Monday, September 15, 2014

Mix-It-Up Monday with Keira Andrews

Have you ever tried shoofly pie?

Until I began researching the Amish for my new book series, I’d never even heard of shoofly pie. A staple of Amish cuisine, this sweet pie is very easy to make. I decided to roll up my sleeves recently and give it a go. (For research of course. I was making pie solely in the pursuit of authenticity. Yep, that’s the ticket.)

It’s not known precisely how shoofly pie got its name, but it stands to reason that when baking a sugary pie in the olden days, the flies likely came a-calling and needed to be shooed away.

The star ingredient of shoofly pie is molasses. It’s sticky and sweet, but can also have a somewhat bitter aftertaste. Some people love it and others don’t. I’d never really thought much about it, but after making shoofly pie, I can say that I’m a fan!

The pie is crumbly and a little cakey on top, and then has the goopy molasses bottom. With the flaky crust, it’s a winning combination. This is the recipe I used. It was simple and delicious. Shoofly pie is a favorite of my character Isaac, and now I know why!

How about you? What’s your preferred pie?


When two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything?

In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.

Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.

Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?

Find out in A Forbidden Rumspringa, available now!

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An excerpt from A Forbidden Rumspringa

Pulse racing, Isaac stared at the metal and plastic contraption in Mervin’s hand, his plan to find a good whittling stick forgotten. “Is that a phone?”

“It’s a Touch.” Mervin was busting with obvious pride.

Isaac peered at it closely. “What does that mean?”

Mervin shrugged. “Dunno. But that’s what it said in Leroy’s note. It’s a Touch, and if I put it in the sun in this case, it charges the battery.”

Isaac glanced around. They were still alone in the woods near the Hooleys’. They had to be back soon for supper and the singing, but he wished there was some way they could stay hidden away in the long shadows of the trees with the gift from Mervin’s cousin in Red Hills.

“What does it do?”

“Here.” From his pocket, Mervin pulled out a long white cord with two round knobs dangling down. “Put these in your ears.”

Isaac stuck one in, but it popped out.

“No, that’s for your other ear. See how it has an L for left and R for right?”

Once Isaac had the little things in his ears properly, he nodded. “Now what?”

“Listen.” Mervin tapped the glass front of the rectangle and it burst into life with color and picture.

A moment later, Isaac jumped as music filled his ears. This music was faster like the songs they’d sing tonight, but so much noisier, and of course there were instruments. The beat thumped through his body. A woman sang about applause, and Isaac peered at the screen, his jaw dropping. Lady Gaga, it said. She had blonde curls and dark makeup around her eyes, and wore a tight dress that barely covered her chest and was practically see-through.

He wasn’t sure what to make of the song, and when it was over, he took the knobs from his ears. “Wow.”

Mervin grinned. “Isn’t it great? Leroy put a bunch of songs on it, and there are movies too!”

Isaac stared at the device. “How did he get it to you?”

“He mailed it. Wrapped it in plastic bubbles and it fit right into an envelope!”

“What if your parents had opened it?”

“No way,” Mervin scoffed. “It’s my job to go all the way out to the road to check the mail.”

“Do they even know Leroy writes to you sometimes?”

“Of course not. Man, Leroy’s so lucky his parents stayed. He gets to do rumspringa, and have a car and everything. He says they nag him about it every day, but at least they don’t stop him from going out and seeing the world.”

Isaac could barely even imagine the freedom. “But you know why they don’t allow it here.”

Mervin huffed. “So a few kids went and did something stupid. Now we all have to suffer?”

“But…it’s better for us. We shouldn’t want to try all these worldly things. They’re unclean.” He pointed at the contraption. “That’s unclean. Leroy shouldn’t have sent it.”

“Oh, so you don’t want to watch a movie?” Mervin’s eyebrows disappeared beneath his bangs.


Laughing, Mervin clapped Isaac’s shoulder. “Always trying to be such a good boy. Don’t worry, I won’t tell. Come on, I’ll show you—”

“Mervin!” A girl’s voice echoed through the trees.

“Damn it,” he muttered as he jammed the Touch back into his pocket with the white cord. He sprang to his feet.

Isaac followed suit, pulling out his knife and picking up the nearest fallen branch. He and Mervin leaned casually against a tree just in time for Mervin’s little sister to appear.

Esther put her hands on her hips. “What are you doing out here?”

“Whittling.” Isaac held up the branch.

“We’re leaving. It’s time for you all to have supper. So hurry up!” With that, she turned on her heel, her long dress flowing around her ankles as she raced off.

By “you all,” Isaac knew she meant the young people. He and Mervin hustled back to the Hooleys’, and took their seats at the long table inside the house. Mary sat across from him on the girls’ side, and Isaac resolutely kept his eyes on his plate. David was a few seats over from him.

The singing began at eight o’clock sharp. Isaac enjoyed these songs much more than the dour chants from church. While they still sang about God and worship, the tunes were lively and fun. Between songs, they chatted with each other, and Mary naturally spoke to him.

“Do you like chicken?”

Isaac nodded. At least it was an easy question. Who didn’t like chicken?

“I’m making chicken soup and biscuits for lunch tomorrow. And shoofly pie.” She smiled widely and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.

