NRVâ€™s Premier Lifestyle Magazine
New River Valley March/April 2020
M A G A Z I N E
Food Fare Home Design Outdoor Bake Ovens Bluegrass in Narrows
Spring / Home Issue
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14 22 Pa sture Ta l k
Ou tdo or Bake Ovens 1 0
Ro of i ng Ba s i cs 1 4
Dr i veway Opt i o ns 1 8
Bl uegra ss i n Na rrows 22 Standardi zed Test i ng 26 Homewo r k 28 Cel ebrate Agr i cul t ure 3 0 Mo dern Mounta i n Ca bi n 32 NRV Ri des 3 6
Fo o d Fa re 4 4 Prof i l e 46
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NEW RIVER VALLEY M
P. O. Box 11816 Blacksburg, VA 24062 o: 540-961-2015 email@example.com www.nrvmagazine.com
PUBLISHER Country Media, Inc. Phillip Vaught MANAGING EDITOR Joanne Anderson ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Sabrina Sexton ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Kim Walsh DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Dennis Shelor WRITERS Joanne Anderson Karl Kazaks Krisha Chachra Emily Alberts Jennifer Cooper Becky Hepler Melody Warnick Nancy Moseley PHOTOGRAPHERS Kristie Lea Photography Kevin Riley Always and Forever Photography Tom Wallace Silver Pebble Photography Nathan Cooke, CBM © 2020 Country Media, Inc. Country Media, Inc. will not knowingly publish any advertisement that is illegal or misleading to its readers. Neither the advertiser nor Country Media, Inc. will be responsible or liable for misinformation, misprints, or typographical errors. The publisher assumes no financial liability for copy omissions by Country Media, Inc. other than the cost of the space occupied by the error. Corrections or cancellations to be made by an advertiser shall be received no later than 5 p.m. the 20th of each publishing month. No claim shall be allowed for errors not affecting the value of the advertisement. Paid advertising does not represent an endorsement by this publication. Content cannot be reproduced without written consent from Country Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Real Estate advertised in this publication is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Every day I walk in the woods with Patton [inset photo] and watch the unfolding of spring before my eyes. Some buds take their time to grow, and others seem to flourish overnight. Tree bark caught my attention one day, so I’m taking along the National Audubon Society’s “Field Guide to Trees”. The leaves aren’t out yet, so I’m learning trees by the bark. I often consult their other guides on wildflowers, birds, reptiles & amphibians, mammals, insects & spiders, and the night sky. My animal tracks book is a Peterson Field Guide. All those books are in my kitchen, and there are more. I don’t have the ones on mushrooms or fossils and other things I don’t see often. If you’re in need of a gift idea for someone of any age, these are entertaining and educational with great photos for under $20. Challenge yourself, your kids and grandkids to learn 20 flowers or trees or insects or constellations. I’m going for 20 trees that I can recognize with certainty by the bark. This is the second year we have included an Education theme in MarchApril, also still our Home Improvement issue. To make it extra interesting, we chose to look at SOL testing and homework, plus agriculture appreciation. I’ve chosen four questions from the 1895 8th grade test in Kansas for fun. The entire test is here:
• What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods? • Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each. • Give nine rules for capital letters. • Find the interest on $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent. At the recommendation of two friends, I started reading books by Bill Bryson like “A Walk in the Woods” and “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid”. I think I would be a better writer if I had read these earlier. To be a good writer, one needs to be a good reader. To be good at anything, it’s wise to look around and see what others are doing. Study successful people or businesses in your field of interest. As an armchair traveler, I’m enamored with “Visions of Italy” and “Visions of Britain” (including Ireland, Scotland and Wales), checked out from the Blacksburg public library. These are stunning aerial tours with classical and other music, informative commentary, gorgeous views and hours of wonderful entertainment. Speaking of looking at what others do, I read several magazine editor’s letters. Most of them, I find, they talk about what’s in the pages of the current issue and how great it is. I figure you are holding the magazine. You can find out what’s inside and how great it is all by yourself. Happy Spring!
http://www.indiana.edu/~p1013447/ dictionary/8thgradeexam.htm M a r - A p r 2 0 2 0
Joanne Anderson ManagingEditor firstname.lastname@example.org
Ho me I mp rovement
Outdoor Bake Ovens
Text by Joanne M. Anderson As outdoor spaces are being cleverly transformed into casual living areas, New River Valley homeowners are raising the bar on furnishings, cooking options and accoutrements. Once a concrete slab patio, now multi-level wood decks and stone paver areas with fire pits and hot tubs. Once a charcoal grill, then a gas grill, now a built-in gas range and a masonry bake oven. One does not have to be a homesteader living off the grid or a bonafide chef to make and enjoy delicious wood-fired oven food unrivaled for flavor and taste. Masonry bake ovens have 10
been found in archaeological digs in every ancient civilization, and brick ovens are as common today in Italy and parts of Europe as the outdoor grill is in American backyards. Ovens using wood for heat have an oven chamber with a floor or hearth, an arc-shaped roof with sides like a dome and a front door or open entry point. "Black" ovens burn the wood in the same space as the cooking takes place either while the fire is going or after flames and coals have been removed. "White" ovens, on the other hand, are warmed by heat transfer from a fire in a separate chamber.
