The Joe Maddon Story: “Try Not to Suck”

In a Zen-like move that baffled many in the sports world, Joe Maddon, then the new manager of the Chicago Cubs, enacted a “less is more” philosophy by almost completely eliminating  batting practice. What went against a long time baseball tradition as well as causing intense angst among the Cub fans and head scratching from pundits, now is credited with being one of factors helping the wonderful losers win their first World Series in 108 years.

“For over a century of baseball, the belief was if you’re struggling then the answer was to work harder,” says Jesse Rogers, who with Bill Chastain, authored Try Not to Suck: The Exceptional, Extraordinary Baseball Life of Joe Maddon (Triumph Books, March 2018) with a foreword by Ben Zobrist.

Maddon’s beginnings in baseball weren’t promising. A Minor League catcher for Los Angeles, after four seasons, with only 180 times at bat and three home runs, he hadn’t advanced further than Class A. Obviously it was time for a change and so he segued into management, working in a variety of positions for the Angels including minor league manager, scout and roving minor league hitting instructor, bench coach and interim manager.

“His 31 years in Anaheim were an apprenticeship,” says Rogers, a television, internet and radio reporter for ESPN since 2009 who was  an insider covering the Cubs in 2016 (Chastain, who covers the Tampa Bay Rays for MLB.com and knew Maddon from his days there). “He saw a lot of things there that he thought should be done differently, but he couldn’t challenge it. But he was able to take what he learned to Tampa Bay where he could put some of that in place. He very much believes in less. If you’re struggling, don’t work more instead cut back. ”

One of the positives from that strategy is players retain more energy as the long season progresses—an advantage over other teams who hew to conventional wisdom.

“Joe’s surprised that more people aren’t doing this after seeing how successful he’s been,” says Rogers.

But though he upended some traditions, Maddon has his superstitions just like most of those in the business.

When rain called a temporary halt during Game 7 of the Series  with Chicago and Cleveland tied at 7-7, Maddon headed to his office and, spotting his bag, recalled thinking “it was time for my dad.” Grabbing his dad’s hat which he kept in the bag, he stuffed it down the back of his pants.

“I said to myself ‘Let’s go’,” he is quoted saying in the book. “I took him back there with me and during the course of the next inning I kept touching it back there.”

The title of Chastain and Rogers’s book s from one of Maddon’s oft-quoted maxims. Others include “don’t let the pressure exceed the pressure” or “do simple better.”

“Probably my favorite one in general is ‘Embrace the target,’” says Rogers. “Joe says he’s really a big believer of running towards the fire as opposed to running away. I think that’s a good lesson for all of us.”

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking with the Muse: A Sumptuous Gathering of Seasonal Recipes, Culinary Poetry and Literary Fare

Chef Myra Kornfeld and poet Stephen Massimilla have put together a luscious cookbook illustrating how poetry, prose and food have been inspirational throughout history.

The 500-page book, “Cooking With the Muse: A Sumptuous Gathering of Seasonal Recipes, Culinary Poetry and Literary Fare,” is divided by seasons. It pairs 150 recipes with culinary poems, essays and historic anecdotes.W28choctart 2

Massimilla provides a few stanzas from Book IX of Homer’s “The Odyssey” to accompany a recipe for Mediterranean Cauliflower-Kale Roast with Feta. He recounts how the cheese, which dates back to 8th century B.C., was originally aged and brined to keep it from spoiling in Greek’s hot, arid climate. The way it was made, he says, has changed very little since Odysseus entered Polyphemus’ cave.

In the recipe for Corn Pudding “Soufflé,” the authors include John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem “Barbara Frietchie” as a preface to the simple recipe.

They end the recipe with a recommendation for cooking fresh corn by Mark Twain, who very much enjoyed his meals.W8medcaulibake

“Corn doesn’t hang on to its sugar long after it has been picked,” Massimilla writes. “The saying goes that you should put up a pot of hot water before you stroll out to the cornfield prepared to run back on the double. Mark Twain upped the challenge when he recommended carrying the boiling water to the garden to catch the corn with all its sweetness the moment it leaves the vine.”

