Shannon here: Gail Kittleson shares insight into her real life romance plus a chance to win a Kindle copy of her Women’s Historical Fiction title, In This Together. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing. Deadline: Jan 2nd, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Gail:
Out of the Larder by Gail Kittleson
In 1946, Perry Como’s Prisoner of Love topped the charts. That year, Earl Silas Tupper invented Tupperware, and the U.S. integrated thousands of returned soldiers from World War II.
They returned to their wives’ or mom’s homemade pies, with melt-in-your mouth crusts and meringue to make you cry. Having their sons and husbands back motivated the women’s baking instincts to fatten up their men, and most pie recipes contained home-rendered lard.
Yes, the greasy, cholesterol-filled substance that created tender crusts and resounding “Ooh-ahhs.” My mother-in-law says she always kept hers in the refrigerator, and this is one secret—cutting cubes of the cold lard into the flour mixture allowed it to release during the baking, creating tenderness in the final product.
Dottie Kyle, the heroine of my debut novel set in ‘46, In This Together, perfected her pie-making skills through cooking for her family. Now she continues to provide delectable meals for the boarders at Helene’s boarding house in a little Iowa town.
But the war still affects her, along with many other Americans. At least now they can listen to Bing Crosby sing White Christmas without fearing they’ll lose their sons, as they did when The Kraft Music Hall introduced the song on December 25, 1941.
In Dottie’s case, her son offered the ultimate sacrifice in a North African battle. She thinks of him every day, of course, but puts her nose to the grindstone and plods ahead, doing the best she can.
Here’s Dottie’s recipe for raspberry pie. I hope you enjoy it, but be warned, nothing works like home-rendered lard, regardless of your stance on cholesterol. And yes, it would be much easier to grab a can of raspberry pie filling from the grocery store shelf, but ahhh … the difference.
Dottie’s Raspberry Pie
Mix 3 cups red raspberries, ½ cup sugar, ½ c water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Heat and add 1 packet unflavored gelatine dissolved in ¼ cup cold water. Stir and set aside.
Stir 2 cups white flour into 1/2 cup refrigerated lard. Add 1 teaspoon salt and sprinkle water tablespoon by tablespoon as needed to form two balls. Roll out 2 crusts. Line bottom of pie pan and fill with raspberry filling, cover with top crust, and bake at 425 degrees for ten minutes. Then turn down to 350 degrees for another forty minutes.
Top with sweet hand-whipped cream. Note: if you have a big crowd coming, you’ll need to make three pies, or pair this pie with pecan and pumpkin.
I married into a Norwegian-American family, and I’ve noticed how a holiday staple, lefse, has evolved. It’s not so shameful now to purchase this labor-intensive treat at a church bazaar rather than making it ourselves!
About Gail: My tagline, Heroines that Dare to Bloom, parallels my own long journey to blooming as a writer. My husband and I enjoy gardening and grandchildren in Northern Iowa, and I facilitate writing workshops and women’s retreats.
WhiteFire Publishing released my memoir, Catching Up With Daylight in 2013, and my debut women’s historical fiction, In This Together (Wild Rose Press/Vintage Imprint) released yesterday! I also contributed to the Little Cab Press 2015 Christmas Anthology https://www.facebook.com/LittleCABpress
Learn more and connect:
Please feel free to contact me—meeting new reading friends is the frosting on my cake, as my heroine, Dottie, would say!
About the book – In This Together:
After losing her only son to World War II and her husband soon after, Dottie Kyle takes a job at a local boarding house. Her daughter Cora moved to California straight out of high school to work for the war effort, married a sailor and settled down in the Golden State—another loss.
Dottie contributes to her rural Iowa post-war world by cooking and cleaning, volunteering at her church, and tending her garden. But when troubles arise in Cora’s third pregnancy, Dottie longs to help Cora and meet those two grandbabies out in California. However, old fears prohibit her from making that arduous, cross-country train journey.
At the boarding house, complications arise that force Dottie to speak up for what’s right, and as her confidence grows, so does the unexpected interest of the widower next door. Nary a reason to blush here, but plenty of opportunity to cheer Dottie on to victory!
Question for readers: How have your family’s recipes changed over the years? Are Christmas goodies still made with lard and pure butter, or have aberrations like “low-fat fudge” found their way to your holiday table?
Come back Dec 24th for Joi Copeland!