This oven stays white for not ever having ashes or fire residue inside. Masonry ovens are ideal for their heat retention. Oven temperatures up to 1,000 degrees are possible. Stone holds heat evenly, and food is cooked from all sides including conduction from the hearth. Home cooks and bakers can use this oven for different things as the temperature declines because stone ovens stay warm overnight and even a couple days. Of course, things cook very fast in ultra high temperatures, and they are especially popular for pizza because one can cook lots of pizza when it takes just two to three minutes for each one. Both Brick House
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Pizza in Radford and Dogtown Roadhouse in Floyd use wood-fired ovens for pizza. Local stone mason, David Conroy of Stone Age Masonry, builds outdoor bake ovens. The one for the Blue Ridge Institute and Farm Museum, part of Ferrum College, is used frequently. “We have an 1800 German American Farmstead here,” relates Rebecca Austin, coordinator of education outreach and interpretation. “David crafted a wonderful, authentic, beehive bake oven like what would have been used by the farming family in this period.” The Farm Museum bakes black bottom bread every Saturday in the summer and for several special events. “The dough is placed directly on the oven floor where the fire is burning,” she says. When asked how she knows the right temperature, Austin explains: “Historically to check temp, one would throw in a handful of flour or cornmeal and watch the color for how fast it scorched. I’ve heard the same method using a chicken feather, but if I can hold my hand inside for 3 seconds before having to draw it out for the heat, I know it’s between 350 and 375 degrees.” 12
Radiant heat from the fire and the heat bouncing off the inside walls of the oven crisp the outside of pizza very quickly. Moisture in the dough is sealed off, which prevents the base of the dough from becoming soggy. It results in a flavorful crust that’s puffy, soft and chewy. Only a wood-fired brick pizza oven delivers a smoky flavor that cannot be duplicated. High temperatures produce other flavors not achieved by slow cooking. Vegetable toppings will be crispier than using a traditional oven. This quick cooking also allows vitamins and other nutrients in the vegetables to remain. Cheese does not burn and has good color and a smoky flavor. The moist heat of burning wood can be credited for the enhanced flavor of food from wood-fired bake ovens, which use all three forms of heat - convection, radiation and conduction. Wood contains hydrogen and oxygen, the same components of water, so wood burning generates moisture. Anyone who bakes artisan bread at home from a book like "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François,
knows that the baker adds one cup of very hot water to a broiler pan under the stone which holds the bread at the beginning of baking. This creates the luscious crispy crust of Old World breads. Having a backyard bake oven opens all kinds of new entertaining and cooking options for the whole family to cook excellent meats, pizza, bread and more. Blurring the lines between indoors and outside is easy for summer entertaining, cooking and relaxing, and with an outdoor masonry bake oven, you may even eat more healthy and be more healthy.
Blue Ridge Institute & Farm Museum www.ferrum.edu/blueridgeinstitute Admission: Free Spring, Fall and Winter: Mon-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Sunday Summer: Mon-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. [mid-May to mid-Aug] Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
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Ho me I mp rovement
A Drop in the Bucket ~ roofing basics
Text by Joanne M. Anderson Chances are high that you need a new roof if you are catching a drop - or more - in a bucket - or buckets, but most of the time, the signs of an aging roof are not quite so obvious. Water travels in many directions, so any drip location may not be directly below the leak or even on the same side of the house. If not corrected, more than rain water might be coming in, like bugs, small creatures and creepy crawlies. Other signs include sagging, moss growth and shingles in your yard following windy days or nights. Roofs can leak at flashing. Water spots on ceilings, mildew or mold and bubbling paint inside can point to a compromised roof. If you see a section where the roof appears to be depressed or indented, this could indicate a breakdown of structural materials, and any dent in roofing is a gathering spot for water, snow melt, wet leaves, critters and myriad things which might erode and penetrate roofing materials. Even if you live in a newly 14
constructed house, it’s wise to inspect your roof annually. When considering buying an older home, look carefully at the roof from the side. If you see multiple layers of tar paper and/or shingles, beware. This roof has most likely been patched over the years, and a “built-up” roof is neither safe nor secure. Factor the cost of a new roof into your offer. With new home improvement materials coming on the market all the time, it’s wise that all homeowners have a working knowledge of roofing basics. “By far our most common roof type is asphalt shingles,” says Ed Tuchler, president of Shelter Alternatives. “This is partially due to cost, but also addresses the fact that asphalt shingles are easily installed by many different contractors, while metal roofing is more of a specialty. Asphalt shingles can be modified easily for skylights or other upgrades.” While perhaps several types of contractors can install roofing, Wayne Simpson of New River Valley Roofing cautions property managers and
homeowners to work with professional, experienced roofers with references. “There are all kinds of ways to cut corners and perform sloppy workmanship that most people would never recognize, until perhaps their roof has issues in just a few years.” Simpson is president of NRV Roofing, which is based in Radford and has been in business since 1995. Like most jobs, getting it right the first time is exponentially better than trying to fix, patch or mend something as expensive and expansive as a roof. Metal roofing is gaining in popularity and reports indicate that a metal roof with an integral air space can reduce energy bills and heat accumulation in the attic. Additionally, some metal roofs are being crafted from thousands of recycled beverage cans and other materials. One favorable characteristic of metal roofs is longevity. They can carry a 40-year warranty, compared to 20-30 years for asphalt shingles, and some last even longer. Metal roofs are much more
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expensive and noisier than shingles and may have expansion and contraction issues. Tim Henderson at Henderson Roofing points out that the metal can come loose as often the screws and fasteners do not last more than a decade, then the roof leaks where the fasteners fail. There can be more maintenance issues with metal, and Henderson has seen many metal roofs with unattractive, faded paint. “I prefer not to install exposed fastener metal roofs on homes,” states Tuchler. “I feel like you are putting on an 80-year roof with 10-year washers on the fasteners. We have done several roofs with standing seam ‘snap lock’ metal roofing with concealed fasteners which are durable and attractive. The details of installation are more finicky, though, and it requires a specialty contractor for proper installation.”
A metal roof is a good choice if solar panels are to be installed. “Standing seam metal roofs are great for use with solar panels,” Tuchler continues. “Not only are they longer lived, so it is unlikely to have to remove panels to replace the roofing, but the panels can be supported by clamps that connect to the standing seams, reducing the number of penetrations through the roof. For example, the 40 solar panels on our office roof [701 Progress St. NE, Blacksburg] only have one penetration through the roof. We recently installed solar on a new home with traditional shingles that had 90 penetrations through the roof.” There are cool roofs, solar tiles, green roofs with plants and integrated drainage systems, thatched, clay, slate, stone-coated steel and more. Tesla has launched four styles of solar tiles that look like traditional roofing. Tuchler
addresses this: “We try to reach a balance between ‘cutting edge’ and ‘tried and true’, so we have not yet explored solar tile roofs. I believe there is a future there, but not yet in Southwest Virginia. For us, the decision to explore this will be when we have a client who is interested.” Whether or not you pinpoint a potential roofing problem, get a pQrofessional to do an inspection and submit a quote, and you might want to be sitting down when you read it. But your house could be your largest investment over a lifetime, and it’s worth maintaining. A roofing system installed with good materials and excellent labor, albeit not a drop in the bucket for your bank account, is designed to last decades and give value to your home. The roof over your head is important, and it’s not a place from which you want to experience a drop in the bucket.
