Pie-of-the-month-club – Cynthia Leitich Smith

My year of “pies” is rapidly drawing to a close, but not before I serve up one more special treat.  On the menu today — Cynthia Leitich Smith, who stopped by to tell us about her new, fresh-out-of-the-oven picture book!  And to dish about dessert, too, of course…

Cynthia Leitich Smith

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

Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, 2010) is a Southwestern tall tale about a little boy who’s so LOUD that the pecans fall from the pecan trees and the prickly pear cacti sprout more needles. So LOUD that every hound dog in the county rolls up his ears and tosses back his head to bay.

The book was inspired by loud children in the world. We’re no longer in an age where the theory is that kids should be seen and not heard, but making noise is like any superpower. It’s all in how you use it.

You and I are both primarily novelists.  I’m curious as to how you approach writing a picture book, and how you feel about handing over your “baby” to an artist.

Because my picture books tend to be character-driven stories (as opposed to, say, poetry or concept books), in many ways it’s much the same. I begin with a protagonist, his or her internal/external wants, and toss obstacles in the way until I hit that epiphany that triggers character growth.

I love working visually, and I’m thrilled to have my text partnered with art. I consider a key part of my job to offer a stage for the illustrator to play on and then get out of their way. I feel that even more now that I’m writing YA graphic novels, which is an intrinsically more collaborative format. Then again, from Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu on Jingle Dancer to Steve Bjorkman on Santa Knows to Barry Gott on Holler Loudly, and now Ming Doyle on my graphics, I’ve been blessed by having been paired with remarkable visual talents. Those folks raise up my words and heroes!

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

I hosted a private two-day workshop at my home in Austin for advanced writers, many of whom I’d worked with in critique groups or mentored or knew socially through the community. My motivation was for them to get to know each other better, to toss some glue at a community of quickly rising stars.

At the end, the group presented me with a painted and otherwise embellished (with dollhouse furniture) birdhouse on a platform. It included a reading chair and scattered books. I’ve added to it the squirrel that sat atop my grandfather’s candy dish until broken off in a move. That gift meant a great deal to me.

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?  (I did, big-time, when as a fledgling author I showed up at a major chain bookstore for what I thought was just a signing and found to my chagrin was educator night – dozens of shining faces looking at me expectantly, and I hadn’t prepared a talk.)

I’d love to know what you did next!

Um, I tap-danced, metaphorically speaking.  Alas, I am a terrible dancer, even metaphorically.  My husband was there to witness the fiasco, and took me out for pie afterwards to cheer me up.  There are few things in this world more cheering than pie.  Except husbands.

So back to your humble pie experience…

The biggest challenge for me is remembering names and faces. When you’re center-stage, or the author greeting one reader after another in an autograph line, it’s much easier for folks to get a solid impression of you than vice versa. Even with event planners, if they’re hosting one author a year, but you’ve headlined or participated in a hundred programs since — well, let’s just say that these days I’m cautious about introducing myself first on the assumption I haven’t already met someone.

Now let’s REALLY talk pie.  What’s your favorite kind?  Do you have a favorite pie memory?

I’m fond of banana cream pie, probably because Grandma Dorothy would serve it sometimes. That said, I think most of those pies started out in the frozen foods aisle or were picked up at the Pippin’s counter.

My Aunt Nannie made pecan pie, though. I don’t remember reaching for it, but my dad always did!

This will sound a little strange, but the truth is that my favorite dessert is a bowl of shoepeg corn in butter sauce with a little salt and pepper. When I was growing up, I would walk away from the traditional sweets at the holidays. Instead, Grandma Dorothy would heat up some frozen corn in a little pot of water on her stove top in a Kansas City kitchen barely big enough to turn around in, serve it up to me and my cousin in bowls, and we run off by ourselves to a back bedroom to giggle and share stories and eat it by the spoonful.

I’m more inclined to microwave than use the stove top, I can’t imagine what it was like in the wood stove days. But I recommend Green Giant.  Heat it for two minutes–Grandma and cousin required.

Corn, huh?  Who knew?   Sounds good, though.  OK, Maybe not as good as PIE but then for this pie-fanatic, nothing else could possibly measure up!

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As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books of mine that debuted this fall (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues.

Other recent “pies” include Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, Susan Blackaby, Jennifer Jacobson, Frederic HunterKimberley Griffiths LittleStephanie BurgisAndrea BeatySusan Fletcher, Amy Schwartz, and Debra Moffitt.

Enjoy!

Pie-of-the-month-club – Debra Moffitt

On the menu today — Debra Moffitt, who stopped by to whet our appetites for her new book.  Oh, and to dish about pie, too, of course!

Debra, what have you been cooking up for readers?  Can you tell us a bit about your new book, and how it came about?

