Archive for December 21st, 2012


Chelsea Green Publishing Rewards Employees with a “25 Shades of Sauerkraut” Bonus of $2500 each

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Independent book publisher Chelsea Green announced today that due to a record-setting sales year and strong revenue growth, employees would each receive a $2500 end-of-year bonus. Leading the company’s record revenue growth was the strong sales of The Art of Fermentation, a New York Times bestselling book by self-described “fermentation fetishist” Sandor Katz. This is the fourth Chelsea Green book to make the list in the last 10 years.

Released in June, the $39.95, 500-page hardcover reference book features an inspiring foreword from Michael Pollan. After four printings there are now more than 50,000 copies in print.

“If Random House can give all their employees a $5000 bonus for 50 Shades of Grey, then Chelsea Green can give everyone a $2500 bonus due to the phenomenal success of The Art of Fermentation,” announced Margo Baldwin, president and publisher.

Call it 25 Shades of sauerkraut. Or, kim chi. Or kefir. Or Kombucha.

It’s fitting that in a year in which the mainstream publishing industry became domineered by erotic fiction and saw decreasing print book sales, Chelsea Green once again bucked the trend and saw double digit sales growth of its list that focuses on DIY living, organic food and farming, homesteading, and building community resiliency.

To be fair to the bacteria necessary to make all that delicious fermentation happen—they are probably having a grand old time reproducing in those bubbly crocks and mason jars.

Overall sales through November were up 30 percent year-to-date, with a 40 percent increase in ebook sales and a 29 percent increase in print book sales.

Sales were not all due to sauerkraut, however.

In 2012, Chelsea Green saw strong sales across the board and in all categories.

Chelsea Green saw strong overseas, and subrights, sales for 2052 by Jorgen Randers, a look forward at what the next 40 years will be like in the wake of increasing climate change, flat economic growth, and a growing population. Other top sellers, so far, included the first book in our Community Resilience Guides series (published in collaboration with Post Carbon Institute), Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman. The second book in that series,  Power from the People by Greg Pahl, was released in September. The third book, Rebuilding the Foodshed by Philip Ackerman-Leist, will be released in March. Other top-selling books from 2012 include Janisse Ray’s remarkable book about seed saving, The Seed Underground, and Gov. Madeleine M. Kunin’s call for true family-friendly economic and workplace reforms in The New Feminist Agenda.

Two books released in Fall 2011 sold strongly throughout the year, too, those where Reinventing Fire by Amory Lovins and The Holistic Orchard by Michael Philips.

Keeping with tradition, Chelsea Green’s backlist continued to sell strong, with several older titles ranking among the top-selling 25 books of the year. Those include Katz’s earlier book, Wild Fermentation, as well as Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden, Elliot Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook, Harvey Ussery’s Small-Scale Poultry Flock, Mat Stein’s When Technology Fails, and the book Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning.

The end-of-year sales and revenue announcement comes on the heels of a busy year for Chelsea Green Publishing, its staff, and its authors.

In June, the company became employee-owned, making it one of only a handful of independent book publishers that can claim employee-ownership status, and of those Chelsea Green will be near the top in terms of the percentage of stock controlled by its employees. After the transaction, nearly 80 percent of the stock is held by employees; the remaining percentage remains in control of Margo and Ian Baldwin, the company’s founders.In 2012, Chelsea Green was recognized by ForeWord Reviews as its 2011 Publisher of the Year, in which the company was recognized for its “significant contributions in the categories of politics and sustainable living.”

At the start of the year, Chelsea Green added staff in an ongoing effort to expand its digital offerings and improve its existing online presence, as well as provide greater outreach and publicity support for its authors.

Libation: little water, and a Classic White Russian

Friday, December 21st, 2012

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a delicious cocktail recipe! This sweet beverage will be perfect for happy hour to start off your vacation on the right foot, or to mix up for family at a holiday party this weekend.

Cheers!

The following is an excerpt from Libation: A Bitter Alchemy by Deirdre Heekin. It has been adapted for the Web.

