The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

 

Every great drink starts with a plant. Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley. Gin was born from a conifer shrub when a Dutch physician added oil of juniper to a clear spirit, believing that juniper berries would cure kidney disorders. "The Drunken Botanist" uncovers the enlightening botanical history and the fascinating science and chemistry of over 150 plants, flowers, trees, and fruits (and even one fungus). Some of the most extraordinary and obscure plants have been fermented and distilled, and they each represent a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history. Molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence: when the British forced the colonies to buy British (not French) molasses for their New World rum-making, the settlers outrage kindled the American Revolution. Rye, which turns up in countless spirits, is vulnerable to ergot, which contains a precursor to LSD, and some historians have speculated that the Salem witch trials occurred because girls poisoned by ergot had seizures that made townspeople think they d been bewitched. Then there's the tale of the thirty-year court battle that took place over the trademarking of Angostura bitters, which may or may not actually contain bark from the Angostura tree. With a delightful two-color vintage-style interior, over fifty drink recipes, growing tips for gardeners, and advice that carries Stewart's trademark wit, this is the perfect gift for gardeners and cocktail aficionados alike.
Source: Goodreads

The Drunken Botanist:

The Plants that Create the World's Greatest Drinks

Amy Stewart

 
Pages: 362
Published March 19th 2013 by Algonquin Books
 
 
Every great drink starts with a plant. Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley. Gin was born from a conifer shrub when a Dutch physician added oil of juniper to a clear spirit, believing that juniper berries would cure kidney disorders. "The Drunken Botanist" uncovers the enlightening botanical history and the fascinating science and chemistry of over 150 plants, flowers, trees, and fruits (and even one fungus).
Some of the most extraordinary and obscure plants have been fermented and distilled, and they each represent a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history. Molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence: when the British forced the colonies to buy British (not French) molasses for their New World rum-making, the settlers outrage kindled the American Revolution. Rye, which turns up in countless spirits, is vulnerable to ergot, which contains a precursor to LSD, and some historians have speculated that the Salem witch trials occurred because girls poisoned by ergot had seizures that made townspeople think they d been bewitched. Then there's the tale of the thirty-year court battle that took place over the trademarking of Angostura bitters, which may or may not actually contain bark from the Angostura tree.

With a delightful two-color vintage-style interior, over fifty drink recipes, growing tips for gardeners, and advice that carries Stewart's trademark wit, this is the perfect gift for gardeners and cocktail aficionados alike. 

 

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

This is such a fun, informative book! I borrowed it from the library and loved it so much I ordered my own copy. It's not a story book, it's more of a reference book with witty comments, history, detailed processes, and recipes. Not only is the content great but the book is beautiful. I love the vintage themed cover and pages. Plus, it made me feel smarter with every page I read. I'm convinced my brain has grown since reading it. I may need to buy new hats. This is a book I'll return to again and again. It does not disappoint!

About the Author

Amy Stewart Author
Photo Credit: Delightful Eye Photography

Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart is the New York Times best-selling author of nine books, including Girl Waits with Gun and the rest of the Kopp Sisters series, which are based on the true story of one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs and her two rambunctious sisters. Her popular nonfiction titles include The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential.

Stewart grew up in Arlington, Texas, with her father, the musician Vic Stewart, who toured with Doc Severinsen’s road band; her mother, Dee Stewart, who had a career in public relations; and her younger brother, Jason Stewart, who is a film and television editor. She graduated from Arlington High School and received a B.A. degree in anthropology and a master's in community and regional planning (MSCRP) from the University of Texas at Austin. 

She lives in Portland with her husband Scott Brown, a rare book dealer. They own an independent bookstore called Eureka Books, which is so independent that it lives in California while they live in Oregon. 

You might’ve heard Amy on NPR’s Morning Edition or Fresh Air, or seen her profiled in such esteemed publications as the New York Times and Earthworm Digest. Her checkered television career includes CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, the PBS documentary The Botany of Desire, and–believe it or not– TLC’s Cake Boss. (The cake was delicious.)

Amy’s books have been translated into seventeen languages, one of which she can actually read.   Her 2009 book Wicked Plants has been adapted into a national traveling exhibit that terrifies children at science museums nationwide.

Her mother is very impressed that she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society’s Book Award, and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award. In 2012, she was invited to be the first Tin House Writer-in-Residence, a partnership with Portland State University, where she corrupted young minds in the MFA program.

Amy travels the country as a highly sought-after public speaker whose spirited lectures have inspired and entertained audiences at college campuses such as Cornell and Harvard, corporate offices like Google (where she served tequila and nearly broke the Internet), conferences and book festivals, botanical gardens, bookstores, and libraries nationwide.

