Dress Up

Lettuce Rejoice

Here are two vegan salad dressings, essentially “whole food plant based low oil,” using pantry items (well, my ongoing pantry of staples!). The first is really quick and the second super tasty.

Healthier Savory Dressing

Based on “2-Minute Oil-Free Balsamic Dressing” from Forks over Knives

2 parts good quality vinegar
1 part vegan mayonnaise
1 part nutritional yeast
1/2 part dried herb blend, such as Italian
Pinch ground mustard
Pinches of salt and pepper
2 parts water

Combine all ingredients in a lidded jar. Shake well to combine. Can serve immediately; refrigerate leftovers.

Notes: If using a tablespoon for “part,” this will make about 1/2 cup of dressing, enough for 4-8 servings of salad. (The original made just a single serving, 2 tablespoons.)

To minimize dressing and maximize the fresh flavor of the greens I add a smaller amount of dressing to the whole bowl of greens, before separating to plates — and toss not with a fork or something but with a clean hand. This coats all the leaves quickly and thoroughly. You might need another tablespoon of dressing as you go along. Be careful not to bruise (wilt) the lettuce by mixing too roughly. The hand-mix method works for any dressing.

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That’s What He Is, All Right

Official White House photo pf President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence
Official White House photos of President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence

From Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, to Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, neither spoken nor written have I ever used the phrase President Trump or any variation. That is I did not adjoin the word “president” and the word “Trump.” Or “president” and “Donald J. Trump,” etc. I called the man by his names, and I liked DJT. Also said “the president.

Why haven’t I called Trump president? It’s not because he didn’t win the office. I think he did. He, the Republican Party in general and his campaign managers figured out how to game the Electoral Collage, which states to focus on.

You can’t win a big competition just by being the best campaigner. It’s more key to slam any rivals. Somehow negativity sticks with us humans better than positivity. Turns out that creating doubt isn’t hard. Making it stick takes more strategic effort.

Republicans figured out how to slander the Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton so effectively that even most of her supporters said something to the effect of, “Yeah, maybe she is (whatever), but she’s best we’ve got for 2016 and better than him.”

The GOP got there first and hit hardest. The more Democrats stamped and hollered about Trump, oddly, the more firmly his followers back him. Why? He owned most of the allegations, turned them around by bragging. That’s why calling Trump a liar is weird. At the least expected times, the habitual liar tells the truth.

It’s not that the Trump Republicans practiced “you can fool some of the people some of the time,” but engaged in “you can fool enough of the people.”

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Me Burn My Bridge? You Lit It

Pyrite cube from Fuente del Moro, Navajún, Spain.
Pyrite cube from Fuente del Moro, Navajún, Spain.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. This Just Happened

In late August 2019, Millicent Whitehat, a recently retired college instructor, came up to me late one afternoon as we were leaving a reception at the university.

“So, you have a job on campus, right?”

“Yeah, webmaster for the College of Education and Health Professions, three years last July. It’s been great, it really has.”

“I’m very glad to hear it. You know, they did not treat you right, and I’ve felt bad about it, but nothing I could do. That [Reedman], I don’t know how you worked with him. He’s never fit in, I’m not sure who likes him. He has no personality.”

No personality, what did she mean by that?

“I’m not sure he was the problem. I felt we got along, got along well enough. He’s of a type in newsrooms that I knew, so I felt I could handle anything that came up with him. I never figured out what happened, that made them cut me out of the job. Do you know?”

“No, I never really heard.”

“I’ve wanted to find out, but to ask around I never knew who to approach. I mean, who really knew and who would tell me, and would they be truthful or lie, or would they know just part of what happened or just one point of view, and still there’d be no complete picture then either.”

“I understand. You’d best forget it and move on. I guess you did move on.”

“Yes, I did and this is great, where I’ve landed. Yes I’ve obviously moved on, but no I can’t forget. That’s just not something I could do. That hands it to them, you know?”

A mutual friend at that moment joined us, as if they had come in together and obviously heading toward the car. Millicent’s manner indicated the friend’s presence ended our talk. We exchanged cheerful good-byes, and I walked toward the campus center.

[Quotation marks are used here because I’m certain of near-journalistic accuracy. The absence of such punctuation later indicates reliance on strong memory.

[Names HAVE been changed. However, my name as always is “I” or “me.”]

So did Millicent know what happened? Gosh, how could she? 

Department chair Baton knows, most or all. Ethics center director (interim director at the time) Reedman knows, at least his role in it. Now-retired Professor Alto is complicit and had to have colluded. Beloved Professor Bass told me several times all this happened at levels above him and he was powerless. All assistant department chair Dr. Cornet had for me was a sudden gesture of empathy. Their word for me: “insubordinate.” The allegation is false.

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Lettuce Rejoice

Plate of lettuce salad
Source: National Cancer Institute’s 5 A Day Resources

It’s getting harder to find a satisfying bottled salad dressing, for the convenience. They seem sweeter now, at least the lower fat varieties.

