Monday, November 7, 2011

Where All My Charaters Are


I recently completed a blog tour with Pump Up Your Book and I must say I learned a lot about myself as a very introverted author trying to make my way in a market that requires many extrovert skills.

Thank God for all the lessons I learned from reading the blog, Shrinking Violet Promotions: Marketing for Introverts. If you are introvert and the thought of promoting your novel gives you hives or make you want to hide under your bed, head on over to this very useful site for all the information you need to become an effective advocate for your work.

Now, one of the blog posts I had to write during the tour was an exercise called: “Five Things You Didn’t Know About ___” (fill in the blank with one of your character’s names.)

At first I dreaded writing about this I think because writing in Grace's voice after being away from her so long felt a little odd and I was fearful I couldn't do it anymore. However, once I got into it I found it very instructive and I think this exercise might also prove helpful to those of you who feel they need to flesh out the characters in their own work.

Below is what I wrote for the blog, The Plot: Where All The Characters Are:

Five things you didn’t know about, Grace Johnson from Act of Grace by Karen Simpson.

(In the first person voice of my character Grace Johnson talking directly to the audience.)

I was not named Grace just because it matches the theme in the book. My author mom, Ms. Simpson, knew I was not named lightly. Family lore has it that along with everything else my parents fiercely argued about what I was to be named. If it had been left up to my mother’s gaudy, soapoperish taste, I would have been christened Diva Rose. A name only a stripper could love or use. My father saved me. He told my mother that he had read that people’s lives proceed from their names the way rivers proceed from their sources. The name Diva Rose was like a creek, while the name Grace was like the Nile. My daddy wanted great things for his first-born. He wanted his girl child to be able to handle responsibility. So he gave me the name of his grandmother because she was the strongest and most spiritually powerful woman he knew.

I am not fat. People, I tell you my size in the first chapter of the novel so all you folks who think I’m tipping the scales at three hundred pounds, please. My author mom should have listened to her friend Sherlonya who told her to make me a size 14 instead of 16, Sherlonya knew that just like appearing on TV, appearing in a novel makes you look heavier than you are. I’m full figured but healthy. I’m not as beautiful as my sister, Jamila but then who else is? I guess I’m ranting about this to get to what’s important because what I look like had nothing to do with the reasons why I took bullets to save the life of that racist, Mr. Gilmore.

Being able to talk to the dead isn’t all cake and candy. The ancestors remind me that I have been given the power to talk to and for them so that I might help others live better lives. This explanation is supposed to be my balm from Gilead. I would be lying though if I said this knowledge completely soothes my soul or makes me feel more whole and less wounded as I try to help other with their problems.

I’m learning to cook. My aunt Peaches is teaching me how to make my favourite dessert, Better Than Sex Cake. It’s this flourless chocolate cake slathered with caramel, topped with cumulus mounds of whipped cream, flakes of toasted coconut, and huge twigs of chocolate shavings. It’s great. Now, I don’t know if it’s better than sex… um at least not yet. Anyway, if you ask my author mom she’ll hook you up with the recipe for the cake.

I am all about my music. If you want to know about me, and why I do things, marinate on some Coltrane because for me it is as he said, “No matter what … it is with God. He is gracious and merciful. His way is through love in which we all are. It is truly – A Love Supreme.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Winners Are

Wihelmina wins the novel.

David Wanty wins the music

Thank you everyone for your participation.

Dave and Wihelmina please email me your addresses at simpsonactofgrace(at) so I can get your prizes to you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Moonbeam Award Shines on Act of Grace

The 2011 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards recognized my novel Act of Grace as the gold medalist in the Young Adult Religion/Spirituality category.

The awards ceremony will be held during the Traverse City Children's Book Festival on November 12, 2011.

I was a little dubious when my niece Lauren told me that not just adults would like my novel. She was right and I owe her some flowers and lunch:)

I am excited and very honored.

About the Moonbeam Award
Presented by Jenkins Group and Independent Publisher Online, the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to exemplary children's books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading. Awards will be given in 30 categories covering the full range of subjects, styles and age groups that children's books are written and published in today.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Tour Stops

These are my next stops on my tour with PUMP UP YOUR BOOKS! Hope you can find the time to ride with me each day as I talk about my novel and my writing life.