Only Girls Allowed begins a four-book series called the Pink Locker Society. Three BFFs in 8th grade learn they have been chosen to run a secret website. Their job? To answer questions from other girls about puberty and middle school life.

The girls in the book are fictional, but the book series was inspired by very real girls who emailed me at KidsHealth, where I’m an editor. Girls have LOTS of questions about growing up. When we launched the Pink Locker Society website, I invited girls to send in their questions. So far, I’ve received 25,000 of them!

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

Having a book published is a huge thrill, but it’s been really exciting to watch girls interact on the website’s blog. They’re so energetic and bubbly and earnest. In other words, there’s no shortage of exclamation points or words spelled out in all caps.

I take questions that girls submit (What should I do about my crush? When can I wear a bra?) and publish them on the blog so other girls can give advice. It’s heartwarming to see all the caring suggestions girls make. And it always knocks me out when the girl who asked the question in the first place writes in to say THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?  (I did, big-time, when as a fledgling author I showed up at a major chain bookstore for what I thought was just a signing and found to my chagrin was educator night – dozens of shining faces looking at me expectantly, and I hadn’t prepared a talk…)

Most definitely. I was a newspaper reporter from age 16 until 33 so, until then, I had zero experience writing fiction. I had confidence in my writing, though, and joined a well-known fiction writers’ workshop in Philadelphia. I worked hard on my first short story and I imagined the workshop’s moderator would adore it.

My night came to read an excerpt and get critiqued by him and the rest of the class. No one adored it. I got feedback – reams of it. The moderator wrote me an entire page of notes in very small handwriting. My workshop mates had questions – troubling questions. Where was the conflict? What was at stake? Where were my insights? What about the emotional payoff for the reader? I was clueless. But the criticism was intended to be helpful and, eventually, I started asking myself those questions as I was writing. I learned fiction is not for sissies and I would have to work harder.

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?

I am probably your only contributor who doesn’t like pie.

Say it ain’t so, Debra!

I’m much more of a cookie girl (which is probably why my favorite pie is my mother-in-law’s peanut butter ice cream pie with graham cracker crust.)

But my husband and three sons LOVE traditional pies and clamor for them, so I learned to make them. I learned slowly. Especially when it came to the crust. My grandmother, now 93, is a virtuoso of pie making. When I was in my 20s, I complained to her that I just couldn’t do it. When I tried, the pie dough would tear and shred and stick to the rolling pin. She seemed especially concerned when I told her I swore like a sailor during the crust-making process.

“Did your mother give you the recipe with vinegar in the crust?” No, she had not! So that prompted my grandmother to share her Never Fail Pie Crust recipe. It’s an easy-going pie crust that wants to be your friend. It works with any filling, but I’ll share the blueberry pie version in honor of my grandma Helen.

In her younger days, she’d head into the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with an armload of coffee can pails. She’d come out loaded down with wild “huckleberries” – small, sweet, and a powdery midnight purple. Then she’d work her magic and create a knockout pie. It was shared around her kitchen table after Saturday evening Mass. And everyone washed it down with cups of high-test coffee from her silver bullet percolator.

Blueberry Pie with Never-Fail Pie Crust

Crust

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups shortening

6 tablespoons ice water

1 egg

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

Filling

3 cups fresh blueberries

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

  1. Wash berries.
  2. Spill sugar and flour over berries. Toss and coat well. Set aside.
  3. Combine flour and salt.
  4. Add shortening. Cut in well.
  5. All at once, add ice water, egg, vinegar, and sugar.
  6. Mix until a smooth dough forms.
  7. Roll into 3 or 4 balls. Place in a Ziploc bag in freezer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Roll out pie crust onto waxed paper.
  9. Place bottom crust in pie pan
  10. Add berry mixture.
  11. Cover with top crust. Use a knife to cut slits to let out the steam.
  12. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake until crust is brown and pie filling is bubbly.

As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books of mine that debuted this fall (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues.

Other recent “pies” include Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, Susan Blackaby, Jennifer Jacobson, Frederic HunterKimberley Griffiths LittleStephanie Burgis, Andrea Beaty, Susan Fletcher, and Amy Schwartz.  Be sure and drop by again soon, because I’ll be continuing to serve 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!

Pie-of-the-month-club – Susan Fletcher

As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out this month and next (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues.

On the menu today — my good friend and fellow Oregonian Susan Fletcher, who stopped by to whet our appetites for her new book.  Oh, and to dish about pie, too, of course!

Susan Fletcher

What have you been cooking up for readers, Susan?  Can you tell us a bit about your new book, and how it came about?

Um, it was actually lizard spit that got me going again with dragons.  Perhaps this requires an explanation.

For years, I’d toyed with the idea of a near-future sequel for my Dragon Chronicles series.  But nothing really popped until my daughter, Kelly, a microbiologist/environmental engineer, told me about a rare lizard whose saliva has microbes that might be able to degrade environmental toxins into compounds that are completely safe.  Lizard spit!  That was it, for me: a way to return to my Dragon Chronicles and re-explore, through dragons, what we may lose when a species disappears.




