More cheesy TV

I have seen the future, and it’s a polyester pantsuit.

Angela Cartwright as Penny Robinson

Specifically, an orange polyester pantsuit.  Well, either that or kelly green with orange and yellow trim:

June Lockhart as Maureen Robinson

That’s the mom version.  The cool silver one with matching  hat is reserved for androids, unfortunately.

Yep, you guessed it, folks.  We’ve been watching cheesy TV again.  This time around — Lost in Space (my husband and I are slowly working our way through the entire Irwin Allen ouevre).  Lost in Space is a program that occupies a special little corner of my heart, because it was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid.  Would you believe I never knew that those pantsuits had actual colors?!  Or that Billy Mumy, who played Will Robinson, was a redhead?  That’s because all I ever saw was this:

Billy Mumy as Will Robinson

We didn’t have a color television until I was in college. Pathetic, but true.

The show has not held up well over the years, alas — it’s campy and silly and laughably sexist, with the female characters usually stuck either engaged in domestic chores or fussing over their hairdos — but the one thing that has held up is Jonathan Harris.  I’d forgotten how absolutely fabulous he is as the scheming, craven Dr. Zachary Smith.

Jonathan Harris as Dr. Zachary Smith, cowering behind Will Robinson as usual

He steals every scene he’s in.  I’ve read that he was largely responsible for writing his own nimble dialogue, and enhancing that of much of the rest of the cast as well.  Apparently he used to spend hours dreaming up a seemingly endless list of insults to sling at the hapless robot (my personal favorite:  “You bubble-headed booby!”).  Maybe he’s the reason that I love alliteration to this day.

Pie-of-the-month club – Jennifer Ward

On the menu for this fine Friday … drumroll, please … Jennifer Ward!  Please join me in welcoming Jen to the pie-of-the-month club.

Children's author Jennifer Ward

What have you been cooking up for readers, Jen?  Please tell us about your new book, and how it came about.

With pleasure!  It’s a zany and delicious picture book called THERE WAS AN OLD MONKEY WHO SWALLOWED A FROG (Marshall Cavendish).  Steve Gray illustrated it.  It’s a spoof on the traditional song, “I Know an  Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” only this modern re-take is set in the jungle with one very hungry monkey.

This is my second collaboration with Steve Gray.  We have a companion book titled, THERE WAS A COYOTE WHO  SWALLOWED A FLEA that is set in the desert.

Sounds fun!   I loved COYOTE, and can’t  wait to read this one.  How about your favorite pie-in-the-sky moment as a writer?  Have you ever had one of those “I never dreamed it would really happen to me” moments?

I feel blessed to have experienced many pie-in-the-sky moments in this line of work.  However, I would have to say the ultimate delicacy I’ve experienced would be that my very first manuscript  was accepted by the very first publisher it was offered to.  I suppose you could say I took the microwave route to getting published vs. the traditional, slow-cooking oven route…

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?

Indeed there has been!  I recall doing my very first newspaper interview, a lovely three-page, full-color spread for a major city newspaper.  Being naive, I divulged information to the journalist following the interview, thinking it was off-the-record, including large subsidiary sales numbers for one of my books.  That content made its way into the article, and my publisher gave me a “hand-slap” of sorts, which felt like getting a pie in the face, for sure!

Now let’s REALLY talk pie.  What’s your favorite kind?  Do you have a favorite pie memory?  How about the recipe you’re sharing – can you give us a little background on it?

My favorite is coconut cream pie.  Mmmmm…just LOVE it!  I think the monkey in my new book would go ape over it, too!  I connect pies with special holidays and celebrations, so they’re a very “happy” food memory for me .
One of my sisters is a pastry chef/baker, so she’s the primary baker in the family. However, here’s an easy-as-pie recipe some of your readers may enjoy trying:

JENNIFER WARD’S COCONUT CREAM PIE

1 C sugar
1/3 C flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 C whole milk
3 egg yolks
2 T. butter
1.5 tsp. vanilla
1 cup coconut flakes
1 baked and cooled 9 inch pie shell
Fresh whipped cream to top pie

Combine sugar, flour, salt, and milk in a saucepan over medium heat;.  Stir until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to low and cook an additional two minutes.  Remove from heat.
Separate the egg yolks from whites and beat the egg yolks slightly.   Stir one cup of the hot mixture into yolks, then add it all to the saucepan and bring the entire mixture to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for two minutes  and then remove from heat.

Finally, add the butter, vanilla, and coconut to the hot mixture and stir.  Pour the hot filling into the baked pie crust. Cool.  When pie is completely cool, top with whip cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes.

Coconut cream is my favorite, too, and this recipe looks yummy.  Thanks, Jen!

