Depression-era Fourth of July Celebration

July 4, 1933

How did rural America celebrate the Fourth of July during the Great Depression? With generosity, community, and fun. The following video features images and words from the Great Plains Diaries of Harriet E. Whitcher, July 4, 1933, Rosebud Indian Reservation, Okreek, South Dakota.

A Glorious Fourth of July

Eat with Dragons: Game of Thrones Vegetarian Recipes

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Sometimes I forget how relaxing, rewarding and motivating it is to spend a weekend afternoon in the kitchen. As promised, here are the vegetarian recipes I made to celebrate the Season 5 finale of Game of Thrones. Enjoy!

Volantene Chilled Beet Soup

Beet Soup

Volantene Chilled Beet Soup

“Sweet beets were grown in profusion hereabouts, and were served with almost every meal. The Volantenes made a cold soup of them, as thick and rich as purple honey.” (A Dance with Dragons, p. 86)

  • 3 cups cut red beets (trim and peel beets, then cut in about 3/4″ thick slabs)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange beet pieces in a single layer on a foil-lined baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until tender when pierced with a knife, 20 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven.
  2. When beets are cool enough to handle, combine with buttermilk, orange juice and sour cream in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. Serve chilled. If you’d like, garnish with a dollop of sour cream or drizzle of buttermilk. Makes about 4 small servings.

Unpoisoned Mushrooms Bathed in Butter and Garlic


Unpoisoned Mushrooms Bathed in Butter and Garlic

“‘Mushrooms,’ the magister announced, as the smell wafted up. ‘Kissed with garlic and bathed in butter. I am told the taste is exquisite. Have one, my friend. Have two.’” (A Dance with Dragons, p. 27)

  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, cleaned and halved (clean with a brush or paper towel rather than water so that mushrooms won’t get soggy)
  • 3-6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Pinch of crushed dried thyme
  • Salt to taste

Sauté mushrooms, garlic and thyme in butter over low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add salt to taste (may not need to use much if using salted butter). Makes about 4 small side-dish servings.

Hobb’s Onion and Cheese Pie


Hobb’s Onion and Cheese Pie

“‘Hobb is baking onion pies,’ said Satin. ‘Shall I request that they all join you for supper?’” (A Dance with Dragons, p. 706)

  • 1 frozen deep-dish pie crust
  • 2 large (softball size) Vidalia or other sweet onions, peeled and sliced uniformly
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar (the best quality you can afford)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sauté onions in butter, olive oil and salt for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often, until onions are very soft and sweet and only slightly browned. Add balsamic vinegar, and sauté another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Sprinkle flour over bottom of frozen pie crust. Arrange grated cheese in a layer on the bottom of the pie crust. Add onions and arrange so that top of mixture is even. Pour egg mixture uniformly over onions.
  5. Bake until pie filling is set (when a knife inserted in the center emerges clean), about an hour.
  6. Remove from oven and cool completely before slicing (the filling tends to fall apart a bit, because of all the onions, but waiting to cut it helps). Makes 6 servings.

Queened Cherries with Cream


Queened Cherries with Cream

“Illyrio smiled as his serving men spooned out bowls of black cherries in sweet cream for them both. ‘What has this poor child done to you that you would wish her dead?’” (A Dance with Dragons, p. 29)

  • Fresh sweet cherries, pits removed
  • Cream or half-and-half

Serve cherries in bowls smothered with cream or half-and-half.

Vegetarian Mother’s Mercy Menu

I admit it: I am doing an inner happy dance with dragons in anticipation of tonight’s season finale of Game of Thrones. It seems fitting that this morning I finished re-reading the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series and eagerly moved on to the next. The first time I read the books, I devoured them. This time, I am savoring, tasting and appreciating each chapter and phrase. Daenerys’s simple mantra “If I look back I am lost,” for example, fills her penultimate viewpoint chapter with a significance realized only by her later journey.

Another admission: While I am aware of (and have enjoyed following) all of the controversy regarding recent GoT episodes, I have enjoyed this season. I love the books and characters and world. I am bewitched by the television adaptation and actors and screenwriting. Where the two diverge (and converge) only increases my interest and enjoyment. If that makes me undiscerning, so be it.

