Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Sunday Salon and Savannah on my mind...

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Grab a cup of Joe, sit back and relax... It's the time of the week to take a step back and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. It's the time of the week we get to chat about the great books we've discovered in our travels...

My travels the past 2 weeks have taken me to Savannah, Ga., where the spanish moss drips from the massive oaks and creates such beauty as you walk along the city streets exploring the rich history, enjoy a ghost story or two, and of course enjoy all that River St. offers!

It was a road trip this time as my husband & I drove the 1300 miles to the city made famous in the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. I had always wanted to visit Savannah since reading John Berendt's book. If you haven't read it, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is simply wonderful! With a cast of characters that will have you mesmerized, especially since they are all real people, John Berendt weaves a tale of the small Southern town, while investigating the mystery of a murder that took place in 1981. It's the kind of book that leisurely works its way to the ending you never want to have happen.

Although I brought books with me I had absolutely no time to read. But, I did manage to pick up a few books...

The Savannah Guidebook including 4 unique walking tours by Paul C. Bland... Historic photos, drawings and maps allow you to step back in time while experiencing her beauty today. The tours span Savannah's rich history from the earliest days as a British Colony to the modern day setting of books and movies with a few ghost and a little fun mixed in for good measure. 

We did not actually go on any of these walking tours, but this slim volume of 34 pages is the cat's pajama's when it comes to finding all the wonderful treasures Savannah has to offer. It has wonderful photographs of the favorite and important spots, along with a bit of history and how to get there. There is a great map in the back that shows the layout of Savannah's 22 squares and how to navigate them. The squares can be a bit confusing without a map, and you can get a free map of the streets, but this shows you where you can find all those places you're going to want to see. And unlike a lot of tour books, this one retails for $5.95! A real bargain! This book also serves as a great reminder of the places we have been and some we are going to go to when we go back to Savannah.

A trip to Savannah would not be complete without some great food! Seafood is the local choice, along with a serving of grits here and there, and we made the most of sampling some of the great food. I did try alligator tail while there... and yes, it does taste like chicken. 

Shrimp, Collards & Grits; Recipes, Stories and Art from the Creeks and Gardens of the Lowcountry by Pat Branning... "The South is a place where tea is sweet and accents are sweeter, macaroni and cheese is a vegetable, front porches are wide and words are long. Buttermilk pie is a staple. Y’all is the only proper noun. Chicken is fried and biscuits come with cream gravy. Everything is darlin’ and someone’s heart is always being blessed." 200 Lowcountry recipes, the full color, coffee table style cookbook features 150 fine art paintings by such noted Southern artists as Ray Ellis, Nancy Ricker Rhett, John Carroll Doyle and Joe Bowler among others.  Hardbound Coffee Style Book 144 pages. 

The lowcountry is what the coastal regions of South Carolin and Georgia are referred to. As we drove along, the landscape was flat and beautiful. That's what made a driving trip perfect, because we could really enjoy the changes in the landscape as we left Connecticut and headed South into NY, Pennsylvania, Va, West Va,  North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. This book is absolutely stunning with the wonderful reproductions of the paintings from local artists, and the beautiful full color photographs of the food and sites. All the recipes are well written out, not too long and complicated and cover a range of Southern food, from Deep South Hush Puppies, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Crab Bisque and Vidalia Onion Tart to Lowcountry Shrimp and Grits, Macaroni and Cheese, and Tailgate Pulle Pork Barbeque. I can't wait to give some of these recipes a try!

Speaking of recipes... how about adding a little honey to all that from The Savannah Bee Company! Wandering the little shops in Savannah's squares, we happened upon this little store that sold the most incredible honey - edible and non-edible. I sampled the raw honeycomb, which is hand cut from the frame, and was hooked. Then I tried the Winter White Honey, which is a whipped creamy honey.... oh my gosh! But I also appreciate the origins of the company and how they use 99% all natural ingredients!
Savannah Bee founder Ted Dennard was first introduced to honey as a 12-year old boy on his father’s Coastal Georgia retreat property when a battered old pickup carrying beehives rattled into his life. The bee-covered driver of that flatbed truck was Roy Hightower, an elderly beekeeper scouting sites suitable for gathering “Swamp Honey” from the White Tupelo tree. In return for a place to keep his bees, Roy offered young Ted an education in that magical, buzzing world, but with a prophetic word of caution, “Son, bees sort of become a way of life.” 
Ted has traveled "the world to see bees making medicinal manuka honey in New Zealand, rubber honey in Vietnam, logwood honey in Jamaica, heather honey in Ireland, and the famous tilleul lavender honey of France." And he still raises his bees a hop, skip and a jump from Savannah. 

