Have Green Tomatoes, Make Pie

There
are never any leftovers of this flavorful pie at Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant and
Bakery Staunton, Va. Customers look forward to it—such a short season—with its
robust spice and vinegar flavors,
perfectly mingled with an underlying sweetness. The flavors unfold with every
bite. 
Long-time regular customers know to get to the restaurant early enough
to enjoy a slice.  If the green tomato season
slips by, try tomatillos instead. This pie also works as a side dish with pork chops, chicken or veggie burgers.

(If
you’d like another way to use your green tomatoes, check out my other blog for
a sandwich spread recipe.)

 Makes
two 10-inch pies.

Makes
12 cups of mincemeat

2
recipes pie crust (You will need a top and bottom crust for both pies.)

Ingredients

3
pounds green tomatoes (or tomatillos) 

3 1/2
pounds apples

2
pounds brown sugar

2
pounds seedless raisins

1
tablespoon salt

2 ½
tablespoons cinnamon

2
teaspoons ground allspice

1
tablespoon nutmeg

3
tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/4
cups vinegar

Grind
the tomatoes though a food chopper. Add
salt and let stand for one hour. Drain
the tomatoes and add water, enough to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for five
minutes. Drain. Pare,
core, and chop the apples until very fine. Add
the tomatoes and other ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Bring
to a boiling point and simmer for one hour. Stir frequently to keep from
burning on bottom of the pan. Cool. This will take about 3 hours at room
temperature. This
will keep in refrigerator or will freeze well.

Preheat
oven to 425°F. 

Fill
the unbaked pie shell with mincemeat (approximately 5 cups).   Cover with top crust and seal
edges.

Bake
at 425°F for 15 minutes.

Reduce
temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for 35 minutes.

Cool
for 2 hours at room temperature before serving.

Five things I thought about during my morning walk:

1. Tooooo cold for an outside run. I'm heading for the Wii.
2. My comcast was offline all day yesterday. I was a mess, but I
finished the next draft of Tempting Will and of Maggie Rae's Scrapbooks
AND I cleaned my office. It amazes me how much time it takes up to keep
up with online things. Updating this and that. Reading. Whew. I think
I'm going to try to take one day a week and not even log on. Don't
worry about me if I disappear every now and then. I appreciate all the
concern, though.
3. Things have been a bit crazier than usual because my car has been in
the shop. Took it in for inspection and needed the parking lights fixed
for it to pass. $250 later, I'm ready to roll.
4. Updated my blog this morning. The design template is very
restricting. I'm finding this out as I go along. I may try to find a
new template. But I really like the clean look of it: http://www.molliecoxbryan.com/kitchenqueenoffishpotroad/
5. Today is Emma's gymnastics routine at the school. She is very
excited and went to school wearing shorts."Mommy, can you bring me
pants to change into?" she asked while we were waiting at the bus stop.
She was shivering.

Interested in Writing a Cookbook?

If you have a burning desire to write a cookbook, stop by the Augusta County Library, Fishersville, Va., 3:00 Sat., July 25, and I'll be speaking about writing cookbooks and introducing my new book MRS.ROWE'S LITTLE BOOK OF SOUTHERN PIES. I'll also be selling the books and signing them. In the mean time, here is a great article about writing cookbooks. My agent, Angela Miller, is quoted in it and listed as one of the agents at the end of the article. 

More Pie for Everyone

Why Pie? Why Now?

When my publisher asked if I could write the Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies Cookbook, I jumped at the chance. It's a natural follow-up to the Mrs. Rowe Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from Shenandoah Valley because Mrs. Rowe was famous for her pie. We could not possibly include all the pie recipes in the first book.

The other reason I jumped at the chance is that I love pie. The mix of textures and flavors in any piece of pie—whether it’s fruit or cream-based, suits my personality. It delights me.

But even more than the actual bite of it in my mouth, I love the idea of pie. It conjures images of home and hearth to some, yet to others it conjures more base appetites—lust and passion enclosed in a perfect crust or perfectly crafted meringue. These two images don’t necessarily have to be at odds with one another—as those of us who are married with children can attest to. 

In fact, pie is many things to many people. It can mean whatever you want it to mean. It can also be as simple or elegant as you want to it be. You can bake a blackberry pie, for example, with more expensive but locally grown blackberries, or you can buy a can of berries or even frozen ones. You can stick with a simple pumpkin pie, made with Libby’s canned pumpkin—or you can go as far growing your own pumpkins for mashing.

As I researched this book, I talked to a lot of people about pie—cookbook authors, food writers, restaurant owners, neighbors, friends and family members.  It became clear to me that many people have strong feelings about it.  Unfortunately, one of the feelings that cropped up about it is crust-anxiety. That’s a topic for another discussion. Another thing that kept cropped up frequently was that most people judge pie by the way their own mother’s made it for them as a child. How’s that for a link between love and pie?

So, I say more pie for everyone.  It’s the perfect time for it—we all could use a little more love, a lot more fun, and a simple bit of joy baked in our own ovens.