Beets ready for roasting

Beets ready for roasting

Having just spent three weeks in London, we came home two days ago to a nearly empty refrigerator—except for more than half a dozen large sweet onions. So, this morning, while putting together a menu to celebrate “Mother’s Mercy,” I began with ingredients for an Onion and Cheese Pie, and the rest of the meal fell neatly into place:

  • Volantene Chilled Beet Soup
  • Unpoisoned Mushrooms Bathed in Butter and Garlic
  • Hobb’s Onion and Cheese Pie
  • Queened Cherries with Cream

The beets are in the oven now, filling the house with their rich, dusky aroma. I will post more photos and the recipes later tonight, and here are the sources of inspiration from A Dance with Dragons (page numbers refer to the Bantam 2011 hard cover edition):

  • Sweet beets were grown in profusion hereabouts, and were served with almost every meal. The Volantenes made a cold soup of them, as thick and rich as purple honey.” (p. 86)
  • “‘Mushrooms,’ the magister announced, as the smell wafted up. ‘Kissed with garlic and bathed in butter. I am told the taste is exquisite. Have one, my friend. Have two.’” (p. 27)
  • “‘Hobb is baking onion pies,’ said Satin. ‘Shall I request that they all join you for supper?'” (p. 706)
  • “Illyrio smiled as his serving men spooned out bowls of black cherries in sweet cream for them both. ‘What has this poor child done to you that you would wish her dead?'” (p. 29)

How will you be celebrating “Mother’s Mercy?”

Embrace Your Intensity for Growth and Meaning

The Excitable Ones

“While we may yearn for a life entirely free from self-doubt and inner conflict, Dabrowski argued that such a life precludes the more important lifelong journey toward meaning, which we also crave.” ~ Lisa Rivero, “The Excitable Ones”

Read my recent article from the March 2015 issue of Mensa Bulletin, “The Excitable Ones: Personal Growth Can Be Found in the Discovery of Intensity,” below (or click here). Note the beautiful accompanying artwork by Annette Hassell and Hilary Moore.

“Intensity is not always easy to live with or comfortable to watch, but it is also never boring. In the words of developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky, ‘People with great passions, people who accomplish great deeds, people who possess strong feelings, even people with great minds and a strong personality, rarely come out of good little boys and girls’.”

Eminem fans may also enjoy my Psychology Today post, “Creativity’s Monsters: Making Friends with Complexity.”

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday with Hip-Hop and Klingon


“You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.” ~ Chancellor Gorkon

To celebrate the day traditionally marked as Shakespeare’s birthday, below are some informative, fun, and unusual websites on the Bard.

Start by enjoying rapper and poet Akala discuss the compelling connections between the Bard and hip-hop, and play the game “Hip-Hop? or Shakespeare?” (see how many you can get right):

Then watch Ian McKellen talk about how to read and perform the famous “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech from Macbeth (as one commenter wrote, “Ian McKellen could read Twilight and make it sound good”):

Listen to how the Bard really sounded. Visit the Talk Like Shakespeare page for elocution lessons, a printable poster with ten tips for sounding like Will, and Renaissance recipes.

Grand Avenue

From PBS, In Search of Shakespeare offers detailed information about their series by the same name, lesson plans (such as comparing film adaptations of Hamlet), using primary sources in the classroom, and a choose-your-own-adventure style Playwright Game. Also from PBS is the Which Words Are Will’s Words? Game. More recently, PBS’s series Shakespeare Uncovered is a wealth of online videos and lesson plans. The following excerpt features Jeremy Irons discussing the power of Shakespeare’s language:

If you are a glutton for punishment, take a look at the Shakespeare Insulter. The same site offers a Shakespeare Insult Kit for when you care enough to send the very best insults.

Take the Shakespeare biography quiz and learn Shakespeare in American Sign Language

Whether you teach in a classroom, homeschool, or just want to learn more about Shakespeare, take a look at Surfing with the Bard, “Your Shakespeare Classroom on the Internet.” Serious Shakespeare Geeks will appreciate the Folger Shakespeare Library (as well designed as it is informative). If this doesn’t satisfy your scholarly urges, check out the Horace Howard Furness Shakespeare Library, which houses scanned images of 38 rare Shakespeare texts.

Mel Ryane’s blog, Teaching Will: The Shakespeare Club is subtitled “What school kids give me that Hollywood can’t.” What a treat! As someone who once was co-leader of a Shakespeare group for middle-school children and teens, I was excited to read about Mel’s experience with teaching Shakespeare to even younger children. She writes, “As a volunteer, I created The Shakespeare Club, an after-school program for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. Together we grapple with the Bard, life and each other. These are the tales.”

TV Tropes shows Shakespeare’s continued influence in and on popular culture. Have you heard of Shakespeare’s lost play, The Tragedie of Frodo Baggins? Read an excerpt here.

And, from Brian Rivera, Klingon Hamlet (‘taH pagh taHbe’—To be or not to be):

You can even follow Will on Twitter. Finally, take a look at my post at Psychology Today, “Shakespeare for Everyone,” on poetry as an avenue to better self-understanding.

Fare thee well! What are your favorite Shakespeare resources?

Comic courtesy of