So Ancient, Strange, and Lovely (Atheneum) tales place in a near-future, slightly dystopian world.  I have to say, I had so much fun writing this book!  Partly because I got to hang out with those baby dragons again  — draclings — inspired by our dear old cat Nimbus.  (They thrum in their throats and knead you with their little talons.)  And also partly because in Ancient, Strange, and Lovely the age-old folklore of dragons bumps right up against modern culture and technology: biopiracy, Elvis species, petrified dinosaur eggs, remote webcams, deformed crocodiles, solar-powered socks, invasive ladybugs, two CNN anchors, and a YouTube lawn dwarf vid gone viral

In anticipation of Ancient, Strange, and Lovely, Atheneum also rereleased the other Dragon Chronicles, giving them gorgeous new covers.

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

My novel Shadow Spinner was translated into Farsi by a well-known Iranian translator.  He invited me to a conference in Tehran.  The visa arrived too late, so at the last minute I had to tell him I wouldn’t be there.  But I later found out that, after the translator spoke about my book, there was a run on copies of Shadow Spinner at the conference.  They sold out all the copies at the event, and people went out to bookstores all over Tehran searching for the book.  A group of children at the conference had already read Shadow Spinner and had been looking forward to meeting me and talking about the book.

I was astonished.  Iranian kids reading my book!  You just never know where your books are going to go and who they’re going to touch.



Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?  (I did, big-time, that time I showed up at a major chain bookstore for what I thought was just a signing and found to my chagrin was educator night – dozens of shining faces looking at me expectantly, and I hadn’t prepared a talk…)

Maybe the silliest one was when a group of children’s writers (including a three-time Newbery Honor winner) were invited to read from our work and answer questions at a large literary festival.  Apparently there were more writers than space available; we children’s writers were assigned to the ladies’ lounge.  It was a large and luxurious lounge to be sure, but every time someone emerged from the adjacent room, the sound of flushing toilets nearly drowned us out.

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?

Unfortunately, my most vivid pie memories involve trauma and humiliation.  I have spent many a day-before-Thanksgiving trying to wrestle a pie crust into submission.  Just never got the hang of it.  I know that some people can roll out a nice, flaky crust in the time it takes to say “Yum!”

I hate those people.

My crusts morph into weird, lopsided configurations; they crack in half; they spring leaks. Fortunately, I have discovered crisps, which are actually healthier and, in my opinion, just as tasty.  I hope you will accept crisps as a subset of pies!  This one is delicious.  I found it in Cooking Light magazine, and it’s never failed to please.


Blueberry Crisp a la Mode

6 cups blueberries

2 T. brown sugar

1 T. all-purpose flour

1 T. fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup regular oats

¾ tsp. ground cinnamon

4 ½ T. chilled butter, cut into small pieces

2 cups vanilla low-fat frozen yogurt

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, spoon into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.  Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife.

3.  Combine 2/3 cup flour, ½ cup brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon, and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Sprinkle over the blueberry mixture.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until bubbly.  Top each serving with ¼ cup frozen yogurt.  Yield: 8 servings.

To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, Susan Blackaby, Jennifer Jacobson, Frederic HunterKimberley Griffiths Little, Stephanie Burgis, and Andrea Beaty.  Be sure and drop 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!

Pie-of-the-month-club – Andrea Beaty

I have a special treat for you today — Andrea Beaty, one of my favorite funny ladies!  Andrea and I share the same agent, the illustrious Barry Goldblatt, and got acquainted at one of Barry’s famous client retreats, where I quickly learned that she loves to laugh as much as I do.  Andrea is the author of a number of wonderful books for young readers, and also co-hosts the blog “Three Silly Chicks” with Julia Durango and Carolyn Crimi, both seriously silly chicks in their own right.

Andrea Beaty
So Andrea, what have you been cooking up for readers?  Can you tell us about your new book, and how it came about?
My most recent book is graphic novel/novel hybrid called ATTACK OF THE FLUFFY BUNNIES. It chronicles the invasion of three enormous alien rabbits known as the Fierce, Large, Ugly and Ferocious Furballs (FLUFFS). When a flaming meteor hits their marshmallow planet, they hop a rocket to Earth. The FLUFFS land at the decrepit Camp Whatsitooya on the aromatic shores of Lake Whatsosmelly. The FLUFFS set out to conquer the world and use its children as a source of energy but meet their match in a set of B-movie savvy twins, Joules and Kevin Rockman.
The amazing Dan Santat illustrates the mayhem. He is seriously funny!  I think that this book is ideal for that 3rd-6th grade kid (boys and girls) who love some silly!

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 that was special to you?

