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Books by the bed

Books I'm listening to in the car

  • Sena Jeter Naslund: Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette (P.S.)

    Sena Jeter Naslund: Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette (P.S.)
    I don't like historical fiction. I have very little interest in the French monarchy. But Sena Jeter Nashland, whose first novel could not've been more different, is a brilliant writer, and has me utterly pulled into this world, time, and place, and given me sympathy towards a person to whom I had none. A novel like this reminds me of why I fall in love with fiction, over and over again. Transporting, tragic, and deeply fascinating. (****)

  • Markus Zusak: I Am the Messenger

    Markus Zusak: I Am the Messenger

  • L.A. Meyer: Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack Adventures)

    L.A. Meyer: Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack Adventures)

  • Robert Mnookin: Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight

    Robert Mnookin: Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight

  • Curtis Sittenfeld: American Wife: A Novel

    Curtis Sittenfeld: American Wife: A Novel
    Alice Lindgren Blackwell's normal-enough middle-class Wisconsin life goes through the windshield twice, once quickly and literally (a car wreck when she is in her early teens, in which she kills the young man who just may have been the love of her life) and once very slowly, and for a long, long time (when she marries Charlie, a super-wealthy, basically incompetent charmer with fierce political ambitions, who ends up --- somewhat to everyone's surprise --- in the White House). An imagining of a life loosely based on Laura Bush's, Sittenfield's writing is unshow-offy, as unobtrusive and accommodating as her careful protagonist, who tries to walk the impossible line of being "good wife" to a public figure with whose actions, public and private, she does not always agree, and cleaving to her own conscience, which may have gotten lost somewhere along the way. The book is inhabited by carefully drawn, detailed, dimensional characters: Alice's off-again-on-again best friend, her wise, quietly lesbian grandmother, the members of the dynasty into which she has married. An endless war, a weak wealthy husband saved from being a total wash-up by the embrace of a Christianity Alice herself does not understand, a bereaved parent whose son has died in the war, who attempts to meet the president ... all these echo the tragedy of the Bush years from an imagined perspective. Yet finally the novel rings true not because of this echo, but because Sittenfeld has created characters and a plot as complex, flawed, and mysterious as life itself. (****)

  • Nora Ephron: I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections (Vintage)

    Nora Ephron: I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections (Vintage)
    The wry, funny Nora Ephron, in her own words. She forgot more than many of us knew. Highly entertaining, and makes me grieve her recent death even more. (***)

Books in my (culinary) office

  • Mary Donovan: The Thirteen Colonies Cookbook: A Collection of Favourite Receipts from Thirteen Exemplary Eighteenth-Century Cooks With Proper Menus for Simple Fare
    Early American recipes and lots of good quotes from period source material, this is just the kind of thing that fascinates me. (***)
  • Kevin Young: The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink

    Kevin Young: The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink

  • Michael Natkin: Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes

    Michael Natkin: Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes

  • Ben Hewitt: The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food

    Ben Hewitt: The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food
    Hewitt raises more questions and hypotheses than he answer... one has the sense that he was grappling with issues that were too large for him, and the subject of the book, the food-centric (sort of) hardscrabble town of Hardwick, Vermont. I got frustrated with his asides and a certain precious town that occasionally crept in, but I couldn't help but find it enthralling. He tries to make peace with the fact that environmentally sound, home gardening, and incremental agricultural semi-self-sufficiency may be elitist and nay not be economically sustainable. But that our present-day food system is also frighteningly fragile and unhealthful in any way, and simply would work unsubsidized: 1 single fast-food mega-ag calorie on the plate takes an average of ***95*** calories of fossil fuel to get from seed to plate. A gardener himself, Ben Hewitt writes: "The scale on which my family and I grow food is arguably inefficient, in terms of economics, efficiency, and land use. We don't utilize chemical fertilizers, synthetic weed and pest control, or genetically modified seed; these things could probably boost production in the short run, but then, we don't farm for the short run. "I can buy a fine potato from any number of local farmers, but (not) the May afternoon I spent w/ Penny in the garden, sticking our hands deep into the cool soil. I can buy a head of lettuce, but (not) the pleasure & pride of my boys returning from the garden w/ a basket of greens & saying 'We picked it ourselves, Papa.' " And, in this Monsanto-fast food-fake-food world... being willing and able to feed yourself, even partially is a true "Occupy" act. Hewitt quotes a farmer named Eliot Coleman: "Small farmers are the last bastion protecting society from corporate industry. When we feed ourselves, we become unconquerable." I wish this book had been better edited: someone needed to keep Hewitt more on track and focused, with fewer asides. He needed to be less anecdotal and more fact-based, or more anecdotal and... Well. Still very much worth a read. (***)

