National Blackberry Day!

It’s National Blackberry Day (I know, who knew such a day existed? Well, me.). For me, blackberries bring back sweet, warm childhood memories. When my family lived in Washington state, my brother and I would pick wild blackberries in the summer and bring home so many that my mom had no other options than to make a pie. Yum!

I carried this tradition down to my own family. When we vacationed every summer in the Pacific Northwest, we would pick wild berries and I’d always make a fresh berry pie. Double yum when it’s with your child!

Well, the inspiration for my picture book, Blackberry Banquet, came to me one time while I was picking berries. I accidentally stepped on a twig in the forest and watched in surprise as various animals flee from my favorite berry bush. Birds, squirrels, mice! That inspiration turned into an idea that later became Blackberry Banquet.

The book, a cumulative story about animals coming to feast at a blackberry bush only to be interrupted by a hungry bear, included fun, educational backmatter including a recipe for blackberry smoothies. But for now, I’m going to share author Jean Ann Williams’s winning recipe for “On Top of the Stove Blackberry Cobbler.” (Yuuuuummmy!)

By Jean Ann Williams

1. As many blackberries you managed to pick.
2. Sugar to taste and added in before dough strips.
3. Favorite pie dough recipe made with shortening or lard, not butter.

Prepare pie dough for either one or two crust pie, depending on how many berries.

Wash berries in a colander, careful not to squeeze berries and therefore losing juices. Dump into a pot, not filling more than 2/3 full. DO NOT ADD WATER! Simmer on low to medium heat. Stir occasionally. Add the sugar to taste.

Pull an apricot-sized ball of pie dough and roll thin on a cutting board. Cut long strips like for lattice weave about ¾ inches wide. Then, cut the lattice in half to accommodate layering into pot of berries.

Once berries juices flow and thicken and boil slightly, add first layer of dough strips. Let simmer for five minutes to set the dough, and then stir into berries. Repeat the rolling of dough and continue this until all dough is gone or you have enough dough to suit you in cobbler. After last layer of dough is stirred in, let simmer for five more minutes. Take off stove and let cool to warm in the pot or in bowls.

This cobbler is very tasty warm and with a side of ice cream. IF you have leftovers, refrigerate. Eating cold is another treat, but if you wish to reheat, then add a bit of water to stir into bottom of pan so as not to scorch.

I make this for at least twelve servings and use the double pie dough recipe (with maybe a little leftover). We’ve never measured our ingredients, except for the dough and it always comes out tasty. Did I say never add water when making? That is a sure way to lose some of your rich berry flavors. Enjoy! Our family has for three generations.

My own notes: (from Terry)
Because I’m one of those people who likes things in measurements, I’ll share the amounts I used:
four 6-oz. containers of berries (fresh berries are unavailable where I live)
½ cup sugar
Also, I kept a lid on the pot while it simmered to retain the heat and “bake” the piecrust pieces.
I served in custard cups with a choice of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for my judging team.


An Interview…with Moi!

Children’s author Robin Dobson interview with me this morning! Click here to read about Blackberry Banquet and writing in rhyme. Robin is also giving away two signed copies of my book!

What I found to be delightfully surprising is that Robin created a math activity to go with Blackberry Banquet, where she uses the Montessori Division Board. Why was this surprising? Robin had no idea that I hold an AMI (Montessori) Teaching Diploma and taught Montessori preprimary classes for twenty-two years. Now, that’s serendipitous!

=  FUN!

Blackberry Banquet Reviewed on Katie’s Literature Lounge

Katie’s Literature Lounge has posted a review of my picture book, Blackberry Banquet (Sylvan Dell Publishing). This is a nice blog for folks who are interested in children’s book reviews. I especially like how Katie ties her reviews into themes (I’d bet that comes from her teaching experiences–this is something I can totally relate to). This week, she posted a list of past reviews that tie into National Wildlife Week.

Crawl, hop or jump on over for a look!

Oops! Missed a Stop

How does that old saying go? Well, slap my face and call me silly! Yesterday, it was pointed out to me that Valarie Giogas, author of In My Backyard (Sylvan Dell Publishing), had hosted me on her blog as part of my book blog tour a few days ago. Thank you, Valarie, for bringing it to my attention! :-}

Valarie had asked me some really fun questions for the interview, so please hop on over to her blog for a look (scroll down to June 13)!

Thanks, Valarie!



I woke up today to find that my cyber-tour bus had stopped at two places; Anastasia Suen’s blog, Picture Book of the Day, and a Anne Marie Nichol’s blog, My Readable Feast.

But wait, you might say. Didn’t Anastasia feature your book yesterday? Well, yes, sort of. Yesterday, she posted an interview with me on her blog, but today she focused on my book for her blog, Picture Book of the Day. Because it’s a rhyming text, she thought it worked nicely with Poetry Friday as well. Here, she cleverly takes a closer look at books and gives readers two mini-lessons that accompany the book. What a fun way to stretch your imagination and practice your writing. Thanks, Anastasia!

My Readable Feast is a delightfully fun blog about family cooking and children’s books. How can anyone go wrong with that combination? Yesterday Anne Marie featured Blackberry Banquet, along with the blackberry smoothie recipe that is included at the end of the book. Today, she gave us a second helping of goodness by offering another recipe to munch on while reading Blackberry Banquet; Blackberry Cake! And mmm-mm! It looks yummy! (it might even cause me to squeak or yip!) I’m definitely trying this one :-).

Please check out both sites, as they’ve both offer a unique ways to extend Blackberry Banquet beyond the joy of reading it to a child. And I’ll tell you, its terrific to bond with books and create a true appreciation for stories where our kids are concerned!

BLACKBERRY BANQUET Blog Tour!: Double Stop on Day #4

Wow, not only did Anastasia Suen blog about Blackberry Banquet today, but illustrator Sherry Rogers has also hosted me on her site. Wowie! Check out the interview here.

Sherry is an illustrator with a cute, whimsical style that’s perfect for so many picture books. Bright colors, smooth lines and a playfulness are her trademark. Her latest book is Kersplatypus (Sylvan Dell Publishing). You can see the book trailer here.
Thanks so much for hosting me, Sherry!

BLACKBERRY BANQUET Blog Tour: Stop #4, Anastasia Suen’s Blog

This morning I was delighted to see that Anastasia Suen posted a three-question interview with me. And she even included a photo of the plush bear that accompanies Blackberry Banquet (he’s just so cute!). Please head on over to Anastasia’s blog to see what it’s all about!

Anastasia is a prolific children’s author with one hundred six books published (that’s not a typo–106!). One of her recent books is Wired (Charlesbridge) a picture book about power and electricity. What I love about this book is that it was inspired by driving down the road, observing the power lines, which goes to show that ideas can come from the least expected places!

Thanks for the interview, Anastasia!

Blog Tour Stop # 2: Elizabeth Dulemba

Check this out everyone: illustrator extraordinaire Elizabeth Dulemba has posted an interview with me on her blog today! Elizabeth is a fellow berry-picker (and lover). I mean, she must be to have stepped on a Copperhead snake in her efforts to pick sweet, delicious blackberries :-).

Her latest books are Paco and the Giant Chile Plant (RavenTree Press), Ready for the Day! and Ready for Bed! (Free Spirit Publishing).

Please head on over to Elizabeth’s blog to read more about Blackberry Banquet and learn more about Elizabeth (check out her art!).