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:


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!