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 .