The following recipes are from “Cooking with the Muse.”

Mediterranean Cauliflower-Kale Roast with Feta

Serves 4 to 6.

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt

3/4 pound curly kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, chopped and pitted

1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed and chopped

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons oregano

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Black pepper

2 ounces feta cheese (preferably from sheep’s milk), crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready a parchment paper-covered baking sheet.

In one bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.

In another bowl, toss the kale with 1 tablespoon oil. Massage the oil into the leaves so each leaf is lightly coated. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Roast the cauliflower for 30 minutes, then add the kale to the baking sheet. Return it to the oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cauliflower is browned and the kale is crispy. Remove from the oven.

Warm the remaining tablespoon of oil with the butter in a large skillet until the butter melts. Add the garlic, olives and capers and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant. Stir in the cauliflower and kale, the water and the oregano. Combine thoroughly. Stir in the lemon juice and a sprinkling of pepper.

Serve hot, with feta scattered on top.

Chocolate Tart with Salt and Caramelized Pecans

Makes one 9-inch tart.

For the pecans:

1 cup pecans

1/3 cup maple sugar, Sucanat sugar, Rapadura sugar or coconut sugar

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

1 large egg white

For the crust:

Oil and coconut flour, for preparing the pan

2 cups unsweetened coconut, dried and shredded

3 tablespoons granulated natural sugar (such as maple or Sucanat)

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 large egg whites

For the filling:

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 tablespoons maple sugar

Pinch of salt

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the garnish:

Fleur de sel (French sea salt) or other large-flake sea salt

Position one rack in the middle of the oven and another in the lower third. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Have ready two parchment paper-covered baking sheets.

To make the pecans, toss the pecans, sugar, salt and cayenne, if using, in a medium bowl. Stir in the egg white to combine. Spread on one of the baking sheets. Bake on the middle rack until the sugar has clumped on the nuts and the mixture looks sandy and dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir every 8 minutes or so during the baking so that pecans caramelize evenly.

Let cool for a few minutes, transfer to a bowl and break up the clumps into small pieces. (The pecans can be stored at room temperature for up to a month.)

While the pecans are baking, make the crust. Oil and flour a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut, sugar and orange zest. Work in the coconut oil with your fingers until everything is moistened evenly.

In a small bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy. Stir into the coconut mixture. Press the dough into the prepared tart pan. (Use a piece of plastic wrap between your hand and the dough to make pressing in the crust easier.) Give an extra press at the juncture where the sides meet the bottom, so you don’t have a triangular-shaped thick wedge of crust in the corners.

Place the tart pan on the other baking sheet. Bake the crust on the lower rack until it is a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes, checking after 10.

While the crust is baking, make the filling. In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk, sugar and salt to a simmer. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir with a whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Cover to keep warm.

Just before the crust is ready, whisk the egg thoroughly into the chocolate. Pour the filling into the hot crust. Return the tart (still on the baking sheet) to the oven. Bake until the filling is set around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. The filling should still jiggle a little in the center when you nudge the pan. Set on a rack to cool.

Unmold the tart and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. Before serving, sprinkle a light dusting of flaky salt and the pecan clusters over the tart. Alternatively, serve each piece with a light dusting of coarse salt, then sprinkle the top with the caramelized pecans.

Cook’s note: The tart may be refrigerated for up to three days.

Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists

DonnaSeamanbyDavidSiegfried (1)Call it the case of the disappearing sculpture for that’s what started Donna Seaman on her quest to chronicle the lives and works of the seven female artists featured in her just released book, Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists (Bloomsbury 2017; $30.

“I remember going to the Chicago Art Institute and seeing this large sculpture they had at the end of the corridor,” says Seaman who grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York but not lives in Chicago. “But then she disappeared.”

