Friday, January 13, 2017

Kelly Jensen Tells Us All About her New Book and...Pie

Pie = Love
A Guest Post by Kelly Jensen
They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. In Block and Strike, Jake sets out to prove this is true. The very first thing he does for Max—after from delivering him to and from the ER—is make chicken soup. From there, he lures Max out of his shell, bit by bit, stopping by with pie on Sundays and taking him out to eat something other than Hungry Man frozen dinners.
Block and Strike isn't really a foodie book, but my love of good food and feeding people shines through Jake. When people come to my house, I feed them. Jake is the same. When he’s not feeding Max, he’s teaching him to stand up for himself—and to like himself. The way Jake sees Max, the inner strength and quiet fortitude, is one of my favourite aspects of the book.
The other is all the pie.
(I like all the kissing too, but… pie.)
The recipe I’d like to share is Max’s favorite—and mine. It comes from a book called Pie by Ken Haedrich. This book is Jay’s (my husband) bible. It’s torn and stained. The spine is broken. Twenty of the pages are loose and sandwiched between others. It’s how all well used cookbooks should look.   
The following recipe isn’t word for word. Over the years we’ve changed it a bit, making it our own.

Fruits of the Forest Pie
1 recipe basic shortening pie pastry, double crust, refrigerated*
The secret to a good pie is in the crust. If the crust fails, it doesn’t really matter what you fill it with. Jay and I have had hour long discussions about crust. It’s a bit nerdy, but when you’re really into pie, it can take that long to really get into why a crust did or didn’t work. ;)
Briefly, there are two ways to match your crust to your pie: flavour and moisture content. If you’re planning a fairly wet pie, go for the shortening crust. If you’re somewhere in the middle, mix shortening and butter for a flaky crust. If you’re blind baking your crust first and really need that buttery flavour, go with the butter. For instance, I always use a butter crust for my quiche because I want that extra flavour.

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons cold water

Mixer method: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the shortening, breaking it into smaller pieces and tossing it with the flour. With the mixer on low speed, blend the shortening into the flour until you have what looks like coarse, damp meal, with both large and small clumps. Sprinkle on half of the water. Turning the machine on and off, mix briefly on low speed. Add the remaining water in 2 stages, mixing slowly until the dough starts to form large clumps.
Getting the amount of water right is one of those practice things and will also depend on the weather and how carefully you measured the shortening. If you’re using a stand mixer, stop periodically to stir the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl. Do not overmix.
Dust your work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. If you’re making a double crust, divide the dough into 2 pieces, one—the piece you’ll using for the bottom pastry—a bit larger than the other. Place each piece on a sheet of plastic wrap. With floured hands, flatten the dough into disks about ¾ inch thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight before rolling.
We usually make our dough the day before.

2 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced*
The easiest way to peel a ripe peach without tearing all the flesh away is to blanch it. Instructions here!
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored and sliced
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
½ pineapple (fresh or canned), chopped*
We’ve never used the pineapple. We think it’s weird. We’ve substituted a sweet apple, an extra peach, canned apricots, mango (which was also weird) and an extra pear. My favourite is the sweet apple, something like a Gala or Fuji, which still has a little tartness. You could also use some rhubarb or any other combination of berries.
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons cornstarch

1.     On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the larger portion of the pastry into a 10-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9 ½-inch deep-dish pie pan, center and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan without stretching it. Let the overhang drape over the edge. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
2.     In a large bowl, combine the fruit, ½ cup of the granulated sugar, the ginger, nutmeg and lemon juice. Toss well to mix, then set aside for ten minutes. Mix the remaining 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and the cornstarch together in a small bowl, then stir this into the fruit. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
3.     On another sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the other half of the pastry into an 11-inch circle. Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell, smoothing the fruit with a spoon. Lightly moisten the rim of the pie shell. Invert the top pastry over the filling, center and peel off the paper. Press the top and bottom pastries together along the dampened edge. Trim the pastry with scissors or a paring knife, leaving an even ½-inch overhang all around, then sculpt the overhang into an upstanding ridge. Poke several steam vents into the top of the pie with a fork or paring knife. Put a couple of the vents near the edge of the crust so you can check the juices there later.
4.     To glaze the pie, lightly brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
5.     Place the pie on the center oven rack* and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° F and rotate the pie 180 degrees. Put a foil lined cookie sheet on the rack underneath the pie to catch any drips! Bake until the juices bubble thickly at the steam vents and the top is golden brown—about 35 to 45 minutes. If the top of the pie starts to get too dark, cover with loosely tented foil during the last 10-15 minutes.
6.     Set pie dish on a trivet (or wire rack) and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving. The fruit has to set.

Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. Two winners will each receive $25 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store.
Question: What’s your favorite pie?

Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.
Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.
Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Connect with Kelly: Twitter | Facebook | Website
Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. Two winners will each receive $25 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store.
1/6       The Novel Approach   “Behind the Book”
1/6       Just Love: Queer Book Reviews “Jake’s Book”
1/9       Sinfully Gay Romance “Writing Kids and Family”
1/9       MM Good Book Reviews “Character Casting”
1/10     Joyfully Jay “The Max and Jake Playlist”
1/10     Boy Meets Boy Reviews “Chatting with Jake and Max”
1/11     Love Bytes “Martial Arts Movies”
1/11     Prism Book Alliance “Driving Movies”
1/12     Gay Book Reviews “Learning to Make Noise – Why I Study Self Defense”
1/12     Diverse Reader “Hobbies”
1/13     Rick R. Reed “Fruit of the Forest Pie”


  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Rick!

  2. Congrats on the new release Kelly. I have been following on your tour and I liked all the information on your research and writing process.
    My favorite pie is the old fashioned pecan pie.

    1. Thanks! And pecan pie is one of my favourites too. :)

  3. There's nothing good food can't cure. So maybe it's just fitting to incorporate your love of food in this novel. For all we know, chowing down food is the usual scenario after someone had a vigorous training. And these "food" scenes are perfect breaks for the heavy stuff that's in this novel.

    Answering the question, we have this native pie called "buko pie". It's some kind of a coconut pie. And it has a very rich taste.

    Lemme take this opportunity to congratulate you for the successful blog tour. Thank you for doing this. I know everyone had so much fun. <3


    1. Thank you! I have very much enjoyed chatting with everyone who followed along. Also, I have just looked up buko pie. It looks amazing! I love coconut anything, so I'm going to have to try and make this. :)

  4. Thanks for the awesome tour! I am looking forward to reading Block and Strike.

    My favorite kind of pie is Key Lime Pie. We have a Mexican Lime tree in our yard and they are much like Key Limes. It's a bit of work to juice them since the limes are small, but totally worth it.

    1. Forgot my email (again - ugh): jen(dot)f(at)mac(dot)com

    2. I'd love to have a lime tree! Or any fruit tree, really. (and I have your email. I kept track of them from the first stop on the tour. :D)

  5. My favourite pie is Lemon Meringue I like with a biscuit base not pastry though. My mum always used to make it on special occasions.


  6. Not really a pie person, and pie is not something common to eat in my country (Indonesia). So I can't really answer this one :(


  7. Congrats and thanks for the post. For me, it's between apple pie and cheesecake ... who am I kidding, cheesecake with a yummy raspberry or strawberry sauce, with some strawberries on the side. - Purple Reader
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

    1. I LOVE cheesecake. Maybe a bit too much. :D

  8. I love pies and so does the rest of the family. Any kind of pie is great but I love apple the best.
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  9. Thanks for sharing that recipe. My favorite pie is peach.

  10. This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for all the comments!