Author Archives: University Press of Kentucky

About University Press of Kentucky

The University Press of Kentucky has a dual mission—the publication of books of high scholarly merit in a variety of fields for a largely academic audience and the publication of books about the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley region, the Upper South, and Appalachia. The Press is the statewide mandated nonprofit scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, operated as an agency of the University of Kentucky and serving all state institutions of higher learning, plus five private colleges and Kentucky's two major historical societies.

Brunswick Stew Recipe from Bound to the Fire

Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s enslaved cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine details the lives of plantation cooks, and uncovers the history behind some of our favorite traditional American foods. The author, Kelly Deetz, includes various recipes in her book among them is this recipe for Brunswick Stew.  Brunswick Stew was an intense dish to prepare during this time period as it was a day long process. Deetz explains that the vegetables were provided by field laborers, the meat was slaughtered by the butcher who was also enslaved, and the stew itself, as well as the bread was prepared by the cook who often worked from sunup to well after sundown.

Brunswick Stew

A shank of beef
A loaf of bread—square loaf
1 quart potatoes cooked and mashed
1 quart cooked butter-beans
1 quart raw corn
1-1⁄2 quart raw tomatoes peeled and chopped.

If served at two o’clock, put on the shank as for soup, at the earliest possible hour; then about twelve o’clock take the shank out of the soup and shred and cut all of the meat as ne as you can. Carefully taking out bone and gristle, and then return it to the soup-pot and add all of the vegetables; the bread and two slices of middling are an improvement to it. Season with salt and pepper to the taste; and when ready to serve, drop into the tureen two or three tablespoonfuls butter.

You can find this recipe and more in our book, Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine by Kelley Fanto Deetz.


Drunken Hot-Fudge Pudding Cake

No matter what, everyone deserves to be spoiled on Valentines Day. Food, especially food that would upset your doctor, is a great way to do that. One recipe to treat yourself with is the Drunken Hot-Fudge Pudding Cake from Lynn Marie Hulsman’s Bourbon Desserts (buy her book here). This cake is absolutely sinful and the perfect way to top off your Valentines Day.


1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon bourbon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
plus, 1 tablespoon, chilled, for greasing pan
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/2 cup hot water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch square cake pan.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, 1/4 cup cocoa, salt, and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Whisk to combine. Add the milk, vanilla, egg yolk, bourbon, and melted butter. Spread into the prepared pan.

In a small bowl combine the remaining brown sugar and cocoa. Whisk to combine and break up clumps.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cake batter, distributing evenly, then sprinkle on the cocoa-sugar mixture.

Combine the espresso powder with the hot water and pour it gently over the top, but do not stir.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the edges of the cake set up and brown, but the center still has a bit of jiggle. The middle part of the cake should look like a warm, rich custard.

Cool the entire pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before cutting into 9 squares. Serve warm.

Store in refrigerator, tightly covered with plastic wrap or foil, for up to 1 week. Rewarm before serving.

Top 3 Lincoln Myths and Conspiracy Theories

In Edward Steers Jr.’s Lincoln Legends, Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated with Our Greatest President he shows us some of the more outlandish ideas and theories concerning the fourteenth president of the United States. Here are some very memorable highlights from his work.Lincoln Legends Cover

Top 3 Lincoln Myths and Conspiracy Theories

#3 Dr. Samuel Mudd’s innocence

There was the claim ardently pushed by the Mudd family and Dr. Samuel Mudd himself that he was not a part of the conspiracy to kidnap President Lincoln. The story goes that he was simply a gentle country doctor who had never encountered Booth before and was persecuted for holding to the Hippocratic Oath and tending to the wounds Booth acquired during the assassination of Lincoln. The conviction goes that he was a member of the group that plotted Lincoln’s kidnap and that he had encountered Booth multiple times before.

#2 Abraham Lincoln was not the son of Thomas Lincoln

This theory states that Abraham Lincoln was actually the son of Nancy Hanks, his mother, and four possible Abraham Enloes who were said to be candidates for the fatherhood of President Lincoln. This was a theory even during Lincoln’s lifetime, and he received numerous challenges to the legitimacy of his birth during his political career.

#1 Mary Todd Lincoln was a Confederate sympathizer and possible spy

During the Civil War, rumors were spread of a southern spy in the White House, and due to her birth place being Kentucky, her brothers’ service to the Confederate army, and her stepsister’s marriage to a Confederate brigadier general, Mary Todd was seen as the most likely suspect. There was even nearly an investigation into her loyalties that was quashed by Lincoln’s testimony of his family’s loyalty to the Union.

