Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Sonic Stocking Stuffer

As we begin gathering for our new NPR series about the secret life of girls around the world we thought we'd share a work in progress.
Pat Cadigan, a science fiction writer, heard about our project and sent us this short story memory inspired by the original 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Listen to Pat's story

As the tide turns on 2008, we
thank you for making a tax-deductible contribution to The Kitchen Sisters Productions. Your gifts and support have helped create our Peabody Award winning series. If you haven't had a chance to contribute this year you can do so now here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

With a little help from our friends...

Dear Friends,

The other day we were forwarded this entry that Jake recently wrote on his blog:

“I have always given during food drives but it didn’t become my cause until October 8, 2004 when I heard The Kitchen Sisters’ story "An Unexpected Kitchen the George Foreman Grill" on NPR. I was crying by the end of this story. I have never looked at George Foreman, his grill — or hunger — the same way again.” — Jake

We don’t know Jake, but he was sharing his passion to end hunger with his online community. What had inspired him? A Kitchen Sisters story that aired on NPR four years ago and that continues to have a vast, grass roots, ever-expanding life online.

We are writing because we need your help to continue creating stories that reach out and inspire this kind of action and understanding.

As independent producers, not NPR staff, we support our work through grants and donations from listeners like you. Many of you have heard about the recent layoffs at NPR. We too are being hit hard by this financial crisis that has severely impacted our fundraising efforts. Only with your help, can we continue creating in-depth, documentary stories that reach 14 million people on-air and countless people online.

If every person who receives this email donates just $25,
it would greatly support our work through the next year. Your donation is tax-deductible.
This year, every penny you give is matched by the NEA, which has given a grant to launch our new series exploring the secret lives of girls around the world — girls and the women they become.

We are also working on a rich new collection of Hidden Kitchens including a look at Inauguration Day communal potlucks where Americans will come together over casseroles and onion dip to begin a new era in American politics.

We are in the midst of working to produce a Broadway musical based on our story about the first all girl radio station in the nation, WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts. And we are collaborating with the Cabrillo Music Festival and conductor Marin Alsop on a multi-media project based on our secret life of girls series to premiere in 2012.

We are also continuing our successful internship and mentoring program for young people and workshops for emerging producers. Your donations make this work possible.

We would like to take this moment at year’s end to thank you for being part of our community. However you have participated, as a donor, interviewee, advisor, collaborator, listener ... we're grateful. We cannot do this work without your ongoing support.

We hope you will give what you can this year to help us in our efforts to build community through storytelling and to keep the media vital, relevant and human.

High Hopes and Peace in the New Year,

Nikki Silva & Davia Nelson
The Kitchen Sisters

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Kidney Party

Tonight, our friends in Cedar Park, Texas are gathering at the home of Jim and Carole Wallace for the 11th Annual Kidney Party, held every December 8th to celebrate Jim's kidney transplant. Jim sent us an invitation along with a brief history of the party:

"The Kidney Party began on the first anniversary as a gathering and party to thank all of the people that were so considerate and helpful during my transplant and recovery. Carole, of German ancestry, was raised in a small German community in Wisconsin and had grown up eating organ meats which she learned to prepare from her mother and grandmother. When we were married she introduced me to beef tongue, beef heart, steak tartar and souse (meat jelly). So naturally, we thought it was appropriate to serve organ meats at that first celebration. We serve steak and kidney pie and beef tongue. And, because the kidney I receive has two ureters, the connection between the kidney and the bladder, we decided to serve split-pea soup. We also served chili with kidney beans, dirty rice and kidney beans, three-bean salad and marinated vegetables with hearts of palm and artichoke hearts. The Kidney Party has become an annual event where we can gather with friends and give thanks for another year of life. "

Friday, December 5, 2008

Notes from The Sisterhood

Events on our Radar
Kitchen Sisters Interviewing & Recording Workshop in San Francisco.
Tuesday, December 16th. Contact us if you'd like to hear about future workshops.

Hidden Kitchens Works in Progress:
  • Inauguration Night potluck meals across the nation.
    Tell us about your's
    Call 202-408-9576.
  • Atomic Wine: Testing the age of wine through nuclear fallout residue.
Radio We’re hearing:
Brian Eno's essay for This I Believe on NPR's Weekend Edition, Sunday, November 23. Recorded by The Kitchen Sisters in Brian Eno’s studio in London. Brian's essay is based on his article, Freestyling.