The sculpture was by Louise Nevelson, who at one time had quite a following in the U.S., but like the six other 20th century females artists featured in Seaman’s book are almost forgotten despite their talent.

Intriguingly, though I had heard of Nevelson, I didn’t recognize any of the other names when I first started reading Seaman’s fascinating book. But reading about Gertrude Abercrombie and seeing her strikingly haunted paintings, I realized my mother had one in her study. But though I loved that painting, I only remembered the male artists whose works hung in our home such as Chagall’s “The Rabbi of Vitebsk” and Winslow Homer’s “The Gulf Steam” (all prints I assure you) and not this one? Was it a male thing?

Could be says Seaman, one of Chicago’s best known book critics and editor of adult books at Booklist, a book-review (and now online) magazine that’s been published by the American Library Association for more than 100 years.

“It’s about who’s writing history,” she says. “Women weren’t written about in a critically relevant way. Newspapers were interested but not the critics. And so these women disappeared.”

While doing her extensive research (Seaman acknowledges her obsessiveness) she asked museum curators to bring out the works of Lois Mailou Jones that had been tucked away in storage for who knows how long.

“They hadn’t seen them before,” she recalls. “And they kept saying these are wonderful.”

Though Seaman chose most of the artists she highlighted—Joan Brown, Leonore Tawney and Ree Morton–because she liked their work, her essay on Christina Ramberg was much more personal.

“I knew Christina,” Seaman says. “She died very young. The moment she became ill, we knew she wasn’t going to be around very long and I knew someday I would write about her.”

With a Master’s degree in English from DePaul University, one might expect Seaman to be more focused on lost women writers, but her mother was a visual artist (in fact Seaman is traveling to Vassar College last this spring where her mother has a showing of her work) and at one time, she considered becoming an artist as well.

Earning her BSA at Kansas City Art Institute where she was a sculptor major, Seaman says she was only one in her class who loved her liberal arts classes.

“I loved libraries and I have a passion for reading,” she says. “Despite getting into shows and selling my works, I realized that my stronger skills were in editing and writing.”

This skill subset—art and writing—is perfect for giving these artists their identities back.

Max’s Story: A Dog’s Purpose Puppy Tale

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Author W. Bruce Cameron wasn’t planning on writing a series of books about dogs. Instead, he was wooing his future wife into letting another dog into her life.

Wondering if that was going to be a deal breaker, Cameron, whose had dogs since he was young, decided to tell her a story while they were driving.

“I just made up a story about how her dog would want her to have another puppy and that I really believe we’ll see our true friends again,” says Cameron, author of the recently released Max’s Story: A Dog’s Purpose Puppy Tale (Tor Books 2018; $16.99), acknowledging that when we adopt a canine, we’re setting ourselves up for a very bad day sometime in the future. “She liked the story so  much she not only married me but told me I needed to make turn the story into a book.”

The result was A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans which spent 52 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, became the first in the Dog’s Purpose series and was made into a movie. Currently, Cameron’s A Dog’s Way Home, another best seller, is being filmed.

Though Cameron writes other novels including a mystery series about a repo man who lives in Michigan (the novelist is from Petoskey, Michigan) which have been well-received, it’s the way he portrays animals that seems to win the most readers from young to old. Max’s Story  features a New York canine cutie, who “adopts” a naïve young woman and shows her how to handle big city life. The puppy purpose series are for young readers and though they’re written to be easily readable, writing them is the challenge says Cameron.

“When I’m writing these puppy tales, I start off with a real challenge for myself—I need to think like a dog would think,” he says. “Dogs don’t think in words but they know the difference between a ball, chair or tree. I made a mistake in an earlier book when I mentioned a red light. A dog doesn’t see colors. But dogs are very in-tune with feelings—I’ve witnesses that—and for a story to advance you have to show it through what the dog knows and doesn’t know and how they see the world.”