What I came home with from the Savannah Bee Company were two things... first, this amazing Royal Jelly Body Butter made from the most "precious product of the hive." This is what the future queen bee is fed daily as she develops. Their products have no animal testing and the Royal Body Butter is 99% natural ingredients, no paragons, no petroleum derived ingredients and feels like butter going on your skin. My fascination didn't stop with the honey samples or the body butter... the second thing I picked up was a copy of The Beekeeper's Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses by Richard A. Jones and Sharon Sweeney-Lynch....

The Beekeeper’s Bible is as much an ultimate guide to the practical essentials of beekeeping as it is a beautiful almanac to be read from cover to cover. Part history book, part handbook, and part cookbook, this illustrated tome covers every facet of the ancient hobby of beekeeping, from how to manage hives safely to harvesting one's own honey, and ideas for how to use honey and beeswax. Detailed instructions for making candles, furniture polish, beauty products, and nearly 100 honey-themed recipes are included. Fully illustrated with how-to photography and unique etchings, any backyard enthusiast or gardener can confidently dive into beekeeping with this book in hand (or daydream about harvesting their own honey while relaxing in the comfort of an armchair).

This book is a big beautiful treatise on bees. Everything you'd want to know about the little guys with these amazing recipes that include full color photos! It weighs a ton (broke the PAPER bag they gave me to carry everything in), but I'm glad I lugged it around. If you are fascinated by bees, and they are an important part of how we grow crops, you will enjoy this book!
Of course Savannah wouldn't be Savannah without the ghost stories that float from every dark street corner. I love the lure of a good ghost tale and there are plenty of ghost tours to be had on every street corner on River st, which is the "festive" part of Savannah. We opted for a late night private carriage ride along the historic squares. Our host, Blake, and our horse, Bob, clip clopped along the romantically lit streets sharing the history of what we were riding by along with some great ghost stories of the houses and squares we saw...

Savannah Spectres and Other Strange Tales by Margaret Wayt DeBolt... Some seventy storiess skillfully interwoven with the heritage of the area's colorful past, and illustrated with over thirty photos and sketches. Incidents of precognition, extrasensory perception, deja vu and possible reincarnation are included in this personal and highly readable account.

Almost 300 pages, this was recommended to me as a great collection of ghost stories of Savannah. After reading a few, I don't think I will be disappointed. The writing pulls you in because it infuses the history with the story. 

Ghosts and Gravestones of Savannah Georgia by John F. Stavely... Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever wondered what exists beyond our normal senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing? Are you curious? 

This slim, 87 page, book includes 29 tales with accompanying black & white photographs. The author is involved with creating some of the ghost tours given in town, so this little book would probably be great to read before hopping on board for one of them, but also adds some great flavor to the homes and cemeteries that call Savannah home. 

Now that we are home, along with the great memories of oysters, grits & a frozen Margarita or two, I have some wonderful books that can bring me back to the place where the shadows may whisper your name and Southern hospitality is at a premium. Ever been to Savannah? What were your favorites? But if not Savannah, where did your travels take you this week? What good books can you share this week?

Now of course, Savannah is a great setting for fiction too, but let's save that for another day....

Happy reading.... Suzanne


MJ said...

Love Savannah! The hubby and I honeymooned there. The live oaks are just gorgeous.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi MJ!
I almost wish I had waited to get married in Savannah, it is so romantic! If you get a chance I would love to know where you stayed. We stayed first at The River St. Inn and then at the Westin Inn in the harbor (which was absolute luxury and cheaper than any of the surrounding hotels!

The Relentless Reader said...

I should really get to Midnight in the Garden. I've heard fantastic things about it forEVER!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Jennifer!
Midnight in the Garden is one of my favorite books. You really would enjoy it! Author's writing is great, so easy going and the people are a hoot!

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