October 10 ~ Interview at The Book Bin

October 11 ~ Interview at The Examiner

October 13 ~ Guest Post at The Book Connection

October 12 ~ Interview at Inky Blots

October 14 ~ Guest Post at Divine Caroline

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I’m on tour with PUMP UP YOUR BOOKS! for the month of October and November. My list of tour stops for the week of October 3rd to October 7th is listed below. Hope you can find the time to ride with me each day as I talk about my novel and my writing life.

October 3 ~ Interview at Pump Up Your Book

October 4 ~ Interview at Paperback Writer

October 5 ~ Interview at The Writer’s Life

October 6 ~ Guest Post at The Plot

October 7 ~ Guest Post at The Plot

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Meet Me At The Crossroads For A Book And Music Giveaway

I'm hosting a giveaway of a copy of my novel and some great Blues music, but first the story behind it all.

This year is the centennial celebration of the legendary Blues musician Robert Johnson birth. Robert Leroy Johnson was born in Hazelhurst Mississippi on May 8, 1911 and for Blues scholars and fans alike, his life and death are a fascinating blend of folklore, myth and legend. Perhaps the most pervasive story about Robert Johnson is that he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for extraordinary prowess with the guitar. According to legend, Johnson had a burning desire to become a great Blues musician and was "instructed" to take his guitar to a crossroads at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (supposedly the Devil) who took the guitar and tuned it. The black man played a few songs and then returned the guitar to Johnson, giving him mastery of the instrument. According to some, this was in effect, a Faustian bargain, where in exchange for his soul; Robert Johnson was given the ability by Satan to create the Blues for which he became famous.

Now, when I was a kid, I always wondered about this legend. Why did it have to be Satan that he met? Better yet, why was the Devil a black man? It was only later as I began to do more research on the subject of African cultural retention in the United States for my Masters degree did I begin to understand that it wasn't the Devil that made Robert Johnson do anything.

Aside from the fact that it was another singer named Tommy Johnson and not Robert Johnson, who actually made the claim that he sold his soul, references to the Devil do fill Robert Johnson’s lyrics as well as those of many other Blues songs. However, the Devil in these songs may not only refer to the Christian story of Satan. More than ample evidence of African religious retentions surrounding the African Orisha Legba exists in the United States. Legba is considered the god of the crossroads and of the paths of man. A trickster, his role is to teach humility and thankfulness by testing humans.

So, when African-Americans born in the 19th or early-20th century said that they or anyone else had "sold their soul to the devil," they may have had very a different understanding of who the large black man standing at the crossroads was. Legba, as a guardian of the crossroads could also bestow powers and extraordinary gifts of talent on those who came to petition him on moonless midnights at the intersection of two roads.

It is this more African take on the Robert Johnson crossroads legend that I weave through out my novel Act of Grace. Oba, the tall big black man , Grace Johnson encounters at a Jazz and Blues festival, bestows on her a powerful and frightening message about her future. Grace suspects that Oba may be imaginary, or worse, evil. It is only later in a conversation with her great grandmother, Nana Grace that she finds out who he really is:

“He is a teacher, a guide, an opener of the way. In ancient Greece, he was the
god Hermes; in ancient Rome, he was the god Mercury. In Africa, he could be
called Legbe, Ellegue, Elegbara or Eshu. You would know him best as the entity
bluesman Robert Johnson met at the cross road to bless his guitar. Now, in this
time and place he calls himself Oba."


A copy of my novel: Act of Grace

A copy of the CD
: 100 Years of Robert Johnson by Big Head Blues Club and Big Head Todd & the Monsters

This record is a tribute to the late Robert Johnson to celebrate his centennial and is produced by Grammy winning producer Chris Goldsmith. The guest musicians include such great guest musicians as BB King, Hubert Sumlin, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Charlie Musselwhite, Ruthie Foster, Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm.

How to Enter:

Leave a comment, question or the name of your favorite blues singer in the comment section of this post or like my facebook page Karen's Jazz Kitchen and leave a comment by midnight October 8th EDT to be entered into a drawing for either the book or the music. Please state in your post whether you want the CD or the book. One person for each item will be chosen randomly using

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Book Grows in Michigan

I went to my favorite independent bookstore the other night and found my novel Act of Grace nestled next to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. The 14 year old girl that still lives inside me was in giggly open mouth awe as I took this picture. Betty Smith's novel was one of my absolute favorites when I was a teenager. I still have my food stained, yellow paged, dogeared copy. I remember dreaming of being an author as I read it over and over again. Never thought I would get to sit on the shelf next to my hero but book dreams can come true.

Next week I'll be hosting a give away of my novel and a CD of the blues music that helped inspire my character, Grace Johnson . Stay tuned for details !