  • Ayun Halliday: Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste
    A feisty memoiristic series of vignettes, from growing up in Indiana and aspiring to Betty Crocker Enchanted Castle cakes with a mom who aspired to Julia Child and a fried-chicken-and-mashed-potato cooking grandmother to the author's own "postcoital breakfasts", labor, deliveries, and childrearing (one picky eater, one not). Categorized on the jacket as "FOOD / HUMOR" it is both, sort of. A recipe, written slap-dash but followable, and certainly with personal, um, zest, follows each chapter. It kept me somewhat amused; it kept me reading; and it did warn "questionable taste." The latter was over-the-top for me; a combination of TMI, reliance on gross-out, and a few too many gratuitous 'fucks' crossed the just-have-to-drop-the-#-of-stars line. Ayun's a good writer; a little less smart-assiness and a little more depth to the revelations, and I could be done for the cause with her. (**)

Books in my (writing/creativity/teaching) office

Charlotte, Aunt Dot & me

  • Cz_laughing_happy
    An elderly mother, her even older sister, their middle-aged daughter/niece ... and a small sheep.

National Cornbread Festival

  • Fashion to a T
    The apogee of all experiences for the true cornbread lover is the National Cornbread Festival, held annually the last full weekend of April in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.

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    JoAnne W. Felchner

    Crescent, I met you at the airport in Hartford> I was the gate agent that is interested in becoming a children's writer. I just wanted to say Hi and I'm glad to have met you! Your name story is interesting, Yes, I understand being exhausted with repeated explanations over the years. Good luck to you and I hope to attend one of your workshops.

    kenneth macKillop

    For kicks one day I told the promoters of a show that I wanted to billed as Balooky Klujypop, from a children's book by Ivor Cutler. fortunately the name only stuck among a very small circle of frenz. I can imagine however getting it into my head that I needed to be legally Balooky J. Klujypop, and what that would have entailed. My own given surname is mangled enough: macKillop (we pronounce it m'Killup -ish) but many people don't even try saying it "Mac… ?"

    I love your Soup and Bread book. tomorrow I will go to the library and have a look at your children's books. thnx for a lot of good meals, esp the buttermilk cornbread recipe - I started making w/ purple cornmeal and tho slightly drier, mebbe better.

    Cecelia Blair

    Hi Crescent,

    I was delighted to hear you speak last night at the library. I noted a Tree of Life motif in your talk. If you would ever like to read a true and magical account I wrote about tree communication,just ask.

    I love your name but understand the annoyance of having to explain so often. My mother from Virginia used to call me Allen, after her mother's maiden name. (In Virginia I met girls called Dabney, Carter, Blair, Lindsay, Sydney, Marshall--family names-- OR Lulah Lipop, and all the other double, ultra-fem. ones). Now I go by a name I chose.

    What I love Southern culture for, answering the question I asked you, is the great oral tradition--storytelling, humor, conversation and motivational talk. And I wanted to mention a funny, half great book called Confessions of A Failed Southern Lady by Florence King.

    Going out to buy The Cornbread Gospels!