If you are interested in more stretched truths, odd ideas, and engineered falsehoods, check out Edward Steers Jr.’s Lincoln Legends, Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated with Our Greatest President as well as his other work Hoax: Hitler’s Diaries, Lincoln’s Assassins, and Other Famous Frauds.

In Memory of one of the Great “Screen Heavies”

buono2Victor Buono (February 3, 1938 – January 1, 1982), one of the most popular screen “heavies” of the 1960s and 1970s, may have been the heaviest of the “heavies” of his era, weighing in at 280-300 pounds. But Buono was chock full of acting talent and came to Hollywood with a rich background in Shakespearean roles on the stage at the Globe Theater in his native San Diego, California. He was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for 1962’s What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? for his performance as the weird musical accompanist to Bette Davis’ Baby Jane character. He was also famous for playing the villain King Tut on the television series Batman (1966–1968).

Noted for his ability to mix comedy with villainy, Buono played some of TV’s most notorious bad guys with his tongue in his cheek. Among them, the grand Dr. Schubert of The Man From Atlantis, a Capt. Nemo-style villain who roamed the seas in his super submarine; and colorful Count Manzeppi on The Wild, Wild West.


In honor of this talented actor, who passed away 32 years ago today, we’re sharing an excerpt from Ron Miller’s interview from the release You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet! Interviews with Stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era.

Setting the Scene

I met Victor Buono when he was appearing in a 1965 stage production of Moliere’s Tartuffe at the Comedia Repertory Theater in Palo Alto, California. He was absolutely fabulous in this stage role, literally commanding the stage whenever he set foot upon it. He was such a powerful stage performer that I don’t believe his movie and TV fans ever experienced the real Buono if they hadn’t seen him live on a theater stage.

He was the most charming and self-effacing of men and if he was haunted by the limitations of his great bulk, it certainly didn’t show. He struck me as a very happy soul who was quite content in his own skin and really enjoying the great variety of comic and villainous roles that kept coming his way.

Bawden2_Image085The Interview

MILLER: Like Sydney Greenstreet before you, you seem destined to be typecast as a villainous character on screen. Your reaction?

BUONO: If you weigh more than 280 pounds, you better get out the black hat and forget about getting the girl at the end of the picture. I’ve been shot, stabbed, run over, and been pushed off of, out of, under and over more things than you can imagine. I never get the girl. In fact, I’m not even allowed to have a friend.

MILLER: Given that, what do you consider the ideal role for you?

BUONO: Oh, no doubt, Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff. But ever since I played the sinister mama’s boy in Baby Jane, nobody wants to hire me to play Falstaff.

MILLER: Did you ever think about losing weight and slimming yourself into another category?

BUONO: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to lose weight in order to change the direction of my career. But I always give up and shoot back up to 350 pounds or so.

MILLER: I’ve seen you on the TV talk shows and you always seem to have a pretty amused attitude about your weight.

BUONO: What else can I do but joke about it all the time? I mean, people ask me when I eat breakfast and I usually tell them I sit down to breakfast about 8 a.m. and that usually lasts until 2 or 3 p.m.

MILLER: Does being a big guy present any problems for you doing your parts in movies or TV?

BUONO: Well, let me tell you about one incident. I was playing a bad guy on The Untouchables and they had to show me in a close-up, driving a car. Well, I don’t drive, so they had to tie a rope to the car and have a gang of grips tow me across the set. You can imagine how much they loved doing that.

MILLER: What about your visits to wardrobe? Do they have trouble fitting you with clothes?

BUONO: Trouble? My tailors don’t measure me; they survey me.

MILLER: So, you don’t expect to ever slim yourself down?

BUONO: Well, there’s about as much chance of me losing weight as there is of the Pope being named chairman of the Communist Party.

MILLER: Your villains certainly don’t fit the normal dimensions of movie bad guys.

BUONO: No, I’ve developed my own style. I don’t just torture the hero. I torture him while reciting poetry or enjoying an epicurean feast.


Buono never married and often gave whimsical answers when asked about it. Some sources say he was openly gay, but others say he liked women. Let’s just say that he didn’t seem bothered by the fact that he never “got the girl” on screen and draw our own conclusions about why. Buono died from a heart attack on New Year’s Day in 1982 at his home in Apple Valley, California. He was just 43.

