I write, cook, garden, teach writing, read, think, and continue to learn how to love — people, life and this world in which it all happens.
My permanent address is where these intersect.
Two expressions of this intersection: Deep Feast, which looks at life through the lens of food and eating, and my other blog, nothing is wasted on the writer, in which the lens is writing, creative work, and memoir.
I know: “Is that your real name?” I certainly don’t blame anyone for asking, and having a weird name is my own fault.
But since I have been asked about it for 41 years,as you can imagine, I am tired of telling the whole dumb tale. If you’re curious, click on the link; just please don’t ask me. Now that’s that.
Though I’ve traveled a lot and in many ways think of myself as a world citizen, I’m also bilaterally rooted: I’m either a Southern Yankee, or a Yankee Southerner. Here’s why.
Though born in New York City, I moved to the Ozark Mountains at 17. At 18, I found my way to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where I stayed more or less put for 33 years.
There, besides writing, for 18 of those years I ran a country inn and restaurant called Dairy Hollow House. This was with my late and much-loved husband, the preservationist and writer Ned Shank (pictured right), with whom I walked through life for 23 years; years that, for me, spanned age 23 to age 46.
On an unseasonably warm, sunny November day in 2000, he took his typical tri-weekly bicycle ride, but instead of coming home, wheeled into eternity.
About two years after he died, I moved up North, to the home in which I’d spent summers as a child.
This is a 1795 farmhouse on 35 quiet acres in southeastern Vermont. There’s a 20-mile view, a cold, creek-fed pond in which I swim four months of the year, and the most satisfying (if at times overly ambitious) vegetable garden I’ve ever grown.
I share the place and life here with two cats, countless finches and woodpeckers, several black bear, a moose, and (since 2004) my much-loved partner, filmmaker-writer-social justice activist David Koff.
David (pictured left), bless him, also supplies many of the gorgeous photographs that illustrate Deep Feast.
WRITING DOWN WORDS… COOKING UP TROUBLE
Throughout all this, I wrote and continue to write. I have 50 published books out, of which five are culinary — maybe 2/3 recipes, the other 1/3 a combination of memoir and food history / background / instruction / anecdotes (This is probably because the first cookbook I ever read was M.F. K. Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf, which is as much a book to read as to cook from).
One of my cookbooks, Passionate Vegetarian, won a James Beard Award; another, Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread, has sold more than 280,000 copies. (For more about my non-culinary writing, skedaddle over to nothing is wasted on the writer.)
My nearest neighbors here in Vermont are sugarers — that is, they tap maple trees for sap. Boil down 45 to 60 gallons of sap, and you get 1 gallon of syrup.
I think similar proportions may pertain re-boiling life and experience into wisdom.