Monday, September 5, 2011


One of my favorite writing quote is by the poet Sharon Doubiago. Sharon was was once my mentor for a writing program called Split Rock. Sharon was a gentel but sometimes hard taskmaster. She could spread praise like jam on warm bread, but man, she would lean into my writing like no one else. Chastising me when she knew I was pulling my punches, telling me off when my love of metaphors threatened to strangle my work. I always knew the worse was coming when she would start an edit line with "Ms. Simpson, really you know better. "

I love how she describes a successful work of literature:

A successful work of literature is one that fuses spirit and craft equally, has
linguistic, emotional, psychological, intellectual, philosophical, aesthetic
integrity, involves the full self of the writer, is more honest than clever, is
not primarily an artifice, is not primarily from a program or formula, is not
primarily for selfish gain in the world, brings pleasure which usually has to do
with recognition, is more from generosity than hate (the exploration and
highlighting of hate being part of the task, but as Wallace Stevens says “Love
tips the scales”), is somehow a contribution to human survival (the writer’s as
well as for all); is the best that it can be. Is soul work.

Some writers are born gifted in language. Their hurdle is glibness. Some writers stutter and stammer to the end; their hurdle is in saying it. A successful work of literature fuses the poles of muteness and the gods speaking."

I know I lean toward glibness. How does your writing roll?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Red Summer : The Race Riots of 1919

By Cameron McWhiter

Can't wait to read this book.

One of the most importan event in my novel ACT OF GRACE takes place during the bloody summer of 1919 or what was called Red Summer. Author Carmeron McWhiter has written an important book that tells about that summer when anti-black riots and lynchings swept the nation from April until November. Below is the link to an NPR interview with the author.

Cameron McWhirter: "Red Summer"

Thursday, July 14, 2011


The picture is me reading at my first book signing at Nicola's Books.

(I really do need to dye my hair)

Yea!! My first podcast. I was interviewed by a librarian friend for the Ann Arbor District Library blog. I talked about the many themes of my novel and about myself as an author. The production values are great but I still don't like my voice. Some folks think I have a wonderful laugh. All I will say is that I had a great time. Take a listen and if you can leave a comment on the blog or with the library about what you thought.

*Ann Arbor District Library Talks To Local Author Karen Simpson*

Monday, June 13, 2011

My First Book Signing

Come meet me for a discussion and signing of my debut novel at :

Nicola's Books
2513 Jackson Ave Ann Arbor MI
Wednesday, June 15th 7pm

The sign in the bookstore window states that my novel is about justice, redemption and the power of forgiveness, but I would also like to add that my novel features some great music along with excellent descriptions of food, especially a certain magical pound cake. As one reviewer stated:

This is Simpson's first novel. It is a must read. Her poetic style of writing soothes you into the harsh realities of racism, violence, and absolute hate based horror. The hero, Grace, puts an end to historical and current race based violence by her own sacrifice--after learning much from her ancestors. Simpson reveals the truth of the crossroads metaphor, saving Robert Johnson, by allusion, from misrepresentation. Music and food are the backdrops of Simpson's work: "better than sex" chocolate cake, red velvet cake, Nina Simone and John Coltrane….

For more information about me or the novel please see the Nicola's Books website

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Birthday Bottle Tree

This year to celebrated my birthday and the publication of my novel I bought myself a fancy bottle tree off eBay. I planted the spiky pole in the black cast iron washing and cooking pot my dad hauled back from his mother's farm after her death. I always loved this sturdy pot because it reminds me of the few precious memories I have of my Grandmother Simpson. After many years of planting flowers in the pot I decided to erect a elegant bottle tree to celebrated her memory. I'm not a big wine drinkers so I only have a few bottles to hang on it for now. May have to ask friends for their empties.

Bottle trees are prominently featured in my novel. I've always been fascinated by their deep connections to Africa.

The best explanation about about the tradition, history and function of bottle trees is in a wonderful book by Stephanie Rose Bird called Stick, Stone, Roots and Bones: hoodoo, mojo and conjuring with herbs. Bird writes:

"Bottle trees stem from the Bantu tradition of tying bottles and other objects to trees to protect a residence or vacant land from thieves. The bottles draw and then trap wayward spirits inside the bottles. Our ancestors can safely be used to scare off wrongdoing. Bottle trees are also considered a new home for departed love one where we visit and be close to them

There is little doubt the custom of guarding yards and household for all evil with branches decked with glass vessels came form Kongo and culturally related territory in Central Africa. It arrived in memories of blacks from the Kongo via New Orleans, Charleston and the West Indies."

