Group gathering rules shaken in Memphis

By Erica Holmes

“Do I hit the gavel? Attorney Wade?” councilman Chairman Edmund Ford, jr. asked an attorney for the city for what seemed like legal permission after city council voted 13-0 to amend an ordinance on public assembly permits; giving the director of police broad authority on the first amendment matter.  Councilman Harold Collins presented the item several weeks ago amidst the looming Klu Klux Klan rally, scheduled to take place on the courthouse steps on March 30.

Attorney Allan Wade clarified that the city is being careful not to violate the first amendment right for an organization to peaceably assemble, noting that it is a very gray area in law.

“Any restriction put on freedom of speech has to be narrowly tailored to achieve a legitimate government interest,” Wade said.
Because of the ordinance’s first amendment implications, it will not be enacted until April 2 – three days after the KKK marches in Memphis. The city decided it would be happening too fast to be deemed legal. Wade felt like they would be imposing unfair regulations upon the klan in regards to their right to free speech. However, state gun laws and the Civil Rights Act made it easy to for the city to ban the members from wearing masks or carrying guns on public property.

Last month the NAACP joined forces with the Sons of Confederate Veterans to encourage Memphians to do the right thing by not showing up to the event, which is scheduled on a religious weekend.

It may seem odd that the slightest amount of sensitivity be given to an organization that is prone to rioting, “Inciting fear and anger among a largely poor community in a powder keg effect,” Collins said regarding to the organization’s past actions.

And the downside to the ordinance is that it will affect every out-of-state group, not just hate groups. The city is not taking the first amendment lightly, but they’re also not leaving Memphis susceptible to be derided by an irresponsible party.

When the KKK rioted in Memphis during the summer of 1998, the resulting riots overwhelmed expectations of the police and the city council forethought. As a result the city and its taxpayers footed the bill.

This time the city noted that a non-resident, from MS, used a post office box in another state to present the application for the klan. Councilmen Collins explained that the new ordinance would require this person to pay this so called ensurity bond in order to be approved to gather.

It seems like a lot of power for one person; the amendment will give police director Toney Armstrong complete latitude to use both his discretion and his forces in allowing future groups to gather within Memphis city limits. The director has permission to bill the organization upfront 50% of a group’s estimated cost of security. This is being called an “ensurity bond” and seems very similar to a safety deposit.

However, The city will not require citizens of Shelby County to provide ensurity bonds, unless the member of the organization applies on behalf of a group in which a majority of its members live out-of-state. In that situation, the person who applies for the application is solely responsible for the entire groups actions and whatever debt is incurred – at least that’s councilman Harold Collins’ expectation.

“When people file applications to parade in Shelby county and cause us to expend city resources for the protection of city assets and citizens, they should be required to pay the cost of what it would cost the city to pay an off duty police officer,” Collins said before the amended ordinance passed.

In other news, MLGW’s request to pay an out-of-town landscaping company nearly half a million dollars for mowing and grounds maintenance was also considered by city council on Tuesday.

The item was referred back to councilwoman Janis Fullilove’s committee, upon councilmen Lee Harris’ request to separate the issue.  Council members will not vote until they have the MLGW special committee’s recommendation. Councilmen Collins recommended that the committee consider making grounds maintenance and in-house service, or a city worker’s task. MLGW maintains that the work can be done less expensively when it is contracted, it is up to Fulliove’s committee to reach a decision on the matter, which directly affects MLGW customers’ rates.

It all goes back to City Council’s August 3, 2005 decision to give preference to local companies. The “local preference” ordinance gives businesses within city limits within 5% of the lowest bid preference over a business outside of the city.

President and CEO of MLGW, Jerry Collins, defended the decision to not give the job to the local company because they were the second highest bidder.  However councilman Reid Hedgepath reminded the president of MLGW if they had considered the local preference ordinance, perhaps the local company would have qualified. To which the MLGW representative agreed, but maintained that the company failed to fill out the paper work. Though the company has done work with MLGW before, they were still required to fill out more paper work. “It was an oversight on the their part,” MLGW CEO, Collins, said at the meeting.

(described from City Council Meeting on Tuesday, 3/19/13 )


Disk Golf: A glimpse into a new favorite past-time

Spring is here, though it is truly feels like summer. When it comes to embracing my inner “sport” I tend to gravitate to Shelby Forest. I like the option of camping, hiking, boating as well as frisbee golfing or playing “frolf” as most people say. Today I made a change. My friends and I decided to go to Shelby Farms. I’m glad I did because I got some good tips I want to share! It was a nice change to play in a open area. Whereas at Shelby Forest we would have to trek up and down hills and over bridges, amidst a somewhat-dense forest.

