Carolyn Niethammer writes about the Southwest: the plants, the food, the mountains, canyons and streams, and the people. She was raised outside the small northern Arizona town of Prescott where she and her brother were free to roam and explore. On weekends she traveled Arizona's backroads with her family, exploring ghost towns, old ranches, forests and deserts, lakes and rivers.
After earning a journalism degree at the University of Arizona, she worked for newspapers for a few years, then began freelancing. For her first book, American Indian Cooking: Recipes from the Southwest (originally American Indian Food and Lore), she traveled throughout Arizona and New Mexico, interviewing Indian women, learning about the wild plants they gathered, and watching them cook. She was usually traveling in an old car, prone to breakdowns, and found Native American mechanics even in backwater little villages quite adept at getting her on the road again.
Back in her own kitchen, she tested all the recipes, adding a few modern techniques when necessary.
She found the lives of the Indian women she talked to so fascinating that her next book Daughters of the Earth, explored the complex lives of Native American women beyond the kitchen. For this book it was on the road again, in another old car, visiting Apache girls' puberty ceremonies, Hopi basket dances and Pueblo corn dances.
The next book brought her to edible wild plants again, this time in modern recipes for the old foods in Tumbleweed Gourmet.
For the next 10 years, Carolyn worked in public relations and marketing communications, editing newsletters and books and writing brochures and videoscripts. She traveled to Africa with her husband, Ford Burkhart, a journalist and journalism professor, three times, living for a year in Nigeria, two years in Cairo, and a year in Uganda.
Upon her return to Tucson from her last African trip, she decided that she wanted to write a biography of an important Western woman. That desire culminated in I'll Go and Do More: Annie Dodge Wauneka, Navajo Leader and Activist, which was a runner-up for the WILLA award, given by Women Writing the West. Keeping the Rope Straight, is a reworking of that story for middle-level readers.
West of Paradise: Exploring Southeastern Arizona. came out in the fall of 2003. It is an expression of Carolyn's love for the Southwest.
Carolyn's most recent cookbooks are The Prickly Pear Cookbook, which shares recipes from great professional chefs for the bright pink prickly pear fruit and the nutritious pads, and The New Southwest Cookbook, with 135 recipes from top restaurant and resort chefs throughout the Southwest. Her latest is Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants.
Carolyn blogs about seasonal edible wild plants at http://savorthesouthwest.wordpress.com.
The summer of 2014 has brought an exciting new twist to Carolyn's writing career: the publication of her first novel, The Piano Player published by the Wild Oak line of Oak Tree Press. It's a western set in Tombstone and the Yukon between 1882 and the 1920s and features strong women characters not afraid to follow their dreams. After nine nonfiction books, she is thrilled to take this leap into a new venture and new line of creativity.