Slavic Kitchen Alchemy
Nourishing Herbal Remedies, Magical Recipes & Folk Wisdom
by Zuza Zak
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Pub Date 10 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 03 Oct 2023
This book is infused with the Slavic wisdom and folk healing passed on to Zuza Zak by her two Polish grandmothers. It's a beautifully illustrated treasure trove of the old ways of Eastern Europe, full of little rituals and remedies to make your life gentler, sweeter and more joyful, and it's a precious object in its own right – your own notebook of practical wisdom. Season by season, the book gently guides you to a more natural Earth-focused rhythm, creating the right atmosphere for your body and mind to thrive.
- Natural remedies for physical and mental wellbeing, such as Broad-leaved Plantain for Cuts and Grazes, and a Chamomile Bath for Relaxation and Optimism;
- Beauty products, such as an Oat Bundle Skin Cleanser for Gentle Exfoliation or a Lilac Body Oil for Improving Your Skin and Your Intuition;
- Rituals to honour the passing year, such as creating a Sage Cleaning Spray for Ritual Spring Cleaning or weaving Wildflower Wreaths for a Midsummer Celebration of Freedom;
- Nutritious recipes such as Elderflower Cake for Immunity and the Sheer Joy of it, or Wild Summer Pierogi for a Joyful Afternoon of Dumpling Making and Great All-round Health;
- Craft activities, such as painting eggs and dying clothes, to boost creativity, mindfulness and access to the flow state
- Folktales and mythology to connect to nature and ancient symbolism.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 36 members
OMG. I am so excited to have access to this cookbook, one because I love cooking, and two because this goes back to my roots and I can't wait to compare recipes to my Oma's staples. I can't wait to jump into this one.
This is a wonderful read. I really enjoyed getting a view on how my Slavic sisters’ and brothers’ practices. The recipes, both nourishing and nurturing, are a great addition. But most of all, I love the folktales and stories that bring the past to the present.
This was such a feel good book, that I found myself smiling and coming back to different sections repeatedly over the next few days. I’ll continue to do that over time as this one really hit home with me!
ARC NETGALLEY REVIEW
Absolutely loved this book, from the authors personal story and history in how this book came about to the journey the book takes you on.
From season to season from herbs and recipes to use them in the author clearly and creativity layout everything in this book, not missing anything you may need to complete recipes and understand Slavic culture.
Even giving advise about rule to follow and avoiding things that could hinder your journey through the book and recipes.
This book was a whole package of goodness and that is hard to find in a book like this.
This is such a warm hug of a book. It is beautifully written, a mixture of history, stories, recipes and ancient lore. I cannot wait until the hardback version of it comes out, I will be first in line to buy it for my bookshelf.
An interesting book that provides additional information for the hot topic of natural healing that has been lost through the years to the Huge Pharmaceutical industry. Instead of popping a pill take a look through this book for a way to eliminate some unnatural chemicals from your life. Instead of bug spray with so many chemicals look within the pages for a more natural choice. Chemicals have polluted our world and changed the chemistry of our bodies and has so many "effects" that are unknown. A little preparation will result in better relief. This book is broken down by season so will be easy to use. I enjoyed the Slavic Stores and folk lore as well.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.
The book’s subtitle is “Nourishing Herbal Remedies, Magical Recipes & Folk Wisdom,” and that is exactly what is contained therein. Zak’s introduction calls to something in all of us, at one time or another, that yearns for a connection. Using the wisdom passed down to her by her grandmothers, the author shows us how to reconnect with earth and its rhythms. The author invites you to treat this as a notebook given to you by your grandmother, ready for your personalized annotations, reflections and clippings.
The book is divided into a separate section for each season. Each section contains natural remedies of lotions and potions, beauty and cleaning products, and seasonal recipes and crafts to aid in well-being. The book is beautifully illustrated and is sprinkled with folk tales and ritual celebrations. My favorite was Marzanna, symbolizing the harshness of winter. In spring, an effigy of straw and rags is brought around town, dragged through puddles, then burned on the river and drowned to rid the village of illness and worries. One of the customs of this celebration is don't look back at Marzanna, look ahead to spring and rebirth.