Black-Eyed Peas, Tradition, and the New Year

When it comes to ushering in a new year filled with good fortune and prosperity, certain foods are said to bring good luck. Every culture has variations, but a recurring theme is that black-eyed peas—resembling coins or closed circles signifying the end of one year and success in the next—symbolizes a positive direction in the upcoming year.

One explanation of the superstition says that black-eyed peas were all the Southern slaves had to celebrate with on the first day of January, 1863—the day when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. From then on, peas were always eaten on the first day of January.

In Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine, Kelley Fanto Deetz draws upon archaeological evidence, cookbooks, plantation records, and folklore to present a nuanced study of the lives of enslaved plantation cooks from colonial times through emancipation and beyond. Deetz not only uncovers their rich and complex stories and illuminates their role in plantation culture, but celebrates their


living legacy with the recipes that they created and passed down to future generations.

Below is an excerpt from Bound to the Fire:

Ingredients and recipes tell the history of enslaved cooks, from their ancestral homes in West Africa, throughout the middle passage, and into Anglo kitchens, where their talent became irreplaceable.

[. . .]

It is challenging to tease out the precise influences of West African foodways in the colonial Virginia. Colonists were transferring a plethora of foodstuffs, some of which were West African in origin, and quickly became part of the Virginian and Atlantic cuisine. What culinary historian James C. McCain calls the Atlantic Circulation, also known as the “Columbian Trade” drastically transformed the global markets, which were previously semi-bound to land. 

Black-eyed peas, okra, millet, and yams are some ingredients which directly transformed both the new colonies’ crops as well as the dinner table. However, the essence of culinary influence is not simply found in these key ingredients, but rather in the techniques of the African cook, whose memories, creativity, and effort transformed crops into cuisine. While many different factors helped flavor the plantation cuisine, the Igbo’s use of okra is one of the most prevalent legacies in Southern foodways. Used as a thickening agent, enslaved cooks relied on this ingredient and one can assume it became a good substitute for a roux. Presumably enslaved cooks had knowledge, either first-hand or passed down, of making certain foods from their homeland. For example, palm wine was a common staple in many parts of West Africa, as was fried foods and stews. Their organic culinary knowledge was easily transferable to the needs of elite plantation culture.

[. . .]

Enslaved plantation cooks singlehandedly transformed American food, and gave birth to Southern cuisine. The West African ingredients and cooking techniques passed down through generations melded with the European methods and ingredients and allowed cooks to author distinct menus. These contributions are undeniable, yet often their cultural roots were ignored, and forgotten.

KBF 2017: A Photoblog

To celebrate Kentucky Humanities‘ 2017 Kentucky Book Fair, we invited one of our current interns, Cassie, to do some reporting from the scene and write about her experience. Read what she (and a few of our authors) had to say—and take a look at what she had to see—below!

This past Saturday marked the 36th annual Kentucky Book Fair, and this was the first time it has ever been held in Lexington! About 180 authors set up tables and promoted their latest books. As a current student at the University of Kentucky and an intern at the University Press of Kentucky, this book fair was a welcome and surprising experience for someone who has never been to one. During my internship, I have seen how much dedication publishers have for the book fair. Promoting their authors and their press—it is whirlwind of exciting events! The following are some fun photos from my time at the book fair and a few, brief interviews with UPK authors.

Having the Kentucky Book Fair at the Kentucky Horse Park during the same weekend as a rodeo was so Kentucky. #onlyinKentucky
Part of the University Press of Kentucky’s booth.

kcg and sw

UPK’s Katie Cross Gibson and UK Libraries‘ Shanna Wilbur staffing the booth.

Booth 6

The welcome sign! Getting ready to walk through the door.

Author signing room

Entering the author signing room!

Quick Q&A with UPK author Colleen O’Connor Olson

Q: Have you attended the Kentucky Book Fair before?
A: No, I have not.

Q: How do you enjoy it at the fair?
A: I like it! It’s fun to talk about my books. There are lots of people and just so much going on.

Q: Do you have a favorite author in attendance today?
A: I don’t. I’m just checking out new people.

Colleen Olson signing

Olson holding Mammoth Cave Curiosities.

Q&A with UPK author Robert G. Lawson

Q: Have you attended the Kentucky Book Fair before?
A: No.

Q: How do you like it?
A: It’s good! I don’t know if I can stand it until four o’clock. (Editor’s note: Lawson got his wish, as he sold out of copies of Who Killed Betty Gail Brown? and was actually able to leave early!)