Source: amystewart.com

Book Trailer, Interviews and Sneaky Peaks

A great introduction to this entertaining, informative book 🙂

 
'Drunken Botanist' Takes A Garden Tour Of The Liquor Cabinet
Heard on NPR's Morning Edition
 
The next time you're sipping on a glass of something boozy, consider the plants behind your beverage. Some of them might spring immediately to mind: grapes in your wineglass, rye in your whiskey bottle, juniper in your gin and tonic. But what about sorghum and coriander? Cinchona and bitter orange?
 
Click below to hear Amy's short interview or here to read the transcript.

 
Beware the tiny phylloxera!

First of all, let me say that I am actually not much of an boozy drinker. Sure, I like a glass of wine or mixed drink once in a while, but in truth, it’s probably seldom enough I could count my annual consumption on two hands. After reading though this book, I’ve discovered that the drinks I like most have something in common; They are forms of brandy, which the book tells me “is a generic term for a wine (or other fruit) spirit distilled to 80% alcohol or less, then bottled at 35-40% alcohol.”

I read further to learn about the invention of brandy and discovered something fascinating. By the mid-1500’s the Spanish, Italian, and Dutch had discovered that bland, mediocre wine could be boiled into a stronger form of spirit and “that even vineyard waste could be fermented: crushed skins, stems, and seeds all went back into the fermentation tank to make a high-proof spirit like grappa.”

Whiskey Bottles by Amy Stewart
Source: amystewart.com

As time went on, Europeans further refined their tradition of making rich, complex flavors and forms of wine such as Cognac, Madeira, Marsala, Port, and Sherry. Then the Founding Fathers came to America, and had to import their beloved varieties of wine because they simply could not find native American grapes that would produce decent wine. Even Thomas Jefferson was unsuccessful at growing suitable grapes in his gardens at Monticello. (This caught my attention because I was able to visit Monticello last year. His home and gardens were magnificent!)

So, if native varieties won’t work, why not import and grow some European vines?  They did. They planted them then watched as they withered up and died!  This is where the story gets really good. What they didn’t know was that the European vines were not

phyloxerra - The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
Phyloxerra by Mother Nature

resistant to the native American pest phylloxera (an aphid type pest) like the American vines were. To make matters worse, before they understood this, they had sent a gift of American vines to France that were unknowingly infested with phylloxera. Arriving in France, the pests were in smorgasbord heaven. They went right to work, devastating French vineyards. It took decades for the reason to be understood and by then, the vineyards were nearly defunct. Finally, with high hopes, they began grafting European vines to the hardy American rootstock, and it worked! Over time they have brought their industry and fine flavored wines back. Pretty interesting, eh? Beware those tiny phylloxera!

 
 

My favorite margarita is made with Blue Curacoa so of course, I loved reading about it’s making by way of bitter orange. Amy Stewart taught me something else I had never given thought to:

Why do more fresh oranges come from California than from Florida?

Here's what I found out: Oranges need cool nights to help the fruit turn from green to orange. Florida does not cool down at night like California does. Therefore, while oranges from both states might be ripe, the oranges from California look more appealing than the green oranges from Florida. So there you have it. The more appealing orange colored California oranges are eaten fresh and the less appealing green Florida oranges are juiced.

See what I mean? Can't you feel your brain growing as you learn this stuff? You may need to buy new hats, too! 🙂

 
The phylloxera wine louse is back with a vengeance

Post Magazine | 3 Nove 2016

By Nellie Ming Lee

Phyloxerra Is Back with A Vengeance
Photo Source: www.scmp.com

Vineyards in California and Oregon on alert as the pest that devastated Europe’s grapevines in the 1800s turns its sights on once-resistant America

 
...Phylloxera is again rearing its ugly head. Most recently, it has been found in the American states of California and Oregon, where years of grafting vines had somehow weakened them, allowing the pest to thrive...   Read More
 
 
 
 

A Glimpse Inside

 

The Drunken Botanist is not only a beautiful book just to look at but it is teaming with entertaining historical detail, processes, ingredients, and recipes! It is divided into coherent sections: 1) Processes of fermentation and distillation with classic  plants, 2)Suffusing with herbs, spices, flowers, fruits, nuts, seeds…., 3) Botanical mixers and garnishes for cocktails, and lastly, 4) Recipes for cocktails, syrups, infusions and garnishes. So now, not only will you be able to make delicious drinks for yourself and your friends, you’ll be able to wow them with entertaining stories and your knowledge!

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
 
 
Pretty interesting, fun stuff so far, right? Well, there's more! Grab your favorite plant-based beverage, cozy in,  and visit my Drunken Botanist Pin on Pinterest. 
 

Follow Carol Ann ~'s board The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart on Pinterest.

