Friday, September 20, 2013

Easy as Pie: Bestselling Author Julie Cantrell (giveaway)

**Thursday Sept. 26th 11:45 AM** CONGRATULATIONS to our giveaway winner, Nancy E.! 
My guest today is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, the Christy Award winning Book of the Year 2013 and recipient of the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award. The sequel, When Mountains Move released September, 2013. She and her family live in Mississippi where they operate Valley House Farm. Please wave your wooden spoons and join me in a warm Authors' Galley welcome for Julie Cantrell! 

(I love that Julie has opted to answer one of my favorite Authors' Galley questions):

What would the characters of WHEN MOUNTANS MOVE order if they all gathered at a restaurant?

Well, Millie, my main character, would likely order something inexpensive and nothing to call attention to herself. Perhaps a baked potato or soup. And then she would share it with others at the table, not wanting to take too much for herself.
Her husband, Bump, would probably dive into a juicy Ribeye, while Fortner would just hunt his own dinner and avoid the stuffy constraints of a restaurant.
Because these books are set during the WWII era, Oka may not be allowed to dine in the restaurant due to her Choctaw heritage, and Mabel (who is featured more prominently in INTO THE FREE) certainly would not be allowed to dine with the others due to the color of her skin. Especially in Mississippi where the story first takes root.
Kat would order something expensive, and then she’d take tiny nibbles, declare she was stuffed, and waste the entire dish.

Here in my real life at Valley House Farm, where I live and operate a small-scale sustainable, organic farm with my family, we like to eat fresh fruits and vegetables from our harvests. As I’m writing this post, our pear tree is dropping gifts by the dozens, so today I thought I’d teach you how to make a yummy, scrummy pear pie...all from scratch.

You can choose a pie crust from the store or a recipe of your choosing, but here’s how we make a simple, no-fail homemade crust. The only trick is to use ICE cold water and cold unsalted butter (not margarine). Roll crust and press into greased pie pan (I prefer glass or porcelain for more even distribution of heat).

·         2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
·         1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon sugar
·         6 to 10 Tbsp ice water


Mix flour, salt, and sugar together. Then add slices of cold butter, cutting it into the dry ingredients (or using a food processor if you have one. I don’t...sigh.) Mix until a course mixture forms, leaving bits of butter in the dough...that’s what makes a “flaky” crust. Slowly incorporate cold water until you form a dough. Spread dough on flat surface sprinkled with flour and knead lightly, shaping the dough into two disks. DO NOT OVER KNEAD. You can refrigerate these disks up to two days. I’m using one for a pie and one for a spinach quiche for dinner tonight. When ready, use a rolling pin to flatten one disk. Then, place in greased pie pan and trim as needed. (Young kids can play with the extra dough.)

Then, you pick the pears. Okay, if you don’t have a beautiful pear tree offering you fresh fruit each morning, you can pretend! Visit your local farmers market and try to support local growers. (Note, pears can be substituted with any kind of apples, but the green ones such as Granny Smith usually taste best in this kind of pie.)

·         ¾ cup sugar
·         1 tsp. cinnamon
·         Dash or two  nutmeg
·         6-7 green apples or 8-9 pears, peeled and sliced thin
·         1 ½ TBSP butter
·         (1 unbaked pie shell)

·         ½ cup butter
·         ½ cup brown sugar
·         1 cup flour

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel the pears, saving the scraps for the compost pile or the chicken coop. If you don’t have compost or chickens, I bet pinterest has some snappy way to craft pear peelings into a swanky fall centerpiece or something even Martha Stewart never thought of. I’m not that crafty, but our chickens are happy.

Slice pears into thin slivers (the smaller, the more tender they will taste in the pie, so don’t get lazy here.) Our horses love to nibble on the leftover cores.

Mix cinnamon and sugar. (You can certainly substitute sugar with no-cal/low-cal sweeteners like Splenda, etc. I prefer to use natural ingredients such as raw sugar or stevia. Today, for photo purposes, I’m using plain white sugar.) Add a dash or two of ground nutmeg. (Sometimes I add three or four.)
Mix pears lightly in with cinnamon and sugar and nutmeg, so they are completely coated.
Place pears into pie crust heat about 5-10 minutes until warmed through. Dot with butter when you remove the pie from warming.
Mix the crumble topping ingredients while pears are heating. Again, you’ll cut these together or use a food processor to blend a course crumble consistency. Then, sprinkle topping over the pears and bake for 30 minutes-45 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream. YUM! (Remaining pie can be stored in fridge for a few days and reheated as needed.)

When Mountains Move, by Julie Cantrell, is the sequel to the Christy Award winning Book of the Year and Debut Novel of the Year, Into the Free, which earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and became both a New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller.

