It’s a Babyberry Pie party!

BABYBERRY PIE

 

Attention Portland, Oregon & Vancouver, Washington area friends and fans!  If you’re looking for something fun to do with a wee one (or without), come join me this Saturday, December 15th, from noon until 2 p.m. at Steamers & Screamers (is that a great name for a family-friendly coffee shop or what?!).  I’ll be reading and signing copies of my picture book BABYBERRY PIE — the perfect holiday gift for little ones in your life.

(Please note:  Babyberry Pie is the only book that Steamers & Screamers will be offering for sale at this event.  I’m happy to sign any of my books that you bring with you, however — and there’s a Barnes & Noble just down the road, if you’re looking for my other titles and want to purchase them there and bring them over for an autograph.)

 

 

 

Happy National Pie Day!

It’s that time of year again — my favorite minor holiday — yes, you guessed it, NATIONAL PIE DAY!

No, not THAT kind of pi, silly — THIS kind of pie:

Next to homemade bread, pie is my favorite thing to bake.  I like just about any kind, too–apple pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, coconut cream pie–you name it, I’ll be sitting at the table, fork in hand, ready for my slice.

I love pie so much that I named two of my books after it:

Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote last year about this wonderful holiday, and my mother.  Enjoy!  I’m off to bake a pie (marionberry this year, in case you’re wondering)…

 

Thank you, Bowling Green!

Having one’s picture book  mentioned in the same breath as GOODNIGHT MOON would give any writer a thrill.

It certainly gave me one!

A big smooch of appreciation to the good folks at Bowling Green State University’s  Curriculum Resource Center, who just recommended my BABYBERRY PIE for readers who enjoy Margaret Wise Brown’s classic bedtime tale:  “Like Goodnight Moon, Babyberry Pie is a sweet, soothing getting-ready-to-sleep rhyming story that children will want to hear over and over.”

What higher praise could I ask for than that?

 

Book signing this Saturday!

Calling all Portland-area friends!  You’re invited to “Elevenses with the Authors” this Saturday, January 22nd, at 11 a.m. at A Children’s Place Bookstore.

I’ll be joining my good friend Susan Blackaby as we celebrate National Pie Day (well, almost — it’s actually Sunday) and Groundhog Day (a wee bit early).  We’ll both be signing copies of our new picture books, Suz’s wonderful BROWNIE GROUNDHOG AND THE FEBRUARY FOX and my BABYBERRY PIE.

Please join us afterwards as we head down the street for treats cooked up specially by the bakery wizards at Eclectic Kitchen — yum!

Saturday, January 22nd

A Children’s Place
4807 NE Fremont Street
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 284-8294
11:00 a.m.

Happy Birthday to Babyberry Pie — and a giveaway

My first picture book entered the world this week — ta da!

I say “my” first picture book, but I really should say “our” picture book, because it wouldn’t be the luscious little volume it is without the gifted Amy Schwartz, who provided the incredibly charming artwork.  Look for an interview with Amy here on this blog next week.

Meanwhile, I’m kicking off Pie-a-Palooza 2010 with a blog tour that starts today on There’s a Book.  Mother-daughter book club fans won’t want to miss this one, because Danielle is giving away a copy of Pies & Prejudice — my other new “pie”!  Click here to read the fresh-out-of-the-oven interview.

Little House on the Cul-de-sac

There’s something about summer that makes me feel all Laura Ingalls Wilderish.  I get in a “Little House” frame of mind come July every year, and there’s nothing to be done for it but whip out my apron and start stirring up good things.

July is when the berries start ripening in droves.  June is a tease — just strawberries, mostly — although here in Oregon, that means Hood strawberries, the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else.  Intensely sweet and highly perishable, they rarely make it to stores and have to be hunted down at Farmer’s Markets or, if you’re lucky (which I am), at the neighborhood berry stand that magically appears every summer in an unpaved parking lot near our local supermarket.

June means bowls of strawberries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It means homemade strawberry shortcake (my husband’s favorite) for Father’s Day.  Some years it means strawberry jam, too, although this year I was too busy with work to put any up.

July, though, means Berries with a capital B — boysenberries, loganberries, raspberries, marionberries, tayberries, sylvan blackberries, and whatever other berries Mother Nature can dream up.  I was determined not to let this bounty, too, slip by, and when a window of opportunity opened up this past weekend, I grabbed it and my husband (aka Pa Frederick), and made a dash for our favorite berry farm …

… where we picked gooseberries and boysenberries.

