Mom’S Pie Jump Starts Culinary Career

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Sometimes, when I’m on the small, hectic production set of “The Kitchen Diva!” television cooking show, I think about how far I’ve come in the multimedia field. I got my start as a culinary historian, cookbook author and television chef thanks to my mother, Angeline’s, fabulous recipe for Raisin-Pecan Pie.

She created the recipe by experimenting with some of my father’s favorite ingredients — raisins and pecans. She told us that the first pie was so good that she ate the whole thing by herself. She had to make another pie before my father came home from work.

Since my mother’s pie is one the highlights of our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, my sisters encouraged me to write a cookbook to preserve her stories and recipes. Since I was never much of a cook, researching and writing “The African-American Kitchen” in 1993 began my career change from a children’s book author into a Kitchen Diva with a love for all things culinary. Now, I’ve written five cookbooks, and recently, I updated and revised my first one. It’s called “The New African-American Kitchen,” but my mother’s pie is still the culinary inspiration for my work.

Four years ago, my husband, Michael, and I started Diva Productions, Inc., a multimedia production company. In 2006, we started producing “The Kitchen Diva!” cooking show for public television stations around the U.S and the Virgin Islands.

Producing a cooking show is like juggling on top of an active volcano. The worst thing about it is that something is always half-done, burnt, melted, cracked or spills or collapses — and all of your disasters are documented on film. The best thing about a cooking show is that your job is to research and teach others about food. We also laugh a lot and eat well.

The first episode of “The Kitchen Diva!” featured Angeline’s Raisin-Pecan Pie. It was a beautiful thing to be able to share my mother’s wonderful recipe with my television audience. I’ve learned that inspiration and the motivation to try something new comes in many forms. Sometimes, it’s in the circular shape of a simple pie created by a woman who loves her husband and family.

Angeline’s Raisin-Pecan Pie

1-1/2 cups raisins

1-1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup (one stick) butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup pecan halves

1, 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the raisins in a bowl of warm water to plump. Drain, and set aside. Cream the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and combine well. Using a spoon, mix in the raisins, pecans, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla extract until well-blended. Scrape down the bowl. Fold in the raisins and pecans to the filling mixture.

Scrape the mixture out of the bowl and into the unbaked pie shell. Bake until golden brown and set, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, checking occasionally to make sure it doesn’t overcook. If crust is browning too quickly, make a foil collar to protect it. Bake the pie until it is set, except for a soft center a little larger than a quarter. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool for 3 to 4 hours to set before serving.

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Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of five cookbooks. Her latest cookbook, “The New African-American Kitchen,” is in bookstores now. She’s known as The Kitchen Diva and is the executive producer and host of “The Kitchen Diva!” television cooking show. Visit her Web site at www.divapro.com.

© 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.

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