It is the spring of 1943. With a wedding and a cross-country move, Millie’s world is about to change forever.

If only her past could change with it.

Soon after the break of day, Bump will become Millie’s husband. And then, if all goes as planned, they will leave the rain-soaked fields of Mississippi and head for the wilds of the Colorado Rockies. As Millie tries to forget a dark secret, she hasn’t yet realized how drastically those past experiences will impact the coming days.

For most of Millie’s life, being free felt about as unlikely as the mountains moving. But she’s about to discover that sometimes in life, we are given second chances, and that the only thing bigger than her past … is her future.

Learn more at

Oh, Julia what a delightful post! I'm alternately intrigued (by your characters!), laughing, drooling, and sighing . . . I SO love that you have an organic farm--my fantasy. Including the compost, chickens and horses.C I loved that our Texas home bordered a very large ranch, and I could toss veggie/fruit leftovers to eager deer horses, cows . . . and goodness knows what else after darkness closed in!  And your pear pie: I can smell it from here. "Yummy scrummy" indeed!

Now for some extra fun, the fabulous Wynn-Wynn Media is offering a great giveaway package: A copy of When Mountains Move, a DaySpring mug, and some Tazo tea--ALL perfect accompaniments to a slice of that fresh pear pie!

To be included in the giveaway, please leave a comment below that includes your e-mail address. US entries only. The winner be chosen (via Random.Org) on Thursday September 26th and notified by e-mail.

Meanwhile, happy reading and . . . Bon appetit! 


Patty said...

What a great post! I love to bake cookies and sometimes a cake here or there, but I have never made a pie (at least the crust) from scratch... I recently visited an aunt and uncle on vacation and helped/watched her make an apple pie from scratch. One of these days I am going to get brave enough to try it myself! It is apple season around here.


Becia said...

Oooo, the book sounds awesome, and the pie sounds delish! I love baking, and pie crust has always been my Achilles heel... I'm gonna try this recipe tomorrow!

Thanks for hosting these, they always are tons of fun!

Between the Pages with Katrina said...

This looks like a good book. It appears that there are many issues to be addressed in your book. Thank you for the recipe, very appropriate with apple/pear season here. Candace thank you for always bringing some great authors for us to get to know better.

Marilyn Chamlee said...

I love to read. Sounds like a good way to spend a rainy afternoon,tea and a good read.

Unknown said...

It sounds like a great book. My mama always made the best pie crusts. I have never been able to make them quite as good as hers.

Kandra said...

Sign me up. What a great giveaway!

bonton said...

The pie looks wonderful (I love pears), & so does the book - would love to read it!

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity, Julie & Candace!

Wilani Wahl said...

Thank you for such an interesting interview. I am wanting to win this book and other items,

Wilani Wahl
wwchildren at gmail dot com

KayM said...

I love pears, but I've never tried to bake a pear pie. It sounds delicious! Thanks for the giveaway.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the answer to what would characters order. Very thoughtful! I used to make pie crusts. I don't take the time anymore. Just buy the crust but make my own filling. That's the most important part! :) Never heard of pear pie. Sounds yummy!

Kaskaggs at Fourway dot net

CandaceCalvert said...

Welcome, PATTY! I have to agree that though I love to cook, pie is not my talent--and I so admire cooks who can pull it off.
BECIA: I'll be anxious to hear how your pie turned out!
KATRINA: So good to see you here!
MARILYN: Absolutely, great rainy afternoon combination.
ANN: Did your mother have a secret to her crusts?

CandaceCalvert said...

KANDRA: You're entered!
BONNIE: I'm a pear lover, too.
WILANI: Thank you for stopping by!
KAY: Our pleasure--we're delighted by your interest.

CandaceCalvert said...

(waving) Hi ANDREA!
Yes, I got a total kick out Julie's answer to the question--it says so much about these characters, doesn't it?

Library Lady said...

We have Julie's books in the church library.
I would love to win this one to add to our collection.
The pie recipe looks delicious!
Janet E.

Gemamethy said...

Yummy! Sounds like a great book!
Nancy E.

Anonymous said...

Pie not my best creation, but I'd love to read the book and pass it along to my mom.

Keep on keeping on!

Laura said...

I love garden fresh organic food - but I have to rely on our coop for ours!

I'd love to read this book and curl up in North Dakota with tea just as it starts to cool down!

Rebecca S. said...

Oops, guess I can't be anonymous if I want to win and share with my mom ( who IS a pie baker by the way).


CandaceCalvert said...

Congratulations to our giveaway winner, NANCY E.!
And thank you ALL for stopping by to welcome Julie.