This crazy author journey always surprises me, so I have pie-in-the-sky moments all the time. Picking one would be like picking one piece of pie!  Nobody can have just one.  Oh, wait.  That’s potato chips.  Anyhow, here is a smattering of my favorite moments:

  • Getting the call that an editor wanted to publish my first book, WHEN GIANTS COME TO PLAY. I was camping in Banff and had to drive up to a hill to get a phone signal. When I got the news, my kids and I did a screamy-happy dance which made the hikers think we were being attacked by bears!  I don’t think getting attacked by a bear would be THAT exciting!
  • Standing in front of 150 4th graders and making them all snort with laughter at the same time. That is a trip!
  • Having dinner with amazingly talented authors, illustrators, and editors. (And not being asked to leave.)  I’m such a fan girl!
  • Every time I get a copy of one of my brand-new books, I crack the book open and it makes that crazy little new book noise. It makes my heart sing every time!

Wow.  That’s a lot of pie-in-the-sky.  Got milk?

There’s no such thing as too much pie-in-the-sky, Andrea.   But what about humble pie — have you ever been served a heaping slice of that during your career?

Oh yeah. It was at a signing in which I was sharing a table with a NY Times best-selling author. The table was as big as a dinner plate and his line was endless. Mine was non-existent. It was mortifying, but the other author was so gracious and funny I waited to commit hara-kiri until later…

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?

I was raised in southern Illinois a couple of miles from Rend Lake. There has been a café there forever named Burton’s, and its specialty is White Pie. This is a cream custard kind of pie topped with whipped cream and pecans. For about a million years, it was made by a wonderful lady named Freda Webb, a true magician with pie dough. I should say that some people do not love White Pie, but that is okay. That just means more for me and my brothers and sisters. It is our “must have” treat when we go back home. And sometimes, we make it when we can’t go home but truly need to. It is our Wayback Machine. Here’s a link telling about its history.  This is a pie that takes a little practice to get right.

WHITE PIE

Pastry for single-crust pie
2 egg whites
Whipped cream
Chopped pecans

Filling:

¾ c. sugar
Pinch of salt
½ c. flour
1 T. cornstarch
1T. butter
2 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

Cook filling ingredients together, stirring constantly until thick. Beat 2 egg whites until stiff. Pour hot filling over beaten egg whites and fold in. Pour into cooked pie shell. When cool, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Chill 2 hours.

I’m a big fan of Midwest recipes — can’t wait to give this a whirl!  Thanks for stopping by, Andrea.

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As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out soon (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues. To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, Susan Blackaby, Jennifer Jacobson, Frederic Hunter, Kimberley Griffiths Little, and Stephanie Burgis.  Be sure and drop 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!

Pie-of-the-month-club – Stephanie Burgis

On the menu today — Stephanie Burgis, who stopped by to whet our appetites for her new book (available this month in the UK, and next spring here in the U.S.).  Oh, and to dish about pie, too, of course!

Stephanie Burgis

Stephanie, what have you been cooking up for readers?  Can you tell us a bit about your new book, and how it came about?

The funny thing is, my book came directly FROM my cooking, even though I’m a very reluctant cook. I love baking muffins and brownies, but when I’m doing plain cooking, my mind tends to wander … which is exactly what happened as I chopped onions way back in 2006 and the first lines of my book suddenly and unexpectedly popped into my head! I abandoned my chopping and raced to the living room to grab my notebook and capture them.

A Most Improper Magick (Templar Publishing), which will be published in the U.S. next spring as Kat, Incorrigible (Simon & Schuster), is the first in the Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, a trilogy of fantasy adventures set in a slightly different version of 1803. In Kat’s Regency England, magic is the greatest scandal of all … but that’s not about to stop her when there are highwaymen to foil, sinister aristocrats to defeat, and true loves to capture for her two older sisters!

You’ve also whipped up a little something to whet our appetities, haven’t you?  A slice of the pie, if you will.

Yes!  People can read the first three chapters of the novel on my website.

I have, and all I can say is — YUM!  Absolutely scrumptious.  Regency England, a sassy young heroine, and a touch of magic?  What’s not to love?  I can’t wait to read the rest.

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 that was special to you?

The most wonderful moment of the whole process so far came this spring when I got an email  from someone I’d never met. She’s twelve years old, she lives in Canada, many thousands of miles away from me, and this was months before my book came out anywhere in the world … but she wrote to me because her local bookstore manager had handed her a copy of my ARC. She wants to be a writer herself, she loves so many of the same authors I loved at her age, and as I read her email about how much she loved Kat, I actually teared up because this was my impossible fantasy come true.

I wrote A Most Improper Magick because it was the book I’d always wanted to read when I was twelve years old (combining the two genres I most loved – Regency romantic comedies and fantasy adventure), and here was a girl of exactly that age who loved it, just as I’d dreamed way back in 2006, back when I didn’t even believe that the book would ever be published. It was an amazing, amazing feeling to get that email.

