11/19/14

Almost Famous Women + Pineapple Pie

I’ve been thinking about my grandma a lot lately. It's to be expected as the past week marked a year since she died. But still, it’s been surprising to see the extent to which she’s crept into my consciousness. I’ve thought of her as I’ve monitored the ripeness of the lemons on our tree in the backyard; when she visited us last year it was the end of October, and she’d wanted to make something with the lemons, but they were still too green. Now in the middle of November, just like last year, they’re ready to go.

When she stayed with us, I noticed how her balance was off, how she walked down our hallway with a totter and sometimes a little step backward to catch herself. It’s exactly how Teddy walks down the same hallway one year later.

I thought of her when I placed our order for a Heritage Turkey—the total cost of which will be around $100—by far the most money I’ve ever spent on a single grocery item. I know that Grandma, a purchaser of frozen Butterball turkeys—is rolling in her grave.

And I thought of her just this morning when I wrote the plumber a check for more money than I’ve written a check for in years. Grandma didn’t call service people to come fix things for her. She went to Rolliers, the local hardware store in the suburbs of Pittsburgh where she lived.
But I thought of her most while reading an advance copy of Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Almost Famous Women, a short story collection that explores the lives of talented and gutsy almost famous women throughout history. (To name a few: Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde’s niece, Dolly; Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sister, Norma.) For the most part, these are women of or very close to my grandma’s generation. And as I read, I kept thinking of how capable and resilient they were, two words that come to mind when I think of my grandma (and the opposite of what comes to mind when I think of myself).

And then I got to the story about the reclusive and unapologetically miserable painter Romaine Brooks. The story opens with an epigraph, a quote from Brooks’s notebooks: “We are what we can be, not what we ought to be.”

At which point, I abruptly decided to cut myself some slack.

Because I wasn’t born in 1919. I was born in 1981. I can’t, in good conscience, buy, let alone eat, a Butterball turkey. And I don’t know anything about plumbing. Well, I know now about the water shut-off valve that’s connected to our toilet, which broke, or rather, disintegrated late one night last week, and how water flooded into the bathroom like a hose on full blast that we couldn’t stop up or turn off; it was so shocking that Matt—a pretty handy guy with loads of tools—initially wondered if we should call 911 before he collected himself and ran into the basement to shut off the main water line to the house. (If this had happened while I was alone with Teddy, the house would have surely floated away.)

We are what we can be. And what I can be is a baker of an incredibly delicious pineapple pie.
See, my favorite story out of the collection, “The Siege at Whale Cay,” centers on “Joe” Carstairs, a speed boat racer and Standard Oil Heiress—I’m italicizing the ess to emphasize that Joe is a woman.

The story takes place on Joe’s private Caribbean island and involves a love triangle between three women. There’s also some great food scenes as there is a cook on the island, who at one point is “frying johnnycakes on a pan over a fire, popping pigeon peas into her mouth. Everything smelled of fried fish, blistered peppers, and garlic.”

But when the cook serves roasted pineapple for dessert one night, I immediately knew what I wanted to Bon Appétempt as companion piece to the story: this pineapple pie, which came to me by way of Tim from Lottie and Doof. (Plus, it’s Thanksgiving season and I thought that maybe one of you might want to be an iconoclast and show up at your family or friend’s house with this decidedly-not pumpkin pie.)

Or maybe you want to make it because it’s delicious? The egg, sugar, rum, and lime juice create a custard that surrounds the bites of pineapple, and then this is encased in flaky, golden, buttery pie crust.
Look! My pie slid to one side, just like Tim's!
For the recipe, go to Lottie and Doof! To pre-order a signed copy of Almost Famous Women, go here!
I close with an apology for the lack of new posts and videos. When Matt and I aren’t dealing with Teddy and plumbing emergencies, we’ve been working on publicizing the book and creating really great (you be the judge?) content that we’ll be sharing a little closer to the book’s February 3rd launch date. We’ve even got dates set for our little book tour! If you’re in LA, Pittsburgh, or Raleigh, please please please mark your calendar. The events are going to be fun, I swear. We’re trying to have product to give away (bon appé-tote bags!). Matt is promising to try out some never-before-seen stand-up material. And Teddy may even show up! So, I’ll see you there, right?

