Fresh, local lamb for Easter, with Narsai David’s marinade

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

Easter is a time to enjoy fresh, local lamb. Ours is from Sinclair Family Farm in Penryn or the James Ranch in Penn Valley. One of our favorite marinades comes from Narsai David, who ran a restaurant in the small East Bay community of Kensington when I was in college at UC Berkeley. Narsai also was a longtime food and wine expert in the Bay Area media.

We regularly use his lamb marinade recipe. Narsai’s recipe is for a rack of lamb, but it is splendid for a butterflied leg of lamb on the grill. This week, we bought a fresh butterflied leg of lamb from James Ranch at the Nevada County Growers Market at North Star House, and it will be our Easter dinner meal. James Ranch supplies lamb to the famous Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley. Narsai’s marinade recipe is simple; we add a sprig or two of fresh rosemary.

Put into a blender and puree: 1 large onion
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. basil leaves
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup pomegranate juice

Rub this marinade well into the lamb and put the remaining marinade over the lamb in a shallow glass or enameled pan. Set to marinate in refrigerator overnight, or at cool room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.

Wipe off excess marinade and roast in 450 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes for medium rare lamb, longer if you like lamb done to a greater degree.

A menu from Narsai’s restaurant, in its heyday, is here:

Recipe: Narasi M.David

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Report: Agenda 21 conspiracy theories spread by extremists, politicians pose real danger

Editor’s note: As regular readers know, our community has been subjected to this hysteria.

“Agenda 21, a nonbinding United Nations global sustainability plan signed by the United States more than 20 years ago, is being used by extremists and mainstream politicians to stoke fears and stifle rational policymaking across the country,” according to a press release from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“The report, Agenda 21: The UN, Sustainability and Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory, examines how activist groups like the John Birch Society are pushing conspiracy theories that have led some states to pass resolutions condemning the document and one to enact legislation intended to outlaw its effects. It also describes how lawmakers have been swept from office for their support of Agenda 21. In one Alabama county, an entire planning and zoning commission resigned in disgust after an award-winning smart-growth plan was killed over groundless Agenda 21 fears.

“’The hysteria over Agenda 21 has no basis in reality,’ said Heidi Beirich, report author and director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “Unfortunately, it has poisoned rational discussion of the challenges facing communities. If we want to address real-world problems, we must recognize there’s no genuine controversy surrounding Agenda 21. There are only groundless conspiracy theories peddled by extremists and opportunistic politicians.’”

The rest of the article is here.

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The new Union publisher and “Bradley Jackson” break bread on Facebook

"Bradley Jackson"

“Bradley Jackson”

Editor’s note: This is an exchange at The Union’s Facebook page between the new publisher of The Union and a local writing under the “make believe” name of “Bradley Jackson.” I’ve known and enjoyed both of these people during my years in our little hamlet. But it’s so darn funny on many levels. May you both prosper. To be sure, the internet is changing how we communicate. Here you go:

Kristi Soholt — I would have kept my subscription if it was less and the customer service better.

Bradley Jackson — The Union does a great job covering local issues, events, etc. Happy to pay a few dollars for The Union. The Union provides a lot of support to the community, we need to support them back.

Jim Hemig — And Bradley, thank you for your kind comment. We enjoy supporting this wonderful community. Whether it’s providing news and information or contributing to local events, we are honored to connect with our readers and advertisers.

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Do campaign signs work?

“Are we paying too much attention to the signs? Or not enough? What can they tell us?,” Slate magazine writes.

“Under some circumstances, they can motivate people to vote. Before New York City’s 2005 mayoral election, Fordham University professor Costas Panagopoulos decided to take his curiosity about the effectiveness of signs to the streets. In the only known randomized academic experiment on the subject, Panagopoulos matched 14 pairs of Manhattan voting locations with similar turnout levels in previous elections.

“In each pair, he randomly designated one location as a control and the other as an experimental treatment: a small group of volunteers were dispatched to a nearby intersection, where they stood for 11 hours on election eve with white 2-foot -by-3-foot signs with “VOTE TOMORROW” written in blue. Once the polls had closed, Panagopoulos checked the numbers of votes cast in each of the 28 districts, and found that the ones visited by his sign-wavers had 37 percent turnout, nearly four points higher than those that didn’t.

“Panagopoulos attributed that boost to the value of a quick reminder and speculated that seeing one’s neighbors publicly promoting the cause might instill a sense of social pressure to vote. That’s why Panagopoulos designed his experiment to measure if signs could change behavior on the boulevard, rather than just inspiring an already convivial small-town Main Street. ‘Detecting environmental effects in New York City, the epitome of urban anomie, would produce more convincing evidence,’ Panagopoulos wrote.

The rest of the article is here.

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Sac Bee and S.F. Chronicle were finalists for a Pulitzer Prize

Congratulations to the Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Chronicle, which were both finalists for a Pulitzer Prize this year.