Books We're reading:

Edges of Bounty by William Emery and Scott Squire.
Edges of Bounty is...a kind of road map. An invitation, a set of possibilities. It beckons. Find a friend, grab your camera and notebook. Hit the road and look for something.
More information available at Heyday Books.

From the Bottom of the Heap by Robert H. King.
We chronicled King's story in our Hidden Kitchens piece, King's Candy. Babylon Falling, an independent bookstore in San Francisco, recently hosted a reading with King. Visit their site to see more. You can order his book published by PM press here. Or visit Babylon Falling.

Websites & Blogs We're Viewing:

Kiss the Paper by Kate & Molly Prentiss

The Girl Project

Music We're Listening to:
Les Amazones De Guinee, an all-police-woman band from the
Republic of Guinea.
Albert Kuvezin & Yat-Kha, the "Tuvan throat-singing punk band"
Cimarrón, a Llanero band from Colombia.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Georgia Gilmore & The Club from Nowhere

Rosa Parks & Martin Luther King

On the evening of December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, an African American, was arrested for disobeying an Alabama law requiring black passengers to relinquish seats to white passengers when the bus was full. Her arrest sparked a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system and led to a 1956 Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation.

Georgia Gilmore cooking

During the bus boycott that Rosa Parks triggered, a group of Montgomery, Ala., women baked and sold pies, cookies and cakes in beauty salons and on street corners to raise money to buy gas and station wagons to haul people to work The Club from Nowhere, as the group was known, was the brainchild of Georgia Gilmore, a cafeteria worker fired for her organizing efforts.

Georgia is one of the unsung heroes of the civil rights era.
Listen to our Hidden Kitchens radio story from 2005 -
Georgia Gilmore & The Club from Nowhere.
For recipe and photos - visit the
Hidden Kitchens web site. You can find Georgia Gilmore's recipes in our Hidden Kitchens Book.

Read an interview with Georgia from the Washington Film and Video Archive

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NPR's Susan Stamberg Hosts The Kitchen Sisters in Washington, D.C.

NPR's Susan Stamberg will be interviewing The Kitchen Sisters on stage tonight at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. for a night of radio, readings, and Hidden Kitchen conversation.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Studs Terkel

We celebrate the life
and work of
Studs Terkel

Friday, October 24, 2008

Third Coast Winners Star & Melissa

Congratulations to Shirley "Star" Diaz of Radio Rookies for her story "Growing Up in The System," produced with Melissa Robbins (former project manager and associate producer here at The Kitchen Sisters). They received the silver award at the Third Coast Audio Festival, 2008. 

We've joined Twitter

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Radio Workshops

We've started an audio workshop program at our San Francisco office. The sessions run three hours and the group size is small. This is a great opportunity for people interested in radio production, oral history, journalism -- almost anything that has to do with interviewing and close listening. 

Davia covers miking techniques, sound gathering, use of archival audio, how to make interviewees comfortable, how to frame your questions, how to listen (which is harder than it looks), and more.

The fee is $100. The November sessions are full but if you're interested send us and email and we'll keep you posted about upcoming sessions in San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Kitchen Sisters Come Out Swingin

Events On
Our Radar

The 2008 Presidential Election,
November 4.

Public Radio Fund Drives happening nationwide this month. Support your local station. Keep the airwaves public and vibrant.

The Naked Truth: The Katie Lee Exhibit
at the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University.
Katie is one of the pioneering river activists we chronicled in “Cry Me a River.” She fought the
damming of Glen
Canyon in the 1950's and at 88
still works unrelentingly for the environment.

Books We're Reading:

Girls: Ordinary Girls and Their Extraordinary Pursuits by Jenny,
Laura & Martha McPhee. Three of John McPhee's daughters create a collection
of photographs and life stories.

A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes by David Tanis. When we first began the Hidden Kitchens series we ate at a secret, twelve-seat, one-table, one-night-of-the-month restaurant tucked into an apartment in Paris. That elusive ritual dinner that David Tanis & Randal Breski created helped inspire our NPR series. This is a collection of some of David's recipes and stories. David is also the chef at Chez Panisse.

Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samrasan
Our intern Deena Prichep recommends this lovely novel.

Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin. We have been following the saga of Project Alabama for years now. Natalie is a clothing designer from Florence, Alabama, home of Sam and Becky Phillips of Sun Studios and WHER fame. Her commitment to hand-made textiles and local artisans is part of what we are watching as we explore the secret life of girls around the world.

Radio We're Making:

Chocolate Town: A Hidden Kitchens story-in-progress about the chocolate company towns and the candy factory “sweetie towns” of England.

