Monday, September 30, 2013

Islamic Calligraphy

 Fahim Somani, a self-taught calligrapher and artist, shared information about Islamic Calligraphy, a beautiful form of script used in manuscripts, paintings, ceramics, architecture, and other decorative arts. Fahim introduced attendees to the six primary script styles with a bit of history and examples of use for each style. He often uses a reed pen that he either purchases or makes himself, although for larger works of art he often has to create his own tools in order to properly make the unique strokes required for calligraphy. Fahim shared many examples of his beautiful art making use of calligraphic elements, color, textures and layers.

You can find more information about Fahim and his art on his website and social media outlets:

Instagram: Fahim Somani

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Exploring Tejano Heritage

We were joined this week by Martha Sanchez Haydel to discuss the many contributions made by people of Spanish heritage to Texas and its history. Among many other organizations, Martha is a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and can trace her heritage back to a group of settlers from the Canary Islands who established the first civil government in Texas, in San Antonio. Martha walked us through the many explorers who "discovered" regions of North and Latin America and how they influenced the settling of the nation and of Texas in particular. In her genealogical research, Martha also discovered that two of her direct ancestors, a mother and her infant son, were survivors of the Battle of the Alamo. Thanks to Martha for an enlightening look at how Tejanos helped to form our great state!

By the way, did you know that the Canary Islands weren't named for canaries but for canines, as there were a large number of dogs on the islands?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Old Grant Wilson Had a Farm

Grant Wilson of Gramen Farms near Tomball gave a lively and frank presentation on how to eat locally with foods that are real and what our ancestors ate before there were chemicals and compounds. He explained that the body recognizes two things: food and poison. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t have advanced chemical degrees and so if it ingests a chemically altered substance, it won’t recognize it as either food or poison so it stores it as fat. Grant further explained the benefits of probiotics in milk and the healthfulness of grass-fed animal meat (if cows and chickens eat processed feed, their meat is compromised in its health benefits). There are no pesticides, chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics on Gramen Farm. Grant and his wife and two children live on the farm and it has grown from a customer base of about 200 to about 2000 in about three years.

Beware the microwave! It alters the chemical structure of food (and water) so your body doesn’t use the food to your advantage. We all tasted some real raw milk and kefir. Thanks to Grant and Gramen Farms for this interesting and edifying presentation. Next time we want all his war stories as a lobbyist back east!

Contact Information for Gramen Farms:

20158 Bauer Hockley Road
Tomball, Texas 77377
Telephone. (832) 287-0140

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Macedonian Cuisine

Macedonian native, polyglot, and library Reference Assistant Zana Kadriu introduced us to the Macedonian culture through its varied cuisine. Zana provided some background on her country and showed a video to give us an idea of what daily life is like in Macedonia. Macedonia became a republic in 1991 but its history and traditions go back to early civilizations. It is a unique blend of the historic and the modern, and reflects the influence of many countries, cultures and religions. This is demonstrated in Macedonian food, which combines a wide range of flavors to create unique and delicious dishes. Zana prepared a feast for us that included Sarma, Earth Pot, Mantia, Greek Salad, Baklava, and Rice Pudding. Thanks to one of our favorite presenters for this wonderful introduction to Macedonia through its cuisine!

The recipes for today's dishes are posted here.