    Will Slagel

    Hi there. Love your unusual name and the story behind it. Also love the Cornbread Gospels cookbook my mom got for me. Tried three recipes so far. All are great. I got laid off a couple of years ago to Chinese outsourcing and am now trying to make it on my own following my hobby/passion/obsession; artistic blacksmithing. Three cheers for individualism! Will

    gary Wayland

    Crescent, will you please come back to Eureka Springs, Arkansas? We are many times visitors to Eureka Springs, and nothing is the same since you left here.

    Gary Wayland
    Tulsa, Oklahoma


    Ah, Gary... thank you (I think!) but I am slowly getting more and more deeply rooted in my present community. I LOVED my years in Eureka, but they came to an end. As we all do, eventually. "Life is change" --- we hear it all the time, we know it, and yet, it's startling when it happens, isn't it? When something we unknowingly took for granted alters? Good timing on yr note; just found out my beloved yoga teacher, who was a big part of my bridge to living in this part of the world, is moving so I too am struggling w/ wanting to make the wheel move backwards. But it only goes one way - forward. I know you'll find much to love in ES as it is. P.S. I do come back to visit --- will next be there in February.

    Wishing you joy --- cd

    Shereen Letz

    Thank you for coming to Springfield, Vt. to talk to us about your corn bread book. You are a dynamic speaker and so happy that we can claim you as a Vermonter now. Will enjoy buying books that you have published. What a treat to learn about your work.


    Thank you, Shereen! What a nice surprise to find this here!

    Linda Aaron

    Hi Crescent!

    I met you a couple of years ago when you came to Springfield, Missouri. You were at a book signing at the Waverly House. I had read about you in the local newspaper from time to time when you lived in Eureka Springs. Since yours is a name that you don't forget, I read in November of 2007 that you were going to be at the Waverly House. My curiousity got the best of me. I had to go see what a Crescent Dragonwagon looked like. I stood in line for an hour to get my turn to talk to you. In that time after overhearing your conversations with everyone, by the time it was my turn I felt like I had known you for years. I was so impressed with the way that you focus on each person when it is their turn to talk with you. You were never in a hurry to rush them on because you had a huge line of people waiting, you answered every dumb question like you've never heard it before, you were enthusiastic and caring. I bought 3 of your books and you signed each one. I told you that you didn't need to sign each one, but you went a step further and not only signed them but personalized each one from the conversation that we had. I almost cried when I walked away from you. I told my husband that I have a new best friend that I may never see again. I so wish I had known you when you were in Eureka Springs. We're about the same age and I really do think we would have been friends. Do you have any plans to come back to Springfield or Eureka Springs to visit in the next few months?

    I'm getting ready to buy your Passionate Vegetarian cookbook. I have about worn out The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook, Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread and The Cornbread Gospels. The New World Corn Chowder and the Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread are a staple at our house in the winter. I just can't get enough of them! We have an annual Christmas Eve party at our house for family and friends. Two Christmases ago I made your cornbread during the party. It came out of the oven and I set it on the stovetop. People came over and started eating it right out of the pan and it was gone in no time! Last year when I sent out invitations, one of the RSVPs included a note that said that she would only come if I was going to make that cornbread again. Of course I made it and it was gobbled up right away again.

    I thank you for your cookbooks, your personal tidbits, your stories, your humor and your friendship. I know I don't know you but I sure feel like I do and I do hope we meet again. I hope you are happy and may God bless you abundantly!

    Kim Schaufenbuel

    Thanks so much for this explanation to your name. I love it! Your cookbooks are my favorites and I cook out of them so often that when people ask me about the recipe and I refer them to your cookbooks I get the funny looks for your crazy name. And to me your cookbooks aren't really cookbooks they are regular books. I have read each of them cover to cover just like a novel. The read that well. Thank you so much for your work.


