Pie, Pie, Pie!

On this blessed day of thanks, I’m grateful for family, friends, good books – and most importantly – PIE!  Oh how I love me some warm, gooey, scrumpdiliumptious pie. Nothing beats the down-home goodness of a freshly baked pie. From the sugar-ensconced fluffy meringue toppings to the rich, decadent chocolate cream fillings – these delicious dishes evoke some of my fondest childhood memories.

When it comes to the nostalgic bliss of pie, nobody says it better than Beth Howard, author of Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie:  “Pie is accessible, affordable, all-encompassing. Pie is meant for sharing. Pie connects people. Pie knows no cultural or political boundaries. Pie makes people happy. And happy people make the world a better place. That’s why the world needs more pie.”

In honor of America’s most iconic dessert, here is a little taste of two pie-themed books.

In Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie, Beth Howard shares how her lifelong love of pie helped her get through the pain of bereavement. After her husband’s untimely death, she seeks refuge in the art and craft of pie baking. With some help from good friends and her own inner strength, she sets forth on a cross-country pie-baking documentary project in her husband’s Winnebago. Filled with a multitude of pie analogies, this book is both heart-warming and gut-wrenching. Like a big hunk of chocolate cream pie, this journey of self-discovery will stick to your ribs long after you devour it.  Go to her website to read all about her book, pie-baking tips, and her American Gothic house.

I should also mention an upcoming book by one of my most favorite chick lit authors, Lauren Clark. In Pie Girls, a spoiled Southern Belle must return to her hometown and rebuild her life after it all falls apart in the big city. Somehow she finds herself involved in a Pie Lab, which is based off of a real restaurant that offers job training for high school dropouts and people in need of vocational skills. Sounds like a tasty read to me! Go to her blog for a sneak preview.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sneak a bite out of my delicious pumpkin pie while my husband isn’t looking! I’m sure our guests won’t notice that tiny little dent…right?

Getting through the grief process, one piece at a time

I’m new to the grieving process, and apparently it’s a mixed back of laughter, tears and numbness. My 95-year-old grandma (who I thought would live well into her hundreds!) passed away this afternoon. I knew it was coming and that I’d totally be prepared to deal, but yeah…not so much. Losing a loved one is hard – even if they’ve been on this earth for almost a century! A boatload of memories, regrets, joy and pain have all come together in a perfect storm of crazy inside my head. Luckily (or perhaps it was fate?) I met Beth Howard, bestselling author of Making Piece: a Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie, at a BookPeople event last week. This incredibly brave woman spoke candidly in front of a roomful of strangers about the death of her husband – and how she got through it with pie, good friends and a good old-fashioned American road trip.  

My grandma, Marynelle Crawford.

Even though I’m not going to see grandma’s photo on the Today Show’s Smucker’s birthday announcements, it’s comforting to know she lived a long, full life. Despite my lack of culinary skills, I’m going to bake an apple crumble pie in her honor. I always felt happy, safe and warm in her presence, which is kind of how I feel when I indulge in a gooey slice of apple crumble pie. I hope she’s sharing a slice with grandpa in heaven right at this very moment. If you want to know more about this wonderful woman, check out the obit that I wrote.

Here’s some more info about the book. Doesn’t it sound fascinating?

From Goodreads:“You will find my story is a lot like pie, a strawberry-rhubarb pie. It’s bitter. It’s messy. It’s got some sweetness, too. Sometimes the ingredients get added in the wrong order, but it has substance, it will warm your insides, and even though it isn’t perfect, it still turns out okay in the end.”

My grandma and the world’s cutest little child.

When journalist Beth M. Howard’s young husband dies suddenly, she packs up the RV he left behind and hits the American highways. At every stop along the way—whether filming a documentary or handing out free slices on the streets of Los Angeles—Beth uses pie as a way to find purpose. Howard eventually returns to her Iowa roots and creates the perfect synergy between two of America’s greatest icons—pie and the American Gothic House, the little farmhouse immortalized in Grant Wood’s famous painting, where she now lives and runs the Pitchfork Pie Stand.

Making Piece powerfully shows how one courageous woman triumphs over tragedy. This beautifully written memoir is, ultimately, about hope. It’s about the journey of healing and recovery, of facing fears, finding meaning in life again, and moving forward with purpose and, eventually, joy. It’s about the nourishment of the heart and soul that comes from the simple act of giving to others, like baking a homemade pie and sharing it with someone whose pain is even greater than your own. And it tells of the role of fate, second chances and the strength found in community