Good Times Between the Covers
Row by Row: Talking with Kentucky Gardeners
By Katherine J. Black
Swallow Press, 208 pages
For two and a half years, Katherine J. Black crisscrossed Kentucky, interviewing home vegetable gardeners from a rich variety of backgrounds. Row by Row: Talking with Kentucky Gardeners is the result, a powerful compilation of testimonies on the connections between land, people, culture and home.
The people profiled here share a Kentucky backdrop, but their life stories, as well as their gardens, have as many colors, shapes and tastes as heirloom tomatoes do. Black interviewed those who grow in city backyards, who carve out gardens from farmland and who have sprawling plots in creek bottoms and former pastures. Many of the gardeners in Row by Row speak eloquently about our industrialized food system’s injuries to the land, water and health of people. But more often they talk about what they are doing in their gardens to reverse this course.
Row by Row is as sure to appeal to historians, food studies scholars and sustainability advocates as it is to gardeners and local food enthusiasts. These eloquent portraits, drawn from oral histories and supplemented by Deirdre Scaggs’ color photographs, form a meditation on how gardeners make sense of their lives through what they grow and how they grow it.
Katherine J. Black has been raising gardens since she was a child. She served as the curator of the University of Kentucky’s Appalachian Collection from 1986 until her retirement in 2013.
Copies available at Carmichael’s Bookstores in Louisville and Morris Book Shop in Lexington.
Make Mead Like a Viking: Traditional Techniques for Brewing Natural, Wild-Fermented, Honey- Based Wines and Beers
By Jereme Zimmerman Chelsea Green Publishing, 240 pages | $24.95
Ancient societies brewed flavorful and healing meads, ales and wines for millennia using only intuition, storytelling and knowledge passed down through generations — no fancy, expensive equipment or degrees in chemistry needed. In Make Mead Like a Viking, homesteader, fermentation enthusiast and self-described “Appalachian Yeti Viking” Jereme Zimmerman summons the bryggjemann (a.k.a. brewing man or spirit of the yeast) of the ancient Norse to demonstrate how homebrewing mead — arguably the world’s oldest fermented alcoholic beverage — can be not only uncomplicated but fun.
Armed with wild-yeast-bearing totem sticks, readers will learn techniques for brewing sweet, semi-sweet and dry meads, melomels (fruit meads), metheglins (spiced meads), Ethiopian t’ej, flower and herbal meads, braggots, honey beers, country wines and even Viking grog, opening the Mead Hall doors to further experimentation in fermentation and flavor. In addition, aspiring Vikings will explore:
» The importance of local, unpasteurized honey for both flavor and health benefits;
» Why modern homebrewing practices, materials and chemicals work but aren’t necessary;
» How to grow and harvest herbs and collect wild botanicals for use in healing, nutritious and magical meads, beers and wines;
» Hops’ recent monopoly as a primary brewing ingredient and how to use botanicals other than hops for flavoring and preserving mead, ancient ales and gruits;
» The rituals, mysticism and communion with nature that were integral components of ancient brewing and can be for modern homebrewers, as well;
» Recommendations for starting a mead circle to share your wild meads with other brewers as part of the growing mead-movement subculture; and more!
Whether you’ve been intimidated by modern homebrewing’s cost or seeming complexity — and its focus on the use of unnatural chemicals — or are boldly looking to expand your current brewing and fermentation practices, Zimmerman’s welcoming style and spirit will usher you into exciting new territory. Grounded in history and mythology, but — like Odin’s ever-seeking eye — focusing continually on the future of self-sufficient food culture, Make Mead Like a Viking is a practical and entertaining guide for the ages.
Jereme Zimmerman grew up on his parents’ northern Kentucky goat farm, Twin Meadows, where he was homeschooled. After graduating from Berea College he moved to the Pacific Northwest, where he immersed himself in the world of homebrewing. As the world’s only peace-loving, green-living Appalachian Yeti Viking, Zimmerman writes, blogs and speaks regularly on fermentation, mead-making, homesteading, and good eating. He is a regular contributor to various publications and websites, including New Pioneer and Backwoods Home magazines. He writes for Earthineer.com as “RedHeadedYeti.” He lives in Berea with his wife, Jenna, and daughters, Sadie and Maisie, where he practices urban homesteading and cavorts with farmers, authors and fellow sustainable-living enthusiasts.
Available for purchase at Jereme-Zimmerman.com