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?  (I did, big-time, when as a fledgling author I showed up at a bookstore for what I thought was just a signing and found to my chagrin was educator night – dozens of shining faces looking at me expectantly, and I hadn’t prepared a talk…)

OH, yeah. When I was first starting to send short stories out to magazines, I got a really nice rejection from one of my very favorite magazines. The editor said all sorts of great things about my writing style, and said how close the story had come to being published, but she still turned it down. Well, I was feeling sick with a cold and very sorry for myself that day, and I ended up letting it all out by venting on my journal (ohhhh, I still cringe when I remember this!) all about how the nice rejections are always the most frustrating ones … and although I didn’t name any names, I quoted a line from that rejection email in my whine.

Guess what? Half an hour later, another email popped into my inbox, from that same editor – who had just read my blog entry! OMG. I wanted to burst into flames with pure shame and embarrassment. I was much, much luckier than I deserved. She wrote to tell me that she hadn’t just been saying those nice things – that she’d really meant them and really did want me to send more stories to her magazine.

I immediately deleted the entry from my blog and apologized to her profusely … and amazingly, since then we’ve become friends.  (And she’s published four of my stories!)  She’s a very, very kind and understanding person.

But I learned my lesson, and ever since, I have NEVER complained about a rejection online! Not all editors would react with so much grace and good humor.

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 absolute favorite kind is pecan pie. In my family, every Thanksgiving celebration has to include both pecan pie and pumpkin pie, and I looked forward to every Thanksgiving dessert session just for that fabulous pecan pie! It’s the only pie I’ve ever baked as an adult, and I love it.

Now that I’m living in Wales, I invite all of my in-laws to come over for Thanksgiving dinner each year (although we have to move Thanksgiving to the weekend, since British workers aren’t given that Thursday off !), and we end the meal with pecan pie. My husband often cooks the main meal, but the pie is always my job.

I have to admit that I tend to buy a pre-baked pie crust from the store. (I feel like such a wimp for confessing that…but it is true.)   However, this is the recipe for the pastry filling that I inherited from my parents, who copied it down from a cookbook a long time ago. None of us can figure out which cookbook it came from – so if anyone recognizes it, please let me know!

A MOST MAGICAL PECAN PIE

Ingredients:

1 recipe pastry for single-crust pie
1/2 cup butter (or vegetable shortening)
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup maple syrup
1 T. flour
1-1/2 cups pecan halves or pieces

Directions:

Melt butter in small saucepan and set aside. In a medium bowl beat eggs and salt for about 3 minutes (or until light and lemon colored). Add vanilla. Beat in the sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Pour the syrup into the warm butter and stir well to blend. With a wire whisk, fold the butter and syrup mixture into the eggs. Stir or fold slowly until all the ingredients are blended. Blend in the tablespoon of flour.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Place the pecans on the crust and then pour the filling into the shell.

Place pie on the middle shelf of the hot oven. After 10 minutes reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Continue baking for  30 minutes, or until a silver knife inserted near the center of the pie comes out clean. (The heat continues to cook the filling even after it is removed from the oven, so don’t leave overlong in the oven.)

Can I come to your house for Thanksgiving, Stephanie?  That sounds absolutely delicious!  Thanks again for stopping by.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out this fall (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues. To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, Susan Blackaby, Jennifer Jacobson, Frederic Hunter, and Kimberley Griffiths Little.  Be sure and drop 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!

Pie-of-the-month club – Kimberley Griffiths Little

On the menu today:  Kimberley Griffiths Little, who stopped by to talk about her new novel and to share her favorite recipe for — what else?  — pie!

Kimberley Griffiths Little

Kimberley, what have you been cooking up for readers?

My novel, THE HEALING SPELL, was just released  from Scholastic Press. The word “cooking” describes the writing process perfectly because it took a long time to mix the proper ingredients, rewrite, polish, start over, add, delete, and so on until it was just right. It took a period of about six years from the time I wrote the first draft until it sold – even though I had many editors tasting and re-tasting and telling me how close it was! Just a little more plot, another pinch of character, a few more pecans—I mean scenes.

I understand you also cooked up a mother-daughter book club guide and a book trailer to help promote the novel.  Can you tell us a little bit about that process?

The book trailer was a true labor of love as I worked with Nua Music to bring the story, location, and characters alive. The girl who brought my script and 12-year-old Livie to life with her voice-over did a superb job, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Since I needed very specialized images for an unusual story, I created or photographed more than half of them myself, using models and doing several photo shoots and photo-shopping to get the feel I wanted. I’m thrilled with the original music and the special sound effects as well as the production from Nua Music – and the response has been tremendous from other writers, industry folks, Scholastic, as well as readers.

