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Today is May 20

Eliza Doolittle Day

Eliza Doolittle is a character of the well known musical My Fair Lady, which is based on the play Pygmalion  by George Bernard Shaw. In this Romantic Comedy, Eliza, a girl born to a lower class family is a flower seller.  Henry Higgins, bets he can teach her to speak properly and pass her off as a duchess.  The Pygmalion effect describes situations where someone’s high expectations improves our behavior and therefore our performance in a given area. It suggests that we do better when more is expected of us.

If a person is told something about themselves long enough they will believe it and conform. It becomes a self fulling prophesy. If a person is told that he/she is smart or that he/she can achieve what they set out to do, they will believe that they are capable. People will achieve more if more is expected.

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw can be read here.

To read more about the Pygmalion effect click here.

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Flower Day

Try growing edible flowers

By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

Flowers are the delight of gardeners. Their beautiful colors, shapes and fragrances are the inspiration for gardening efforts by countless hobby horticulturists. There is more to flowers, however, than meets the eye – or the nose. Your taste buds can also appreciate the many edible flowers that we can grow.

Cultures all over the world cook with flowers for the unique flavors and colors they provide to food. I like to cook – a surprising number of gardeners do – and I’ve gained quite a reputation with dinner guests for using edible flowers regularly in dishes I prepare, especially salads.

Using edible flowers in cooking has not been common in America. But before you think the idea is too radical, remember that most of us enjoy eating broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes, all of which are flower buds. Like growing and using fresh herbs, I think that using edible flowers will become increasingly popular. Indeed, many restaurants make use of edible flowers these days.

Not all flowers are edible. Indeed, some flowers, like the plants that produce them, are poisonous. Because most people are not familiar with edible flowers, we need a good, reliable reference on the subject listing those flowers that are safe to eat. There are a number of books on edible flowers, but I have found “Edible Flowers from Garden to Palate” by Cathy Wilkinson Barash an excellent source of information. This combination cookbook and gardening guide includes 280 recipes using edible flowers from herbs, vegetables and ornamental plants. The author also provides general gardening advice and detailed background and cultural information for each of the 67 flowers included.

The most popular and well-known edible flowers are covered in a section called “The Big Ten” that includes calendula, chives, day lily, mint, nasturtium, pansy, rose, sage, marigold and squash blossoms. The author is very precise in designating which flowers are edible, including careful descriptions, photographs and the scientific or Latin names of the plants covered.

A number of plants grown for their edible flowers are cool-season plants that thrive in Louisiana from now until May, making this an ideal time to plant them. Many will bloom through the winter with their peak season next spring. Roses bloom heavily until early to mid-December.

Some plants producing edible flowers that can be planted now include arugula (Eruca vesicaria sativa), borage (Borago officinalis), broccoli (Brassica oleracea), calendula (Calendula officinalis), chicory (Cichorium intybus), chives (Allium schoenoprasum), chrysanthemum (Dendranthema grandiflorum), coriander (Coriander sativum), dianthus (Dianthus deltoides), carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), day lily (Hemerocallis sp.), English daisy (Bellis perennis), Johnny-jump-up (Viola tricolor), pansy (Viola x wittrockiana), mustard (Brassica sp.), nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), radish (Raphanus sativus), rose (Rosa sp.), society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), tulip (Tulipa) and violet (Viola odorata).

To get the maximum quality, you should pick flowers during the coolest part of the day, preferably early morning. Select flowers before they reach their prime – choose those that are young and not completely open. The flowers should appear very fresh and bright.

Harvest flowers on the day you intend to use them. After harvesting, place long-stemmed flowers in a container of warm water and put them in a cool place until they are used. Pick short-stemmed flowers within three to four hours of use. To store, place short-stemmed blossoms between layers of damp paper towels or put them in plastic bag in your refrigerator. Just before using the flowers, gently wash them in cool water.

Removing the stamens and pistils from the flowers prior to eating is optional. Barash recommends eating only the petals of some flowers, including calendula, chrysanthemum, lavender, rose, tulip and yucca.

When using edible flowers, Barash gives these guiding rules:

– If you do not positively know that a flower is edible, DON’T EAT IT.

– Use only edible flowers for garnishes.

– Do not eat flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides.

– Because the possibility of pesticide use on them, do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers.

Rick Bogren

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Josephine Baker Day

Josephine Baker arrived in Paris seven years after the first world war. She brought a new form and freedom and joy that Parisians could have never imagined.

During the invasion of the Nazis, in the second world war, Josephine remained in her beloved Paris. She did not flee to America, and instead, served with the French resistance. She was an intelligence liaison, basically, a courier-spy, carrying military coordinates across the country-side, with the new technology of the day. Invisible ink on her sheet music. After all, she was simply a musician. She was also an ambulance driver. After the war, General Charles de Gaulle awarded her with the Medal of the Resistance and the Legion of Honor, the two highest honors in France.

Josephine was also active in the civil rights movement in the United States. She wrote articles and gave lectures protesting segregation. When offered $10,000 to perform in Miami, she refused unless the audience was integrated. She succeeded. During that visit a man called her the “N” word at a hotel. Josephine Baker made a citizen’s arrest and the man was fined one hundred dollars. The National Association For The Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) awarded her with the Most Outstanding Woman of The year and declared May 20, 1951, Josephine Baker day.

On August 28, 1963, Josephine was the only woman to speak at the famous, March on Washington, proudly wearing her Legionnaire’s uniform and her medals. That same day, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. presented his legendary, “I Have A Dream” speech.

To learn more about Josephine Baker click here.

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At 7:52 in the morning of May 20, 1927, Charles Lindbergh, lifted off in his monoplane, “The Spirit of St. Louis”, from Roosevelt Airfield in Long Island, New York in a win-it or- die-trying” 3,610-mile transatlantic bet. At first, getting airborne was difficult—he had a heavy fuel load–but eventually, he did.
Thirty-three and a half hours later, Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget Airfield, Paris; more than one hundred thousand people; droves of reporters, and correspondents, awaited the arrival of the first pilot—ever–to make a nonstop U.S. to Europe crossing. The news generated headlines around the world, about “Lucky Lindy” and “The Lone Eagle.” In addition to the acclaim, Lindbergh earned a cash award for his feat, the equivalent of more than $500,000 in today’s currency.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg.