If a book can’t be judged by its cover, can a hot biscuit be a window to its soul instead?
It’s not every day that you’re buttered up to buy a book with food, but Carrie Morey sees that as an advantage. She’s risen to the occasion in true Southern style.
Morey’s cookbook, “Callie’s Biscuits and Southern Traditions: Heirloom Recipes from Our Family Kitchen,” came off the presses just last month. And right away, the local food entrepreneur, wife and mother of three found a way to hit the road, hawk the book and have fun at the same time.
Morey is already well known to locals as the owner of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, a North Charleston-based biscuits and food products company started by her mother, Callie White, in 2005. It had been Morey’s idea in the first place and she took over the company when her mother retired a few years later.
The business has been a success story, with appearances on NBC’s “Today Show” and the Food Network’s “Unwrapped.” Morey also was chosen as one of Martha Stewart’s “Dreamers into Doers.”
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A lot of people fantasize about writing a book, but as most authors will tell you, going on a tour to sell it is hardly the life of Riley.
It’s often driving miles, not racking up frequent flier miles. It’s toting heavy boxes and anxiety about people showing up. Frequent trips are disruptive to home life and can be exhausting. Throw in the inevitable bad meals for good measure.
Meet “Beatrice,” a 25-foot used RV also known as the “Biscuitmobile.” It was a vision of Morey’s for awhile, as the family travels each summer to Idaho where her husband has roots and they have a house. Attracted to her low miles, they bought “Beatrice” as the book tour cranked up and are looking ahead to next summer’s trip.
“I’m always trying to figure out a way to entertain myself, to make it more interesting and fun” Morey says with a laugh.
But Beatrice is doing her job. Not only does she haul everything Morey needs, her outer shell is splashed with cooking photos from the book. “A great marketing tool,” Morey says.
But Morey has kicked it up a notch as she is traveling to bookstores and other signing locations with a goal of visiting 36 cities by the end of February. She’s halfway there already.
She often makes unannounced stops. “We have hot biscuits and we’ll pull up to Barnes & Nobles and just go in and hand the manager biscuits and say ‘Let us sign your books,’ even when we’re not doing (scheduled) signings — just surprising people.”
Five years ago, a friend encouraged Morey to start blogging about her recipes. “You are a food personality whether you think you are or not,” she told Morey. “You started this food business and you have an audience. You’re always asking them to buy things, so why don’t you give back to them?”
Morey thought that made sense, “Who wants to get an email every week, ‘Please buy, please buy, please buy.’ What if I was to give you something?”
And so she did, posting her first blog in November 2008.
Five years and more than 100 recipes later, Morey saw the potential for a cookbook as an outgrowth of the blog. Advised by an agent, she wrote a proposal, and secured a publisher: Atria, a division of Simon & Schuster.
The cookbook, like the blog, is not focused on biscuits, Morey emphasizes. “It’s about the food I cook at home, which is not biscuits,” or at least not on a daily basis, she says.
In fact, that proved to be one of the major struggles in writing the cookbook. “I think the most challenging part was making it all Southern, because although that’s where I got my love of food and cooking, I don’t cook 100 percent Southern food all of the time.”
But she did recognize it as a logical selling point. And, once she started digging into her recollections and family recipe boxes, “It was a wonderful walk down memory lane ... I started remembering all this time in the kitchen with my grandmothers, great food memories with my dad, and just growing up in the Lowcountry,” Morey says.
Like those times are precious to her, Morey intends for this cookbook to be a family heirloom for her three daughters: Caroline, 9; Cate, 6; and Sarah, 5.
The girls are “very much so” taking an interest in cooking, Morey says. “My oldest seems to be really interested in breakfast food to the point I woke up to this unbelievably overwhelming smell of garlic at 6:30 two days ago: One whole clove of garlic to one scrambled egg.”
“She was so proud of herself,” Morey adds.
Morey already takes them along on shopping trips and will have each one be responsible for a different part of the meal one or two times a week, with consultation, of course. They have their own shopping carts and follow behind her “like little ducklings,” she says with a laugh. “It’s a great family activity.”
Morey says she would be shocked if at least one of them didn’t pursue follow in her footsteps.
“I asked Cate just yesterday what she wanted to be when she grew up. She looked at me like I had lost my mind and said, ‘I want to be a cooker, Mom.’ ”
Drunk and Toasty Myers Pecan Pie
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
This pie recipe is based on one from the “Charleston Receipts” cookbook, and was always made for Christmas dinner by Carrie Morey’s step-grandmother, Babbie Myers.
Morey added Myer’s rum in her honor and the step of toasting the pecans in butter and salt.
1 recipe pie crust
1 cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons butter, melted; divided use
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Optional: 1 (6-ounce) package chocolate chips
Serving suggestion (optional): Whipped Cream or ice cream
Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim and crimp the edges. Prebake according to the instructions. Remove to cooling rack and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine the pecans with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and the salt and spread in a baking pan. Toast for 8 to 10 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Mix the sugar, corn syrup, the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, the rum, and vanilla. Stir in the eggs. Add the pecans and the chocolate chips, if using. Pour into the cooled pie crust.
Place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until the center feels like Jell-O when pressed. Remove to a cooling rack. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if you wish.
Note: Proper oven temperature is particularly necessary for this recipe, so if in doubt, use an oven thermometer.
Adapted from “Callie’s Biscuits and Southern Traditions”
“Beatrice,” aka the “Biscuitmobile,” is splashed with photos from Morey’s new cookbook.×
The book cover×
Drunk and Toasty Myers Pecan Pie×
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