Saturday, August 29, 2009

Another Historical Fiction Winner


It's no secret that my favorite genre is historical fiction (although I'm really trying to branch out!) and at any given time there is bound to be at least two HF novels on my nightstand stack. This week I traveled back to the turn of the century in Fentress, Texas, to the home of Calpurnia Virginia Tate, or Callie Vee, as her family calls her.

Callie is the only girl out of 7 kids and lives under the watchful eye of her mother, who tries fruitlessly (meaning unsuccessfully) for Callie to learn some "housewife" skills like cookery and tatting. *Note: I researched tatting, and I still don't get the point of it. What are you supposed to do with a doily anyway? That word makes me gag: doily. Blech.

Anyway...Callie wiles away the summer trying to figure out ways to stay cool in the hot summer heat (remember, this is before air-conditioning was invented). She even goes so far as to cut off an inch of hair every week so that her mother doesn't notice. One day, she wanders into her granddaddy's "lab" and falls head over heels into the world of science. Her granddaddy is an avid naturalist and shows Callie how to look very closely at seemingly simple natural objects to find amazing things that you probably have never noticed before.

Before long, Callie and her granddaddy discover a new plant species and send it off to Washington to be officially inspected. Unfortunately for Callie, her mother notices that she is spending way too much time collecting specimens and not enough time practicing her piano and learning how to make apple pie. She sentences Callie to cooking lessons with the house cook, Viola, and you can imagine how unhappy

(from page 225)

An hour later, I stood panting and thrashing around with my third bowl of dough, with Mother and Viola growing more incredulous by the minute. The first batch had been watery and lumpy; the second so dense I couldn't roll it out with the pin; the last had turned sticky as wallpaper paste and with the same unappealing consistency. It was all over my hands and pinafore, smeared across the counter and the pump handle, and there were streaks of it in my hair. I think there was even a glob on the fly paper hanging from the ceiling several feet above my head, but how it got there, I had no idea.

Will Callie be able to grow up and attend the university and become a scientist as she dreams? Or is she sentenced to a lifetime of housewife chores? I'm not going to tell you, people! Go grab this one from the library--you'll not only adore Callie, but you'll feel mighty grateful that we have the freedoms (and technology!) that we have today.

Recipe to Read By: Callie's Old Fashioned Apple Pie

Although Callie had the unfortunate experience of making her pie crust from scratch, we can throw our hands up and praise the inventors of refrigerated pie dough. THANK YOU INVENTORS OF REFRIGERATED PIE DOUGH!

Instead of slaving away the day with a rolling pin, this delicious dessert is as easy as, well you know...

Ingredients

2 refrigerated pie crusts
1 egg white
8 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly-sliced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Unfold one of the pie crusts into a 9-inch pie plate. Brush with egg white (this prevents the crust from getting soggy). Let the egg white dry while you prepare the filling.
3. Toss apples with remaining ingredients. Pile into prepared crust.
4. Unfold the second prepared pie crust over the apples, tucking the extra under the bottom crust. Now pinch the edges with your fingers. (This is called crimping.)
5. Cut 3-4 slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape and to make it look fancy-schmancy.

Cover the pie loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
6. Bake 10 minutes. Remove the foil, lower the temperature to 375 degrees F., and bake another 30-40 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of: About.com Cooking With Kids