Art History Leisure Reading Recipes

From a Glass of Wine to a Vampire Story

Last week after seeing Summer at Gammage Theater, our group had dinner at Taphouse Kitchen and DF Evon ordered a glass of Virginia Dare pinot noir.  I don’t drink red, so I never look at the offerings on that part of the menu and I didn’t see that particular wine, but when she ordered it, my ears pricked up.  I asked her if she ordered it because she was familiar with it. She said, no, she just like the name.  Well, I like the name too!  But for a different reason.  I asked everyone at the table if they know who Virginia Dare was and nobody did!  What?!  Ok, here we go with a little history lesson.  But, better than that:  A mystery, Indian lore, a ghost story, and a vampire story!  The history lesson will be very short, but the rest is oh so fun, so hop aboard.

Perhaps if you’ve never heard of Virginia Dare, you have heard of the Lost Colony.  In the 1500s John White was commissioned to sail from England to Roanoke Island to establish a permanent colony in the New World.  A month after their arrival, White’s grandchild was born to his daughter, Eleanor.  The first white baby born in America was named Virginia – for the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I.  America was in the throes of a terrible drought (seems like climate change existed then too) which scientists have ascertained from tree and soil samples.  The colonists were not going to survive with what they had, and the weather wasn’t cooperating, so Smith went back to England to get provisions.  Well, long story short, he got a little waylaid and delayed, and didn’t return for three years.  Upon his return, there was no trace of the colony and only a word inscribed on a tree (or a fence post) “CROATOAN.” 

Now we come to the mystery part that has captivated us since.  What happened to the colony?  It has been surmised that Croatoan referred to the nearby indigenous tribe, and that a message was left for Smith indicating where the settlers had gone.  But he never found another clue or the people of the colony. Did the drought conditions and lack of preparation cause the demise of the entire colony?  Were they murdered by the Croatoan?  Were they assimilated into the tribe? 

First the Indian lore.  The legend goes that Virginia survived and lived among the Croatoan and grew to be a beauty, capturing the hearts of rival Croatoan warriors.  The jealous warrior used black magic and had her turned into a white doe.  The warrior who was her true love had an arrow charmed to turn her back into a maiden.  The white doe became legendary and hunters tracked her.  (Photo by cmonphotography from Pexels ) As it turned out one hunter’s arrow and the arrow of her true love both hit her in the heart at the same time.  Though she turned back into the fair maid, her blood was spilled on the site and she died.  When grape vines were planted in that spot, the grapes turned red and sweet, and North Carolina wine was born.  In the 1800s The Virginia Dare Wines were among the top selling wines in the country.  Francis Ford Coppola’s family have since purchased the name and the winery now lives in Northern California.  And that’s how the wine is offered up at Taphouse.

Now the ghost story.  Over 400 years and stories are still told that the ghost of Virginia Dare in the form of a white doe (which is also associated as a symbol for Christianity) is seen roaming Roanoke Island.

Now the vampire story.  And as anyone who spends much time with me can tell you, everything I know in the world will eventually come around to a book I read.  It’s like I have no opinion of my own, no experience of my own or travel of my own.  I always refer back to a book.  That’s just how my mind works.  I start so many sentences with, “I read this book….”  Ok, so now we’re over that.  When Evon ordered the Virginia Dare Pinot, I immediately thought, “Oh, American history.”  No, I did not.  I thought, “Oh, I read a great vampire story!”  Seth Graham-Smith is a young screenwriter and novelist who has a wonderful way with history and literature to weave facts and characters into vampire and zombie stories.  I know it sounds outlandish, but Hollywood has turned his books into movies and for good reason.  They are interesting, fun and you might just learn something. In his Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and The Last American Vampire, he explores the theory that the Lost Colony was wiped out by, you got it, vampires!  And guess who lived, Virginia Dare.  I’m not going to spoil it for anyone, but really, those books have a lot of interesting historical characters in them and if you read them, you might be surprised about who might have been a vampire.  Mwahahahahaha!

Here’s the trailer for the movie (not as good as the book, but I liked it).

Scholars, anthropologists, archeologists have made a lot of good progress studying what might have really happened to the Lost Colony and most agree by the discovery of artifacts including pottery from the time that it looks as if the folks might have split up and assimilated into different tribes. That makes for a possible happy ending.

What I’m Reading

I read The Crooked Spire by an author new to me, Chris Nickson.  It takes place in England in the 1300s but was still a mystery with a clever “detective.”  It was different, I enjoyed it, and I’ll look for that author again.  I am listening to the next Rick Riordan Tres Navarre The Widower’s Two-Step on audio.  Loving it, of course.  The weather has turned really lovely this week, so I’ve gotten out for some afternoon walks and been able to listen to it in nice big chunks.

What I’m Eating

Ok, this elimination diet is kicking my hiney.  I’m just being honest here.  I really miss my old diet, which I never thought was all that bad to start with.  I just don’t love cooked vegetables and it feels crazy that having a big salad is “cheating” on this Low Fodmap diet.  I have been more diligent with sugar, and except for the small amount of honey in my tea, I’m doing ok.  I did find a SIBO-Friendly Ratatouille recipe and made that (no rodents were harmed in this process).  I have tried making ratatouille before and thought it was too much work for the outcome.  This is a one-skillet dish and all things considered was pretty good.  For like two days.  I threw the rest in the trash.  I know eggplant isn’t for everyone, and I happen to love it, but I just, I don’t know.  I’m sick of this.

SIBO Friendly Ratatouille

But, in case anyone is looking to increase their veggie intake with an easy recipe, here’s what I did:

Easy SIBO Ratatouille

  • 1 eggplant, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup green beans
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ½ tsp dried thyme (or any herb you prefer), fresh basil
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Cooked rice or pasta (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or wok on medium high, add eggplant, salt and pepper and cook stirring frequently until eggplant turns brown and just starts to soften about five minutes.  Add zucchini and peppers and cook, stirring frequently for another seven to ten minutes.  Add green beans and can of tomatoes, dried spices and pepper flakes.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, adding water if the sauce becomes too thick.  Stir in olives, top with fresh basil and serve over rice or pasta.

What I’m Doing

The weekend weather was fabulous and we checked out the Carefree Art and Wine festival with friends Bob and Connie and had lunch in the town of Carefree. I didn’t purchase any art but met some creative and nice artists, including a local Anthem resident, Steve Stento.  He invited me into his studio to see some the art he is working on.  I just realize how old cliché that sounds, and believe me, he is a young family man and it wasn’t like that at all!  Makes me chuckle though. He admits he’s not much for social media, and ummm, I think he’s right. His website hasn’t been updated in a year or so, but do check out his art if you love pretty watercolors.

John and I both had our annual dermatology exams this week and both got biopsies and spots frozen off.  Nothing serious, I don’t think, but living in Arizona, getting regular checkups is important.  I have not purposely had my face in the sun since December of 1982, but I still manage to get damage.

Carefree Art Festival

John is so happy the 49ers are going to the Super Bowl.  He has been wearing his 49ers hat not stop. Must have brought them good luck. Time to start thinking of snacks to serve during our big National Holiday.  Ha!

Have a wonderful week!

2 Comment

  1. Bob, knew all about Virginia Dare and the lost colony, I did not. 😏Like to visit the winery someday though.🍷Thanks for the recipe, sounds good.👍

    1. Hi, Chris. Let’s try to catch up this week if you’re available. Of course, Bob knew about it. A. It’s closer to where he is from and B. He knows everything! 🙂

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