This “Graw”nola recipe with a cinnamon-scent will delight your holiday

By Erica Holmes

Whether you love it or hate it, you’ve probably eaten granola or at least heard of the stuff.  It started as a health fad being served to people that opted for whole-wheat flour instead of refined white flour in the early nineteenth century at health spas.  It wasn’t until decades later in 1969 at Woodstock that fruit and nuts were added to the mix; making granola an even more delectable snack and breakfast food.  No matter what granola is to you: crumbly, bite-sized oats and nuts or in a snack bar mold.  There are so many different varieties of the stuff that surely one day your taste buds will find a match.

Raw Granola is one of the most nutritious forms of granola. It is composed of live, sprouted grains known as groats.  These are in place of the rolled oats you find in nearly all the granola at the grocery store.  Groats in most raw recipes are gluten free, so rolled oats won’t be used in this recipe. In general, Granola contains no milk or animal products.  Most of the time it is vegetarian or vegan friendly, unless you are throwing milk chocolate into the mix. It typically consists of sprouted buckwheat groats, soaked seeds, dried fruits, traditional spices, and of course the best parts: honey or maple syrup, and sometimes even cold-pressed coconut oil.  All of these ingredients can be found at your local health food store.  Raw granola is high in enzymes; which is associated with good digestive health and the slowing of the aging process.

Finding a reliable source for your ingredients is equally important to the actual preparation of this nutritious snack.  Often you will find the groats, seeds, and nuts in the bulk bin section of the store.  If you opt for pre-packaged seeds, be sure that the outer shells of the seed have been hulled.  Otherwise they are not digestible or good for your intestinal health.  Most health food stores are staffed with knowledgeable employees that can help you out with finding the ingredients you will need.

Another issue with making Raw Granola is that it requires different tools.  Instead of an oven, you will need a food dehydrator.  You can find great deals on dehydrators on the web.  They are often abandoned after having been lightly used by timid cooks and left sitting on the shelves of second-hand stores.

Making Raw Granola is a more intensive process than regular granola because there is some minor farming involved in the process.  Luckily sprouting seeds is simple thanks to a handful of reference sources available on the web.  You simply soak them in water you are comfortable drinking for one hour in a covered container.  Soaking the seeds cleans them and makes them digestible. After you soak your seeds you should rinse them with water and drain them in a mesh colander or sprouting jar.  You can spread them in a fine mesh colander.

There is a purpose to all this soaking, rising, and draining: “ Rinsing is the process by which we add moisture to our sprouts.  Draining is the process by which we regulate the amount of moisture our sprouts have available…” according to the good people at  Plus you want to be sure to remove the slimy, inedible film that naturally occurs on most groats and seeds.

The idea of sprouting is to get your groats and seeds germinate, or to become living.  You know they are germinating when you begin to see a small, very slight sprouting tail. Sprouting your buckwheat groats will take between two to three days.  Soak your groats for 12 hours or overnight in water.  Rinse and drain in a mesh colander.  Be sure to continuously rinse and drain every four to six hours to avoid a musty, moldy smell.

Sarah Amandolare is a contributing writer for’s The Foodie section. “For a truly healthy granola fix, try Raw Granola, which was a hit at a recent Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair (in 2008).” Says Amandolare in the website section.  Perhaps Canada is indeed the roots of Raw Granola. Raw Granola can be difficult to find at stores, but making it is fun. If you have any interest in farming or growing things, homemade Raw Granola is a process worth trying.


Grawnola Recipe made with Love:

1-cup raw-hulled sunflower seeds (soak for 1 hour in water. Drain, air dry in colander or sprouting jar.  Frequently rinse every couple of hours for a total of 12 hours.  Store in a airtight container in the fridge until the other ingredient are ready)

1-cup flax seeds (soaked in 1-2 cups of water overnight, no need to rinse or drain these)

2-cups of raw-hulled buckwheat groats (soak in water for 12 hours, Drain, air dry in a colander or jar. Frequently rinse every couple of hours for 2-3 days. After a small sprout tail appears they are ready for eating.  Store in the fridge in a airtight container until ready for use.)

1 ½-cups of walnuts soaked in water for 12 hours and drained

½-cup cold pressed coconut oil

¼-cup raw honey

¼-cup grade B Canadian or Vermont maple syrup

2 tablespoons of cinnamon, or to taste

Pinch of good sea salt to taste

2 tablespoons of vanilla bean powder (because vanilla extract is made with alcohol) or some scraped vanilla bean (the more vanilla the merrier).

2 Fuji apples cored and diced. Soak pieces of apple in a lemon/water solution for an hour or so…. this provides good nutrition and your apple will not discolor in the dehydrator.  Use ¼ cup lemon juice for every cup of water need to just barely cover the apple.