In my novel my protagonist Grace learns that her eccentric, but spiritually powerful aunts Casmil and Peaches have erected a whole forest of bottle trees to protect her. Below is that scene from the novel :

"We also put up a grove of bottle trees at the back of the property,” said Casmil.

“Bottle trees?” That turned me around to see if they were kidding, but the calm expressions on their faces told me that kidding lived in a whole different universe of thought.

“You know what a bottle tree is,” Casmil asserted.

She was right. I had seen pictures of the trees from the 1930s in a book. Their upward growing limbs were stripped of leaves, and each branch ended in an empty blue or green bottle. These trees were thought to protect a person’s home, the gleam of the glass capturing and disempowering evil forces and troubled spirits. When out of curiosity I had checked out bottle trees on the Internet, I found that most people used artificial versions of them only as yard art. I had never seen bottle trees erected as a “visual prayer for protection.”

“Ok, what are you protecting yourselves from?” I put the question out like bread and waited for the meat that would make it a meaningful sandwich.

“You,” Peaches corrected. “We’re protecting you.”

Bottles trees as yard art are now extremely popular. Even when shorn of there original spiritual meaning they are for me a beautiful additions to the landscape. At one time I had hoped to built a bottle tree and maybe when I have more time I still will. Maybe I'll build myself a whole forest of them to honor the ancestors.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Launch -My Dream Picture

My sister -in -law Nancy took this picture of my readers holding up my book. I don't remember this happening but looking at this now makes me smile and think- WOW

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Launch


I can't believe I haven't posted anything since February. Well at least it's not because I didn't have anything to report. All I can say is birthing a book is hard and like any newborn entity there is even more work after it's born.

It has been a wild ride getting the book out into the various distribution streams of Indie bookstores, and the online outlets of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. All kinds of glitches and minor problems popped up, nothing that couldn't be resolved, but the kinds of things that left me and my publisher saying," Damn how did that happen?"

But it's hasn't been all work and no wonder. To the day I die I will remember my Act of Grace book party as one of the highlights of my life. On a semi warm April Friday night, I had the official christening of my novel. It was an amazing launch party, better than anything I had daydreamed about when I was writing the novel.

I spent most of last week cooking because I wanted the food to reflect the food in the novel and the only way to do that was to prepare it myself. So the menu included, pound cakes (two different kinds), peach cobbler (huge) , two flour less chocolate cakes, chocolate covered oreos, spicy gingerbread cookies shaped like rabbits, lemon tarts and other treats.

Over one hundred people showed up, so many there was standing room only. My younger brother introduced me which was special. I thanked everyone, then I gave what I hoped would be the first of many readings. After questions I signed books and chatted with my readers. Yes I am living the dream of every author and I feel truly blessed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Dream Is Now True!

Early Praise for ACT of GRACE

“Grace’s intimate narration and folksy-but-modern-Southern-down-home voice immediately pulls the reader into the story. You can’t help but like her: she’s sassy, she’s smart, and when her Nana explains to her that she is to be a conduit for their ancestral spirits, you know immediately that the right girl was chosen for the task.”

Marlon Edwards-The Speculative Literature Foundation

My best dream is now true, my novel ACT OF GRACE will be available March 1, 2011.

I have wonderful new, shiny website put together by the publishing team at Plenary, so take a peek at www.karensimpsonwrites. Under the About the Novel Tab at the top of the blog, a fuller synopsis of the novel is also available

Working with my publisher Plenary Publishing has been a wonderful experience, full of adventures in the editing process and lessons on the art of being patient. Now, one part of the writing journey has ended and we are forging onward in to the wilderness of the marketplace.

Early orders for my novel can be placed on the Plenary website. Grace will also be available on Amazon, B&N or your local independent bookseller on the date of publication, and on your Kindle or Nook. And, if ACT OF GRACE isn’t in your store or library, please don’t hesitate to ask for it.

Thank you!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

When NO Is Not The End But A New Beginning

New writers often ask me : Who helped you the most on your road to publication?

My best answer is an agent who rejected my manuscript not once but twice. It was not a brutal set of NOs as in "Not ever you talentless hack" but a gentle set of NOs as in "Hold your horses newbie, writer, woman, you still got work to do." I remember receiving her letter in 2006 and being disappointed .