•Investigative Reporting
Cynthia Hubert and Phillip Reese of The Sacramento Bee
For their probe of a Las Vegas mental hospital that used commercial buses to “dump” more than 1,500 psychiatric patients in 48 states over five years, reporting that brought an end to the practice and the firing of hospital employees.

•Feature Photography
Lacy Atkins of San Francisco Chronicle
For her revealing portrait of an Oakland school’s efforts to help African-American boys avoid neighborhood risks and profit from education.

Here’s the full list of winners and finalists.

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CATS’ production of Miss Saigon at Nevada Theatre is a “must see” show

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

The Vietnam War was a prolonged, horrific and unpopular war. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed, 60,000 U.S. soldiers died and 150,000 were wounded. The war created lifelong nightmares for the surviving soldiers and others.

We all have our own personal memories: As a youth, mine includes the stark photo of a young girl running away from her just-napalmed village, or a Viet Cong prisoner being shot at point-blank range in the streets of Saigon. Our telex operator at Time magazine in ’82 was a Vietnam refugee whom the war correspondent brought home during the fall of Saigon. The same year, I was among the first Americans to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“Children of the dust”

Along with the soldiers, the children of the Vietnam war also were long suffering. “They grew up as the leftovers of an unpopular war, straddling two worlds but belonging to neither,” as Smithsonian Magazine reminds us. “Neither America nor Vietnam wanted the kids known as Amerasians and commonly dismissed by the Vietnamese as ‘children of the dust’ — as insignificant as a spec to be brushed aside.”

Miss Saigon is a Tony-award winning musical about the turmoil of the Vietnam War in the 1970s, including a child born to an American soldier (Chris) and Vietnamise girl (Kim). The American G.I. sergeant and the 17-year-old bar girl fall in love, only to be separated by the fall of Saigon. Their struggles to find each other over the ensuing years end in tragedy for her and a fighting chance for a child he never knew was his.

This May, Miss Saigon is returning to the stage in London to celebrate its 25th anniversary, where it premiered on September 20, 1989. The musical, from the creators of Les Misérables, is loosely based on the classic opera Madama Butterfly.

Epic musical “Miss Saigon” now playing in foothills

Now, for the first time, the Broadway musical has come to the Sierra Foothills. It is being presented from April 10-May 10 at the historic Nevada Theatre in Nevada City. We attended the gala performance, and we highly recommend you go see it.

The show is presented by Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra to celebrate their 20th anniversary, with local, regional and Bay Area talent. Miss Saigon is a complex production, described as “jaw dropping” when it premiered on Broadway in 1991.

We’re pleased to report the local production succeeded on all fronts: A vocally strong cast, some stunning individual performances, a wonderful orchestra, clever theatrical technology, imaginative costumes and a well-designed stage. Some highlights:

Highlights of the local production

•Kim is played by April Lam, a recent graduate from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles. She has a fantastic voice. One of the most memorable scenes is when Kim shows her love for Chris and her son in “I’d give my life for you.” (The musical’s ending is enormously poignant).

•Chris is played by David Holmes, who has been performing in the greater Sacramento area for more than 20 years. In the song “Confrontation” with Ellen (Chris’ American wife) and Chris, he sings: “Saigon was crazed, but she was real. And for one moment I could feel.” It is a dramatic highlight.

•John (Chris’ friend and also a G.I.) is played by Jay Barker, who has performed for LeGacy Productions and Quest Theaterworks. His performance at the beginning of Act 2 in “Bui Doi” is highly memorable. It includes an emotional film montage of Amerasian children who were fathered and abandoned by departed Americans.

•Engineer (Kim’s pimp) is played by Jared Lee, who returns to CATS after playing the title role in The King and I. Jared’s performance is vibrant and entertaining. His performance in singing “The American Dream” is a highlight of the show.

•The theatrical technology includes the realistic sound of a helicopter coming into the Nevada Theatre during the fall of Saigon, complete with strobe lights. The left side of the aisle is filled with commotion from the actors, adding to the drama.

•High praise goes to the staff and crew for the production of set construction and lightening. The costumes of the black-clad Viet Kong warriors were well done, evoking an erie scene.

•The orchestra, with woodwind, brass and keyboard instruments, was first rate.

The musical is two hours long with a 15-minute intermission. CATS production of Miss Saigon is directed by Susan Mason, with musical direction by Susan and Jeffrey Mason.

For tickets and information on events, visit

(Photos: David Wong)

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Just why do Americans attend church

Easter is almost here, and it’s the busiest church day, most studies show.

One of the greatest benefits to my schedule nowadays is that I can go to church on Friday or any weekday for that matter, when most people are working in an office.

I do not go every Friday, but I go many Fridays. You can focus.

For years, I went to church on Sundays, like most people, and it’s much different on weekdays — and to me, much more rewarding.

To many people, church is more about “networking,” though they would be loath to admit it. That’s more what happens on Sundays.

My father used to joke that he’d observe people in church acting reverent, but then almost run over each other to bolt out of the parking lot.

“Just why do Americans attend church” is here.

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