Five Surpising Facts about Writing Cookbooks

This is a post from a few years back. I wrote it right before my first cookbook came out. I thought I'd re-post it as way to introduce my next post.

I've been in the publishing business, in one form or another, for over 20 years. But creating a cookbook was a new experience. I've
learned so much about cookbooks that I will never, ever, look at them
the same way again. A good cookbook is a work of art. Here are the
surprising top five things I've learned:

1. There are literary agents that specialize in cookbooks. Also, publicists specialize in cookbook authors.
2. Every publisher has its own recipe style. For example, one house may
want you to use numbers, like "1/2" cup, another one might prefer
"one-half" cup. (There is also a whole style book just for recipe writing–RECIPES INTO TYPE. )
3. I've written in many venues and in several different styles of
writing, but recipe headnotes were the most challenging thing I've ever
written. (The headnotes are the text that comes before the recipe,
often giving serving suggestions or a story about the recipe.) They
need to be interesting, practical, and not too culinary-cutesy or
gourmet artsy-fartsy. When I read a cookbook, the headnotes are often
the part I read first. I go through the whole book and just read the
headnotes.
4. Recipes need to be professionally tested—or at least, this cookbook
needed that. I am not sure how testing is handled when it's a chef's
book, but this restaurant cookbook needed to be professionally tested
in order to see how the recipes would work for the home cook.
5. Recipes need to be gone over and over again meticulously. Recently a
friend relayed a story to me about her husband making a dish that
called for heavy whipped cream. He used cool-whip, which, of course,
ruined the whole dish that otherwise had been prepared perfectly.

Our Little Book of Pie

The developmental edits of Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pie are done. The editor emailed me the manuscript with questions and changes for me and I sent them back to her. First, I needed to get our tester and the owner of the restaurant to weigh in on some of the questions—especially those of a technical nature. Baking can be like that. This book is not meant to be an encyclopedia of pie baking, but more of a fun take on pie, with loads of delcious southern recipes. But still some technical issues need to be addressed. For example, I added in two paragraphs about equipment—double boilers and pie cutters.
So after I sent in the latest version, my editor sent it to the copy editor. By Friday, she already had a list of more questions for me. This, I think, after just a quick reading of the manuscript. Copy editors are truly a different breed. It's so helpful to have some outside eye come into a project like this, especially a trained one. You never know what they might catch. At this point, I hope there's not much to catch—but I know that it is absolutely the best thing for everybody that she query everything that strikes her fancy.   I hope for another push for excellence.

Seeing Pie

The pie book is moving right along. It’s a much different experience than my first book, although there are some similarities—both are cookbooks and both have the same publisher, Ten Speed Press.
The first book was chock full of archival photos, along with pictures taken by Ed Anderson, sent by the publisher to the restaurant. It was so much fun watching him work and seeing the final product.
With MRS. ROWE’S LITTLE BOOK OF SOUTHERN PIE,  Ten Speed opted for a pie photo shoot. If you think this means that they whipped up a few of the pies and pulled out a camera, you would be sadly mistaken. It took a whole team of incredibly talented individuals to pull off the photo shoot, headed by Lisa Westmoreland, my editor. The food stylist that baked the pies and made them look so fabulous was Kim Konecny (http://www.kimcookin.com); the food stylist that pulled it all together, with all the right objects and placements of those objects was Christine Wolheim (http://www.wolheimstyle.com)  Jennifer Martine (jennifermartine.com) took the pictures that pulled it all together with her exquisite eye and skill.When Lisa emailed me the pdfs, the photos actually brought tears to my eyes. I did not expect such a reaction. I’ve been thinking about those tears and wondering what it was really about. Viewing the pictures was a moment of unexpected clarity. It was so obvious to me that someone had taken great care with the photos, and it showed with the details and lighting, the way the pies are placed, the props used—and I dunno—just the way the pictures were taken. So respectful and thoughtful.  I sit in front of my computer and write and I do that alone. I sometimes wonder if anybody is OUT THERE that is even open to my work, let alone appreciates it. (I can write a whole book about THAT strangeness.) But the pictures speak not just of me and my work, (and of all the talented women on this project) but of pie and all it it represents— the customs and traditions of pie, what it means in our culture, and ultimately, the care and time it takes to bake a pie.  Call it love, commitment,  or whatever you want.
Can you see all that in photos of pie? You can—if it’s truly there.

New Book

Okay. I am in an awkward space, sort of still promoting my first book, "Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley," and beginning my next cookbook project. I should be getting the contract from Ten Speed any day. I am thrilled to be working with them again—this time on "Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pie," a great title, yes? But both books work together, so it’s not as awkward as it could be.
There are, as usual, plenty of projects on the horizon. I am still working on my essays that I hope to compile into a book and still longing to do more work on Mary Johnston. My article on her in Virginia Living has been pushed to March. Getting that article published is the first step to generating more interest in her.
Well, I am off to the restaurant this morning for a meeting about pie…can’t beat that.