CAPSIZED! The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster

The SS Eastland was still tied to the pier about to take 2500 passengers and 70 crew members on an excursion across the southern edge of Lake Michigan to Michigan City and the dancing in the ballroom had already begun. It was all part of the fun on that July 24, 1915 when the ship started swaying side to side and dancers slid back and forth along the floor.  But the last pitch didn’t stop at 35 degrees as it had earlier and instead, continued on past 40, then 45.  The Eastland’s captain shouted for the gangways to be reconnected but it was too late, the boat capsized in the Chicago River, trapping many of its passengers below the deck. Though 15 feet from shore and in 20 feet of water, by the end of the rescue mission 844 bodies were recovered and 70% of those who perished were under 25.

“More people died on the Eastland than did on the Titantic,” says Patricia Sutton, author of CAPSIZED! The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster (Chicago Review Press 2018; $17.99). “90% of those who died were women and children while on the Titanic, only 10% of the dead were women and children.”

Sutton, a former Chicago public school teacher, vaguely knew about the sinking of the Eastland but mentioned the disaster to her mentor at a writer’s workshop in Pennsylvania when they were talking about possible topics for a book.

“She said you need to write that and if you don’t, I will,” recalls Sutton, who interviewed relatives of those who were aboard and read news accounts from the time to take readers into the lives of those who survived and those who didn’t. The passengers, mostly first- and second-generation Polish and Czech immigrants were the employees of Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne Works and the excursion was supposed to be a wonderful outing for them. Instead, says Sutton, almost every block in the Hawthorn area lost at least one person; in one block, it was every house.

Written for children ages 10-14, it’s a compelling book for even adults. Because she’s a teacher, Sutton wants Capsized not only to be an educational lesson about the times (women wore long dresses, corsets and laced up boots which made escaping from the water so much more difficult and most people didn’t swim back then) but also to stir critical thinking and questioning.

“Children ask why do we remember the Titanic and not the Eastland,” she says. “So we discuss what the reasons could be—there were famous and wealthy people onboard the Titanic while those on the Eastland were poor working class mothers and children. Also, the Eastland happened when World War I was going on and though we hadn’t entered it yet, everyone’s attention was focused on that. I also tell them that it’s important know about the Eastland and those who were on the ship.”

 

Marcus Sakey “Afterlife”

In his dream, Marcus Sakey found himself walking the streets of Chicago, everything is much the same but also different—in the way that dreams often are.marcus

“At first, I think that everyone is gone but then realize it’s me that’s gone–not anyone else– and that I was dead,” says Sakey, who seconds after this realization woke up in his own bed, next to his wife. But the import of the dream remained.

“In the dream, I wasn’t scared but when I woke up, it seemed like a nightmare when I imagined being in those same circumstances of wandering around, being dead and not being able to speak to her,” says Sakey, whose bestselling Brilliance, the first in a trilogy, has sold over a million copies.

This dream became what Sakey calls a “seed crystal,” the catalyst to write Afterlife (Thomas & Mercer 2017; $24.95) a supernatural thriller featuring Brody and Claire McCoy, FBI colleagues and lovers. Killed in the line of duty, both are reunited in an after world where they must battle an ancient satanic entity.

It was a story Sakey felt compelled to write but one that was frightening as well.

“This one scared me from the very beginning and it scared me every time I sat at the keyboard,” he says. “I never looked up and saw ghosts. Like any of my books, when I’m writing I’m working on it all the time not just when I’m at the keyboard. When I’m having dinner with my wife or playing with my daughter on the swing, I’m thinking about the characters and what they are doing. I was also afraid I might not be able to pull it off.”

Fascinated by mythology since he was very young and striving to bring an almost mythical quality to his book, Sakey rewrote the first 100 pages nine times, each revision adding new layers, clarifications and bringing the characters into sharper focus.

“It was my ninth book and by far the hardest I’ve written,” he says.