    I just found your blog. I was saddened to hear about Ned's death. I received a copy of your "Dairy Hollow House Soup and Bread Cookbook" as a wedding present, so you and Ned were my constant companions in the kitchen as I was learning how to cook and bake bread. (In fact, I think I worked my way through almost all of the breads, except for the multi-grain bread that required some good homemade granola, because your Dairy Hollow House Cookbook was out of print, and I couldn't find a copy at the time.) I owe my love of cooking and baking to you. Thank you for your wonderful work!

    Nina Zolotow

    I just told my son, Quinn, that he had a second cousin (once removed) named Crescent Dragonwagon and he absolutely refused to believe me!

    Jo Jorgenson-Deme

    This morning I got up and felt like baking something sweet, like coffee cake. This is unusual for me because I'm always on a diet. I have a lot of cookbooks because I love to read the recipes, but I rarely make any of the recipes. Anyway, I pulled out The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook. I live in California but I called your Inn in Nov 1997 and ordered this cookbook (the credit card receipt from the Inn was still inside the cookbook). I read the cookbook when I got it, then put it on a shelf. Today I opened it for the first time since then and made the Bountiful Blueberry Muffins (since I already had frozen blueberries from Costco). They were great! I decided to check out your website and was led to this blog. This has made me feel excited about cooking/baking again. I can't believe I let that great cookbook sit on my shelf for over 12 years! I also have the Soup & Bread Cookbook which I plan to crack open. Thank you for inspiring me. I also always thought it was an extra nice touch that the Inn sent me a signed copy. Thanks again.


    Thank you so much for all the wonderful recipes. I have just ordered a used copy of the Soup & bread cookbook because my dog ate my first copy. Penelope apparently thought it was delicious. I think I'll just stick with the wonderful recipes inside. I just hope the original stays together long enough until the new one comes!

    tinea corporis

    hahaha that nice story about the name for your children, my wife and I casually discussed a lot about this issue too until we reached a mutual agreement, excellent blog.

    Susan Armstrong

    Hello Crescent - I'm working on a newsletter for Green Mountain RSVP(We coordinate the work of volunteers age 55 and over in Bennington, Windham & Windsor Counties.) We saw your recipe for Peach Shortcake in American Profile and it looked so yummy we decided to add it to the newsletter. My question is, can we substitute more butter for the vegetable shortening? We think the butter would total 2/3 of a cup. What do you think? We'd like to send our newsletter to you when it's finished so you can learn about RSVP. We love your blog!

    Ginny Krauskopf

    Crescent - your latest book could also be entitled "Compassionate Vegetarian." Having eliminated many foods because of various reasons, I was completely uninterested in cooking any more. I read the Dairy HOllow House Cookbook, then found a copy of The Passionate Vegetarian. THis is the first vegetarian book I've come across that understands the challenges meat eaters/reluctant vegetarians have in making changes. You gave wonderful descriptions of foods, and many instances of variations possible.

    Thanks so much!


    Crescent Dragonwagon

    Ginny! What a lovely surprise to find on a coolish New England summer morning! I worked so hard in writing that book, and for so long... it always truly pleases me when someone takes the time to let me know that PV has made a difference in their life and kitchen. I am touched and feel most privileged to have been helpful to you. And I LOVE inviting people into ingredients they may not yet have discovered...

    In the no good deed goes unpunished department, should you feel like saying these terrific things on, say, an amazon reader review... well, I surely would have no objections. But whether or not you do, THANK YOU! Happy, satisfying abundant cooking to you, Ginny ---



    I love your name but understand the annoyance of having to explain so often. My mother from Virginia used to call me Allen, after her mother's maiden name. (In Virginia I met girls called Dabney, Carter, Blair, Lindsay, Sydney, Marshall--family names-- OR Lulah Lipop, and all the other double, ultra-fem. ones). Now I go by a name I chose.


    The first time I heard your name I thought it was full of poetry and adventure, and a little strange, but that is also what Eureka was and will always be in my memories of that magical place in the Oz Ark plateau. I have not read your books (yet) but I am putting them on my list as soon as I find it.