Happy Reading!

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

 

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Source: Goodreads

Coraline

Neil Gaiman

Pages: 162 pages | Audiobook: 3 hrs 36 min
Published August 4th 2002 by HarperCollins
In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close. The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it's different...

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.” - G. K. Chesterton

What a fabulous tale! The audiobook narrated by the author had me captivated from the first words. What I loved about the audio is the contrast between the dark, spooky story and Neal Gailman’s light, gentle, reassuring voice, which let’s us know everything be okay. This same voice also carries over into the main character herself, Coraline, who in the face of these spooky events, approaches them calmly and thoughtfully. I absolutely LOVED Coraline. She is full of curiosity and her charm doesn’t stop there. She is kind, respectful, and with a mind of her own she's a quick, clever thinker and doer! 

Described as a dark fantasy children’s novella, this is a wonderful tale that all ages can enjoy. 

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Happy Reading!

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What We Know Now by M.J. Parisian

What We Know Now by M.J. Parisian

 

Source: goodreads

What We Know Now

M.J. Parisian

 
Paperback, 346 pages
Published November 25th 2017 by MJ Parisian
 
According to her five-year plan, Grace Foster’s life is right on schedule. After marrying her college sweetheart, she has fought to earn her dream job of evening news producer at WKND. When a story breaks, and her husband is suddenly arrested, she flees for the last place she thought she’d ever find solace: Her mother’s home. The picturesque cottage on the shore of Lake Michigan appears to be the perfect hideout, or is it the battleground she left ten years ago?
 
Being the daughter of Julia Dunham, best-selling self-help author, has always made Grace cynical. But watching her mother go through her own personal crisis, Grace experiences compassion she’s never felt before. With support from her family and friends, Grace begins to follow the steps in her mom’s latest best-seller to rebuild her own life. Will what she learns give her the courage to let go of the past and move forward, or will Julia push Grace out of her life for good?

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★★

“Growing up, my primary goal had been to become as independent as possible. But here I was, wanting someone to save me.”

This is a captivating story of betrayal, loss, and ultimately finding love in the most unexpected places. From the first page I was hooked. I didn’t want to put it down because I HAD to know what happened next. The characters, both real and lovable, quickly became my friends and the compelling, unpredictable story held my attention to the last word, when I sadly sighed because it was over. But relief is easily found just by looking at that gorgeous cover, which draws you right back into the story and among friends in the quaint town and soothing, sandy beach.

The overall message of the story is lovely as well. Blindsided by her husband’s betrayal and arrest, Gracie flees for the safety of her mother’s home and surprisingly find more than the safety she was seeking. Here Gracie learns to trust again; to open her heart and take a deep look inside. What she discovers is far more than she ever imagined.

 
 

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Happy Reading!

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Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

 

Source: Goodreads

Mr. Dickens and His Carol

Samantha Silva

 
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published October 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books
 
 
For Charles Dickens, each Christmas has been better than the last. His novels are literary blockbusters, and he is famous on the streets of London, where avid fans sneak up on him to snip off pieces of his hair. He and his wife have five happy children, a sixth on the way, and a home filled with every comfort they could imagine. But when Dickens’ newest book is a flop, the glorious life he has built for himself threatens to collapse around him. His publishers offer an ultimatum: either he writes a Christmas book in a month, or they will call in his debts, and he could lose everything. Grudgingly, he accepts, but with relatives hounding him for loans, his wife and children planning an excessively lavish holiday party, and jealous critics going in for the kill, he is hardly feeling the Christmas spirit. 

Increasingly frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace and inspiration in London itself, his great palace of thinking. And on one of his long walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets a young woman in a purple cloak, who might be just the muse he needs. Eleanor Lovejoy and her young son, Timothy, propel Dickens on a Scrooge-like journey through his Christmases past and present—but with time running out, will he find the perfect new story to save him? 

In prose laced with humor, sumptuous Victorian detail, and charming winks to A Christmas Carol, Samantha Silva breathes new life into an adored classic. Perfect for fans of Dickens, for readers of immersive historical fiction, and for anyone looking for a dose of Christmas cheer, Mr. Dickens and His Carol is destined to become a perennial holiday favorite.

 

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

“Flee all you like,” she said, turning to face him. “Your past is quicker than you are and will catch you soon enough.”

Initially, I was drawn to this book by its lovely cover. Then I opened it and was instantly drawn in by its beautiful prose, witty lines, and heart-felt story.

If you, too, like these things, along with lovable, flawed, quirky characters (including ghosts!), surprising twists, and an uplifting story of hope and humanity, this book is for you. It’s a charming, entertaining new take on the inspiration and events leading to the deliverance of a Dicken’s classic.

 

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Happy Reading!

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