In a cold November, more than ten years after the Berlin Wall came down, Caleb and I arrived in the city of Minsk for the first time. We had to show hard-won visas and letters of introduction at the kiosk before they would let us through the secured gate. There had not been many people on our flight from Germany, so it didn’t take us long to pick out our luggage. Laden with our bags, we spotted Olga at the entrance to the gate. She was standing next to her father, Slava, whom we had only seen in photographs. Raisa, her mother, was not able to come to the airport as she was at work, but would meet us later. We smiled, and waved, and felt like crying.

By that time, Olga and her sister Tatiana had worked with us at the restaurant for several years. Olga had first come to the United States from Minsk one summer on the Fourth of July, armed with a five-month work visa. By accident, she showed up at the door of our restaurant looking for work; she even came to our town by accident. Both were happy accidents, and Olga decided to stay and complete her studies in America. Her sister, who came the next year, made the same decision.

We, too, had once been like them, foreigners in a foreign land, deciding to make a life far away from what had once been home. We recalled how for us, the idea of home began to change, one home replacing another, as first language gave way to a second. These things we understood. With Olga and Tatiana we shared this experience even as we shared hours of work together at the restaurant. We shared holidays, and arguments, occasional sadness, and much laughter. We became an intentional family, choosing each other for both obvious and private reasons.

Now Caleb and I were traveling to Minsk to meet Olga and Tatiana’s parents, to extend our notion of family, and to learn more of their Belarussian culture and language. Unlike the first words I had learned in Italian, my first word in Russian—learned months before taking our journey, and learned out of the desire to communicate during work in this other language—was the one word vada, water. The second word I learned was vodka, little water.

My own history with vodka starts long before my meeting Olga and Tatiana, and long before my husband and I even thought of traveling to Eastern Europe. I learned to drink vodka in college. I hadn’t developed a taste for beer yet, and I’d had a bad experience with a gallon jug of Ernest and Julio Gallo’s Hearty Burgundy so I would not become interested in wine for a few years. My parents’ inclination for Irish whisky had not lured me—my dislike of it decided when I was young and asked to take a sip from my father’s cocktail glass. It was strong and bittersweet, not to be my tipple of choice. I must have first tried vodka at one of those college parties where most people drink beer, and where bad vodka and cheap bourbon are served for those who don’t like Heineken, Rolling Rock, or Budweiser. My first experience of vodka didn’t leave an impression other than my liking the clean taste; and the liquor didn’t seem to leave me addled or incoherent.

Vodka became my drink of choice, and it was the drink I could down quickly and easily in a small shot glass and beat any drinking-game opponent without difficulty. I liked it even better when I could have it at a bar, doctored with sweet tastes like Kahlúa and cream. My preferred college cocktail was a white Russian. Who knew that someday I would board an airplane for a country where I had connections, a country named Belarus, which means “white Russia” in translation.

My fascination with vodka eased into other interests— wine, beer, and brandies—but a vodka tonic was my summer drink, the lime adding just the right amount of fruit. In fact, in my recollection, the only cocktails I drank were vodka-based: a madras with cranberry and orange juice; a Cape Cod with just the cranberry and a lime; a salty dog with white grapefruit. When I got much older I graduated to the vodka martini because I loved green olives, and to the vodka negroni because I loved Campari. I’ve never been a fan of the other clear liquor—gin.

Before arriving in Minsk I knew enough to know that Slavic cultures prized their vodka, and that vodka was often the bane of the depressed Slavs. They drank it in the morning, they drank it with lunch, they toasted with it, and they drank it with dinner. They drank it like water—their little water—a lot of little water.


recipe for classic white russianThis is the traditional white Russian recipe I remember. As with anything, the ingredients are key, and I recommend using a vodka made from milk sugars and that is very creamy in texture like the Vermont Vodka White made by Duncan. The resulting drink could be a nice liquid dessert.• 2 ounces Vermont Vodka White, or other vodka
• 1 ounce Kahlúa, Tia Maria, or other coffee liqueur
• Light creamPour the vodka and coffee liqueur over ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass. Fill with light cream and serve.

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