Skylight Books (Los Angeles, CA) on 2/3/15
Barnes and Noble (Pittsburgh, PA) on 2/11/15
Quail Ridge (Raleigh, NC) on 2/14/15 (More details to follow)
(Possibly more dates to add, depending on all sorts of things.)

Also, on the off chance this post wasn’t enough to tide you over for a week, here are some other cool things going on around The Net:

An interview I did with the new site, The Short Bread!
My friend Corinne recently launched a new literary journal: The James Franco Review where the goal is "to publish works of prose and poetry as if we were all James Franco, as if our work was already worthy of an editor’s attention." I love this concept and their opposite-of-snarky approach so much. Please read the about section for more info!

Until next time!
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26 comments:

Matthew said...

I want to read Almost Famous Women tonight. Also, I had a piece of the pie for breakfast. xoxo

Kara said...

MMB's new book is on my Xmas list, that pie crust is to DIE for, and hurray for Matt, tools, Grandma, and You! XOXO

Bryan Morrison said...

Amelia, I really enjoyed this post and your interview! Man, grandmas are the best. Also great: asymmetrical pies, croutons in soup, not having your identity erased. Hugs to Matt, Teddy, and Mavis. Hope to see you guys in 2015! xoxo, Bryan (Tim's Bryan)

Anne Zimmerman said...

This book sounds right up my alley and I am seriously considering scrapping plans for an apple galette in favor of a pineapple pie. We were just in Hawaii. And Sean was born there. So...

emily said...

Come to San Francisco! We're so close!

tannaz sassooni said...

I've always loved reading about Grandma here, and it's nice to see these sweet words about her, even after she's gone. Can't believe it's been a year.

Kirsten C said...

Sending love to y'all as you remember your sweet, spunky, capable grandma. <3

Also, that pie looks incredible!

Sara said...

"We are what we can be" is such an important notion to extend to ourselves and others. But it's very, very hard to keep in mind. I think it's a goal to work at, every day. That pie looks insane!

danielle said...

I hope to be resilient but will never be very capable. :) Love this post and pie.

Adriana said...

As always, love to read what you have to say. Hope to see SF on your tour list!

Lynn @ TheActorsDiet.com said...

Excited about your book signing! Have you looked into doing a signing at Chevalier’s Books on Larchmont - my favorite store - they have new owners!

Debbie Stember said...

I always like your posts, but I especially like this one. We are what we can be is something I try to remember every day. We are excited that you are coming to Pittsburgh. My daughter wants to fly in from Boston for the event!

sk said...

Maybe it's because I got my period today, but this post made me cry! I, too, was born in 1981 and lost my grandma recently, and I love finding myself a little bit in your writing. You are really great at crafting words. I look forward to your book!

Amelia Morris said...

Thanks, Bryan! Hope to see you guys too!!

Amelia Morris said...

All signs say: pineapple!

Amelia Morris said...

I'd LOVE to... Maybe in March? We'll see....

Amelia Morris said...

Thanks for reading, Tannaz!

Amelia Morris said...

Thank you, Kirsten!

Amelia Morris said...

Thanks, Adriana! I hope to make it up there... we'll see!

Amelia Morris said...

Hadn't thought about Chevalier's... thanks for the idea!

Amelia Morris said...

Awwww thanks, Debbie! And that would be super cool! Pittsburgh would love to have you guys. :)

Amelia Morris said...

Thank you so much. And so sorry about your grandma. I think the holidays are hard in general for those of us who have lost someone. Sending you love from Southern California! xox

Amelia Morris said...

ha! Thanks, Danielle.

Amelia Morris said...

Super hard to keep in mind. Slightly easier when pie is involved?

Sylvie Morgan Brown said...

Make NYC a stop on your tour! If only for more Nomad breakfasts. ;)

KK said...

The calling 911 bit made me laugh so hard. Oh the joys of home ownership. You always learn something new. The pie looks amazing btw.