Discover more from Root: Historic Food for the Modern World
On New Years
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
This is the free version of my newsletter. If you want to support my writing, please consider a paid subscription for yourself or a gift subscription for a friend.
You can also support my work on Patreon, starting at $1/month.
If you can't afford the paid newsletter, but it would be an asset to you in your own culinary/writing/creative journey, please reach out and we'll figure something out!
2022 was notable for any number of reasons, perhaps most notable for the publication of my long-awaited book, Our Fermented Lives. I remain incredibly proud of this book, the work I put into it, and the old connections strengthened and new ones built through conducting interviews and through doing my book tour.
Speaking of my book tour, I sold out events in both New York City (thank you Archestratus!) and Washington D.C. (thank you, Bold Fork Books!) and spoke at the Decatur Book Festival, Atlanta Fermentation Festival, Midwest Women's Herbal Conference, Greensboro Bound, and of course my own book launch party (among others).
I'm continuing my tour this year, heading to Wicklow, Ireland, Edinburgh, and London in February. Stateside, I'll be in Winston-Salem North Carolina, Boston, and elsewhere. I would love to see you at any of these events, and would love to hear where else you'd like me to visit (particularly if you have a contact at a venue that would like to host me!)
I also did my first radio tour, involving roughly 20 back-to-back radio and podcast interviews on book release day. It was exhausting and thrilling all at once, and I can't wait to do one again! I loved the coverage I and my book received, too, including in Atlanta Magazine, Civil Eats, and Sourced, among others.
I spoke at conferences! Including the Beer Culture Summit and KojiCon. I taught, too, and it felt so nice to dip my toes back into the academic teaching space, especially at my alma mater.
I also turned my newsletter into a weekly one, building up the Unplated interview series, which I love doing, with interviews with artists, academics, poets, nature lovers, and more. I've also started occasional Q+A posts, which I plan to continue.
I continue to send out recipes each month, and I also started giving paid subscribers access to other content that I want to share but that maybe doesn't fit into the newsletter format (think digital recipe books or a cookbook preservation class). That has been a lot of fun, and I'm excited to continue building up that library!
Frustrated by the current state of day planners, I decided to publish my own as a complement to The Hidden Cosmos deck, and I'm very happy with how it turned out. I'm still in the early days of using it, but I like it, and am already considering making another one this year.
I want to thank my incredible assistant, Victoria, who is the one who put the real work into adding text to my template, lining up fiddly calendar dates, etc. She is an absolute lifesaver and I don't know what I would do without her.
I continued my herbalism studies at Chestnut School, which have been going slower than I'd like with everything else happening in life, but which I'm enjoying immensely. I had my first artist residency at Hambidge, where I wrote and wandered the woods and gave myself the unstructured generative time we so often deny ourselves in our daily lives.
I also wrote sixteen articles this year, including a piece on synesthesia for Atlanta Magazine, fermentation reading lists for Longreads and Food & Wine, a handful of commerce roundups, several pieces on food history, and pieces on reducing food waste and composting for Foodprint. It was also nice to have a peer-reviewed article published alongside some favorite longtime collaborators.
I wrapped up the year visiting Ireland, in particular Cork City and West Cork, easily one of my favorite places on Earth. I saw friends old and new, and was struck by what a deep and incredible community I have in Ireland. I'm so grateful to know so many wonderful folks around the world, and for how many of them I get to spend time with as I travel. If I didn't see you this time, don't worry, I'll be back!
Happy new year!
2023 is already filling up with a lot of fun stuff, including my 40th birthday, for which I've decided to do 40 new-to-me things throughout the year.
Other highlights include more book tour stops, and more writing for the newsletter and elsewhere. I'm hoping to continue experimenting with content and form here: It's fun to expand how I think and write about food, and to give myself space to share writing that maybe is outside what I would pitch to a magazine.
I'll also be traveling, including to the isle of Eigg in Scotland, where I'll be spending a week cooking for a very special retreat. I'll be speaking at conferences again, including at Kojicon.
I'm cooking up some very exciting new classes for Root, including a food zine-making class, a playful writing workshop (all fun, light writing exercises and conversation, not your traditional workshop format!), and an asynchronous online class, Finding your Food Story.
The latter will be a deep dive into research practices, finding inspiration, writing, and more. I hope it will be a way for my experience in these spaces to help other writers find (or refine) their voices!
I have plenty of fun collaborations and events already on the books, and I'm hoping this can be a year where I really dig into the playful side of my practice as a writer and a cook. I'm also hoping it can be the year where I refine my ideas around hosting creative residencies and other activities that sit at the intersection of fermentation, history, art, writing, and nature, just as I do.
I took off December from writing coaching and from much of my writing, too, save for the newsletter and a couple other odds and ends. So it's a bit quiet from the news front!
I am teaching several classes in the UK and in Ireland next month though, along with some very special friends!
My first class, in Edinburgh, has tickets available at this link. Please join us!
And please stay tuned for London, England, and Wicklow, Ireland dates!
Also stay tuned for details on some upcoming online classes that I'm very excited about, including a Food Writing as Play workshop, where we get together and freewrite around different prompts each week.
I'm also planning to teach a food zine class, and I'm in the early stages of building a class called Finding Your Food Story, all about my approach to food-related research and writing, and seeking out both our voices as writers and the histories we want to dive into. Stay tuned!
Some recent favorites include:
This piece on beer and power in the World Cup.
Allison Robicelli's earnest, heartfelt writing about her divorce trip to the Poconos.
Oliver Darkshire's one page RPGs.
Alicia Kennedy's interview with Isaac Mizrahi.
Kiki Aranita's beautiful, personal writing about Hawaiian food through the lens of her family's story.
Much of what I've been reading this past month has been archival finding aids for a research commission (yes, you can commission me to do research for you), which I love but may not make for the most compelling newsletter reading list.
For a good book list, check out Bettina’s reading recap for 2022.
I'd love to hear your favorite winter reads in the comments!
Make: Green pinecone syrup
This is one of my most frequently-requested recipes, and a good one to have handy in early spring for any green pinecones you might find on your local edible conifers (of course, harvest them sustainably if you're harvesting from the tree rather than the ground).
Green pinecone syrup is my personal favorite add-in to whiskey drinks, but it's also nice in syrup and desserts.
To make it, start with a jar large enough to hold your pinecones with a bit of extra room around them.
After adding your pinecones (I do 2-4 per pint, depending how large they are), fill the rest of the jar with sugar. Make sure your pinecones are completely surrounded by sugar! It can help to shake or tap the jar a bit to get the sugar to settle.
Top it with the lid and set it aside for about a month. You can set it in the fridge, or at room temperature.
The sugar draws the sap from the pinecones, and in most cases I end up with a jar that's half syrup and half pine-infused sugar. Both are very fun to experiment with in the kitchen!
Don't throw the pinecones away, either: I chop them up, dehydrate them, then grind them to make a unique and delicious seasoning (especially good in gingerbread and other spice-forward desserts).
Supporting this newsletter literally makes my dreams come true, helping me devote my time to writing and to sending more and better recipes, interviews, and food stories to you. Thank you for being a part of my work!