Fail! A Taste of History

This morning, the television happened to be on to my local PBS station, and being Saturday, there was a cooking show. This one caught my attention because the chef was using an open hearth instead of a stove. This was eighteenth century cooking! It reminded me of cooking with Berta because she does not have any temperature controls other than me.

Screenshot of Taste of History

Select to view full size Taste of History screenshot

I was intrigued and decided to check out the web site, A Taste of History. Well, I would be happy to report back what I found, except that I can’t read any of it.

As some of you know, I am a web developer, and I have always been a champion of accessibility. In the United States, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically section 508, and if you violate that, you and your website can get into a lot of financial trouble.

I called the restaurant this morning, and then I sent an email to Chef. Here’s what I said:

Chef, I spoke with your wonderful wife this morning, June 25, 2011 about visiting your web sites.

I called because I wanted to make sure that you were made aware that the sites are not accessible. The font size is way too small, and there is not enough contrast between the text and background color.

Your wife said that the designers of the web sites say this follows an 18th century theme. Well, text in the eighteenth century was not tiny. Look at the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. It’s large black letters on a buff background. Even printing presses in those days did not have itsy bitsy letters, they could not make the letters that small. Do a Google Image search for 18th century books <http:/> and you will see what I mean.

The websites would not pass Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and since A Taste of History appears on PBS stations, and PBS stations are funded in part by the Federal Government, you could face problems.

Even my son, who is seven years old, with perfect vision, says “You have to change the color, Mommy, I can’t read it with that color”. If he can’t read it, no one else can either.

Adrienne Boswell
Arbpen Designs

Well, we shall see what happens and if any of the web sites are changed. It’s a pity, they look like they might be interesting, but it’s a little too distracting to turn CSS off, or where there are images/flash up the size to 130% in order to see. I’ll be reporting back soon.

Update: June 27, 2011
I got an email! Here’s what the email said:

Ms. Boswell:

We are very sorry the “A Taste of History” Website was not displaying in a clear manner for you to read. We are currently designing an updated website, and we will keep your suggestions in mind as we make these revisions.

Please don’t let your experience with the website color your opinion of our series. We’re thrilled that you are enjoying watching “A Taste of History,” and hope you will continue to watch.

Best Regards,

Ariel Schwartz
Multi Media Productions

Update: July 18, 2011 – No changes yet!

Update: July 1, 2012 – Yeah! They changed it, but some of the old links do not work. So if you really want to make those Salmon Corn Cakes, you’re just going to have to use my recipe for Salmon Corn Cakes from A Taste of History.

Poached Salmon Tacos with Avocado Salsa

Recipes in this postPicture 3

I love salmon, and I love avocado, and I love tacos! What could be better for a hot summer day than Poached Salmon Tacos with Avocado Salsa? When I was at a discount store with my friend Amber, I found green cactus tacos. I also had some red cabbage in the refrigerator and I thought that would look nice with the red and green. Continue reading

Suddenly Composed Salad

Suddenly Composed!Picture-2

Every year in Southern California, specifically in Los Angeles, we have something called June Gloom. It happens right after Memorial Day, which is usually hot, when the marine layer sits over the Pacific Ocean coming inland and keeps everything cool and gloomy. My mother used to call this kind of weather “sweater weather” because it wasn’t cold enough for a coat, but it would get warm enough after the clouds burned off to go in a sun dress, and wear a cardigan in between.

It is also the time when fruits and vegetables are springing up very fresh and flavorful in your local market. Just a few days ago, I was lucky enough to get green tomatoes to make Fried Green Tomatoes with Basil Garlic Mayonnaise.

Today my corner store had ripe, red, tomatoes that cried out to be brought home for salad. There were also perky Persian cucumbers waiting to go into my basket, and a perfectly ripe avocado that felt great nestled in my hand. Spirited spring onions were also placed in my basket as well as three hearts of Romaine lettuce.

I also had some things at home to put in the salad. I had a little pastrami and swiss cheese left over from making Chicken Rubens with Saffron Rice. I had marinated sun dried tomatoes, black olive slices, real bacon bits, peperoncini and blue cheese. I decided that Girard’s Champagne Dressing would be perfect.

The real trick to making a composed salad is not so much what you put in it, as how it is presented. Each ingredient should be in its own little area, and artfully arranged. In my salad, for example, I fanned out both the tomato and avocado halves, and made a little flower out of sliced Persian cucumber. The black olive slices, crumbled bacon and blue cheese were in the middle, with one whole sun dried tomato propped up with a peperoncino sitting in their place of honor on the very top of the salad.

You are free to add your own ingredients, chick peas would be a good addition, so would chopped eggs, marinated onions, Kalamata olives, Chinese snow peas, grilled chicken, the sky’s the limit!

So enjoy these wonderful days of summer and remember that salads don’t have to be dull or ordinary.

Scrambled Burger Quiche

Recipes in this postScramble Burger Quiche

Many years ago, we used to go to a restaurant that had something called Scrambled Burgers. I loved them, being a mixture of ground beef, spinach, onion and cheese. I thought that combination would make a wonderful quiche. Continue reading

Fried Green Tomatoes with Basil Garlic Mayonnaise

Recipes in this postFried Green Tomatoes

I remember when the wonderful movie Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe came out in 1991, and I wanted to try fried green tomatoes. It was not until 1993 that I was able to get a hold of green tomatoes to make the dish, and again in 2009.

When I was at the corner store, there was a big box of beef steak sized beautiful green tomatoes. I bought two, and I’m going back for more. Those tomatoes were wonderful!

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Spane the Train Conductor – How to Make a Train Conductor Hat

So, last night, after we had our wonderful Fried Green Tomatoes with Basil Garlic Mayonnaise, it was time to get started on Spane’s hat for the annual chorus performance at his school.

Spane came home with a rather large piece of dark blue construction paper, out of which we were to make a hat that expressed his personality. Spane loves trains – a conductor hat was the obvious choice.

So, I looked for vintage conductor hats for my reference – all the other hats were from costumes for engineers – not conductors. The train conductor hat is similar to an air line pilot hat, but not quite. Once I found one, it looked pretty simple.

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