But the rewards of all that hard work have been great. Imagine Entertainment, an American film and television production company founded by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, won an auction for the screen rights to Afterlife.  Grazer and Howard are producing the movie with Sakey writing the screenplay.

“To be perfectly honest, none of this has sunk in,” says Sakey when asked how he feels about all this heady success. “My job up until now has been to hang out with my daughter in the morning and then go into the basement and make stuff up.”

The World Is Awake, A Celebration of Everyday Blessings by Linsey Davis

Though she often reports on what’s worst in our world (the Las Vegas massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing and the sexual predator assertions against Harvey Weinstein), Linsey Davis, an Emmy award winning news correspondent for ABC News, wants us to look at the world in a more positive way, enjoying its delights with a sense of childlike wonderment and excitement.

“As adults we put on our blinders and just go about our day,” says Davis, author of the recently released children’s book, The World Is Awake, A Celebration of Everyday Blessings: (Zonderkidz 2018; $17.99). “Children are able to remind us about the beauty and joy of so many little things we often overlook.”davis, linsey_portrait

Her inspiration, says Davis, comes from watching her four-year-old son Ayden interact with nature, saying it gives her a buoyant and spiritual perspective.

“My son’s excitement when he asks me who opens the flowers or laughs when he sees a butterfly is contagious,” says Davis, who files reports for shows such as “World News,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20” and “Nightline.” “He sees with a child’s heart. I think children are able to remind us of that.”

With colorful and lively illustrations, Davis’s says she hopes the book stimulates parents to regain that childlike outlook. But even more so, Davis wanted to write a children’s book where the main character is a person of color.

“The characters in children’s books are not in sync with where we are as a country,” says Davis, who is African American. “More than 90% of protagonists in books for children are white. We’re at a time in our country where we’re becoming more colorful at the same time we’re becoming more divisive. Children need to find themselves in books and to see children in books who look like them. I think that is essential particularly now.”

Ifyougo:

What: Linsey Davis will discuss and sign copies of her book and participate in a Q & A.  at

When: Sunday, July 22 at 2:00 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W. Jefferson Ave. Naperville, IL

Cost: This event is free and open to the public. To join the book signing line, purchase the book at Anderson’s Bookshop.

FYI: (630) 355-2665; andersonsbookshop.com.

 

 

Chicago’s Only Castle

 

It’s been more than 40 years since Errol Magidson first saw The Castle with its crenelated towers, stone walls, parapets and arched doorways and windows. Only this castle, rising on top of a hill with even, we’re not kidding here, slit-like windows perfect for archers to fire at marauders, wasn’t located in Europe but instead had been built by an Irishman named Robert Givens back in the 1880s in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago.1551581_640122486049460_1036349268_n

“My wife and I were looking for a place to live and a friend told us to come out to Beverly as it’s a great place,” recalls Magidson, author of Chicago’s Only Castle: The History of Givins’ Irish Castle and Its Keepers and its companion DVD. “So we did and we were driving down Longwood Avenue, looking at the homes including one that’s a Frank Lloyd Wright and were stopped at a light. We looked up and saw the castle.”

Enchanted by what they saw, Magidson and his wife, since deceased, moved to Beverly.  It didn’t matter that she was Catholic and he was Jewish, he joined the Men of the Castle, a group dedicated to the preservation of Chicago’s only castle, which in 1942 had become a Unitarian Church.

“We worked at raising money and when I retired and was looking for something to do, I volunteered to make a documentary about the castle,” says Magidson.

Over the decades, Magidson read everything he could about The Castle’s origins, trying to get beyond repetitious material based on faulty sources.164347_142585029136544_4388143_n

“One reporter would write it and everyone else would quote it as if it were true, but often it wasn’t,” he says.

When he first started, old newspapers were on microfiche if available at all. But he was able to reach out to historians who helped him learn how to sift through information including how in 1909 the addresses in Chicago changed.

“It wasn’t like you could open a book or get on line and there was all that history,” he says.