Kitchen Sisters Recording & Interviewing Workshop - Friday, September 26, San Francisco.

The Blonde in the Village: We travel to the mountains of Korea near the DMZ for the secret saga of an outcast girl.

Favorite Things: The Kitchen Sisters session at the Third Coast International Audio Festival - October 11, Chicago.

Music We're Spinning:

WWOZ FM in New Orleans, "Guardians of the Groove."

Sincerely Jane by Janelle Monae. We heard this song on KCRW when we were in LA for the gathering of Public Radio Program Directors from all over the nation. We're looking for music for our new girls series and something about this song stuck.

Papa Was a Rollin' Stone by The Temptations, co-written by Norman Whitfield, who died last week. He also co-wrote Ain't Too Proud To Beg, Just My Imagination and I Heard it Through the Grapevine and so much more.

Earl Palmer's drumming. A beautiful lost and found sound. Palmer, who also died last week, played drums on La Bamba, Lucille, Donna, Tutti Frutti and so many songs with a rhythm that lives. He worked with Fats Domino, Little Richard, Frank Sinatra, Tom Waits and on and on. Beat in peace.

Paintings We're Admiring:

Kitchen Brother, Charles Prentiss (Nikki's husband) exhibits his paintings at Open Studios in Santa Cruz the 1st and 3rd weekend in October. You're invited to visit the commune where Nikki and Charles live, tour his studio and take a behind-the-scenes look at The Kitchen Sisters' production studio there. October 4-5 & 18-19, 11am - 6 pm. See some of Charles' artwork and get directions at charlesprentiss.com.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Birth of Rice A Roni

Nikki sat down next to this story at an NPR event where we played our Hidden Kitchen episode "The Birth of the Frito," about the origin of the iconic corn chip. At the dinner, Lois DeDemenico, 80, told Nikki that she had been part of the birth of Rice-A-Roni.

Lois began to tell a story about San Francisco in the 1940s and the convergence of a Canadian immigrant bride, an Italian-American pasta family, and a survivor of the Armenian genocide – all of which led to the creation of "The San Francisco Treat."

We followed Lois, a philanthropist and widow of Tom DeDomenico, one of the founders of Golden Grain Macaroni Co., to her home in Oakland, Calif., to chronicle this hidden kitchen.
Listen to the radio story and listen, read, and see more on our story page.

Pancake Breakfasts

I’ve been obsessed with them for years. I look for road signs during the week— especially if I’m passing through towns smaller than the one I live in. Where the firehouses of Occidental are raising their money.

It’s not the pancakes so much as the collective act of pancakes. This moment, eternal, frozen in time. Some candidate or marching band or firehouse needs the dough.

Pancakes seem the way to do it. The carwash fundraiser of food. Low overhead—syrup, batter, spatulas, butter, flour, grill. Long tables. Paper plates. It smells so good. So warm, cozy. So life affirming.

You’re not going to raise a million for the capital campaign. But you aren’t risking the fate of non-profit either — hiring that pricey band from and the fifties and hoping for a big sentimental turnout.

It obsessed. I note them. I imagine myself driving to work. Who I’ll meet. The grange halls and fire stations I’ll see. The causes I could support. The candidates I could catch.

Nikki and I are ever on the lookout as we travel cross-country on our sonic expeditions. Way before our quest for Hidden Kitchens began.

I think I’ve been to 3 pancake breakfasts in the last 20 years. With Pancake Breakfast, a little goes a long way. It’s a great way to launch a Sunday— pray the syrup is real maple. The pancakes made from scratch. The butter local and from a cow, not chemistry.

You takes your chances. But you’re part of something. You’re giving to somebody. You left your house and met some part of a community that needs a hand. Maybe you woke up alone and needed a place to go.

The last one we went to was in Canastota, NY. We were covering the boxing match between Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier, the daughters of Mohammad and Joe, when they fought at a casino the Oneida Reservation in upstate New York. Listen to that story here

Sunday morning we were on our way to the Boxing Hall of Fame to meet Sugar Ray Leonard and Felix Trinidad when it appeared. Like a vision. Pancake Breakfast. Firehouse. Every boxer known to man was there. And every fireman for a hundred mile radius. Not to mention granddad and grandma from Ithaca and their grandkids.

Tall men in tall hats flipped flapjacks in an endless line and playfully traded punches. The fire engines gleamed, and so did the bacon.

We lay down the microphones, found our places in line, and ate.