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 that was special to you?

While I kept experimenting with the recipe for THE HEALING SPELL, I baked up a few other pies—I mean books, too. Sorry to keep up the pie analogy ad naseum, but it’s such a good one! I was writing about the ancient Middle East and Egypt as well as a contemporary YA romance set in Paris and was querying agents like mad about three of these projects to see what would stick, like testing spaghetti noodles against the wall. After signing with Super Agent Tracey Adams, she sent out THE HEALING SPELL and a YA historical called SECRET RITES OF THE GODDESS to several houses and within a month, we ended up with a three-book deal at Scholastic. Selling three books at once to the same publisher was something I never expected, and one of those dreams you didn’t know you were dreaming until you wake up one morning and bounce off the ceiling with excitement.

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

Do hundreds of rejections count? The biz of writing to get published keeps you pretty darn humble. And then there are the dumb questions you ask your agent or brand new editor, or you worry that you’re being a pest, or you’re so nervous at your first book talk event that your voice is shaking and no matter how hard you try, it won’t stop! I have no trouble feeling like the perpetual newbie on the block.

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?

I’m definitely a pie girl. I make a mean apple pie and the SECRET to a successful apple pie is using REAL (not canned), TART apples, sliced THIN with lots of sugar and cinnamon.  It will melt in your mouth. Eat warm, of course.

MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH APPLE PIE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 8 Granny Smith (or other TART) apples – peeled, cored, and sliced THIN

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
  2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Mix 1 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon together and mix well with the apples. Fill the pie pan with the sugared apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.
  4. Eat warm or with ice cream!

From one pie girl to another, that sounds fabulous, Kimberley!  I have a special place in my heart for apple pie — it was my mom’s favorite — and I can’t wait to try your recipe.

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As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out this fall (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues. To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, Susan Blackaby, Jennifer Jacobson, and Frederic Hunter.  Be sure and drop 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!

Pie-of-the-month club – Frederic Hunter

A little something different on the menu this month — a book for adults instead of young readers.  Frederic Hunter stopped by to talk about his new novel “Abe and Molly: The Lincoln Courtship” and to share his favorite recipe for — what else?  — pie!

Author Frederic Hunter

Fred and I are both “alumni” of  The Christian Science Monitor, where I was a staff reporter and children’s book review editor and he was a glamorous foreign correspondent (he covered sub-Saharan Africa).  He also served as a foreign service officer in Brussels, Belgium, and at Coquilhatville and Bukavu in the ex-Belgian Congo. Later, he wrote screenplays for film and television, including “Lincoln and the War Within for PBS, which triggered his interest in the Lincoln courtship. His writings include “The Hemingway Play” and “Africa, Africa!,” a collection of fifteen stories. Fred and his wife Donanne have a website spanning fifty years of experiences in Africa.

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

Some years ago, I wrote a show for PBS about the first three months of the Lincoln Administration, aired as Lincoln and the War Within. While doing research for that project, I stumbled on the story of Lincoln’s courtship.  Abe and Molly:  The Lincoln Courtship is quite a romantic tale: rich girl of aristocratic background and good education falls in love with a self-educated attorney from a dirt-poor background, with few social graces and even less money.  Once they become engaged, her family forces Lincoln to break the engagement.  As they say, complications ensue.  My publisher calls it Pride and Prejudice on the American frontier.  Lincoln takes the Elizabeth Bennet role and Mary (Molly) Todd is Mr. Darcy, except that she’s caged in 19th-century strictures on what women should and should not do (like be interested in politics).

You had me at “Pride and Prejudice” on the American frontier.  I can’t wait to read it!

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

In high school my late twin brother and I wrote a one-act musical.  It was performed the night of the annual one-act play contest, but out of competition because a faculty member had helped us write down the music.  The audience liked it so much that it was immediately re-performed.  That very evening.  Can that possibly be right?  At this distance from high school that seems improbable, but that’s my recollection of it.  Later, in college, my brother and I wrote a musical revue.  At one point I went out to introduce the next act and the audience’s applause flooded up at me.  Applause is a narcotic.  It’s damaged a lot of lives – maybe even mine.

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?  (I did, big-time, when I showed up at a major chain bookstore for what I thought was just a signing and found to my chagrin was educator night – dozens of shining faces looking at me expectantly, and I hadn’t prepared a talk…)

Worst moment?  The evening the first TV show I ever wrote (an adaptation of Ring Lardner’s “The Golden Honeymoon” for PBS) was first broadcast.  My wife and I had filled the living room with friends.  I had not seen the show.  It seemed disastrous!  It was about a guy who couldn’t stop talking, and the director had long moments of silence, showing faces and locales.  Eeeek!  I writhed in horror on the floor before our assembled guests.  They thought the show was OK — it was on PBS, wasn’t it? (It wasn’t as bad as I thought; nor as good as it should have been.)  I learned never to invite friends to see my work until AFTER I’d already taken a look at it.

