Beth Howard’s Making Piece Book Club

Having read about Beth Howard’s Making Piece last year in Midwest Living, I knew this was a memoir I wanted to read, one involving the trials and ultimate triumph of a forty-something widow, mother to Team Terrier, and pie baker.  At the time I read the article, the book hadn’t been released yet, so the title ended up being lost in the pile of paperwork on my desk.  Strolling through the nonfiction aisles of the local library this past Sunday, this book cover jutting out from the shelf rang a bell.  Eureka!  I had found the book to pull me out of my reading slump.  Immediately I dived in and was finished in less than 24 hours.  Since the notion of pie plays such a prominent part in this memoir, I was thrilled to discover the addition of recipes in the back.  Bonus! 
For the purposes of book club, each book club member should shop the local Aldi (first introduced to the author in Germany by her husband) to retrieve ingredients for a pie recipe of her/his choosing from those offered in Making Piece.  I did just this today with my squirt and found everything I needed for “Lana Ross’s Better-Than-Sex French Silk Pie”  (305).  Never having attempted a true homemade pie (minus the store-bought pie crust and instant pudding) before, I was looking forward to this bucket list item being wiped from the slate.  

I didn’t think I overworked the dough . . .

Attempting not to overwork the dough as Howard repeated throughout during her piebaking classes, I opted for use of the food processor instead of working the dough with my hands thinking a few pulses would be more efficient and more speedy since the thought of eating a “better-than-sex” pie couldn’t wait.  Instead of allowing the crust to cool completely, I popped it into the fridge while mixing my thick, rich, 70% cacao filling.  Wasting no time, I spread the mixture onto the crust and immediately began whipping the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla.  I’d now like to say with all earnestness, “So long to store-bought whipped topping forever.”

It’s easy to make whipped cream.  Who knew?

In lieu of waiting the suggested four-hour cooling time, I dove right in.  

Complete with shredded dark chocolate.

Due to my sense of urgency, the filling was a little grainy since I hadn’t allowed time for the butter to come to room temperature in order to cream properly with the sugar.  Who cares!  The crust was, perhaps, a tad tough.  Okay, it was tough as my squirt asked, “What is this hard stuff on the bottom?”  Yet, I ate it with glee knowing this was only my first, but definitely not my last attempt at homemade crust.  Next time I’ll allot more time for proper recipe compliance.  What’s nice to know, though, is that due to this inspirational read, Making Piece, there will be a next time.

Beth Howard

Library Love

Okay, I’m spoiled with an extraordinary local library, Glen Carbon Centennial Library.  Even Bill Gates agrees awarding my hometown library the Best Small Library in America Award in 2010, so I’m not kidding when I write I’m spoiled.  Yet, I always like to seek out libraries in a town or city I may be visiting to observe their local offerings.
Today, I was able to mark Bethalto Public Library off of my list of library adventures.  My oldest squirt had a birthday party to attend at the local bowling alley, so my youngest squirt and myself decided to use this time wisely at the public library in Bethalto, IL. 

Up the stairs and immediately to the left we discovered the children’s section filled with stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes for which visiting squirts may play and read with.  A vast offering of videos, picture books, children’s magazines, and leftover storytime crafts were available for use.  What sealed the deal for my daughter, though, was the just-her-size shopping cart which we were able to fill to the brim with not only her selections, but also mine (yes, I am finally out of my reading slump with Beth M. Howard’s Making Piece: A Memoir of Loss, Love and Pie). 

So, be sure and check out your local library.  You can’t beat free reads, and if you’re in the Illinois Heartland System as both Glen Carbon Centennial and Bethalto Public Libraries are, you may check books out and return them at either location.  No fines for me!

Babies, Birthdays, Books, and Broadway Bound

Having received a clever invitation (devised by a teacher- let’s hear it for our teachers!) in the form of an airline ticket to a baby shower, a trip to the bookstore was now a high priority on my to-do list (yes!).  In lieu of cards, picture books were requested for the baby.  Be still my heart . . .  a fellow author groupie in the making.  
In the same week, my eldest daughter received a “FREE Birthday Treat” coupon in the mail from Barnes and Noble, so it was a nobrainer which bookstore was in our near future.  
After school pick-up, my two squirts and I headed in great anticipation to our nearest store location in Fairview Heights, ILme looking ahead to heady floating between rows of books, the oldest squirt discerning between the cupcake or the oversized cookie, and the youngest squirt racing towards the Thomas Train display, with all of us rounding out our visit with a lengthy stretch of time at the stage.  

This stage in question, located in the children’s section, is where my squirts have observed many preschool storytimes, danced many jigs, and now conduct many performances for me and for one another.  Priceless!  Yes, I own a Kindle and use it, but I am still in awe of the written word on paper and the stores which house these books. Thrilled to know my squirts, too, love to turn the pages of a book, I am hopeful this future squirt whom we’re celebrating at the baby shower will embrace the physical book also.