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Ho me I mp rovement
Driveway Options and Maintenance
Text by Karl H. Kazaks Springtime is the season commonly associated with cleaning, upkeep and repair of your house and yard. As you stand outside appraising the lawn or seeing where the house exterior needs to be painted or pressure washed, note that there’s a vital feature of your landscape which deserves its own attention and maintenance: the driveway. In the New River Valley, most driveways are asphalt. While concrete is a strong material and good for driveways in some circumstances, given our colder climate, asphalt tends to be a preferred choice. Not only is asphalt less costly to install, in many cases the surface of asphalt will be warmer than concrete 18
in the same location due to its dark coloration, helping to melt ice and snow. But asphalt also requires maintenance. “If you don’t maintain an asphalt driveway,” says Donnie Tignor of Donnie’s Driveway Sealing & Paving in Christiansburg, “it’ll last 10 to 15 years. If you do maintain it, it could last 25 or more years.” Tignor, who has been in the asphalt and paving business for 30 years, recommends sealcoating an asphalt driveway the year after it has been installed and every three years thereafter. Think about sealcoating asphalt as you would staining wood siding or a wood deck. It is a protective coating which
minimizes the harsh effects of being outside. Sealcoating can protect against the erosive effects of water. By filling small cracks before they become big cracks, sealcoating helps shed water, preventing it from seeping through the asphalt to the base beneath it. It also acts as a protective shield to the corrosive effects of sunlight. Sunlight can dry out asphalt, and UV rays can also erode the top layer of a driveway. Just like some people regularly moisturize their skin, you might want to consider sealcoating to keep your asphalt driveway from drying out. If you’ve neglected the care of your asphalt driveway for a while – and
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cracks are starting to appear – all is not lost. Cracks in asphalt driveways can be repaired prior to adding a sealcoat. “Crack repair followed by sealcoating can really rejuvenate a driveway,” explains C.W. Pillow of Paving Plus in Christiansburg. “Every driveway is different. The size and condition and scope of work is dependent on the history of care and the environment, so you really need to get a professional out to the site to inspect the work.” 20
Pillow recommends that as you research asphalt contractors, ask for references and check previous work. “Keep in mind the cheapest price may not be the most attractive price,” he explains. “You want to get the work done right the first time. We all buy asphalt from the same places.” Companies like Paving Plus and Donnie’s provide a full array of asphalt and surfacing services, from cutting in
brand new asphalt driveways to patching and striping (painting). If you have a concrete driveway, it needs sealing as well for the same reasons. A “wet look” sealer creates a film which looks wet on the surface for protection. Oil and grease, for example, can be hosed off. It is less expensive than the “dry look” sealers, but requires more frequent application. The “dry look” type of sealer actually penetrates concrete, but does not protect against oil and grease stains. It can, however, last up to 10 years. While concrete requires less maintenance, it is considerably more expensive than asphalt and, for many homeowners, not as attractive. Tar-and-chip driveways combine a gravel base with hot liquid asphalt or bitumen and small loose stones which are tamped down to embed into the new driveway surface. These provide better traction and are less expensive to install than asphalt or concrete. But it may be challenging to find a contractor skilled in it, which might run the cost up in the long run. Tar-and-chip can be easily damaged by snowplowing. Dirt or gravel driveways require much more maintenance in terms of dust reduction, mud issues, erosion, pot holes and washboard surfaces. They need grading perhaps even once or twice a year depending on use and vehicle types, and snowplows and snowblowers need to be operated very carefully. On the other hand, they look rustic and with good maintenance can serve well for many decades. Brick pavers are as attractive as they are expensive and not as appealing in the New River Valley because of temperature variations. Winter causes frost heaving, which can be difficult to repair. They also require routine washing and sealing if pavers are mortared. If they are loose-fit, then weeds should be removed and new sand applied as often as needed. Clay bricks are prone to chip, flake and peel over time. Whatever the driveway material, proper maintenance will extend the life and look, as well as value, for a long time. “I’m especially satisfied,” Pillow relates, “when the job is over, and we know we’ve left the whole property looking better.”
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Bluegrass Music Jammin’ in Narrows
Text and Photos by Kevin Riley Locally, it is a well-known fact that if one is interested in taking in some of the bluegrass music scene, you had better head over to Floyd on a Friday night. Or, you may want to go down to Galax and see what is going on there. A lesser-known venue for local bluegrass music is found in Narrows near the western edge of Giles County. While Giles is recognized for great paddling, fishing, hiking, a certain waterfall and the movie, “Dirty Dancing,” it is not the first place that comes to mind for bluegrass music, yet. There is a small, dedicated group of local folks and kids who would like to change that. MacArthur Inn, named after the famous WW II Pacific theater general, hosts local musicians every Thursday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. They gather for dinner and then play old-time and 22
bluegrass music next to the restored 78 rpm jukebox in the parlor. On the third Thursday of the month, it isn’t just the oldtimers showcasing their skills. It’s “youth night” from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and these kids are already quite accomplished. Two families of brothers are actively working on taking their skills to the next level. The McGlothlin brothers of Narrows, Max and Sam, have been playing together for several years. Max, 15, has been playing fiddle since the age of 4 and playing gigs since he was seven. His younger brother, Sam, has joined him, and the two switch back-and-forth between the fiddle and guitar. The Albert (rhymes with TALLbert) brothers, DJ [age 15], Sam  and Shane  also play bluegrass. The two families have been working to combine forces and are beginning to meld into
something of a band. D.J.’s specialty is banjo, while his brother, Sam (aka Big Sam) plays guitar. Shane is the newcomer and has been playing bass about six months. This entire endeavor has been nourished and, in a way, curated by the McGlothlin brothers’ maternal grandfather, Dave Lloyd. Back in the day, during Dave’s entrance exam into Virginia Tech, he was told that his aptitude for music was greater than his aptitude for engineering. He was more confident in his ability to earn a living as an engineer than as a musician, so he went in that direction. But he took the information to heart, enrolled in fiddle lessons and kept fine-tuning his music. Many years later, his grandson Max came along, and grandpa Dave and little Max began playing music together. Max initially took an interest in the fiddle
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and later began to take lessons. Weekly, he would travel an hour to West Virginia to take fiddle lessons from none other than Lewisburg’s own Adam DeGraff (see sidebar). He and brother Sam have been taking these lessons for several years. Another contributor to the boys’ progress has been Radford-based New River Community College engineering instructor Jeff Levy. He works with the boys on more nuanced aspects of music, such as listening to others, generosity, ensemble, coherence and transposing songs to other keys. Clearly, he enjoys his time with the young musicians. Through his guidance, they have been learning to improvise so that, even though they might not know a specific song called in a jam session, they can still play around the melody using the chord changes of the song. In our modern era, it may come as no surprise to hear that pursuing a 24
discipline such as music that requires, well, discipline, is not so popular among a younger population which can be heavily invested in cell phones, social media and video games. The boys all report having difficulty talking about musical matters with their friends and peers. But, on those occasions when they do play for their local school, it really does connect with other kids. This occurred recently in the fall talent show sponsored by Shelor Motor Mile. The boys did well at their school show and were sent on to the regional competition. Again, they did well there, but did not win. They hope to fare better next year. One of the highlights of their experience at the competition was actually offstage — they were able to spend time before the show jamming with other contestants. All of the brothers — both McGlothlin and Albert — are active students, athletes and avid hunters.