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?

The recipe for the pie I’m sharing is probably my favorite.  I married into this recipe.  It’s been in my wife’s family for years and was originally called “Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie.” Velma Hile of Virginia, who was a dear friend of my wife’s grandmother, is the source, and now four generations of our family and dinner guests have enjoyed it.  

Most pecan pies at restaurants have too few pecans, too much syrup (or molasses?), and are never made with butter.  This is “caviar for the general.”  Rich whipped cream on top never hurts, either.

“ABE AND MOLLY’S” SOUTHERN PECAN PIE

4 eggs
1-1/2 cups corn syrup
1-1/2 cups pecans
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Unbaked pie shell

Boil sugar, syrup, and salt together for three minutes in a large pot.  Beat eggs; not too stiff.  Slowly pour hot syrup into eggs while stirring.  Add butter, vanilla, and pecans.  Pour into an unbaked pie shell.  Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350, bake for an additional 35-45 minutes.  When tested, knife inserted should come out clean.  Serve at room temperature with whipped cream.




OK, I don’t care if it’s the middle of July and 90 degrees, I’m heading right to the kitchen to make this.  Thanks so much, Fred!

As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out this fall (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues. To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jennifer JacobsonJane KurtzToni BuzzeoLisa SchroederJennifer Ward, and Susan Blackaby.  Be sure and drop 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!

Pie-of-the-month Club – Jennifer Jacobson

As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out in the fall (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues.

On the menu this month:  Jennifer Richard Jacobson, who stopped by to talk about her new Andy Shane book and to share her favorite recipe for — what else?  — pie!

Author Jennifer Jacobson

Jennifer — or JJ, as she’s known to her friends  — wears a lot of hats.  She writes fiction for children and young adults, travels the country speaking as an educational consultant,  blogs, and publishes a newsletter for primary teachers (Monday Mini-Lesson), among other things.  Today, she’s got her children’s author hat firmly in place as we talk about what she’s been cooking up at her desk lately.

My newest book for young readers is Andy Shane, Hero At Last (Candlewick), in which Andy has a secret wish: to be a hero.  But being a hero isn’t something you can plan for, so he comes up with a second goal, one he has a little more control over: winning the bicycle decorating contest in the Home Sweet Home parade. The question is, what will he do when his two dreams collide?

This book is the sixth in a series of beginning readers about Andy Shane and his nemesis, Dolores Starbuckle.   All of the stories have grown out of my own memories of childhood.  Like Andy, I decorated my bike, hoping to win a parade contest! (Mine was Dolores’s bicycle built for two.)  But unlike Andy, I’m still waiting to be a hero.

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

The wonderful thing about being a writer is that there are so many firsts:  first encouraging rejection letter, first call from an editor, first starred review, first award.  It’s lovely really.   But what has made me happiest is hearing that my books have been a first: “The first book I ever read by myself!” or “The first chapter books series my daughter couldn’t put down!”  Nothing makes me fly higher than hearing news like this.

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?  (I did, big-time, that time I showed up at a major chain bookstore for what I thought was just a signing and found to my chagrin was educator night – dozens of shining faces looking at me expectantly, and I hadn’t prepared a talk…)

Ha! Which moment shall I pick?   Here’s a favorite.  Many years ago, when I was teaching first grade, I decided that I wanted to be a children’s author.  I told the students in that year’s class that I was going to write right along with them.  I was going to teach them everything I knew about writing, and they would teach me everything they knew about good children’s books, and we would try to get the book published.  Despite the immense wisdom of my class, the book I wrote that year will never be published.  But what none of us knew was how long it can take to break into the children’s publishing field.  When my first trade book (as opposed to books I also wrote for reading programs) was published, some of those students came to my first signing.  They were seniors in high school!

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 parade is our town’s annual Memorial Day Parade.   And although I’ve never participated in the bike contest (I’m a little too old for that now) I have run the “Memorial Day Mile.”  One year I ran the race and then returned home to change before going back for other festivities.  When I returned many folks told me that my name had been announced:  I had come in second in my age group!  I was thrilled to have placed, and thrilled to have won a pie.  Later, after I returned to reality, I tested a hunch online.  Sure enough, my hunch was correct.  There had only been two runners in my age group that day!  But the (humble) rhubarb pie was delicious!

I adore the puckerish taste of rhubarb and fortunately, spring has come early to Maine this year.  Here is the height of my rhubarb already!

And here’s my favorite rhubarb recipe:

JJ’s Rhubarb Custard Pie

3-1/2 c. rhubarb, diced
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
3 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. milk
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tbsp. butter
Pastry for 2-crust pie
9 or 10 inch pie pan

Put bottom crust in pan; pour rhubarb on top. Blend next 6 ingredients together. Pour over rhubarb. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Brush top crust with milk lightly and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until crust is nicely browned and juice begins to bubble through slits in top crust. Temperature 400 degrees for 10 minutes then 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Bake 40 to 50 minutes.