Isaac’s gut clenched. Somehow in his worrying about what it would be like to work with David, he’d overlooked the fact that he’d be seeing Mary every single day. He forced a smile. “I’m sure it’ll be delicious.”

“Your Katie said you love shoofly pie.”

“I do. Thank you. I…um…” It was only polite to make conversation and ask Mary something, but his mind was utterly blank.

Fortunately Mark began another song, and Isaac was spared.

By the time they filed outside a couple of hours later, Isaac was walking so quickly he almost didn’t hear David call him. He spun back around as David said something to Mary and trotted over. Although David was a couple of inches taller than him, it was no reason for the intimidation buzzing through Isaac’s body. He wished he knew why David made him so nervous.

“Hi, David.” Isaac laughed nervously—that unfortunate braying sound.

David regarded him seriously. “I think my sister’s expecting you to ask to drive her home.”

“Oh.” That was the first move in dating. Panic bubbled in his chest. “Uh…I don’t have my own buggy yet. We can’t afford it. I’ve only got the old spare, and it’s not nice enough for her. It’s so bumpy and uncomfortable. It’s falling apart.”

David stared for a long moment before nodding. “All right.”

“Tell Mary I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t like her. She’s a very nice girl. She just deserves something better.”

David watched him again in his unnerving way. “I’ll tell her you said so. See you in the morning.”

“Uh-huh.” Isaac felt like he might jump right out of his skin.

David gave Isaac’s forearm a squeeze where Isaac had pushed up his sleeve. “Don’t worry. I won’t bite.” Then he was walking away.

After Isaac tightened Silver’s black harness and clambered up onto the rickety single-seat buggy, he put the reins to her. She was an old draft horse who couldn’t pull the plow anymore, but she could manage this.

The buggy was five feet long and painted black inside and out. There was no cushion on the seat, just as there were no cushions anywhere in their house. In a newer buggy it wasn’t so bad, but the springs in this one were long worn out. The black oilcloth roof leaked in any rain beyond a drizzle.

It really wasn’t a nice enough buggy to take a girl riding in, but Isaac had a feeling the excuse would only fly for so long. Maybe he should just ask Mary out and be done with it. It wasn’t as if there was another girl he liked better, so what was he waiting for?

The steel-rimmed wooden wheels clattered, and Isaac’s backside was already sore as he bumped down the drive at Silver’s top speed, the feeling of David’s hand still hot on his skin.

© Keira Andrews 2014


About Keira Andrews:

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” You can find out more about Keira and her books at her website, and on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Love it. I can't wait to get it and read it. So excited!!

  2. Added this to my tbr list after Heidi Cullinan recommended it. Favorite pie is very mom's apple pie was the best ever!

    1. Mmm, apple pie. Always a winner! And thanks -- I hope you enjoy the book.

  3. I've never had shoofly pie, though I'd heard of it before. I may have to try making it. My favorite is chocolate pecan pie. Looking forward to reading this - it sounds great!

    1. Love chocolate pecan! And thanks so much. :)

  4. I've heard of shoofly pie, but haven't tried it (seems like it's similar to pecan pie filling without the nuts, though). I like my mom's peach pie in the summer, pecan pie at Thanksgiving, and chocolate pie anytime!

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

    1. Yes, I think it is similar to pecan pie without the nuts. And I love peach pie!

  5. I have heard of Shoofly pie but it sounds too sweet for me. My favorite pie is strawberry rhubarb.

  6. Never had it, but have heard of it before. Simple and delicious are two of my favorite things when it comes to baking. :) I'm not picky. I like all kinds of pie...pecan, chocolate, pumpkin, coconut, lemon meringue. YUM!!!

    1. I agree -- simple and delicious is a winning combination. :D It's pumpkin pie season now, and I love it!

  7. I was born in PA about forty minutes away from Lancaster so yes I've had shoo fly pie, I love it!! And I also loved A Forbidden Rumspringa!! I can't wait for the second book!!!!

  8. I love most kinds of pies, but pecan so I'm not sure I'd like shoofly with its heavy molasses flavor.

    1. Yeah, it's definitely an acquired taste, Laurie! :)

  9. Aloha, Love your storyline. Very intriguing. :-)

    I've had shoofly pie. It was too sweet for me, but I'm a New Zealander. We don't have as sweet a tooth as the Americans. LOL. I DID love the Amish sour cherry pie though. OMG... It wasn't very sweet and I could eat several pieces without feeling ghastly sick afterward. LOL. Just delicious. I also love strawberry rhubarb. Yummm.. American fruit pies are gorgeous.

    Aloha Meg :-)

    1. Hi Meg! Nice to meet you. Strawberry rhubarb is a fave of mine too. I've been to New Zealand, but I don't remember having any desserts other than Cadbury's Top Deck. :D

  10. I don't think I've had shoofly pie, but pecan pie is way too sweet for me so I'm not sure I'd like it. i think my favorite pie is Caramel Apple Ala Mode :) YUM! I am really looking forward to reading this book. One more on my GRL list and then I'm home free to read anything I want :D

    1. Hope you enjoy the book post GRL! And caramel apple with ice cream is a definite winner in my eyes. :D