In no particular order, mix all of the ingredients listed above in the largest bowl you have! Gently mix everything together and taste test so that you can adjust the spices, sweetness and saltiness to your liking.

Spread the mixture onto your dehydrator’s Teflon racks.  If your dehydrator only comes with one or two Teflon racks, use parchment paper instead. Trace and cut out the shape of your rack.  Please do not mistake wax paper for parchment. The slightest amount of heat makes food stick to wax paper.

Dehydrate for about 24 hours or until crunchy.  Store in a airtight container in the fridge.  It should last up to 6 months in the fridge. Tastes great with almond milk or yogurt!

Repeat: do not use wax paper!

The Chubby Vegetarian: A profile of Justin Fox Burks

By Erica Holmes

Food blogger Justin Burks is no run-of-the mill vegetarian; he never makes the same thing twice.  Burks and his wife Amy are building a blogging fanbase and gaining kahunas in the food and cookbook world.

You may have seen his photographs if you read The Memphis Flyer.  He is a photojournalist for them as well as a writing contributor for Edible Memphis. He gets around.  Just last month he was featured as a guest judge on season two of The Great Food Truck race when one of the challenges brought the competitors to the land of BBQ, Memphis, Tenn.

The host of the show, Tyler Florence, nearly threw the teams off their A game when he told them that no meat was allowed, it had to be 100 percent vegetarian.  That’s when Memphian, The Chubby Vegetarian, stepped up to the plate and selected who the winner would be.

“When you see him you are going to realize he is not that chubby.” said Florence during a phone call, alerting the teams of the challenge’s latest “speed bump”.

All this going on,  and Burks is also working on a spin-off cookbook of his blog.  He and his wife are putting together recipes and preparing to meet their manuscript’s March deadline with Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Burks describes his recipes as having a world-view but always staying true to his deeply southern perspective.

He was born in Mississippi, but spent nearly all of his life in Memphis.  His wife’s family is from Mississippi.  His father-in-law harvests a couple of acres out in Slayden.  Very lucky for Burks and his wife, who don’t believe in using processed foods.

“We’re in a pretty unique situation, a lot of our own food comes from our raised bed garden.  We’re really lucky that my father-in-law loves to garden.  He has a few acres of crops that he farms out in Slayden. Cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, peppers, you name it. Whatever is available and of the season he grows it. And we are the main beneficiaries of this…during the growing season he’ll show up to our house with two or three five gallon buckets full of produce.” Burks said when asked where he gets his produce.

So there’s the popular food blog, the national TV show appearance, a cookbook on the way, and he just played chef for the Memphis’ eaTABLE Secret Supper Club.  A underground restaurant that is hosted by up and coming chefs and talented foodies. October is the Vegan Month of Food aka Vegan Mofo. Burks and his wife prepared a six course meal that was entirely vegan and entirely delicious.  Indian Nachos (papadum crackers topped with curried veggies, coconut chutney, and black mustard seed). Smoky Brussels Sprout Salad. Forbidden Black Rice topped with seared “scallops” (pickled sea beans, and a kaffir lime leaf).  Panelle Sliders (grilled chickpea fritters on a sesame roll with caponata and pine nuts). Homemade beet, okra, and cucumber pickles. Sweet Potato Tamales. Savory flavored rice krispy treats made by his wife were for dessert.  All of these foods were served that night.

“The meat-eating guests seemed very pleased with the totally meatless meal, and I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I can’t believe this is vegan!” It’s funny how vegan food gets a reputation for being bland or inferior to meat-based dishes.” says Bianca Phillips, one of the dinner’s attendees, on her food blog Vegan Crunk.

It’s clear that Burks is an accomplished vegetarian and food blogger, but he is not an activist and is the first to admit he does not want to become one.  He is more interested in running marathons and dreaming up his next creation.

Interestingly enough, it requires seven and a half pounds of protein feed to create one pound of consumable hog protein; five pounds of protein feed to create one pound of consumable chicken protein. Nearly 90 percent of protein from wheat and beans is lost because large quantities of resources are devoted to producing wheat and soy for animal feed, which only provides about one-fifth of the amount they take in, according to data from

If you get a chance to meet Justin he probably won’t tell you this, in fact he is probably too busy working on one of his many projects.  He has an obvious southern charm and a passion for never making the same thing twice and eating well. “I believe that you should cook what’s fresh and what’s available. We don’t use any cans,  we use very little processed foods. We use dry beans instead of canned. We roast our own tomatoes for tomato sauce, and red peppers too.  We pickle. We are definitely pro-pickling. It’s very frontier-y” Burks laughed as he said this.