    Balooky J. Klujypop. Now THAT is a weird name.

    &: {)


    Hello at last! I recommended your book to the cookbook author/gardener Renee Shepherd once at a book talk she gave in town and she put the bug in my ear to go online to see what you've been up to. That was several years ago, and I thought - what a great idea, I never thought of that. But I never took the time to do it. Tonight I was looking for something to do with winter squash and flipped to the last page of The Passionate Vegetarian, read again what you wrote, and decided to find you online. Now that I am here, I am chuckling at the answer to "Is that your real name?" because I have always told everyone that it is...I've always assumed your parents had a wonderful sense of humor plus love of language. Oh, and by "everyone," who asks, I mean all of my gardening friends (vegetarian cookbooks, I've found, are a tremendous resource when the garden comes in in force and you just can't choke down another bean or whatever), vegetarian friends, carnivorous friends with vegetarian children, and just about anyone who has tasted my (oh, I guess I mean your...actually Pamela Jones') absolutely incredible roasted salsa, or my (your) corn/buckwheat pancakes. ( I make them without the roasty vegetables and slather them with our own backyard maple syrup. ) I've gifted several copies of your book PV-the last time as a wedding present to my daughter's friends who are vegetarians/organic gardeners, ( and I wasn't even invited to the wedding...I just wanted them to have it ) since as much as I love your recipes, and your writing, I really do consider it more of a love story than a cookbook and am in awe of your monumentally loving tribute to your late husband. Thank you so much for this lovely wonderful book. I'm so glad to have a chance to finally tell you how much I've loved it. I am not overusing the word love...I just can't think of another word more applies this many times and more. On a more current note, I'm a preschool teacher, so I was so thrilled to have recently discovered your children's book "Alligator Arrived with Apples." This year we had a Thanksgiving feast after I read both your book and "Potluck" to the children. The administrators showed up and looked perplexed by the spread of carrots ( Caleigh ), apples (Alex ), rolls (Rhiley), cheese ( Chase ), etc. Not very traditional, but so so fun and educational. I take that back. It will be tradition from now on. Thanks again.

    Chrissy LaVielle

    We took Allison's class together last Sunday at Peoples Yoga in Portland.

    In a perfect world, I would be in Vermont this Labor Day weekend taking The Whole Enchilada class, but I'll have to settle for taking the regular class next time you're in Portland or in Seattle.

    It was a pleasure meeting you!


    My dear Crescent,

    You know, you don't _have_ to explain your name to anyone. I firmly believe in everyone's right to be known by whatever name they like: the one their parents gave them, or something else entirely. You don't owe anyone a justification. You could just smile, shrug, and say, "It's sort of a pen-name that stuck."

    I was named Jennifer at birth, and while it's a lovely name, it's oppressively common in my generation (rivaled in the Western world only by the commonness of Mary in 19th century England). Several years ago I changed it to Gwenivere. Both names are derived from the Welsh Gwenhwyfar. I chose the spelling to mirror the vowel pattern in Jennifer, but now I realize it's irrelevant because I'm not going to explain to people, "Well, my name used to be..." Should've just gone with a more obvious spelling. Anyway, now my name is Gwenivere; I don't self-associate to Jennifer anymore. (I just go by Gwen, anyway.)

    If people ask if Gwenivere is my "real" (?!) name, 1) it's none of their business and 2) I'll lie to them if I feel like it. When did it become okay to ask strangers such personal questions?!

    Anyway, that's my two cents. I enjoyed your story about your name, but I don't think you should wear yourself out telling it, especially if you don't want to! :)

    Evelyn, The Castle Lady

    I'd like to add here that because of your name you had me at Half a Moon and One Whole Star ! I've been a fan ever since and I'm pleasantly surprised that I just happened to stumble upon your blog when looking for something else entirely. I want to add you as a favorite on my blogspot. I hope you don't mind. I found your entry about your father very heartwarming and inspiring, by the way.
    Thanks for all !
    The Castle Lady

    Crescent Dragonwagon

    Thank you, thank you, Evelyn! My father so shaped and inspired me... it makes me happy to pass it along. May I live up to your generous words!

