We’re happy to be turning the blog over to author Shelley Shepard Gray today to talk about the perfect topic for this Thanksgiving day: Cooking. Shelley is here to talk about her new release, A Christmas For Katie, and one of her favorite scenes in the book that involves this very topic. Shelly is also stopping by with a giveaway, so read on and comment!
A CHRISTMAS FOR KATIE
I always smile when interviewers ask if I’m Amish. I’m definitely not Amish. In a lot of ways, I’m very much a city girl from Houston, Texas. I enjoy modern conveniences like my Blackberry and the computer. I get my nails done on a regular basis, and nine times out ten they’re painted red. Finally, I seem to always be looking at my watch. I love schedules and love being on time.
However, I do have something in common with most of my Amish characters-I love to cook. Actually, I love to bake, and I bake a lot. Not everything turns out well, though! Over the years, I’ve had my share of cooking disasters. The worst was when I was in fifth grade and whipping meringue with an electric mixer. Somehow I got the ends of my hair in the beaters. Within seconds a big chunk of my hair was wrapped up in the very sticky beaters and practically attached to my head! I still remember the pain of trying to get those beaters out of my hair…and the pain of watching my mother cutting a big chunk of my hair in order to get those beaters out.
Just a few years ago, I actually had to use the ‘fire blanket’ because I managed to set the oven on fire while baking chess pies. Now that was a difficult story to tell my husband!
Luckily, most of my mishaps have only involved making a cake or soup that didn’t turn out so great. Lately, I’ve been determined to make a better cheesecake. None of them are turning out like my mother’s but I’m sure one of these days I’ll get it right. Until then? My husband has to help me be the cheesecake tester. He says there are far worse jobs to do, and I have a feeling he is right.
In A Christmas for Katie, one of my favorite scenes involves many of the female characters making Christmas cookies together. I love the long process of rolling out the dough, picking just the right cookie cutter, carefully placing it on the baking sheet, and then painstakingly decorating them when they’re cool. I’ve even included a recipe at the back of the book for Sour Cream Cutouts, direct from my Amish friend in Sugarcreek.
So far, I’ve never had an Amish character be a poor cook, but I think that definitely has possibilities. I think it would be fun to add a lot of my kitchen disasters in a book-and if you happen to read about a kitchen fire? You’ll know that’s based on a true story!
Until then, I hope all of your Christmas baking turns out beautifully! What is your favorite thing to bake for the holidays?
I grew up in Houston, Texas, went to Colorado for college, and after living in Arizona, Dallas, and Denver, we moved to southern Ohio about ten years ago.
I’ve always thought of myself as a very hard worker, but not ‘great’ at anything. I’ve obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree…but I never was a gifted student. I took years of ballet and dance, but I never was anywhere near the star of any recital. I love to cook, but I’m certainly not close to being gourmet…and finally I love to write books, but I’ve certainly read far better authors.
Maybe you are a little bit like me. I’ve been married for almost twenty years and have raised two kids. I try to exercise but really should put on my tennis shoes a whole lot more. I’m not a great housekeeper, I hate to drive in the snow, and I don’t think I’ve ever won a Monopoly game. However, I am the best wife and mother I know how to be.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that in God’s eyes that is okay? That from His point of view, we are all exceptional? I treasure that knowledge and am always so thankful for my faith. His faith in me makes me stand a little straighter, smile a little bit more, and be so very grateful for every gift He’s given me.
I started writing about the Amish because their way of life appealed to me. I wanted to write stories about regular. likeable people in extraordinary situations-and who just happened to be Amish.
Getting the opportunity to write Inspirational novels is truly gratifying. With every book, I feel my faith grows stronger. And that makes me feel very special indeed.