Slavic Kitchen Alchemy is a brilliant mix of lore,fact, and stories that would find a happy home on any kitchen witches shelves.
Brimming with beautiful illustrations and thoughtful recipes this book is one that is both ornamental and useful. I particularly liked the inclusion of the old Slavic stories, they seemed to bring a heightened sense of magic to the tips and recipes.
I loved this book! The stories at the end of each chapter were a delight and the recipes and diy-projects were fascinating and incredibly cool to read about. I can’t wait to try these for myself.
Zak crafts a deeply meaningful and personal journey through the four seasons of the year. Each recipe, activity, and legend gives readers a glimpse into Slavic heritage, storytelling, and nourishment. Zak’s expertise is well known, which she seamlessly curates into soothing dishes and festive DIYs sure to become part of anyone’s repertoire. She is beyond gifted at instilling connective bonds through food and culture, with a nature-centered approach. Slavic Kitchen Alchemy is a treasure for those of Slavic ancestry or for folklore enthusiasts. But it is a must for every reader and especially those searching for a return to the traditional ways of healing, naturally. Highly, highly recommended
A lovely book of traditional Slavic everyday rituals / foraged recipes / beauty product recipes / folk tales all ordered by season.
The book has a nature-loving, homely, calming tone, referencing the author's life and her grandmother. There is a lot of love for her homeland, for traditions, but also modernising what used to be "common sense" folkloric traditions.
Living in Australia, sadly, lot of the plants that are rather common in Europe is absent from my surroundings, so I won't be able to do any of the recipes, which is a big shame it sounded rather calming, but I enjoyed the tone of the book. It made me reflect I would love having more traditional knowledge to be passed on here from our first nations, something to build on and make us feel more grounded.
This book is one part recipe, one part history, and one part folklore. And it is all awesome. Its incredibly well organized. It tries to be kind to what you may or may not have access to and it was really informative. I loved this.
I really enjoyed this. As a person who is half-polish, I've always wanted to dive more into that side of magic. The book is colorful, bright, and informative. It has a surprising number of recipes and information. I really want to get it in print to have it on hand.
I liked the design of the book and the thought that went behind creating it. I liked the author's personal family stories and how the recipes were divided out by season. I probably wouldn't actually try out many of the recipes though because they seemed a bit complicated and a lot required plants, ingredients or equipment that I don't have.
Special thanks to Watkins Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. I loved how there was a mix of different traditions, history, and stories. I just wish that there were more recipes!
I thought this was a lovely little book of home remedies. What I got was that, plus stories about Slavic lore, some food recipes, instructions on foraging, and so much more! I enjoyed that the remedies were sorted by season. I truly did not expect this book to be filled with so much information alongside the recipes, but I feel I’ve learned so much.
For anyone in an urban area like me, you may have trouble obtaining some of the ingredients for these things. I know I’ve gone shopping online to pick up a few things so I can try a couple of these wonderful remedies!
Firstly, thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC of this book. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
This is my second book by Zuza Zak and I enjoyed it just as much as the first one. She has a way of bringing together interesting ideas and recipes, history, and traditions that make me very happy as a reader and this one was no different. It has just what it promises on the cover: nourishing herbal remedies, magical recipes, and folk wisdom. It also has gorgeous pictures and illustrations, which I feel like should be promoted a bit more.
Zak has primarily divided her book into the four seasons to provide a nice structure to the book and an easy way for those who work seasonally to find what they are looking for. Each chapter provides different recipes for the season in terms of concoctions and oils, but also recommendations for what to eat. Different holidays and folk traditions are also discussed in their respective chapters. I really enjoyed reading about the little sections that highlight the importance of certain things in tradition like birch or the raven, my favorite being the one on wolves.
Something that I noticed, as with the other Zuza Zak book that I read, is that some of her ingredients are going to be a little more expensive or difficult to find depending on where the reader is from. She’s using a lot of local ingredients from places in the Slavic world, particularly Poland, which is great. However, some of them may be more difficult to find in say the U.S. or China. In Amber & Rye, there was a list of places that you could source these materials from. I may have just overlooked it in this book, but I think there was one. Most of the recipes are pretty friendly to a reader from the Western world though. There were, however, extra resources on the mythology aspects to this book.