This post is part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out later this year (Babyberry Pie and Pies & Prejudice learn more here).  You can also read about fellow “pie-of-the-month club” selections Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, and Lisa Schroeder.  Be sure and drop back by again soon, because throughout 2010 I’ll be serving up more stellar books by some of my favorite authors and illustrators.  Oh, and pie is on the menu, too, of course.   Pie is ALWAYS on the menu here on my blog.  Enjoy!

Sneak Peek – “Hide and Squeak”

The great thing about writing a picture book is that I can brag about the illustrations, since I had absolutely nothing to do with them!

Is this beautiful or WHAT?

I am so incredibly fortunate to have my story illustrated by C. F. Payne.  Wait until you see the artwork inside.  He’s amazing.  And so is Chloe Foglia, the talented designer in Simon & Schuster’s art department who masterminded this adorable cover. Talk about a powerhouse team!

I can’t wait to hold the new baby when it’s published next February.  (Yeah, I know, 2011 is a long time from now … but I couldn’t resist offering you this squeak sneak peek.)

Pie-of-the-month club – Lisa Schroeder

There’s a new addition on my pie-of-the-month club menu today as fellow Oregonian Lisa Schroeder stops by to chat about her new book, and to share her favorite recipe for — what else?  — pie!

Lisa is an impressively versatile writer, with everything from picture books to young adult novels and now a new middle grade novel to her credit.  What delicious treat have you been cooking up for readers, Lisa?  Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, and how it came about?

IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES (Aladdin) is about twelve-year-old Isabel, who dreams of traveling and seeing the world. When she enters a baking contest, a trip to New York City is within her grasp, although her best friend is entering too.  And, as her mother gets ready to open a cupcake shop, she has pretty specific ideas as to what kind of recipe Isabel should enter.  It’s a book about family, friendship, and making dreams come true.

I really love middle grade novels.  I wanted to write one at a point when I was in between YA novels, so I was brainstorming one day and thought, I want to write about something that makes people go – oooh, I LOVE that. And cupcakes popped into my brain. The way the plot and characters developed all just happened as I wrote it. It was a pretty magical book to write – things showed up and fell into place in a way I wish would happen all the time!

How about your favorite pie-in-the-sky moment as a writer?  Have you ever had one of those special “I never dreamed it would really happen to me” experiences?

I think for me – it’s the notes I get from my readers.  I had one girl who wrote to me after reading I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME who had lost her dad in Iraq just a couple of months ago.  She said the book helped her see that her dad would want her to keep living – to be happy.

As writers, we set out wanting to tell a good story.  But when readers write and let you know how your book helped them, it’s an amazing thing.

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?

Yes.  I was doing a signing and a lady attended with whom I had been in a Moms group a few years back, and I could not remember her name.  I was horrified.  I’m bad with names anyway, but when it’s a setting like a signing where I’m nervous and trying to make sure I spell everyone’s names right – it’s a recipe for disaster (pardon the pun).

Now let’s REALLY talk pie.  What’s your favorite kind?  Do you have a favorite pie memory?  How about the recipe you’re sharing – can you give us a little background on it?

My favorite kind of pie is blackberry.  Every summer, I take a walk up to a nearby park where they grow wild, pick a big bowl, and come home and get baking.  My husband and older son also love blackberry pie, so the thing doesn’t last very long, and I usually bake a couple more as long as the berries are in season.  It’s one of those things I HAVE to do every summer, or summer feels incomplete.

This recipe is one that one of my best friends shared with me.  Her daughter apparently found it on the internet and said it turned out fabulously every time, so I wanted to try it.  And she was right – this recipe has never let me down!

Lisa Schroeder’s Blackberry Pie

Crust:

3 cups all purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp salt

3 T white sugar

1 cup shortening

1 egg

1 tsp distilled white vinegar

5 T water

Directions: In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Mix well, then cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl combine egg, vinegar, and 4 tablespoons water. Whisk together, then add gradually to flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Mix until dough forms a ball. Add one more tablespoon of water if necessary. Allow dough to rest in fridge 10 minutes before rolling out.

Filling:

4 cups fresh blackberries

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 9-inch double pie crust

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup white sugar

Combine 3-1/2 cups berries with the sugar and flour. Spoon the mixture into an unbaked pie shell. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup berries on top of the sweetened berries, and cover with the top crust. Seal and crimp the edges. Brush the top crust with milk and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.

Thanks, Lisa!  Your pie looks absolutely delicious. I can’t wait for berry-picking season.

This post is part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out later this year (Babyberry Pie and Pies & Prejudice learn more here).  You can also read about fellow “pie-of-the-month club” selections Jane Kurtz and Toni Buzzeo — and be sure and drop back by again soon, because throughout 2010 I’ll be serving up more stellar books by some of my favorite authors and illustrators.  Oh, and pie is on the menu, too, of course.   Pie is ALWAYS on the menu here on my blog.  Enjoy!