Monday, August 2, 2010

I am very excited about the publication of my second novel, The Wonder of Charlie Anne. Release date is Aug. 10 and already I am hearing from readers who have gotten a hold of one of my publisher’s advance reader copies, called ARCs. One question I am hearing, is “What the heck is vinegar pie, anyway?”

Charlie Anne is set during the Great Depression. I did lots of research into the time period. One of my favorite ways to bring myself back to the 1930s was to read old cookbooks. They are a fascinating peek into the past. Vinegar pie was actually a way to use something that rural people had a lot of – VINEGAR (all those apples) – to replace something that they were short of – LEMONS.

Vinegar pie actually tastes quite a bit like lemon pie and it shows up over and over in the book. Here’s what Charlie Anne says one day when Mirabel (who comes to care for the bereft family) teaches her the recipe:

“Mirabel shows me how to make a Vinegar Pie that tastes almost like lemon pie because you need to know how to make things better when the hard times come, and Lord knows, they come. They come for everyone. That’s what she tells me. I want her to stop talking about bad things.”

I baked one myself one day while I was writing Charlie Anne and my husband and children all thought it was wonderful. Try it and see how close you think it comes to lemon pie!

1/2 c. butter, softened
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 (8 inch) unbaked pie shell
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. sugar

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.