Legend has it, says Magidson, that Givens, a real estate developer, popular novelist, purposed mayoral candidate, world traveler who wrote travel reviews for the Chicago Evening Post, built his castle in 1877-1878 after seeing one he liked on the River Dee in County Louth, Ireland and sketching it so he could return home and build it for his Irish fiancée.

181559_142585012469879_5721985_n       “My children went to pre-school at the castle, so it felt almost like an extension of home when they were young,” says Mike Flannery, a political reporter for Fox 32 News in Chicago who lives near the castle on Longwood Drive. “Sitting stop the limestone ridge above Longwood Drive, it’s one of the neighborhood’s most prominent landmarks. Returning from a long trip, it’s always good to see the Givens Castle. Means we’re almost home!”

After Givens, the Castle was home, from 1895 until 1897, to the Chicago Female College. From 1909 until 1921, the property was owned by the Burdett family.

“J.B. Burdett was an inventor and manufacturer,  whose company still exists but under a different name,” says Magdison.  “He was also an early automobilists who won the first race to Chicago to Joliet in 1901.  Siemens bought it in 1921 and kept it until 1942. he was a medical doctor of Ukrainian descent and his wife was the founder of the Ukrainian National Museum.”579100_492735217454855_1525667273_n.jpg

Despite all these changes, much of the original interior remains including the  ornate woodwork, a skylight on the third floor as well as a stained glass window with the Givens family coat of arms and fireplaces on each floor.

“The Castle was built by stones quarried in Joliet that were taken by the railroad to 103rd and Vincennes,” says Magidson. “There a builder cut them to size and then they were shipped by horse and wagon to the house.”

Things change as well. The property where it is located is only about the half size of the original lot. But still, it is a castle.

Ifyougo:

What: Presentation, Book Signing, and Tour at The Castle

When: July 21 at 11 a.m.

Where: 10244 South Longwood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

FYI: chicagosonlycastle.org or send a message on their Facebook page

 

 

Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend

Deirdre Bair wasn’t that familiar with Al Capone. Beyond the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, she’d been more focused on literary biographies, racking up numerous awards including the National Book Award. But when she was contacted by a friend who had a friend who knew someone (yes, it went like that) who wanted help in solving some family mysteries about Al Capone she was intrigued.

“I asked what does he want, a private investigator or a ghost writer?”

The man was a relative of the infamous gangster and after they talked, Bair received phone calls from other Capone relatives.

“They called me and said we’re getting old, we want our story to be told,” recalls Bair.

And so began years of interviews, extensive research and writing as Blair learned from Capone’s surviving family members about the Capone they knew—a devoted father, a loved husband, a kindly caretaker of his relatives.

“There are so many legends about him,” says Blair, noting more than 100 books have been written about Capone. Her book, “Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend” (Nan A. Talese 2016; $30) is the first to have the cooperation of his family who provided her with exclusive access to personal testimony and archival documents.

Of course there’s the Jazz Age, bootlegging Capone. But in his brief arc of fame and success—Bair points out that he took control of his gang at 25 and by 31 was ill, broke and in prison, he became a role model for, of all things, business management.

“The Harvard Business School did a case study of how he ran his business,” says Bair. “Today the Bulgarian Mafia say they study Capone. So many people tell me a generation or two later, he could have been a CEO.”

His family saw him as loving. His wife May, says Bair, said she knew every bad thing he’d done (and we know he did a whole lot of bad stuff) but she still loved him. His son remembered him as a great dad.

“Every day was a revelation,” says Bair. “But I don’t think anyone will ever have the final answer as to who he really was. He’s a riddle, a conundrum and an enigma.”

 

 

 

 

 

Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from A Bootlegger’s Manual

When I was writing my book, A Jazz Age Murder in Northwest Indiana (History Press), about Nettie Diamond, a wealthy widow and pharmacist who was murdered by her fifth husband, a much younger bootlegger named Harry in Indiana Harbor on Valentine’s Day 1923, one of the things I learned was that it was relatively easy to get a permit during Prohibition to buy medicinal alcohol and distribute it.

