David, could you please introduce yourself to the class?
I’m a writer, historian, educator, woodworker, avid cook and perpetually intrigued baker, assistant gardener, erstwhile physicist, sometime duck rancher, canine valet, world champion tiddlywinks player, former United States ambassador to Saskatchewan, and international elbow model. I live with my wife, daughter, and a vast collection of cookbooks in Durham, North Carolina.
Is that true?
Pretty all true.
Are you sure, David?
To the best of my recollection.
OK, let’s start over. I have a B.S. in physics and a Ph.D. in history, which many people see as an odd combination. For several years I was Editorial & Web Director for LEARN NC, developing and publishing resources for K–12 teachers and students. There I developed a “digital textbook” of North Carolina history. Before that I wrote a book called Garden Spot: Lancaster County, the Old Order Amish, and the Selling of Rural America, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2002.
At present, I’m writing a book about the history and culture of American home baking. It has been called, at various stages of writing and rewriting, The Decline and Fall of Gingerbread, Cake Mix and Its Discontents, and The Processing of America. If I can ever get the thing finished it will no doubt have still another title. Meanwhile, my website The Rooted Cook has posts on cooking, food history, and “historical gastronomy.”
I’ve done a lot of writing about sustainable and small-scale agriculture, some of which is on this site but most of which is over at The New Agrarian. Most notably, the resources I’ve developed on raising backyard ducks have drawn more readers than I would ever have dreamed possible.
There’s a bit of fiction here, the detritus of a few aborted sporadic projects and some brief one-off pieces. For a bit more, see my blog at Unhewn Stones.
In 2012 I began tweeting verse, a project I called “Cheap Poetry.” There is a Cheap Poetry Manifesto, if you like manifestos. If you don’t, you can follow me @djwalbert. Most of my cheap poetry, along with some pricier pieces, is housed over at Unhewn Stones. If you find yourself inclined to take any of this overly seriously, go read the manifesto again.
I am married and we have a daughter, two basset hounds, and three cats. One of my cats is named Mao, which is Chinese for cat. Chinese people think this is really stupid. I have six chickens and five Khaki Campbell ducks. I would very much like a Dexter cow, and one of these days I will get bees, but for the moment I am about out of space.
On occasional weekends I do living history at Duke Homestead State Historic Site in Durham, where I demonstrate traditional methods of woodworking. I’ve furnished a decent portion of our house and redone the finish carpentry in the living room. I bake bread, hike along the Eno River, and feed the birds. I have a weakness for craft beer and expensive bourbon, but if I could trade in my Mazda on a horsecart, I probably would, especially if I’d been into the bourbon.
You can take your seat now, David.