Q: Do you have a favorite author in attendance?
A: This guy right here [Richard H. Underwood]. He’s my best friend.

Q: What is your favorite part about the book fair?
A: Seeing everyone. I have had a lot of friends walk by.

Q: What excites you most about your book?
A: It’s out there and people seem to enjoy it…
Richard Underwood: It was one of his first cases back when he was practicing law.

Richard Underwood and Bob Lawson at KBF '17

Authors and signing neighbors Richard Underwood and Robert G. Lawson. UPK just released Lawson’s Who Killed Betty Gail Brown? this month.

Julia Johnson and JGV Collection

Julia Johnson, editor of The New and Collected Poems of Jane Gentry.

MFA intern Rachel Kersey being interviewed

Rachel, UPK intern and UK MFA in Creative Writing student, being interviewed by a Frankfort TV station.
So many authors and attendees—thanks to all who came!

At What Cost: Selling Books in the Age of Trump

Today is the second day of University Press Week, and this year’s theme is “#LookItUP: Knowledge Matters.” The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) designated November 6-11, 2017 as a week for celebrating university presses as well as the value of knowledge and expertise.

As part of UP Week 2017, we invited Shanna Wilbur, Director of Marketing and Communications at UK Libraries, to be a guest blogger for us. Below, she provides her thoughts on today’s UP Week Blog Tour topic, “Selling the Facts.”

Vox’s David Roberts wrote last week about his concern that the US is currently experiencing an epistemic breach, “a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know—what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.” He went on to argue that the conservative movement’s rejection of mainstream institutions (journalism, science, the academy)—society’s appointed arbiters of factual dispute—is a primary source for this breach and has led to what he calls a “’tribal epistemology’—the systematic conflation of what is true with what is good for the tribe.”

The fracturing of the media landscape and the upending of mainstream institutions has been building steadily over decades, aided by advances in information technology and exacerbated by the profit motive. The publishing industry, as one of these institutional gatekeepers, has long felt similar pressures. With increased competition from large-scale retailers like Amazon, the relative ease of self-publishing, and a seeming need to counter long-standing claims of liberal bias, establishing imprints dedicated to producing conservative books makes sense economically especially in light of the sustained success of Regnery. And every major commercial publishing house has benefited monetarily from these conservative imprints since their conception even if it meant that we readers got further separated and compartmentalized.

With Donald Trump’s election cementing conservative control over all three branches of government and a majority of state houses, we are seeing new/alt-right-wing voices emerge emboldened by a president who was so handsomely rewarded for flaunting traditional norms as well as a growing self-described resistance—consumers all. Each of us entrenched in our corners with our own sources of media ready and willing to affirm whatever it is we already believe. This is not to equate the “resistance” with the “alt-right.” Their messages are not comparable in perniciousness or consequence, but set up as they are in opposition to one another each is vulnerable to entrenched thinking. The inability to discern the difference in the scale of problem afflicting each of them may in fact be a precursor to Roberts’ “tribal epistemology”—if both sides are wrong, then nobody is right, and if nobody is right, then everybody is right, and all that matters is me and what I think.

Surely some ideas are better than others, yes? Not that the better ones should never be challenged but not by previously discarded bad ideas, right? Tribalism rarely results in better ideas, but there is money in publishing to be had in exploiting it. At what greater cost to society, however? Although not divorced from the realities of balance sheets, as non-profits university presses may have more leeway in maintaining a steady voice of reason and openness in these hyperbolic times. For instance, the University Press of Kentucky has a number of forthcoming titles that provide insights on some of today’s most divisive topics: the legacy of the civil war (Rethinking the Civil War Era: Directions for Research by Paul D. Escott), the effects of globalism on rural/small town communities (Appalachia in Regional Context: Place Matters edited by Dwight B. Billings and Ann Kingsolver); the threat of nuclear war (Harold Stassen: Eisenhower, the Cold War, and the Pursuit of Nuclear Disarmament by Lawrence S. Kaplan); the continued struggle for civil rights (An Unseen Light: Black Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee edited by Aram Goudsouzian and Charles McKinney); and the environmental impact of humanity (Frog Pond Philosophy: Essays on the Relationship Between Humans and Nature). This long-form published content is undoubtedly a harder sell in this age of distraction and hyper partisanship, but it is also the perfect antidote.

Many thanks to Shanna and UK Libraries for participating! You can find UK Libraries on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @uklibraries.