That may be why I’m finding a new book, Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from A Bootlegger’s Manual by Matthew Rowley (The Countryman Press 2015; $27.95) to be a fascinating read.

Rowley, who describes himself as specializing in folk distilling and the manufacture and distribution of illicit spirits, was given an old book titled The Candle and The Flame, The Work of George Sylvester Viereck. The interior didn’t contain any poems by Viereck, a popular poet up until his pro-German sensibilities during World War I made him a pariah in the U.S. Instead, the book’s once blank pages contained a plethora of handwritten distilled spirit recipes procured and preserved by a New York pharmacist named Victor Alfred Lyon.

As for Harry, he wasn’t supposed to sell alcohol for non-medicinal purposes like he did—by adding real spirit company labels to his own bottles…but that was Harry who also.  According to Rowley, many pharmacists made alcoholic concoctions to help ailing (or just plain thirsty) customers and many distilleries were allowed to continue to operate to provide product. Rowley points out that during Prohibition, the sale of sacramental wine went sky high as people suddenly became much more religious.

Lyon’s recipes were collected from a variety of sources and at the time he was gathering them, some were a century or so old. Rowley organized the recipes in chapters such as Absinthe, Cordials, and Bitters and Gin; Compounding Spirits and Gin, Whiskey and Rum.

Less a cookbook than a history and how-to of spirit making, Rowley does include many of Lyon’s recipes from a simple cocktail that silent screen movie star Mary Pickford enjoyed to the complex (and supersized) such as one for Rumessenz which calls for gallons of ingredients and was used by wholesalers, barkeepers, importers and exporters to make an essence of rum they could use for adding the aroma and tastes of rum to a batch of plain alcohol creating a higher profit margin.  That’s similar to what Harry Diamond did as well and at his trial he told the court he made about $20,000 a month from bootlegging.

Here’s one of the book’s recipes.

Lanizet: Sour Mash Cajun Anisette

3 quarts water

25 ounces sugar

½ teaspoon anise oil

½ tablespoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon red food coloring

3 cups bourbon or Tennessee whiskey

5 to 7 pounds ice

Pour 1 ½ quarts of the water in a medium stockpot. Note the depth of the liquid. Later, you will boil the syrup to this height. For now, pour in the remaining water and all the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid reduces to 1 ½ quarts, 50 or 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

While the syrup is simmering, sterilize five new or well-scrubbed 1-pint canning jars in a deep pot or canning pot. Leave the jars in the hot water until you’re ready to use them. Wash and boil the lids and rings according to the manufacturer’s directions.

When the syrup reaches that 1.5-lquart mark, turn off the heat and remove the pot from heat. Stir in the anise oil, vanilla and food coloring until thoroughly mixed, then stir in the whiskey. Remove the jars from their hot water bath with tongs. Place the jars (don’t touch with your bare hands) on a wooden surface or folded towels and immediately pour the crimson liquid into the jars up to 1⁄2 inch from the tops. Wipe any dribbles or spills from the rims with a clean, damp cloth and place hot lids on top with sealing compound down; screw on the metal rings firmly but not too tightly.

Line your sink with a damp dish towel; it will prevent the hot jars from breaking when they touch the cool surface. Immediately place the jars upright in the sink, then slowly fill it with cool tap water so it covers the jars. As the jars cool, you’ll hear a series of metallic pops and pings; that’s a vacuum forming in each jar. When the jars are cool to the touch, after 5 to 10 minutes, place them upright in a tub of ice, with ice to top off the jars, to cool the anisette as quickly as possible. Once contents of jars are well chilled, about 1 hour, remove the jars from the ice. Label and date the jars, then store upright in a cool, dark place.

Yield: 5 pints

From Lost Recipes of Prohibition.