Speaking of oil, there’s a way to cut that in half: toss your salad with a hand not utensils and you’ll need just half the dressing — 1 Tablespoon per serving instead of the suggested 2 — to coat the leaves. It takes seconds as your fingers quickly tell when all are moistened. That works when the cleaned lettuce is bone dry as experts advise or when the veggies are gently shaken of water.

Adapting this no-fat vegan 2-Minute Oil-Free Balsamic Dressing from Forks Over Knives has become my go-to rather than a Ken’s or Newman’s Own. I often prefer vegan mayo instead of Dijon mustard as the resulting emulsion is more creamy than tart.

The recipe is a modest amount but easily scalable. It makes just under a half cup of dressing, for 6-8 servings if hand-tossed (above) or 3-4 servings conventionally.

Easy, Real Salad Dressing

  • 2 Tablespoons quality vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoon vegan mayo OR prepared mustard such as Dijon
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs such as basil or Italian spice blend
  • pinch dried garlic
  • pinch dry mustard (Colman’s recommended)
  • pinches salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a small jar with a good lid and shake. Refrigerate until needed.

Notes: Balsamic or red wine vinegar work great, but if you want a lighter color then rice vinegar is good. Cider vinegar has a stronger taste, but sometimes that’s the right thing.

Nutritional yeast is a flavor booster with umami.

Heck yes, this recipe is a starting point. Don’t worry about the nutritional yeast. Replace the salt with a dash of soy sauce. If fresh herbs are available, mix rough-chopped ones in the bowl with the lettuce and drop the dried spices from the dressing. Whatever. Go for it.

Transcription Transgressions

logo for the Pryor Center

While August 2012 still feels like fall before last on remembering my second and final layoff from the newspaper profession, June 2013 seems longer than the six years it maths out when I recall that month’s part-time job, transcriptionist at the University of Arkansas Pryor Center for Oral and Visual History.

Those few hours a week did teach me two lessons I won’t forget, the value of transcriptions and the fallacy of transcriptions. Visiting the Pryor Center for a book reading inspired me to ink these up.

While my next university job was the 2014-15 term at its journalism department, the courses I taught did not have an opening for a reporting exercise I hadn’t seen anywhere (which doesn’t mean it’s not done). In some beginning or intermediate journalism class, it’d be cool to present a 3- to 5-minute recording excerpt, such as from the Pryor Center, and have the students transcribe it. By transcribe I mean word for word, with all the stumbles and repeats the least and greatest of us utter when speaking.

They would be encouraged to repeat the tape as often as needed, using a free transcription software app. Afterward, I’d hand out or put on a screen the official transcript so they’d see what they missed.

The only students who could get an A+, one would predict, would be someone who was a former stenographer.

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I Would Appreciate Your Vote

My Razorback roots go deeper than I thought. My maternal grandfather, Ernest Mendel of Fort Smith (born in Hot Springs), evidently attended the University of Arkansas. I've checked the Senior Walks of several years; he didn't graduate.
Ben Pollock
Candidate Ben Pollock
Official U of A photo, summer 2014

I am running this week for a position on the University of Arkansas Staff Senate. The online balloting ends Monday, May 6. If you are a U of A staff member, you may choose to vote for me, and the following 150-word statement I was asked to submit just might sway you!

Or not.

As a longtime volunteer, I enjoy giving back. Working at the University of Arkansas these three years has been so satisfying this is an opportunity to return the favor. On the Staff Senate, I’d like to increase the body’s visibility through the year. That’s not just special events but would work toward an ongoing, transparent presence on campus.

About me:

My Razorback roots go deeper than I thought. My maternal grandfather, Ernest Mendel of Fort Smith (born in Hot Springs), evidently attended the University of Arkansas. I've checked the Senior Walks of several years; he didn't graduate.
My Razorback roots go deeper than I thought. My maternal grandfather, Ernest Mendel of Fort Smith (born in Hot Springs), evidently attended the University of Arkansas around 1920. I’ve checked the Senior Walks of several years; he didn’t graduate.
  • Fort Smith native, 3rd-generation Arkie
  • Bachelor’s, Communication, Stanford University
  • Master’s, Journalism, University of Arkansas, 2003
  • Earlier career: newspaper editor/designer, reporter, columnist
  • Current job: Webmaster for the College of Education & Health Professions since mid-2016; previously 2014-15 instructor with the Journalism faculty/Ethics Center
  • Activities
    • Treasurer, National Society of Newspaper Columnists Education Foundation
    • Recording Secretary & Communication Director, Arkansas 965
    • Planning committee, WordCamp Fayetteville, teacher of WordPress 101
    • Board member, Ozark Poets & Writers Collective
    • Also: Compassion Fayetteville, Canopy NWA, Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas, Temple Shalom, NWA Pride Band

So check your @uark.edu emailbox for for a message like this:

image of email of ballot link for  2019 Staff Senate ballot