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A Storytelling Podcast from Lost Creek Farm and the Daily Yonder
Stories from the field, pickled for posterity. Conversations from around the table. A storytelling podcast that’s not just about food, and not just about rural places. From hosts Mike Costello, chef at Lost Creek Farm, and Jan Pytalski, associate editor at The Daily Yonder.
Now on The Pickle Shelf: The Latest Episode
Batch #1, Jar #4: Obsessions, Love Affairs and Other Seedy Stories
It’s harvest season in the garden at Lost Creek Farm, where Mike and Amy grow dozens of unique heirloom vegetables, from Homer Fike’s Yellow Oxheart tomatoes and Pink Annie half-runner beans, to Bloody Butcher corn and Red Hubbard squash. Behind each of those plants is a generations-deep community of people who’ve saved these cherished seeds and passed them down over the years. We visit just a few seed savers behind some of the crops grown at Lost Creek Farm, and we hear stories of seeds connecting people to their families and communities, as well as other cultures and far-away places.
Thanks to our sponsoring partners! The Pickle Shelf Radio Hour is supported by The Daily Yonder, with additional support from The One Foundation.
Extra Helpings: More Stories from the Pickle Shelf
Go beyond the podcast with these related stories, including recipes, photo essays, and other behind-the-scenes reports from each episode.
Previously Pickled: Archived Episodes
Batch #1, Jar # 3: Picnics, Zoom Calls and Dolma from a Distance
In the face of uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world found creative ways to honor their culinary rites of spring and early summer. In this episode, Jan visits his family in Poland, where, as far as spring holidays go, Easter reigns supreme. Mike hears stories from his mom about the picnic foods of Decoration Day, the holiday formally known as Memorial Day since 1970. We’re joined by a special guest to celebrate the Kurdish New Year, Newrouz, as well as Ramadan and Eid.
Thanks to our sponsoring partners! This episode was supported by The Daily Yonder, with additional support from The One Foundation and 100 Days in Appalachia. Most of the Music for this episode was recorded on-site in Elkins, West Virginia during a visit from Mosaic Interactive, a project of Found Sound Nation.
Batch #1, Jar # 2: Blood, Sweat and Tears for Mountain Morcilla
Mike and Jan tag along with some of friends of Lost Creek Farm as one West Virginia family goes to great lengths to make morcilla, an old-world blood sausage that connects them to their northern Spanish roots. Following the entire process — from the field slaughter of a young bull to procure fresh blood, to sharing a meal of hearty stew made with rich, smoky links — their adventure inspires a spontaneous long-distance trip to Lost Creek, opening up new connections from seemingly worlds away.
Thanks to our sponsoring partners! Partial support for this episode came from 100 Days in Appalachia, whose support was made possible through a grant from The Wyncote Foundation. Research and oral history work that went into making this episode was supported, in part, through a West Virginia Humanities Council fellowship Mike received to document women keeping the Mountain State’s many sausage-making traditions alive.
Batch #1, Jar # 1: Road trips, rice cakes, “Gung hey fat choy!”
Special extended episode! For the very first episode of The Pickle Shelf Radio Hour, Mike and Jan celebrate the Lunar New Year in Washington, D.C. and rural West Virginia. Mike joins a good friend on an epic winter road trip through the mountains to procure ingredients for a special Cantonese feast. Kentucky chef AuCo Lai stops by Lost Creek Farm to prepare a spread of New Years dishes steeped in Vietnamese tradition, with plenty of influences from AuCo’s time in the Bluegrass State’s Appalachian coalfields.
Thanks to our sponsoring partners! Partial support for this episode came from 100 Days in Appalachia, whose support was made possible through a grant from The Wyncote Foundation.
About the Hosts
Mike Costello and Jan Pytalski first met in 2017, as journalists covering Appalachia and other places in rural America. Coming from seemingly-disparate backgrounds — Mike, a lifelong West Virginian who lives on a farm in West Virginia; Jan, a Polish immigrant who lives in Washington, D.C. — they immediately began sharing stories at the dinner table, where they’d find plenty of overlap. Such commonality fueled a shared frustration with media-driven concepts like the urban/rural divide, and encouraged them to challenge such notions through the people they meet, the stories they cover as journalists and the foods they eat. Through their conversations, they began to conceptualize a collaborative storytelling project — one not just about food, and not just about rural places. Before long, The Pickle Shelf Radio Hour was born.
Chef at Lost Creek Farm
A lifelong West Virginian, Mike Costello is a chef and farmer at Lost Creek Farm, which he operates with his wife, Amy. Mike is a graduate of the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism at West Virginia University, where he got his start telling stories about people and place through the lens of food.
Mike’s favorite pickle: Mary Wolfe’s Spicy Dills
Next-best on the pickle shelf: Sweet Clove Cucumbers from Faye Boggess
Associate Editor at The Daily Yonder
Jan Pytalski is originally from Poland. He’s a native of Warsaw but all his life rural parts of the country were seamlessly weaved into his experience through family connections. Stories and foods he once took for granted are now increasingly rare as people pass away and traditions fade. That’s one of the reasons he wants to preserve them. He’s an editor who started long ago as a reporter for Reuters.
Jan’s favorite pickle: Two-day pickles, aka Crunchy half-sour pickles
Next-best on the pickle shelf: Sauerkraut