Jennifer Jacobson's Rhubarb Custard Pie

Oh man, I’m drooling!  *wipes off laptop keyboard*  Rhubarb is one of my all-time favorite things — put it between pie crusts and I’m in heaven.  I’m going to the grocery store right this instant to rustle some up.  Thanks, JJ!

To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, and Susan Blackaby.  Be sure and drop 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!

Pie-of-the-national-poetry-month-club: Susan Blackaby

As 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), I recently launched a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues.

This being National Poetry Month, I have a special treat on the menu:  my dear friend Susan Blackaby, who stopped by to chat about her new poetry collection and to share her favorite recipe for — what else?  — pie!

Susan Blackaby

Suz’s day job is writing for the educational market.  She’s published over 100 leveled readers, as well as the picture book “Rembrandt’s Hat” (Houghton) and the biography “Cleopatra: Egypt’s Last and Greatest Queen” (Sterling).

Suz and I live in the same neighborhood (a corner of Portland that goes by the charming name of Garden Home), our kids went to the same school, and we get together often at a local coffee shop to talk about writing, cheer each other on, and most of all to laugh.

What have you been busy cooking up for readers, Suz?  Tell us about your new book, and how it came about.

My new book is called Nest, Nook & Cranny (Charlesbridge).  It is a collection of “home poems,” focusing on the cozy, crawly places inhabited by animals.  It started with a terrific writing teacher in 3rd grade and got a significant boost at a Haystack workshop with Ann Whitford Paul and a little hermit crab who shall remain nameless.

Can you give us a wee taste of one of the poems in your collection?

Sure.  Here’s a cinquain:

Skinks sneak

From cool crannies

To catnap in the sun,

Making themselves at home on slabs

Of stone.

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

Well, you can pinch yourself silly once the acceptance letter arrives, but I can think of two moments I’ll never forget even when I’m 100 and my cheese has totally slipped off my cracker.  One was when I got to see the finished artwork for my picture book Rembrandt’s Hat—the editor flipped up the protective sheet of tissue paper and I totally came unglued.  Rapture is similar, but not quite so heady.  The second was the night that you gave me your PW review copy of Rembrandt’s Hat—it was such a thrill to open the actual book (a thrill that repeats over and over, I might add), and sharing that with you was really special.

[Note:  In a previous life, I was a contributing editor for Publisher’s Weekly, and one day I opened a box o’ books they had sent for review, and lo and behold there was a copy of Suz’s new baby — which she hadn’t even seen yet.  Although alas I couldn’t review it — conflict of interest — I could and did hop in the car THAT VERY MINUTE and drive over to her house with it!]

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?  (I did, big-time, that time I showed up at a major chain bookstore for what I thought was just a signing and found to my chagrin was educator night – dozens of shining faces looking at me expectantly, and I hadn’t prepared a talk…)

Ooh. I once told an editor that none of the major publishers (including hers) know beans about producing leveled readers.  Just because something is true doesn’t mean you need to be the one to say so….

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?

Making pie is, for me, closely connected to picking the apples, apricots, peaches, or huckleberries that go into the pie.  Especially huckleberries, which are the size of teeny peas.  It takes forever and a day to pick a pie’s worth.  In California my folks had an apricot orchard that produced bushel upon bushel of fruit.  My mom made apricot pies like mad, but she had a nifty trick: She froze pie fillings in a perfect pie shape and stacked them up in the freezer like frisbees.  What holiday dinner is complete without fresh, home-grown apricot pie for dessert?

Miffy’s June-in-January Apricot Pie

For each pie, mix the following together:

4–6 C fresh apricots cut into quarters

1 C white sugar

¼ C brown sugar

1 T fruit fresh

2 T minute tapioca

1 T lemon juice

Crisscross a pie plate with two long strips of foil and fill with apricot mixture.  Bring the foil up over the filling and crimp closed.  Put the pie plate in the freezer.  When the filling is frozen solid, slip it out of the pie plate and store it in a Ziploc freezer bag.  Wait until the dead of winter.  Make your pie dough, unwrap the frozen filling, drop it into the bottom crust, cover it with the top crust, pinch the edges, add a few slits, and bake at 425° for a half hour or so.

(This works with peaches, too; it takes all day and all the neighbors’ pie plates to turn a lug of peaches into a stack of pies.  Apricots are easier because you don’t have to peel the fruit.)

Yum!   I don’t  think I’ve ever had apricot pie.   That needs to change, and soon.  Thanks, Suz!

To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, and Jennifer Ward.  Be sure and drop 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!

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!