Melissa Clark Talks Eggplant; Bomb-Sniffing Dogs; Lost Cats; Shocking Experiments

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New York Times Dining Section columnist Melissa Clark is here with some suggestions of ways to prepare eggplant! Then we’ll talk to a trainer of bomb-sniffing dogs about how canines are taught to work in hazardous situations and why their noses are so sensitive. Nancy Davidson tells the tales behind some of the missing cat posters we see around the city. And Gina Perry on the full story behind the controversial 1961 psychological experiment in which subjects were administer electric shocks to another person when they were ordered to.

Melissa Clark on the Versatile Eggplant

Eggplant is versatile, but it can also be mysterious and challenging to prepare. Melissa Clark shares her suggestions for how to prepare eggplant, now that it's in season. She's New York Times Dining Section columnist and cookbook writer, and her most recent cookbook is Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can't Wait to Make.

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How to Train a Bomb Dog

Security dog trainer Zane Roberts and Forbes contributing editor Joshua Levine talk about how dogs are trained to search for bombs and other hazardous substances and how they’re used. Joshua Levine wrote about it in “The Education of a Bomb Dog” in the September issue of Smithsonian magazine.

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The Secrets of Lost Cats

For every lost cat poster, there’s a story of heartbreak and loss and, one hopes, reunion and relief. When her orange tabby, Zak, disappeared, Nancy Davidson did made a lost cat poster, and, after days of frantic searching, she found him. The experience made her acutely aware of lost cat posters, and she writes about them and the stories behind them in The Secrets of Lost Cats: One Woman, Twenty Posters, and a New Understanding of Love.

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The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments

Psychologist Gina Perry tells the full story of a controversial experiment by psychologist Stanley Milgram and its repercussions. In the summer of 1961, Milgram invited volunteers to take part in an experiment at Yale, and he reported that 65 percent of the volunteers had repeatedly administered electric shocks of increasing strength to a man they believed to be in severe pain, even suffering a life-threatening heart condition, because they had been ordered to by an authority figure. In Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments, Perry interviewed the original participants—many of whom remain haunted about what they did—and pieces together a more complex—and more troubling—picture of these experiments and what they reveal about us.

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Tributes: Marian McPartland

Marian McPartland, the renowned jazz pianist and host of NPR’s “Piano Jazz,” had a career that spanned six decades.  And she had no intention of stopping!  “Retire? Why retire?” she asked an AP reporter in 2007. “I’ve got a job, I’m making money, and I like what I do. Why retire?”  She told of the difficulty of breaking into the jazz scene as a woman in the ‘50s in her collection of essays, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.  After a set, a man approached her: “You know, you can’t be a respectable woman the way you play piano,’” she wrote. “For some reason or another, this struck me as a great compliment.”  Marian McPartland’s career just ended when she died at the age of 95.  She was on the Leonard Lopate Show several times, including a live performance in our studios – and can hear them below. 

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Tributes: Elmore Leonard

The laconic Elmore Leonard once noted, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” His ultimate object, he wrote, was “invisibility.”  Even punctuation was avoidable.  Dialogue and blank space ruled.  In the process, he wrote countless bestsellers over his long career, starting out with Westerns.  His novels and short stories often became films, including “Hombre,” “3:10 to Yuma, “The Tall T,” “Get Shorty” and “Out of Sight.”  He died at the age of 87, but you can hear many of his interviews with Leonard over the years below...and his sense of humor comes through loud and clear.

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Recipe: Melissa Clark's Fresh Corn Polenta with Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille and Ricotta

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side

1 1/2 pounds Italian eggplant (about 4), cut into 1-inch chunks

1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 large rosemary branches

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, for seasoning

Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, unpeeled

Fresh lemon juice, as needed (optional)


For the Polenta:

1 bay leaf

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup polenta or coarse cornmeal (see What Else?)

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 small ears)


Fresh ricotta, for serving

Fresh torn basil leaves, for serving (optional)

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Recipe: Melissa Clark's Roasted Eggplant with Green Goddess Dressing

Serves 4


1 large eggplant (about 1 pound), scrubbed, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch cubes

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste

1/4 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

3 tablespoons basil, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


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