The Ottumwa Courier

April 16, 2014

'Ms. American Pie' tours with her new book

Courier staff writer

---- — ELDON — With many hours and countless miles on her RV "The Beast," Eldon's pie lady, Beth Howard, is celebrating the release of her new book with a tour of southwestern states.

Howard's second book, "Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bold Tales From the American Gothic House," features 80 of her favorite pie recipes and many true stories to accompany them. She even divulges her secret for making a killer crust without refrigerating the dough and how to break every rule ever made about pie baking.

"People have been making it so complicated, so it's intimidating to make a pie," Howard said. "I've really taken a stand that this stuff's all myth. I'm telling everybody, hey, have fun with this. It's giving people the confidence to make pies, and that's fun."

Her tour is taking her through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas and Missouri. Because of the power of Facebook and other social media, Howard has loyal fans excited to meet her. Last week she held a book signing and demonstration at Omnivore in San Francisco, a bookstore devoted entirely to books about food. She was surprised at how many people packed in just for her.

"The most fun is recognizing a name from Facebook and putting a name with a face," she said. "I really enjoy recognizing people's names and then finally meeting them in person."

While Howard's first book, "Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie," has drawn a following across the country, the new one takes readers in a completely different direction.

"People seem really excited about this one," she said. "The first one was a memoir of grief, and it was pretty heavy in spots. I think I did a good job of not turning it into a downer, but a story with hope at the end. This one's pure fun — recipes and quirky little stories."

The book tour runs through the end of April and will bring her back to Eldon the first of May. She'll be doing several signings and tastings over the summer, and she has three weekends slated for her Pitchfork Pie Stand to be open at the American Gothic House. It will officially open on Memorial Day weekend.

— Follow reporter Laura Carrell on Twitter @CourierLauraC