Oregon boysenberries

Boysenberries  make the BEST jam — although marionberries run a close second.

Ma Frederick's Boysenberry Jam

Oddly enough, boysenberries also make good picture books.

Coming in October 2010!

I got the idea for this book a couple of years ago, at the very same berry farm.  Writers fool around with words in their heads a lot (if you ever notice a vacant expression on our faces, that’s what we’re doing), and that day I got to noodling around with the word “boysenberry” while my hands were busy picking.  Wouldn’t it be funny if there were girlsenberries? I thought.  Which of course led to, And wouldn’t it be funny if you could pick babyberries? That was it, I was off and running, and voila! Babyberry Pie was born.

No picture books were born this weekend, just a most satisfying cupboard full of jam and chutney (gooseberries make fabulous chutney).  Oh, and we picked up some rhubarb, too, which I turned into Rhubarb Custard Streusel Pie.

I used Jennifer Jacobson’s recipe (thanks, JJ!),  but since I only had one pie crust in the freezer (I make several at a time and freeze the extras), and was too lazy to make another one, I whipped up some streusel topping instead.  You can use it atop just about any fruit pie — trust me, it’s delicious.  Here’s the recipe:

Streusel Topping

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour

Mix together until topping is the consistency of coarse bread crumbs.  Sprinkle evenly atop pie, cover with foil, and bake as usual, according to the directions for whatever pie you’re making.  Remove foil for the last 10 minutes or so of baking, so that streusel turns golden brown.

Yum.

All in all, a most satisfying weekend.  Ma Ingalls would definitely approve.

National Pie Day

You’ve got to love a country that sets aside a whole day on the calendar to celebrate dessert.  Yes, my fellow Americans, it’s that time of year again — get out your rolling pins and let the flour fly!

Pie just happens to be my favorite dessert of all time.  I love ’em all — apple, pumpkin, cherry, lemon meringue, blueberry, marionberry (a Northwest specialty).  My favorites, though, are strawberry-rhubarb and coconut cream.  Mmmm.

And since it’s National Pie Day, I figured this would be the perfect time to announce two forthcoming books for 2010 which, coincidentally, are both pie-related.  What can I say?  I must have been piestruck when I picked up my pen…

Drumroll, please:

My first picture book!  And no, as you can see, I did not illustrate it (I can’t even draw stick figures).  The sublime Ms. Amy Schwartz did.  Wait until you see what she has in store — I’m absolutely head-over-heels in love with her artwork.  As a writer, handing over one’s manuscript to an illustrator is akin to handing over your newborn to a babysitter the first time you venture back out into the world.  Let’s just say there’s some trepidation involved.  With Amy, though, I hit the jackpot, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with her vision for my story.

Babyberry Pie will be published next fall by Harcourt.

The second book in my pie-a-palooza of a fall lineup is the fourth installment of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series.  The cover is almost-but-not-quite-ready-for-prime-time (check back here in a few days).  The title tells it all, though.  Pies & Prejudice hits the shelves in September, and I’ll bet you can guess what the book club will be reading this time around!

All this talk of pies is making me hungry.  Fortunately, there’s one waiting for me in the kitchen.

Coconut Cream Pie

Years ago, I coaxed one of the waitresses at Heather’s Cafe in Cannon Beach, Oregon, into sharing the restaurant’s recipe for coconut cream pie.  The cafe, alas, is no longer in business, but its memory lingers on in this sweet treat.  Here’s the recipe:

Coconut Cream Pie
Heather’s Cafe — Cannon Beach, Oregon

1 c. heavy cream
3 c. milk (don’t use less than 2%)
1-1/4 c. sugar
6 egg yolks
4 T. cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 T. vanilla
1 T. butter
3-4 cups coconut
Baked pie crust
Whipped cream

In a bowl, mix 1/2 c. milk, salt, egg yolks, and cornstarch.

Bring remaining cream, milk, and sugar to a gentle boil.  Pour a bit slowly into the egg mixture, stir, then slowly pour egg mixture back into the heated milk (the point here is to avoid scrambled eggs).  Return to medium low heat and stir until thickened and boiling (small bubbles, not full rolling boil).  Boil for about four minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.  Add 3 cups coconut (more or less, depending on your preference).  Cool.  Pour into baked and cooled pie crust.  Top with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes.

Happy National Pie Day!