Dear Ms. Simpson
Thank you so much for allowing us to read ACT OF GRACE. This is certainly a heartfelt, dramatic, and compelling project, and one, which boasts a fresh and amazing concept. The possibilities here are limitless.

While there is much to savor her, and so much promise, I'm afraid I found the execution to be a bit rough. The narrative is, too often, uneven, and the voice tends to have a “ Young Adult” tone to its storytelling.

I just don’t think this book is yet where it needs to be (or could be, given its potential) but remain very interested in it. I encourage you to hire a freelance editor or book doctor, someone with professional savvy who can zero in on the book’s weaker spots, and advise on how to repair them and strengthen the execution as a whole. Should you opt to revise and work with an editor, I would love to take another look at this wonderful book. If not, I wish you the very best of luck with this project, and with placing it with the right agent.

I thank you again for the opportunity, and encourage you to keep working on this book.


I was so excited, yet I was hurt, What do you mean my beautiful baby novel wasn't ready for the world, I kept thinking. It took a huge amount of chocolate cake and the booming voices of reason and sanity from my best writer friends to make me really look at what the letter was saying. Act of Grace was good but it could be better with more work. Still I was hurt because lord have mercy, I was as green as grass, and silly back then.

But a few days later I realized the agent was right, my novel was not ready for the world. I would also realize I didn't have the first clue on how to fix what was wrong. So I borrowed money from my beloved sister, and signed up for an extensive novel critique and several workshops. I sent my manuscript back 6 months later and the agent passed on it again saying it was better but still not good enough to sell. That time I shrugged, sat my butt down in front of my laptop and went back to work.

A couple of years and thousands of pages later I finally succeeded. Part of learning to write is learning to listen to criticism from other writers and professionals. If an agent cares enough about your work to reject it, but still takes the time to send advice your way, don't look at it as the end of the road, but rather, look at it as a set of new directions on how to continue your journey toward publication.

Friday, January 28, 2011

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Nyla was little in body (four pounds) but great in spirit. She was my sister Delphia's gift to my mother who was in so much pain from arthritis some 14 years ago. Mom hadn't laughed in months but the day she received her gift of Nyla her depression lifted.

When mom died Nyla became my companion, my little dog baby who made losing my mother bearable. Now Nyla has gone to that heaven all dog go to.

It seem right that Nyla would die 10 year almost to the day that Mom passed. She had a stroke this morning and I had to put her to sleep. I can imagine that Nyla is in my mother's arms. She is back with her first and best owner.

Rest well little one, my Nyla girl, I will miss you so much.

Friday, January 21, 2011

You Can Get Through Anything If Magic Made It

I love cooking and this passion for all things culinary reveals itself in my writing. My novel Act of Grace is full of food, particularly pastries and cakes. On the page there are descriptions of tarts, pies and a cornucopia of cakes. Each bake good has its own meaning in the story, if only to convey to the reader the idea that there can be sweetness, joy and hope even in the darkest time of our lives.

One of my favorite cakes to bake and eat is the pound cake. Now, many folks consider the pound cake to be an ordinary kind of bake good. The kind of cake you bake if you don’t have a lot of time or fancy ingredients, Glance at any number of recipes and all you will see as a list of ingredients is a pound each (more or less ) of flour, sugar, butter and eggs. However sometimes simple foods are the most beautiful kinds of foods because they provides the foundation for innovation.

Pound cake batter can be the perfect blank canvas upon which an imaginative cook can demonstrate their culinary expertise. A well made pound cake can be stunning and in my novel, the protagonist Grace gets to describe such a cake. Grace's pound cake (made by a gifted aunt) is beautiful; however, it's not just a simple cake because she will come to realize that it symbolizes the beginning of her heroine’s journey.

Below is my favorite pound cake recipe. Please don't feel that you have to leave your pound cake this naked, take the time to make a nice glaze or make/ buy some good ice cream, melt some chocolate or cut up some ripe fruit to go with it.

Pound Cake


· 1-1/2 cups butter
· 6 eggs
· 1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
· 3 cups all-purpose flour
· 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
· 3 cups sugar
· 1 teaspoon vanilla


Pre-heat oven to 320 degrees

1. Allow butter, eggs, and sour cream to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Make sure the butter is soft. Meanwhile, grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour and baking soda; set aside.

3. In a large mixer bowl, beat butter with a stand mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually( and I do mean gradually) add sugar, beating about 10 minutes or until very light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to egg mixture, beating on low to medium speed after each addition until just combined. Spread batter in the prepared pan.

5. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 1-1/2 hours or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in a pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. If you like, garnish


Monday, January 10, 2011

Sleepy Baby Bunny ( Ramdom Acts of Cuteness)

Got a boat load of news about my book I can't talk about just yet, so for your entertainment pleasure a ramdom act of rabbit cuteness.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I wrote the dedication page for my novel this morning with a deep sense of loss mixed with lush joy because the two people to whom I am dedicating my novel to are not here the way I would like them to be. I know they are here in spirit and I know my novel's protagonist Grace would surely tell me Dorothy Jean and Willie James are not that far away; however, my hearts want them to be here in the flesh. I want to watch them flip the pages and get that hug when I do my first reading. Of course it is not to be. Real is real, my Ms. Grace would tell me.

This January is just hard..hard Mom will have been gone 10 years this month and Dad's birthday would have been this weekend, January 8. I am especially missing my father because I was truly his little girl.

Willie J. Simpson would have been 84 years old this year. He died when I was 21 and I still miss him everyday. He would have loved my being a writer and I think he would have been pleased with Act of Grace. I decided to write this note of appreciation after listening to a tape recorded during a Simpson family Christmas celebration on his mother's farm in Greenville, Alabama. The year was 1967 I was twelve .



First of all, thank you for buying me my first typewriter and being happy when I said I wanted to be a writer.

Thank you for telling mom that it really was fine for little black girls to love horses even if they lived in the middle of Detroit.

Thanks for teaching me how to mop floors and iron creases in my pants just like you did in the Navy.

Thank you for teaching me how to cook Salmon patties, fried green tomatoes, grits with cheese and how to appreciate Alaga syrup and Wonder bread.

Thank you for sharing your love of farming, gardening and mules. For being all up in my business when it came to boys. For insisting I learn a second language. For giving me a deep love of poetry, buying me my first book on mythology, for introducing me to James Baldwin, and for giving me one of my favorite albums: South America: Black Music in Praise of Oxalá and Other Gods.

Thank you for making me memorizes the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley just because you had to memorize it in college and because you thought that everyone should have a poem about courage in a pocket of their memory. I use to think that I would dedicate my first novel to Mom, but now I realize that I'm the writer I am because of you so I guess you get to go first.

Thank you, thank you for everything.

P. S You would have loved your grandchildren. They are smart and happy and Delphia is a married woman now. Her husband is a great guy, he reminds me a lot of you.
Till we meet again.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Good Luck New Years Pie

I’m a great admirer of George Washington Carver and his work to feed and uplift the poor of his time. He was one of the original ecologist and recycler. He loved to breed plants and this painting reveals him in the midst of cross-pollinating a variety of amaryllis named after him.

People know Carver as the Peanut Man but he also did considerable work with sweet potatoes and black eye peas. Below is recipe for a sweet black eye pea pie I concocted based on his original recipe. ( I have a recipe for a savory pea pie which I will post later.) I once made about fifty of these for an event at a botanical gardens just so the audience could taste a bit of history. I was dog tiered after the event but the letters I received from the public and especially school children was well worth it.

George Washington Carver's Black-eyed Pea Pie
Black eye peas make a wonderful pie but in order for it to be an attractive pie you will have to spend time rubbing off as many of the black spotted skins as possible.( Skinning peas is a time consuming processes and if you don’t care that the filling of the pie will have a dull gray color than use the cooked peas whole). Skinning the pea can be done with dry peas; as you let them soak you start rubbing them to release the hulls and then when you rinse the peas the hulls will float up and off with running water. You will have to do this several times. Once the peas are clean, cook them as you would other beans according to the directions on the back of the bag until soft.

(Please note you get essentially the same kind of pie with it's higher fiber content and an attractive color by using navy beans. Cook the dry Navy bean according to directions on the bag until done . )

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2 Cups of Cooked Peas (Processes peas or beans in a food processors until smooth)
1 Stick Butter ( room temperature or melted)
4 Eggs
14 oz of Evaporated Milk
2 Tablespoons of Flour
2 Cups of Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Cinnamon

In mixing bowl add beans, butter, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and flour mix about 2-3 minuets . Add sugar and vanilla mix well. Pour into pie shells bake about one hour or until golden brown . Makes about 2 to 3 bean pies

An important tip: 5 minute after removing pies from oven cover them with good plastic wrap that clings I found that saran wrap is best although I’m sure there may be others that work just as well. This covering helps the filling of the pies to set up .