Montana Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Author interviews, food, natural history, poetry, and more from "The Write Question", "The Food Guys", "Field Notes", "Home Ground Radio", "Front Row Center", and "Reflections West".

Flickr user, Stacy Spensely (CC-BY-2.0)

What makes cottage fries irresistible? It's the caramelization. Whenever you bake or sauté carrots, onions or potatoes in oil or butter, you're  caramelizing - or oxidizing - the vegetables' own sugars, giving them a sweet nutty flavor and brown color. Thin potato pancakes, cooked in olive oil, covered, for 5-8 minutes on each side over medium heat, are the crunchy, delicious outcome of caramelization.


I consider myself to be a fairly normal human. Ten fingers, ten toes, two ears. Made up of thousands of different cells. Oh, and of all the cells in and on my body, the human cells are outnumbered tenfold by bacterial cells.

What might the humanities teach us about a global health crisis? In this conversation, acclaimed science journalist David Quammen speaks to Samantha Dwyer about how the arts and sciences can inform and comfort us, while we search for action and meaning. Attention is also given to rural states, as we watch national urban epicenters peak. This program is made possible through a partnership between Humanities Montana and MTPR.

When Life Hands You Cabbage, Make Coleslaw

Apr 12, 2020
Takeaway (CC-BY-2.0)

Traditional meals across Europe feature some sort of long-lasting pickled cabbage salad; there's krautsalat in Germany, insalata capricciosa in Italy, kapusta provansal in Russia and Ukraine, and veckosallad in Sweden.  Traditional American coleslaw features finely-sliced green or red cabbage, sliced carrots, whole milk, vinegar, sugar, mayonnaise and buttermilk. It's a staple of summer picnics and barbecues and can be made far in advance.

The Gall Of Aspens: Poplar Twig Gall Flies

Apr 12, 2020
Poplar twig galls
Eli Sagor (CC BY-NC 2.0)

"Is not disease the rule of existence? There is not a lily pad floating on the river but has been riddled by insects. Almost every shrub and tree has its gall, oftentimes esteemed its chief ornament and hardly to be distinguished from the fruit. If misery loves company, misery has company enough. Now, at midsummer, find me a perfect leaf or fruit." - Henry David Thoreau, journal entry, September 1851

Free Verse teaches literature and creative writing in juvenile halls across Montana. In this interview, Executive Director Claire Compton and Teachers Nicole Gomez and Taylor White invite listeners into the raw and heartfelt expressions of youth in detention. We discuss oppression and visibility as well as inevitable moments of hope and humor. According to Free Verse, “Our goal is to one day have teachers in every hall in Montana. Our dream is to shut down our organization because there are no halls left.” 

Gil Stober, Peak Recording Studios

What do Bill Gates and a small county seat in central Montana share? Their respective kudos to the company, Eventgroove. Speaking at a Montana economic summit about technology's ability to connect buyers with sellers around the globe, Gates singled out Eventgroove, name-dropping one notable customer of this Harlowton event-tech firm: Microsoft.

Recipe: Russian-Style Cabbage Rolls

Apr 5, 2020
Steven Depolo (CC-BY-2.0)

When Food Guy Greg Patent went to the grocery store recently, the beets he intended to buy looked tired, so his eyes began wandering over other produce possibilities. They stopped at green cabbage - crisp, fresh and glistening with droplets of water. Cabbage rolls were what he'd make.

The Teamwork Of Late Winter: Bird Flocks

Apr 5, 2020
A Bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) puffs its feathers, April 2011, Glacier National Park, MT
David Restivo, National Park Service. (PD)

Except when mating and nesting, bohemian and cedar waxwings are simply highly social birds. They seek food and water supplies large enough for the entire flock. They will sometimes dispatch a few birds at a time out of a larger flock to a food source, rather than allow a frenzied competition of individuals.

Part 2 of our special series on documentary filmmakers features Willow O'Feral and Brad Heck, the artists behind "Sisters Rising," which screened at the 2020 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. The film tracks six Native American women reclaiming personal and tribal sovereignty in the face of ongoing sexual violence against Indigenous women in the United States. In this interview, we'll discuss the historical and modern reinforcers of exploitation, obstacles to justice, and powerful stories of reclamation and healing. Additionally, the filmmakers share reflections of their own sense of privilege and what it means to break the fourth wall.