Music, however, has brought them together. They are interested in learning how far they can go with it, but so far are not thinking of making music a career move. They hope to enter some competitions in the coming year, but are generally taking life a day at a time. They would like NRV Magazine readers to show up Thursday nights. You can listen, tap your toes and/or bring along an instrument and join the jam.
Adam DeGraff is an American violinist, composer, producer, educator, and farmer. He spent the first part of his career as a first-chair, professional orchestral musician. Since then, Adam has been experimenting with rock violin, live looping, alternative music education, and traditional permaculture farming practices.
March/Apri l 2020
Meet the Artist
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Educa t i o n
the past, present and questionable future of standardized testing in Virginia
Text by Nancy S. Moseley The scene is familiar: rows of students hunched over desks, a completely silent room aside from the beads of sweat dropping off furrowed foreheads and landing as pencil-filled dots on pastel scantron sheets. Of course most testing is now conducted online, but the sweaty foreheads part is likely still on point. Testing in childhood education shows up as early as the mid-1800s, but it wasn’t until 1965’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that the federal government became involved by administering funds to schools in an effort to make education more equitable. Years later, President George W. Bush’s 2002 No Child Left Behind Act built on the ESEA by requiring annual testing in reading and math in all 50 states in order to receive that federal funding. The most recent amendment was President Barack Obama’s 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It replaced the faltering NCLB act, whose blanketed 26
requirements – no consideration for disadvantaged or disabled students were increasingly inapplicable in the classroom. The ESSA gave significantly more control to the states to establish their own academic standards. In Virginia, the Standards of Learning (SOL) testing program was already in full swing. It launched in 1998 in response to declining SAT and 4th grade reading scores. SOL tests covered four content areas: English, math, science and social studies in 3rd, 5th and 8th grades and in high school. “When SOLs were first brought in, I was 100% behind them,” says one retired Montgomery County Public School teacher. The tests were explained as a way to measure basic skills. In other words, “What minimum knowledge we wanted our students to walk away with in a given subject, in a given grade,” he offers. However, as the years of testing championed on, the questions got harder
and harder. Around 2010 the Virginia Department of Education decided to shift test focus from grade-level competency to college and career readiness. “The dynamic of the tests suddenly changed,” states the retired teacher. “And the results were used to punish teachers.” SOL scores became 50% of a teacher’s evaluation, securely linking their salary and job security to how well a typically stressed student could take a standardized test on material above grade-level competency. “It wasn’t about teaching and learning, it was about the pass rate. The state told us what topics we had to cover; there was no room for anything else. It killed creativity,” the teacher says. “’Teaching to the test’ has never been the intention of the State Board of Education,” states Charles Pyle, VDOE’s director of media relations. “This is something the board is aware of and has been concerned about, when instruction becomes overly focused on the blueprint
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of a particular SOL test.” A simple Google search will confirm that national enrollment in teacher education programs has been on a downward spiral for a decade. In 2017, an Advisory Committee on Teacher Shortages in Virginia released a report citing a 40% increase of unfilled teacher positions in the last 10 years. Several reasons are hypothesized (low pay, high expectations, emotionally taxing), but over-testing and the push for centralized curricula is among them. Why be a teacher if you have little to no voice in the learning experience? In July 2011, superintendent of public instruction Patricia I. Wright told the “Richmond-Times Dispatch,” “Is there too much testing in Virginia’s public schools? Is ‘test preparation’ crowding out real teaching and learning in some schools? You may be surprised that my answer, as one of the architects of the SOL program, is ‘yes’ to both questions.” Standardized testing appears to be a way to control the narrative our nation’s public education system is telling. VDOE’s “Historical Overview of the Standards of Learning Program” is littered with phrases like, ‘led the nation,’ ‘exceeding,’ and ‘above international averages.’ Sure, there seems to be a general unspoken understanding that maybe all this testing isn’t the greatest thing after all. But consistently high and everincreasing scores make a better story. A Blacksburg High School freshman declares: “I feel like taking SOLs at the end [of the year] don’t really help me learn better than I would if I didn’t have them. I don’t think the score reflects how smart I am. Some people aren’t good at taking tests, but they’re still really smart.” The retired teacher concurs: “People are realizing, and research shows, that you don’t measure a child’s academic worth by a test.” As it turns out, memorize and regurgitate does not denote knowledge. On the upswing, last spring the VDOE reduced the number of SOLs required to earn both standard and advanced diplomas around the same time that Bloomberg.com published an article citing that a “decades-long infatuation with standardized testing is finally waning.” The performance of 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), where all the test data ends up, “has flatlined.” Furthermore, the ESSA now has a pilot program focused on alternative assessment methods. The opportunity to develop dynamic, project-based teaching and testing methods is on the horizon. After all, the goal should be to keep students engaged and passionate about their interests during a time when they are first developing those interests. High-stakes testing and what is has done to teacher morale and student mentality is justifiably a touchy subject. Even those approached in Montgomery County Public Schools did not return attempts for comment on standardized testing. As the English SOL may cover, every story has five basic elements: characters, setting, plot, conflict and resolution. The teacher and the students are in place and the test is about to begin. The conflict is clear. Here’s hoping the resolution is imminent. And that it’s a happy ending. Nancy S. Moseley is freelance writer from Blacksburg who thankfully graduated from the public school system before the implementation of SOLs. NRVMAGAZINE.com
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Educa t i o n
Homework: Love it or Loathe it?
Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts Is homework really necessary? Research has been unclear as to whether homework improves student performance, particularly at the elementary school level. Paula Bolte (a.k.a. the Toylady) of Imagination’s Toys in Blacksburg says: “Homework is just not the right type of work that should be happening between children, their parents and educators.” Bolte explains that things like creative play and communication (reading, writing) prove better metrics of success than bringing home binders of sedentary busy work. But what does the board of Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) have to say on the matter? According to MCPS spokeswoman Brenda Drake, the district is in the middle of a strategic planning session, 28
and “the role of homework, especially at the elementary school level, is certainly in the discussion.” Barbara Wickham, director of elementary education, explains: “The district has had discussions around ensuring that homework is meaningful, purposeful, age appropriate, and follows evidencebased best practice.” One Blacksburg elementary school, Margaret Beeks, has pioneered this new path. Based on a decision by the former principal, teachers at Beeks have scaled back the “busy work” homework for the past two years – and aside from unfinished classwork or targeted skill work, kids are simply asked to read for 10 to 20 minutes each night. “Reading encourages the fundamentals,” says Drake. “Plus, when students read at
home, they can find books that work for them, in addition to the traditional stuff they read in school.” So, as the MCPS school board deliberates, some 10,000 kids spread across 20 elementary schools eagerly await the verdict. But it’s not just a district-wide discussion. It’s an international debate. Starting in February , students at 256 schools across the United Arab Emirates are no longer given assignments to complete outside the classroom. “The no homework rule will create a balance between academic requirements and family life, which is essential for growth and personal development,” the Ministry of Education says. When asked for their opinion on the matter, kids will likely tell you
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they don’t miss homework. They enjoy time to be kids. Some parents worry that no homework will mean more time for kids to play on their devices and watch TV. Every family is different, and the amount of time available in the evenings for parents to help kids with homework varies by household. Some parents don’t get home from work until dinner time. They want to enjoy their kids for the few evening hours they have. Other parents may be confused by the homework and get frustrated trying to help. "Not assigning homework doesn’t change the fact that kids who need extra practice the most usually don’t have the necessary support at home," says Brandy Young, a second-grade teacher who gained national attention in 2016 when a “no more homework” note she wrote to her class parents was posted on social media. As a parent myself, I try not to bring my work home with me. Even though I work from home, I put away my laptop and phone to be present to play with my kids when they’re home from school. And yes, that time is precious. Between basketball practice, music lessons, dinner and chores, there isn’t a ton of time to add more work to the mix. But I do miss having that window into what my kids do all day, just as I know they are curious about what mommy does for work all day. However, there are always graded class worksheets in their folders, so when I want to see what they’ve been up to, I can find out. I’ll admit, when I see a “B” instead of an “A” on a report card I think to myself: “Gosh, if they had just sent a review sheet home, maybe I could have helped my kid understand the material.” According to professor Harris Cooper, author of "The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents" (2001), the bottom line is: “All kids should be doing homework, but the amount and type should vary according to their developmental level and home circumstances.” Having kid-specific homework assignments, however, puts more stress on the teachers -- from preparing it, to printing it, assigning it, grading it and returning it. It would also cost the school more money. Cooper suggests that homework for young students should be “short and lead to success without much struggle, occasionally involve parents, and when possible, use out-of-school activities that kids enjoy, such as their sports teams or high-interest reading." Keeping the work engaging, brief and to the point seems like the best bet, along with not assigning homework for the sake of assigning it, but only as needed. Kids burn out, just like adults do. Most of us are already putting in at least 40 hours of work per week, so having positive family time during the week is a must. Plus, taking a break from active learning helps our brains rest and recover, so that later we are more apt to absorb information. Maybe taking a break from homework is not such a bad idea after all. You know what they say: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”
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Written by Emily K. Alberts, whose kids are homework-free at Margaret Beeks Elementary and are already much smarter than she is.
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Educa t i o n
Celebrate Agriculture 7 ag-focused ways to get involved
From the food on your table to the clothes on your back, agriculture provides a variety of things you eat, wear and use daily. Those items don't magically arrive in the New River Valley at the store or in your home. National Ag Week is March 22-28, with National Ag Day on Tues., March 24. It is organized by the Agricultural Council of America [ACA] whose core values are that every American should: • Understand how food and fiber products are produced. • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products. • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy. • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry. 30
The New River Valley is near and dear to the heritage of agriculture and farming. In 1925, four educators at Virginia Tech organized the Future Farmers of Virginia (FFV) which served as the model for the national organization Future Farmers of America (FFA), established in 1928. Each American farmer feeds about 165 people, according to the ACA, which is composed of leaders in agriculture, food and fiber industries dedicated to increasing public awareness of agriculture's role in modern society. Learning more about the industry can allow individuals to make more informed choices about everything from their diets to legislation. In honor of the 47th annual National Ag Day with the theme "Food Brings Everyone to the Table," these activities that can help kids and adults learn more about how the agriculture industry impacts daily life.
Make a Farm-to-Table Meal Making a meal together is an easy activity for spending quality time with the entire family, and you can turn it into a learning experience and opportunity to talk about where food comes from by combining seasonal produce like asparagus, peas, oranges and lemons with ingredients Virginia is known for such as peanuts, tomatoes, apples and grapes. Research Agricultural Issues From climate change and protecting air, soil and water to feeding a growing global population and using technology to improve food production, there are many issues facing the agriculture industry. To be more aware of what the future may hold, learn more about some of the challenges that farmers face.
