I was born in Illinois and grew up in Seattle, WA. In 2006 my husband David and I moved to our off-grid farm in the foothills of the Olympic mountains northwest of Seattle. We raise free-range poultry, which is the subject of my first book, Pure Poultry, published in 2013 (New Society Publishers, newsociety.com). I planned, designed and installed our solar-electric system, built an outdoor wood-fired oven and a small craft distillery. Distilling is the subject of my second book, the award-winning Craft Distilling: Making liquor legally at home (New Society Publishers, January 2016). Craft Distilling is in its second printing and continues to sell well, and it is a very popular presentation topic at a variety of events.
I love to cook, and in particular I love to bake bread. My 3rd book, From-No-Knead to Sourdough: A simpler approach to handmade bread, was published in June 2018 (New Society Publishers). Food preservation is also a very important part of my life, and I went through intensive Master Food Preserver certification training in 2009. I have years of experience with canning (water-bath and pressure canning), nitrate-free meat curing, and fermented foods in general. I once was a fairly serious cheesemaker, but that has become more of an occasional hobby in recent years. Now I mainly make fresh mozzarella, feta, and aged grating cheeses like Romano and Parmesan.
My most recent cooking adventures have involved learning about Vietnamese foods. I make large batches of authentic pho broth, which is then pressure canned for later use. Sesame balls and baos are two other specialties of mine. I love cooking Indian food, especially since I discovered that my outdoor oven works much like a tandoori oven, and is fantastic for making things like tandoori chicken. David doesn't like really spicy food, though, so I've been leaning more toward the Vietnamese for the most part.
In 2018 I took a class in small-engine repair, and as of mid-November, am preparing to take the first 3 EETC certification exams. I've always loved to fix things, and while we lived in Seattle I ran my own successful business for 5 years, specializing in repairs and restoration of antiques and art objects, including gilding and picture frame restoration. In addition to repairing and maintaining the equipment we use on the farm, I plan to offer repair services locally. I'm proud to be a woman who loves mechanical things, and have chosen a business name to reflect this: Wench with a Wrench (wenchwithawrench.com).
I've been a regular speaker at the Mother Earth News Fair (motherearthnewsfair.com) since June 2011. Most recently I was at the Fair in Topeka Kansas in October 2018. I typically do several 1-hour presentations: Craft distilling, free-range poultry, and homemade bread. In addition, I do a hands-on demo on sourdough starter, in which participants take home their own sourdough starter; this demo has been extremely popular, and I've done the demo for packed houses in several local public libraries recently as well.
Although the majority of my public speaking experience thus far has been at sustainable-living events, I have presentations on a variety of topics, and am certainly available to speak at many different venues and events. I am as comfortable with groups of 10 as I am with audiences of hundreds. My favorite part of the speaking experience is the interaction with the audience, and I love spontaneous Q & A sessions. Most of the topics I speak on generate a lot of questions, and I'm quite used to having questions throughout the presentation time.
For me, speaking is all about sharing: Sharing what I've learned through life experience, through ongoing self-education, and through the interaction with like-minded audiences. And since sharing is by definition a two-way street, I find I frequently learn from the audience as well. Speaking has turned out to be such a natural fit for me, as I love to talk about all the things I'm passionate about and care about in life. I'm continually working on my talks and presentations, and doing all I can to improve as a speaker so that my presentations are rewarding for everyone involved.
My schedule is quite flexible most of the time, and I'm able to travel to speaking events around the country. I usually have my travel expenses covered, including flights, rental car (if needed), and hotel accommodations, as well as a negotiable fee or honorarium.
- From No-Knead to Sourdough: A simpler approach to handmade bread (book, published June 2018 from New Society Publishers).
- Pure Poultry: Living well with heritage chickens, turkeys and ducks (book, published November 2013 from New Society Publishers).
- Craft Distilling: Making liquor legally at home (book, published January 2016, from New Society Publishers). Winner of Bronze Medal at Independent Publishers Book Awards.
- Look what happened: Poems of heartache, hope and healing (poetry/photography chapbook), self-published 2014.
- My second book, Craft Distilling, won a bronze medal at the Independent Publishers' Book Awards shortly after publication in January 2016.