There is a page for the extra resources in the back of the book where a person can learn more about Slavic Witchcraft or witchcraft in general. However, there are also some scientific publications referenced as well as some online sources for the reader that likes to delve further. I for one added a few of the books to my rather extensive TBR.
Overall, I think readers of Zak’s other books will be excited for this beautiful book. It has interesting recipes and magical tidbits and is beautifully illustrated. It’s one of those books that I think will bring a joy to people looking to connect to their roots. I will say, that I think some readers will find the price point ($27.95) to be a bit high, but it is illustrated and in full color, plus it provides long term knowledge, so I think it would be worth it. I look forward to picking up more by Zak in the future. I have a few from her back list that I need to get to first, though.
A little treasure of a book, “Slavic Kitchen Alchemy” by Zuza Zak provides exactly what its subtitle promises: Nourishing Herbal Remedies, Magical Recipes & Folk Wisdom.
Don’t let the title fool you – this isn’t mysticism or magic or hippie stuff; rather it is an intelligent look at how people used what was around them to heal themselves before the advent of modern medicine. Ms. Zak does a great job combining personal stories and experiences with general Slavic folklore to provide an interesting background and context for the recipes that follow.
The book is divided into seasons, with the recipes tailored to what was available during that time of the year and/or what people were experiencing and how nature could help them. For the most part, the recipes are for remedies and “medicines”, only a few are true food recipes. Just about all of the ingredients can be found in nature, although those of us living in urban areas or other continents might have to make do with shopping over the internet.
In addition to the recipes, there are also directions for creating various herbal soaks, skin tonics, cleaners, clothes dyes, decorations, and many more useful and crafty items, focused on wellbeing and natural products.
Being of Polish descent myself, a lot of Ms. Zak’s stories and experiences rang true to what I had gone through with my parents and grandparents; I still have older relatives in Poland who provide me “nalewki” or make me do an “inhelacja” whenever I am feeling under the weather over there. This book is a great resource that collects a lot of the wisdom that is slowly being lost (and now rediscovered) to modern ways.
I requested and received a free advanced electronic copy from Watkins Publishing via NetGalley. Thank you!
Slavic Kitchen Alchemy
Author: Zuza Zak
I was super excited to check out this book and was not disappointed! I really enjoyed the stories mixed in with the recipes and crafts and brought me back to some of the stories I heard as a child. I really liked how the book was organized by seasons and cannot wait to make a bunch of the recipes! The illustrations throughout the book are wonderful and make for a really beautiful book to look through.
Highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to incorporate more herbs/plants into different areas of their life. Great read that is very useful and fun!
Thanks to NetGalley, Watkins Publishing, and Zuza Zak for an advanced copy of the book. All thoughts in this review are my own.
A beautiful, lovingly created and curated book of seasonal traditional wisdom and healing. Charmingly illustrated and brimming with nurturing recipes and remedies, Slavic lore and folk tales, and warm personal stories, this is a book that I'll be pulling down from the shelf to cozy up with again and again.
I hate when books do not include warnings. There were so many recipes, but some of the ingredients that they recommend you use can cause health problems. One of the recipes had you putting chamomile with your pillowcase, but if you are allergic to ragweed chamomile will give you a similar reaction. While there is a ton of information and I look forward to trying some of them out, but be careful and look into warnings before you take anything internally.
Let me start by saying I am not Slavic. I am just an herbalist who loves learning from other cultures. And I LOVED this book!
I learned some new uses for herb and even some new herbs. There are great recipes in this book! I cant wait to try some of them. I also had a lot of fun learning Slavic folklore. This book was wonderfully written and put together. It’s like a big warm hug. I smiled so much as read personal accounts of the author and her family. It’s nice to see that some herbs are commonly used and just as important all across the world.
I will definitely recommend this book!
What an utterly charming and beautiful book. I’ve read an awful lot of folklore and customs books but this one really stands out.
It’s beautifully written and laid out, with gorgeous illustrations. Full of Slavic Folklore, customs, remedies and recipes celebrating ‘The Old Ways’.
I will be pre-ordering this book as it’s a must-have as a hard copy to keep on my shelf to refer back to and enjoy throughout the four seasons.