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Consider Agricultural Careers Students and young adults might consider joining the 22 million people who work in agriculture-related fields. While the most obvious careers in agriculture are directly related to the farm or ranch, today's agriculture offers more than 200 careers from research and engineering to food science, landscape architecture and urban planning. Tour a Local Farm or Dairy Taking a tour of a farm or dairy can provide a better understanding of how food and fiber products are produced and the role agriculture plays. Make it a group outing with friends or family to help more people see the process food goes through from production to sitting on store shelves. Contact Legislators in Support of Farm and Food Initiatives The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 created reform for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs through 2023. To get more hands-on, contact local legislators to
show support for farming initiatives, FFA and 4-H programs, as well as those that can improve opportunities for farmland leasing, subsidies, urban gardening, food hubs and other ag-focused resources and operations. Visit a Farmers Market Open seasonally throughout the New River Valley, farmers markets provide a perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with your food and the people who grow it. Take the family and make an event out of picking up some fresh produce to use in family meals. Volunteer at a Community Garden Many NRV municipalities provide garden plots for residents to grow food for themselves or to donate within the community. Consider setting aside time to give back by cleaning flower beds, laying mulch or planting flowers and crops in these areas.
More ways to celebrate agriculture agday.org Wong Park Community Garden opens in the spring of 2020 off Wilson Street in Blacksburg with 12 to 15 community garden. Hale Community Garden is a 5-acre of community garden with 70 garden plots, greenhouse, beehives, small apple orchard and more at the north end of Blacksburg. Check also: www.floydecovillage.com/farm----gardens Giles County cooperative efforts Pulaski community garden plans Farmacy Garden, Christiansburg
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NRV Ho me
Mountain Modern Cabin
Text and photos courtesy of Ed Tuchler, president of Shelter Alternatives When his father passed away, Clem Carter was the natural choice among his siblings to take on the property near Luster’s Gate outside Blacksburg that his father loved so much. Work began in 2017 on a modest upgrade to the studio where his dad, Dean Carter, spent many hours. The elder Carter helped establish the Art Department at Virginia Tech, served as its head for a decade and was an esteemed artist himself. Spring of 2018, after months of careful design, saw the start of construction of a new home on the mountain above the studio. It was the spot Clem’s father had always referred to as the number one building site. Inspired by the studio’s shed roof and tall north windows, the view and mountain setting, Clem worked with designer Chris Hudson of Shelter Alternatives to design a home that Clem’s daughter would later dub the “mountain modern” cabin. At first look, the floor plan appears modern, yet simple enough with 32
a square footprint. The juxtaposition of the four opposing shed roofs led to the need for a steel structure. That was just fine with Clem, as the vision forming in his mind combined the use of visible steel and glass contrasting with brick, wood and stone. The shed roof concept is also mimicked in the freestanding carport that stands as somewhat of a bandstand to welcome visitors. The 2,850-square-foot house features four bedrooms, two upstairs with a generous loft. Views from these bedrooms are framed by large windows where the drywall from the walls and ceiling blend seamlessly. The only trim is a thick piece of walnut at the sill. This presentation of the view could pose the challenge of guests not wanting to leave. In the bathrooms, the high windows provide privacy but allow for a play of light. The highest windows feature a splayed sill to spread the light lower into the room. The lower ceiling of the loft gives it a cozy feel while the view over the half
wall peers down past a steel beam and wood ceiling to the expansive living room below. The main level features the master bedroom suite along with another modest bedroom intended for Clem’s mother. Each sports its own bathroom, and the smaller bedroom shares the bath with the public space. Almost hidden behind a large barnstyle door off the hallway to the master suite sits the laundry area. As you enter the house through the mudroom, what catches your eye is the kitchen and great room, opening up with a tower of light from a stack of five windows opposite the stairway. The steel stairway carriage supports thick walnut treads custom-made for the application and light cable guard rails that sometimes disappear among the other materials. An adjacent brick wall contrasts the smoothness of the steel and walls and extends outside to blur the transition from inside to outside. The great room is filled with glass
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that follows up the roofline of the main shed angle. A 16-foot double sliding glass door opens to a covered deck where the roof line continues from inside to outside. Stepping through the doors, the view of the valley is framed by the cable rail and a steel beam. A wood ceiling curves up beyond the beam like it is reaching for the view. The kitchen sits toward the front of the house and is also open to the great room and the views. Wall construction was largely done with 2 x 6 studs on 24” centers filled with damp spray cellulose. Most of the walls also received a continuous layer of EPS foam sheathing creating an R-30 wall envelope. The ceiling trusses allowed 34
Shelter Alternatives to maintain the long spans and insulate to R-60 with blownin cellulose. The house sits on a sealed crawl space with the tallest portion of the crawl space allowing a full-size, walk-in door. A concrete slab in this portion of the crawl space allows easy access to service the high efficiency, fully modulating heat pump (17.75 SEER 11.8 EER, 9HSPF) and the energy recovery ventilator. Attention to details by field supervisor Eddie Hall in executing the vision of Clem and Hudson show in the way the house came together. Former students of Dean’s have noted the presence of his vision here. Passing the studio on the drive to the house, one can’t help but pick up on
the similarities in inspiration. As a nod to the natural setting, minimal tree cutting was done around the residence, and a trickle septic system is installed among the trees avoiding a clear cut. Clem and his wife look forward to sharing their mountain modern cabin with friends and family through the years.
This home is certified by Viridiant to meet Earthcraft and Energy Star standards achieving a HERS* rating of 53, which is nearly 50% more efficient than a similar home built only to standard code.
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Home Away from Home for Humans and Horses
Text by Karl H. Kazaks Photos by Tom Wallace Sarah and Nick Canevari love animals. On their farm in Floyd, the married couple – both veterinarians at Town & Country Veterinary Clinic in Christiansburg – care for more than 60 creatures, including cats, a dog, chickens, guineas and miniature donkeys. Their Quarter Horses are provided the most sophisticated transportation: a 2018 3-horse, dual-axle, four-wheel Shadow horse trailer with living quarters. Weighing 6,500 pounds and capable of bearing an additional load of 10,000 pounds, the trailer is stout and impressive. “We had to buy a truck to match the trailer,” Nick relates, referring to a 2013 GMC Sierra 2500 Duramax with a gooseneck hitch. The couple bought the trailer new and have already taken it out west multiple times to South Dakota to buy 36
horses, and to Colorado where they were married in 2018. On their wedding night, because the ranch where they held the ceremony was fully booked, the newlyweds slept in their new trailer. The living quarters, all things considered, are spacious. “It literally has every spec we wanted,” Nick adds. In the forward portion of the living quarters, a step-up platform leads to a California king bed, in the elevated section where the trailer connects to and rides over the bed of the truck. The middle part of the living quarters includes a living space with sofa and kitchen with a 2-burner propane stove, microwave, small fridge and exhaust fan. This section also has a slide which increases the width of the living quarters when travel has stopped and the rig is parked. “The slide was definitely a selling point,” states Sarah.