    Adult Tricycle, Laura

    That's a nice little story about your name, Crescent. Interesting!


    I have your "Passionate Vegeterian" book on my bookshelf, and I had never noticed the authors name, when I saw it I had to search online to see if it was your real name. It looked so flaky I had to find out more, and now that I know the story I think you are awesome and I am your fan!


    You're awesome! I just wanted to give you a 'heads up' that I am mentioning you in my vegan cooking blog.
    I hope that's okay <3

    Crescent Dragonwagon

    Thank you, Zak! Cant wait to see it... happy cooking. xxoo


    funny facebook statuses

    You are a dynamic speaker and so happy that we can claim you as a Vermonter now. Will enjoy buying books that you have published. What a treat to learn about your work.


    I LOVE this! What a sweet kiss to blow me across the whirling pages of cyber space this a.m.! Are you Nancy Hall (I *believe* that was/is , your/her name... there were painkillers cloudifying memory due to back spasm) who Diane introduced me to at Sojourns yesterday? Or...? In any case, THANK YOU...

    Priscilla King

    Hi! Just strayed over here from and thought I'd mention that I still own copies of "To Take a Dare" and "The Year It Rained" (from back when the latter was new). I'd like to link this blog to

    Mysti Easterwood

    Dear Madame Dragonwagon, There may come an era when you will not have to make this explanation. When I told the Fine Young Cannibal (my teenager) that you had beFriended me on Facebook, his face LIT UP! He repeated your name a couple of times like the description of a velvety dessert, but didn't pose a single question about its origin or authenticity.

    Your name was its own reward. May it always so be...


    Myst! Yes, young children, teenagers, eldercare, care trouble, illness... all just wreak havoc with practice --- writing practice and others (like working out, or going for walks, or meditating, or whatever). Although "it" doesn't wait indefinitely, and although "it" responds more and more the more we show up, the good news is that when we return "it" says, "Well, there you are! I've been waiting for you! Let's go!" Ah yes, the cool parents illusion. One I'm sure I would have suffered from and with had I had kids...

    rc helicopter

    Impressive blog! -Arron


    Thank you, Priscilla --- so glad!


    Thank you, Arron... fine compliment, that you find this "impressive": even more, I hope for "inspiring" --- as in, do your own writing or other great work!


    Just stumbled upon your name fron the On Point website...did you once/still live in Des Moines, IA?


    Karen, I never lived in Iopwa, but my darling late husband, Ned Shank, was an Ames native and went to Gronnell and was thus in and out of Des Moines..

    Edy Rees

    Hi Crescent,
    I am excited to learn about you in today's Boston Globe, and plan to check out your cookbooks, and other books right away -- way too cool. We may have shared landlords in Brooklyn back in the day -- did you live in one of the houses on South Eliot St. (across from Brooklyn Tech), owned by the Millers? A group of us started another commune on Carlton Ave. (a few blocks up, off Lafayette Ave., past Fort Green Park); in a house also owned by the Millers, a kind family from Westchester County who gave my kids some beautiful hand-me-downs. Buen Provecho!

    Alice (Bunny) Creagh

    Hello Crescent,
    I remember you telling me about a poster that hung above your bed and somehow that poster was connected to your new last name. That was a thousand years ago when John and I picked you up hitchhiking in Putney. It has been wonderful hearing about you during the last 40 years and I am so happy that you have found your way back to Vermont. Alice (Bunny in 1970 not so much now)

    walking cane

    Came across your site while browsing around…cool stuff you have going on here. Choosing names for the children may some times lead to an open conflict... As long as the humor reigns, everything is OK !

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