to my kids, and even our crusty tech Joe, who grew up on a dairy farm, teared up thinking about his own first encounter with it. I especially enjoyed hearing from our last caller who had grown up on a farm and preferred Marjorie Rawlings The Yearling because of its brutal honesty about the reality of farm life in the rural South. But to my mind that just pointed up the uniqueness of the way E.B. White wove whimsy with science, as skillfully as Charlotte herself. What a delightful hour. Thanks to all of you.

Monday: Hush, Baby, Hush: All around the world, for as long as babies have fretted, those who care for them have been making up lullabies on the spot, passing them on, and sometimes, written them down. What's your favorite lullaby?

Tuesday: French Seduction: In La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life, New York Times' Paris Correspondent, Elaine Sciolino navigates the Parisian maze of unspoken assumptions about the cultivation of pleasure, and the hidden truth about French life: it's all about seduction.

Wednesday: Rescuing Regina: The harrowing true story of a feisty nun, a ferocious lawyer, and a group of grassroots volunteers who set aside political differences in a race to save a Congolese torture survivor from deportation and almost certain death. Along the way, Sister Josephe holds America’s hidden asylum system up for long overdue scrutiny.

Thursday: Zen and the Art of Firefighting: In 2008 a wildfire nearly destroyed the Tassajara Zen Center in the Ventana wilderness of southern California, but five monks including one woman with no firefighting experience were able to fend off the flames. Colleen Morton Busch and Mako Voelkel join us to describe how Zen mind beats fire.

Friday: T.B.A.:


Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Here on Earth Summer Reading Without Borders List, 2011! 7/7

Poland: Stone Upon Stone by Wieslaw Mysliwski, (b. 1932 ) trans. from the Polish by Bill Johnston

Czech Republic: Dancing Lessons for the Advanced of Age by Bohumil Hrabal, (b. 1914 – d. 1997 ) trans. from the Czech by Michael Henry Heim

Portugal: The Land at the End of the World by Antonio Lobo Antunes (b. 1942) trans. from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa

Spain: Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas (b. 1948), trans. from the Spanish by Anne McLean

France: Lightning by Jean Echenoz, (b. 1947) trans. from the French by Linda Coverdale

Swedish-Finnish novelist: Fair Play by Tove Jansson (b. 1914 – d.2001), translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal

Japan: The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto (b. 1964) , trans. from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich

Germany: Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger, (b. 1975 ) trans. from the German by Benjamin Ross

Spain: Guadalajara by Quim Monzo, (b. 1952) trans. from the Catalan by Peter Bush

Russia: The Ice Trilogy by Vladimir Sorokin, (b. 1955 ) trans. from the Russian by Jamey Gambrill

Serbia Leeches by David Albahari, (b. 1948) trans. from the Serbian by Ellen Elias-Bursac

Friday, July 1, 2011

Programs for the Week of July 4

Monday: An Artist’s Jaunt Through American History (encore): What figure in American history makes you feel warm and fuzzy about democracy? Illustrator and Israeli immigrant Maira Kalman set out, Alexis deToqueville style, to document democracy in America circa 2009. The result is an optimistic love letter to America that reminds us all of what we have to be proud of this Independence Day. (Rebroadcast from 11/1/10)

Tuesday: America and Pakistan: The First 60 Years: At the time of Pakistan's founding a scant 60 years ago, it was the first and only democracy in the Muslim world, a country whose citizens would elect those who govern them. A Pakistani-American at the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy's Summit drew fascinating comparisons between Pakistan and the first 60 years of U.S. history. Despite obvious differences between our two countries, there are striking parallels.

Wednesday: The Story of Charlotte's Web: About himself, E.B. White once wrote: "This boy felt for animals a kinship he never felt for people." He wasn't alone: talking animals abound in literature all over the globe. Who is your favorite literary talking animal?

Thursday: Summer Reading Without Borders: The 2011 Champion of literature in translation, publisher Chad Post, joins us once again to talk about all the best newly translated books for English readers. We hear about a rambunctious Polish farmer, the wild life of inventor Nikola Tesla, and what really happened inside the Trojan Horse.

Friday: For Cod and Country: With so many species in rapid decline, is eating fish really sustainable? Esquire chef of the year Barton Seaver says yes and shows us how, featuring seafood that hasn't been overfished or caught in an environmentally destructive way.

Doesn’t everybody love the Fourth of July? Have a safe and happy holiday.


Homebaking, Southern Style 7/1

Dominique Haller / Carly Yuenger

On today's show, Nancie McDermott joins us to talk about Southern homebaking. It's not about being a pastry chef--a cake can make any gathering a party, even if it's a bit lopsided. It's about celebration, ritual, old fashioned hospitality, and then, once you've baked a few, maybe a little showing off.

Below is one recipe from her book Southern Cakes and one from her book Southern Pies. Both are great to start with if you've never given baking a try. And, with a few fresh strawberries, Nancie points out, the Blueberry cake is quite red, white, and blue! Perfect for this weekend's July 4th celebrations.

Key Lime Pie:

Look for Key limes in small net bags in the produce section seasonally, or order Key lime juice by mail. Regular lime juice makes a lovely pie as well. Allow a little time for this pie. While it’s one of the simplest to put together, the filling needs three hours to chill once it’s made.

One 9-inch graham cracker piecrust

4 egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup Key lime juice, from 10 to 15 limes, bottled juice, or regular lime juice 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks and the sweetened condensed milk Usee a whisk or fork to mix them together evenly and well. Add the key lime juice and salt, and stir well until you have a smooth, thick filling.

Spoon the filling into the graham cracker crust. Place the pie on the middle shelf of the 350 degree oven, and bake for 15 minutes, until filling is set. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and as long as overnight.

To complete the pie, whip the cream in a medium bowl. When it thickens and increases in volume, add the sugar and vanilla, and continue beating until the cream is billowing and thick, able to hold soft peaks beautifully and easily. Pile the whipped cream onto the pie filing. If possible, and refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Serve cold.

Shenandoah Valley Blueberry Cake:

Enjoy this simple, delicious cake for breakfast, a tea party, or a midnight snack. If you can’t pick your own blueberries in the Shenandoah Valley, don’t worry. The cake comes out just fine using fresh blueberries from wherever you are, or even frozen berries from the grocery store.

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

Heat the oven to 375 F, and generously grease a 9-inch square or round pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. In a medium bowl, combine the butter and sugar, and beat with a mixer at high speed until well combined. Add the egg and beat well for 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl, until the mixture is smooth and light.

Stir in half the flour mixture, and then half the milk, mixing just enough to keep the batter fairly smooth and well combined. Add the remaining flour, and then the milk, mixing gently. Stir in the blueberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 375 F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden, springs back when touched gently in the center, and is pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Serve the cake right from the pan, warm or at room temperature, cut into squares. Or if you made a round cake layer, cool it in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for 10 - 20 minutes, loosen it around the edges, and then turn it out to finish cooling on a wire rack, top side up.