“There’s also a lot of storage space.” The rear of the living quarters has a complete bathroom with toilet and full hot water shower. The back wall is slanted to accommodate the slant design of the stalls in the rear of the trailer. Locally, the Canevaris use the trailer to take their Quarter Horses to a trainer in Hillsville, where the duo practice the techniques measured in Versatility Ranch Horse Competitions: roping, reining, cutting and more – the skills required of western performance horses and their riders. The Canevaris participate as amateurs in ranch horse competitions, having started competing about two years ago when looking for something more than just trail riding. “Competitions are intense,” Nick explains. “It’s an adrenaline rush, going full speed,
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spinning, stopping, turning. Quarter Horses can manage it because they have such thick, powerful hindquarters.” “Our horses,” Sarah says, “seem to really like cutting,” or the process of handling a lone cow separated from its herd. They own five Quarter Horses, all geldings, and recently purchased a brood mare with which they plan to raise their own Quarter Horses. “We’re hoping more people catch on to how fun competing is.” Nick used to work as a contractor, and they have built a horse barn and riding arena at home for regular practice. The rear of the trailer has two side-opening doors. The door on the right is where the horses step into the trailer, 38
and the left door encloses the trailer’s tack storage, fitted with a convenient slide-out saddle rack. Apparent on the outside of the trailer are utilities which support life inside the trailer propane tanks, a battery, satellite dish. Tucked behind the sidewalls are tanks for fresh, grey and black water. There’s also a spare tire mounted on the front wall of the trailer’s main enclosure. The battery runs the lights and microwave, and there is a generator which powers an air conditioner. Some of the appliances are barely used. Instead of using the satellite dish, for example, the Canevaris usually watch DVDs. And the stove is used only for
light cooking like boiling water and such. More involved cooking they do outside over a portable grill. Sarah credits their decision to cook mainly outside to the fact that the trailer still smells new inside. That’s something the Canevaris appreciate when they are at a show in summer and have time to take a break between rounds, enjoying fresh air and the clean smell of their home away from home. The trailer provides a nice interlude before they get back out to participating in the competitions. “It’s one of those things,” Nick declares, “that when you do it once, you can’t wait to do it again.”
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Trail Champion outdoor enthusiast
Ralph Robertson leads Giles County in adventure
Text by Nancy S. Moseley | Photos by Nathan Cooke, CBM In 1987, Ralph Robertson was featured in Outdoor Life Magazine for float fishing the New River. Now he is instrumental in efforts like ReNew the New and River Cleanup and often volunteers his time to teach interested folks how to kayak and stand-up paddleboard. But, fishing? It just isn’t his thing anymore. “I can’t get back into it,” Robertson laughs. “Even when I’m out catching fish I can’t figure out what I saw in it all the years I liked it. But I guess a 40
person changes.” Robertson was born in Narrows in 1951. After high school graduation he enlisted in the military. Five months later, he landed in Vietnam for what turned out to be a 26-month stay. When he was young, all Robertson wanted to do was get out of small-town Narrows. “There was nothing to do,” he reflects. After Vietnam, he returned to the states and battled a noxious relationship with alcohol for
nearly 10 years. He settled into a job at Celanese Corporation in 1972 and retired six years ago after 41 years of employment. “Whenever I felt I had to have a drink or a cigarette, I’d run up the mountain,” Robertson remembers. To fortify sobriety, he dove into the outdoor recreation. He started mountain biking, trail running, paddling and rock climbing. “Then I realized I lived in paradise my whole life and didn’t know it!” Life in the outdoors became Robertson’s new relationship. Now he is somewhat of a mountain man hero, known for his profound knowledge of the local landscape and his passion for its care and upkeep, something he started entirely on his own in the early ‘80s. “When I first started clearing the trails around Mill Creek, the forest service actually threatened arrest,” Robertson chuckles. But he cunningly affirms that he never built new trails, he merely kept the brush cleared away from existing log roads so bikers, hikers and runners alike could gain access. All he used was a saw. More than 20 years after Robertson began forest vigilantism, Giles County started to take interest in outdoor recreation as well. Official permission from the forest service followed shortly thereafter, and the creation of the first sanctioned map of Robertson’s Mill Creek trail system was released. “An individual cannot get anything done. You have to be part of group. If it’s part of local government it’s even better,” Robertson states. The tourism committee in Giles County began meeting informally in the early 2000s and immediately understood the gift they had in Robertson. “I contribute what I can, river knowledge and stuff like that,” he humbly remarks. “Anything they need me to do, I’m glad to do it. That’s more or less my passion.”
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“He’s not only a wonderful stakeholder, but he’s a user of outdoor recreation and community assets. If something is on his mind, it probably means we should also be paying attention,” Cora Gnegy, Giles County’s tourism marketing director, offers. Susan Kidd, director of strategic development in Narrows adds: “Local folks can identify with him and what he is saying. Sometimes there is suspicion when ‘outsiders’ try to tell locals how to care of their own home area. People respect his opinion.” Robertson has paddled the famed Gauley River and through the turbulent New River Gorge. He’s paddled all of the New River and most of its tributaries, from near Boone, NC, to the Gauley Bridge. He’s walked 800+ miles of the Appalachian Trail, all of Virginia and Maryland, much of Pennsylvania and sections in North Carolina and Tennessee. He met his wife mountain biking at Pandapas Pond and recalls how
he wrecked in the creek “right in front of her!” on the day they met. He currently manages a 7.2mile section the Mary Ingles Trail from Glen Lyn Park to the West Virginia border. He belongs to the Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech and leads curiosity seekers on spelunking missions into the old 1930s commercial cave in Narrows, rigging up a 40-foot ladder system and putting folks on belay. He has recently been asked to share his knowledge for “Watershed Stories,” a digital storytelling project that will capture the stories of local individuals who have or have had a relationship to the New River. The effort is a partnership between the New River Valley Regional Commission, the New River Watershed Roundtable, Virginia Tech’s Oral Historian and the Virginia Tech Philosophy Department. Robertson is paramount in community meetings, revitalization projects and business plan
development. He’s pitched the construction of a white water play wave through Narrows Falls for nearly 20 years and has even inquired about getting the area designated as state park. He dreams big and adventures bigger, aptly echoing Giles County’s tagline as Virginia’s Mountain Playground. But for now, it’s back to Mill Creek Nature Park where he works a few hours here and there blazing a new trail to Sentinel Point. It will be close to 5 miles long with 1600 vertical feet and views of Pipestem Knob in West Virginia. The excitement in his voice for what this trail will mean for mountain bikers and trail runners is palpable. “I don’t know when it’ll get finished. I’ll probably be so old I’ll need an e-bike to get there,” Robertson laughs. Nancy S. Moseley is a freelance writer who took full advantage of Ralph’s expertise to plot out her next mountain biking adventure.
