img_1961Kindness. It’s a word at the top of many of our minds the past few weeks. No better time than the right now to do a review about a book that embodies a lot of what kindness means in the heart and soul of one individual named William “Doc” Key. In STEP RIGHT UP: HOW DOC AND JIM KEY TAUGHT THE WORLD ABOUT KINDNESS by Donna Janell Bowman and illustrated by Daniel Minter, we meet Doc Key, a formerly enslaved man and self-taught veterinarian who had a penchant with animals. He had a belief — to treat animals with kindness and patience. He took that belief and applied it to a weak colt named Jim Key, and over time the results were mind-blowing. Not only did Beautiful Jim Key thrive and become a strong, healthy stallion, he also had quite the knack for learning. In fact, with Doc’s persistence and patient teaching, Jim learned how to spell, write, do math (in his head! I can’t do that!), identify state flags, tell time, and do I need to go on? The horse is obviously smarter than us all! The kids and I were blown away as the story continued to unfold. The time it took and the love it took Doc Key to train…no…to teach this horse was immeasurable and inspiring. I adored reading this to my boys. The message was loud and clear. And the art work! It’s a perfect match to the book. I will be reading this to them again and again. Patience, boys. Kindness, boys. And education.

So, there is hoxmas-card2pe for my bulldog? Kindness, Lindsay. (Of course I’m kind!) Patience, Lindsay. (Eh, patience? Maybe I need to work on the patience.)

Now for a recipe! I’m going off the pie grid here, so hang in there with me. Did I tell you sometimes I break the rules? Yep, I do. I know this blog says “A Book and A Pie.” I take that as a suggestion. Yeah, that’s it. So today, it’s A Book and A Sweat Bread. Not sure that sounds as good, but we’re going with it. My son was asked to dig into his heritage, just like we dug into the book STEP RIGHT UP. I thought it was a good tie-in. We got to discover Doc and Jim Key and learn something we never knew. My son got to discover his Slovakian heritage, something he never knew (and neither did I until a few years ago.) So, in honor of discovery, I present a recipe for Slovak Sweet Bread with an apple compote filling. Dobrú chuť!



Slovak Sweet Bread

1 package dry yeast

1 cup warm milk, divided

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 to 4 cups of flour, divided

Apple Compote

5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 cup of warm milk, stir until dissolved. Add 1/2 tspn sugar and 1/2 cup of flour, stirring until blended. Set aside.

Cream butter and rest of sugar, then add eggs. Beat well with mixer or by hand. Add flour and salt alternately with remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the yeast mixture.

Knead until smooth and elastic on a floured board. Put in large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm place to rise until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, melt down the butter for the apple compote. Add the rest of the apple compote ingredients into the pan and cook on medium heat until the apple pieces are soft. Let cool.

On floured board, divide dough into 3 equal parts. Roll each part out and spread with apple compote filling. Put on greased cookie sheet. Let rise again until doubled and bake at 350 degree for 30 minutes. Should yield three loaves.

Review: GO TO SLEEP, MONSTER! by Kevin Cornell

img_1944 Well, there went Halloween! But I am still going to review a Halloweenish book. More specifically, the boys and I read GO TO SLEEP, MONSTER! by author/illustrator Kevin Cornell.

A young boy named George won’t turn off his light and go to sleep. His sister Anna tells him it’s time. But George can’t go to sleep. He’s afraid of the monster under the you-know-where. Anna tells the monster to stop scaring her brother as it’s time to go to sleep. But the monster under the bed can’t sleep either, because there is a monster under the floor. And, the adventure starts for George and Anna.

First, the illustrations put you in the mood for a spooky story. The protagonists’ eyes are big and round. The setting is dark with dashes of light from a small lamp, a chandelier, and lava. Yes, lava. The house, the furniture, the doors are all drawn slightly curved and crooked. You get the feel that you should be scared.

Then you start giggling, because the story is anything but, really. The layers of Sesame-Street-like monsters underneath the bed and then under the floor and then under the room, etc., had my 6 y/o captivated and laughing. Page after page, there is monster after monster after monster, until the final scaly monster the kids find at the center of the Earth who has its own fear. When I think of a monster-under-the-bed story, I used to not even go there with my kiddos. I didn’t even want to plant that seed, because they wouldn’t go to bed…ever. (Or at least it felt like ever.) But that was then. Now it’s time to scare them. Seriously, though, this book takes the monster-under-the-bed concept and flips it on its head. Monsters under the bed are now silly!

img_1948Because of the layers of monsters, my boys and I decided the book was a lot like a pie with a bunch of layers. So, we’ve made a . . . I don’t even know what to call this, so I will make up a name. We’ve made a Is There a Monster at the Center of the Earth? Pie. Yeah, that’s it.

Enjoy this tasty recipe…



Crust (I told you I’d give you my recipe. It’s the bomb and easy as, well, pie. Which isn’t that easy, but this crust recipe makes it easier.)

3 cups King Arthur

1 stick of frozen butter (cut into small slices)

1/2 cup shortening

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tspn of salt

9 tablespoons of ice water

Red Velvet Cake

Big cheat here! I used cake out of a box. Doh! You will need:

Vegetable oil



I cheated again and bought jarred caramel. (Do you see a pattern here?)

Chocolate Pudding (I didn’t cheat here. Shocker! This is my mom’s recipe. Yummmm.)

1/2 plus 1/8 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups milk

2 slightly beaten eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 oz squares unsweetened chocolate (add to milk)

Whipped Cream

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp sugar

1 oz block of semi-sweet chocolate (shavings)




Using a food processor, combine the flour, butter, shortening, sugar and salt. Pulse 10 times. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water, mix on high for a count of 10. Add 3 more tablespoons of ice water. Mix on high for a count of 10. Add the last 3 tablespoons and mix on high until the dough clumps together. Remove the dough, pat into a loose ball, and wrap in aluminum foil or cling wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (I sometimes skip this step, but for novices, the colder the dough, the easier it is to work with.)

For one pie crust, take half of the dough (Save the rest for another pie! It freezes well.) and pat into a disk. Place on a lightly floured, smooth surface and add a little flour to the top of the dough, so the rolling pin won’t stick. Roll out the dough evenly into a large circle. Roll out the dough so it is larger than the circumference of the pie pan by about an inch. To get the dough in a pie pan, I roll the dough around a floured rolling pin and then unroll it onto the pie pan. Press the dough firmly into the pie pan. I like to tuck the extra inch of dough hanging over the edge of the pie pan under, so I can make a fluted edge.

Parbake the crust. Be sure to prick the crust thoroughly on the bottom and the inside edges with a fork, so the crust doesn’t bubble up. Cook at 475 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Red Velvet Cake

Follow the instructions on the box. Pour about an inch of batter into the parbaked crust. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Make sure the cake is thoroughly baked and the crust is flaky. Remove.


Pour 1/4 cup of caramel over the hot red velvet cake. Set aside to cool.

Chocolate Pudding

Mix sugar, flour, salt; slowly stir in milk with chocolate. Cook and continue to stir over medium-low heat until mixture boils and thickens; cook 2 minutes longer. Stir 1/2 cup of hot mixture into eggs; stir into remaining hot mixture. Stirring continuously, bring just to boiling. Add vanilla. Pour on top of caramel layer. Let cool.

Whipped Cream

Once the pudding is cooled and shortly before serving, combine cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl. With an electric mixer, beat the cream and sugar on medium speed until soft peaks form, 3-4 minutes. Spoon over pie. Garnish with semi-sweet chocolate shavings.