Review: HERE TO THERE AND ME TO YOU by Cheryl Keely

First, I must apologize for the long pause between posts. I was sick all last month and am just getting back on my feet. I’m more than ready to read great picture books, offer a review, and bake. Onward, folks, onward!

So, let’s talk bridges. They’re connectors, and they’re fascinating. Bridges can be beautiful, simplistic, majestic, rickety, and/or powerful! Throw a train on one of those bridges and my boys are captivated. That is why I am reviewing HERE TO THERE AND ME TO YOU by Cheryl Keely and illustrated by Celia Karmpien (Sleeping Bear Press).

This book takes us through a lyrical journey about all types of bridges — literal bridges, such as wooden covered, moveable, those joining neighborhoods, and others connecting countries. Then there are figurative bridges, such as backbends, rainbows, and the bridges we make holding hands. The simple flowing text warms the heart and takes us on a journey from one page to the next. On many of the book’s pages, there are notes about the various illustrated bridges, so your little fact junky can get immersed in details about where the most famous suspension bridge is and why it’s painted orange, for example.

I loved the factual concept of this book tied in with the underlying message about building bridges between me and you and you over there and you way over there. Let’s stay connected.

If this book were a pie, it would be a blueberry blackberry pie. But not just any blueberry blackberry pie. My youngest (currently a 7-year-old) said, “Mom, you need to make a dough bridge over the blueberry blackberry ocean. You’ve got to.” And to that I said with my best Barney Stinson impersonation, “Challenge accepted!”


Blueberry Blackberry Pie

(Use the crust recipe in my previous blog post.)

4 cups blueberries

2 cups blackberries

1 cup white sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

This one is easy! Preheat oven to 450 degrees. For this pie, I dumped all the above ingredients into a saucepan; stir often while it simmers on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Then pour it into an unbaked crust. Top the crust with a lattice or fully cover (make sure to add vent holes). Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then turn down the oven to 350 and bake for 40 more minutes. Let cool and serve.


My eldest son, foodie, pie connoisseur, and blog helper

The name of this book seals it for me. I was laughing before I even opened it. Is that an homage to Star Trek I spy? Spock on.

I had three picture books staring at me. I read all of them in one go and debated as to which one would be my first review of the grand ol’ 2017. I kept coming back to ARCHIE by author/illustrator Katie Harnett (Flying Eye Books). (For the love of all things, I’m not going to type out the entire title again). So, it won the race. It won the coveted (I’m absolutely joking) position of being my first review of 2017.

This book, for ages 3-5 although my 7- and 9-year-old kids loved it, is about a cat. The cat. A cat with many names. (Again, I will not be typing them all out.) The cat lives on Blossom Street — a busy street — and visits many, many neighbors who give the cat various names and offers the cat various things — a fish, a dance, snuggles, you name it. But the cat never seems fulfilled. He is always searching, searching. His busy life visiting all his busy neighbors should be enough, until he comes upon the elderly neighbor he has never visited before. She is not busy. No one ever visits her. She lives a calm life, alone, with plenty of time to put her feet up by the fire and knit. She invites the cat in. Well, the other neighbors are up-in-arms. Where has their Archie gone? Where has Cupcake disappeared to? Snufflekins, Tiberius, where are you? Realizing they are all looking for the same cat, they come upon #11 Blossom Street and find the cat, who doesn’t want to leave the little old lady. Instead, the cat brings everyone to her.

I’m a fan of books about community, particularly when the communities are diverse — different ages, ethnicities, genders, etc. I also enjoyed the idea of exploring and branching out. Seeking out that neighbor who rarely leaves the house but may have a lot to offer. The little old lady certainly had a lot to offer the cat, as its well-drawn X-of-a-mouth turns into a smile by the end. It had found its home.

One other thing about this book: the colored-pencil illustrations and the quirky vignette style brought me right to Blossom Street. (I kinda want to live there.)

On to the tasty portion of the review…if this book were a pie. My kids have been obsessed with pies recently. Maybe it’s genetic? So, they’ve decided this book is an old-fashioned tart cherry pie. Ohhhhh yeeeeaaaaah. One of my favorites. The recipe follows. Do indulge in this one. I dare you.

Tart Cherry Pie

(Use the crust recipe in my previous blog post.)

2 14.5 oz cans of Oregon Fruit Pitted Red Tart Cherries in Water

3/4 cup white sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon red food coloring (optional, but makes the pie really pretty)

Drain cherries, reserving one cup of liquid. In a saucepan, combine sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in cherry liquid and bring to a boil over low heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes; mixture will thicken.

When mixture thickens, add butter, almond extract, food coloring, and cherries. Pour into previously rolled out pie shell. Cover with a lattice of your choice, and bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees for the bottom crust to bake. No one wants a soggy bottom. Lower the oven temp to 375 degrees, cover the pie with foil to protect the lattice from burning, and bake for approximately 40 minutes more or until crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Viola!


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: THE DARKEST DARK by Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion

img_1937I’m a bit of a science geek. Maybe more of a space nerd. I just adore anything I read about space, the universe, the possibilities. So, I was drawn to the recently published THE DARKEST DARK by astronaut Chris Hadfield with Kate Fillion and illustrated so perfectly by The Fan Brothers. (THOSE DRAWINGS!!!)

The theme is fear . . . better yet, fear of the dark, which will always get a visceral response from children. They will sit at the edge of the bed connecting with the protagonist, a young Chris Hadfield, wondering what is going to happen to him in the dark, especially since he dreams of being a brave astronaut who throttles through the vastness of space. So, young Chris needs to find his brave and battle his feelings about the dark.

He does this in many ways — pulling up his covers, finding solace with his parents, making his parents search his room for the things that go bump in the night. This tension is coupled with artwork of shadowy “aliens” lurking around in Chris’s bedroom. Nothing seems to work besides being so overtired he can’t help but fall asleep and slip into his favorite dream about space exploration with his sidekick Albert the pug (OH MY GOSH, I LOVE PUGS!).

His sleepless nights dovetail into the evening of July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 lands on the moon. And what stands out to Chris as he watches (huddled around a TV with all his neighbors and family) is the thorough darkness of space — the space of his dreams. Because of his passion, Chris decides that night to face his fear and see if what he believes about the dark is true or all in his head.

The take-away from this inspiring picture book is your dreams are the ultimate companion and security blanket to face your fears, although having a pug doesn’t hurt. 😉 The discussion I had with my son after reading this book was one I will not forget. He shared his passions and what he dreams of becoming, and in that moment he felt nothing could hold him back. Don’t we need more of those moments in life?

If this book were a pie? Well, this one was a no-brainer. I’ve made a Moon Pie Pie. Yep! With all its marshmallowy, chocolately, graham cracker crumby goodness. This one is for all those I’m-an-astronauts-in-my-dreams kind of kiddos. Have your mom or dad make this for you! Unfortunately, moms and dads, there is absolutely nothing healthy about this pie. Nada. Zilch.



Graham Cracker Crust

3 cups finely crushed graham crackers

2/3 cup butter, melted

Marshmallow Fluff (or you can cheat and use the premade kind…no judgment here, folks)

1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons water

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

4 egg whites from 4 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache

6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream

Crust: Heat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, stir in graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until well mixed. Reserve half of the mixture for later. Press half of the mixture firmly and evenly against the bottom and side of a pie plate. Save the other half. Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool on cooling rack.

Fluff: Place the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium to high heat until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer, typically 10 to 15 minutes.

While the sugar is heating, place the egg whites in a bowl and use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment to beat the eggs on high until foamy. Add the cream tartar and salt. Continue beating eggs on high until soft peaks form.

Once the sugar mixture reaches 240°F, remove from heat and let rest for 20 seconds. With the mixer on high, slowly stream the sugar mixture into the egg whites. Add in the vanilla. Continue to mix for 8 minutes or until the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature. Mix until medium to stiff peaks form. Put aside the marshmallow fluff.

Chocolate ganache: In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate with the heavy cream and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals (stirring each time) until the chocolate is melted, the cream is hot, and the ganache has a dark brown/glossy look. Let cool to barely warm.

Spread a third of the chocolate into the graham cracker crust to just cover the bottom. Place in the refrigerator to cool for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, take out the crust and spoon the marshmallow fluff on top. Smooth the top of the fluff with a spatula. Take the remainder of the graham cracker mixture and sprinkle it on top of the fluff. Finally, pour the rest of the chocolate ganache on top of the graham cracker mixture, smoothing it with a spatula. Place in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes to an hour or until chocolate ganache hardens.

Blast off!

2 hours (45 minutes active); serves 8 (depending on how big your slices are)