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Newsy Relevant Valuable A round-up of items of interest across the NRV
City of Radford Unveils New Logo Hogs 4 Hokies Annual Spirit Ride April 25 Avid Harley-Davidson riders take off simultaneously from northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton and meet at VT’s drillfield in Blacksburg. The cost to ride is a $32 donation. All funds go to Virginia Tech Foundation’s “32 Named Memorial Endowments Fund” that benefits deserving students seeking to attend Virginia Tech. www.hogs4hokies.org
After nearly a year of rebranding efforts, the City of Radford is ready to roll out a new logo. The symbol will be visible on roadway signs and eventually on city vehicles and buildings. The graphics include a stylized representation of Ingles Mountain and waves of the New River. The goal is to inspire economic development and cultivate a sense of unity and excitement for those who live, work and visit Radford.
National Women’s Day – March 8 New River Valley Magazine would like to give a shout-out to all female business owners for their steadfast determination and dedication to keeping everyday life in the NRV movin’ and shakin’.
New Art Installation
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! March 17 is a global celebration of Irish culture named after one of Ireland’s patron saints who ministered Christianity in 5th century Ireland. A number of communities commemorate the day with a parade and area Macado’s restaurants serve up their traditional green beer. www.
More than 50 pieces of art by international painter and sculptor Dorothy Gillespie (d. 2012) will be installed throughout the City of Radford. Gillespie grew up in Roanoke and was fundamental in the creation of Radford University’s permanent art collection. The exhibit, featuring brightly colored, enamel-painted aluminum sculptures, will be on view through June. www.VisitRadford.com/ArtTrail
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NR V F o o d F a re
National Spinach Day - March 26
Compiled by Joanne M. Anderson
Popeye the Sailor cartoon character debuted in 1929 and is credited with raising spinach consumption 30% or more during the Depression. While Popeye’s volume of strength from a can of spinach may have been somewhat exaggerated, there is no doubt that spinach is very good for you. In a 2005 survey by Bon Appétit Magazine, more than 50% of respondents named spinach as their favorite vegetable. Among other things, it has been reported to restore energy and improve blood quality. It’s an excellent source of vitamins K, A, B2 and C, folate, magnesium and iron. Spinach is best when fresh as it loses nutritional value by the day. It’s a spring vegetable and perfect for the green associated with St. Patrick’s Day. If you’re not a fan of green beer, you can try the avocado and spinach smoothie on the 17th to honor the Irish.
Avocado and Baby Spinach Smoothie
• 1 banana, sliced • 1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced • 1/2 cup fresh spinach • 1/2 cup milk • 6 ice cubes • 2 tsp. honey • 1 tsp. vanilla extract Place everything in a blender and mix until smooth. • • • • • • • •
Spinach and Feta Fritatta
4 Tbl. extra-virgin olive oil bunch of scallions, sliced 5 oz. baby spinach kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 8 large eggs ¾ cup water 4 Tbl. bread crumbs 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Pre-heat oven to 450°. Heat 2 Tbl. olive oil in a medium nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions and spinach. Cook, stirring until wilted about 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste; remove from heat. Whisk eggs, 2 Tbl. breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup water and 1/2 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Add egg mixture and feta to skillet and stir to combine. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbl. breadcrumbs. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until frittata is set and top is golden, about 15 minutes. 44
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Cannelloni with Ricotta and Spinach
• 8 oz. frozen chopped spinach or 1 lb. sliced spinach leaves • 1 lb. ricotta cheese • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan • 1 cup shredded cheese, any kind • 1 egg • 1 large garlic clove, minced • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg powder • 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper • Cannelloni tubes, around 20 • Large jar of tomato or spaghetti sauce • 1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella • Basil for garnish Place thawed spinach in a colander and press out most of the liquid or lightly sauté fresh leaves in oil to wilt a bit. Remove excess liquid and cool. Add spinach to a large bowl with all other ingredients through salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 350°. Choose a baking pan for about 20 cannelloni, 8.5” x 10.5" at least. Spread a little tomato sauce in the bottom. Add filled cannelloni. [Hint: Place spinach-cheese mix into a large zipper bag, cut the corner and pipe into the cannelloni tubes.] Pour generous amount of sauce over everything covering all tubes. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes in 350° oven. Remove foil. Scatter the Mozzarella cheese and bake 10 minutes more until cheese is melted. Garnish with basil and serve.
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NRV Magazine Contri buto r s
Nancy Moseley After graduating from Radford University, Blacksburg native Nancy Moseley lived in Atlanta and New York City working as a writer and editor in the advertising sector and freelancing for sundry publications. After nearly 10 years of chasing down the Internet’s nextbigthing at everyone’s favorite inaugural online icon, AOL, she returned to Blacksburg and moved into “the house that built me.” As it turns out, you can go home again. Her soul, however, splits time between big-city and small-town living. Nancy believes good writing begins with good listening. It’s about discovering and telling the story, whether it’s a concise marketing tagline or a long-form feature article. Her favorite part of writing for NRV Magazine is getting to interview folks who are excited to talk about something important to them. It’s a challenge and an honor to turn their feelings and experiences into published words. Nancy loves to run, travel, mountain bike and sleep in tents. She is the proud creator of two boys (James, 6 and Carson, 2) and is a whiz at tying blanket capes and separating tricky LEGO pieces. She believes the ‘90s produced the last great decade of music and may or may not admit “Dirty Dancing” is one of her favorite movies (depending on who’s asking). She recently adopted Dee Dee Dog, a pit terrier mix, to add some much-needed female energy to her home.
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