I met Patti Callahan Henry early in my writing career during a book festival in historic Marietta. Unlike people who like to sit in the back, I sat up front and center. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was seated beside Patti’s beautiful daughter. She and I chatted and when I asked, “Are you a writer?” She said, “Oh, no…my mom’s on a panel.” Two minutes later, Patti Callahan Henry and Jackie K Cooper stole the show. Later, I was introduced and was certain I made a minimal impression. However, I fell head over heart in love with Loosing the Moon and like most avid readers, once I read one of Patti’s books I was hooked and had to read them all. If you haven’t picked up a copy of her latest, The Stories We Tell get thee to an Indie Bookstore pronto! Before the release of my first book, In the Garden with Billy, the publisher required blurbs from authors, someone who would read my work and write a sentence or two that might cause readers of their work to read mine. I contacted Patti, reminded her how we met, and would you believe she wrote a blurb? Patti doesn’t know it, but she became my mentor. She is one of the reasons I purpose to help other emerging authors. As a New York Times Bestselling Author, Patti is busy. She has less time than I do, and yet, she wrote the loveliest blurb. Not only that, I consider her a dear friend. And it is the story I had to tell, before I tell you how I learned to make Coconut Macaroons. Knowing that I live near a Whole Foods, Cat Blanco, the owner of The Book Exchange in Marietta contacted me last week. “I’m having a Coconut Macaroon Emergency,” she said. “I am hosting a signing for Mary Kay Andrews and Patti Callahan Henry, and the Whole Foods near me is out…not even baking until after the event.” Booksellers do this all the time; plan events that feature the author’s favorite sweets. “Don’t worry. I’ll pick up some for Patti,” I said then headed to Whole Foods where I had the same luck. The shelves at Trader Joes were also empty. It appeared that June is National Coconut Macaroon month or something because I couldn’t find a single macaroon to safe my life. It was then I had the thought how hard could they be to make? Grabbing a bag of Baker’s Coconut, I was thrilled to discover a recipe listed on the back. The stars had aligned. Rushing home, I stirred everything together, put the macaroons in the oven, then called Cat and said, “I’m making a batch. There almost done. I’ll let you know how they are doing.” Minutes later, my timer dinged the same moment I received a text. ”Patti’s in the store!” Pulling the macaroons out of the oven, I rushed to see my friend. People like to believe that book tours are full of glamor, but I knew that Patti was living out of a suitcase and might enjoy a little taste of home. I didn’t even remove the macaroons from the cookie sheet, just laid several towels in the back of the car and drove like a crazy person to The Book Exchange. That’s what friends do for each other, cool piping hot coconut macaroons in their car while driving like a crazy person. Anything for Patti, whom I hadn’t seen in years. For those who haven’t attended an event with Patti, click this link to find out where to meet her in person. Not only is she a talented author, but she is charming. Rushing into the bookstore, I hugged her. I would miss her Atlanta events, I explained. . . Momma taxi duty, Bible School, a life that is too busy. She understood and would take my macaroons as an apology. Oh, how I miss seeing her. Patti had less than two minutes to spend with me. She was on her way to FoxTale Book Shoppe for an author luncheon. Our time was short, literally enough time for a hug, a macaroon, and “I miss you!” before we each departed. After picking up my daughter from Bible School, I remembered that I had been so excited to see Miss Patti that I forgot the most important thing, a copy of her book! My dear friend, Jean’s birthday was approaching and I always send her a copy of Patti’s latest. Glancing at my watch I called FoxTale and asked Jackie, “Is Patti still there? Can you have her sign a copy, oh, and can you mail the copy for me?” Bookstores do that you know. They will save your life….at least an Indie Bookseller will. They will procure an autographed copy and ship the birthday present to the tiny town of Grover North Carolina. After explaining that it was my dear friend’s birthday, Jackie passed the phone to Ellen who took care of everything. Need a signed copy? No problem ! Whew. Just another day in my life. Coconut Macaroons, a birthday present for my friend, and hugs from Patti Callahan Henry, what more can you ask for? Oh, I know, the recipe. Coconut Macaroons: Ingredients 1 package (14 oz) Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut (do not scrimp on brand) 6 TBS flour ¼ tsp salt 4 egg whites 1 tsp almond extract (vanilla will do) 2/3 cup sugar Preheat oven to 325 degrees Mix coconut, sugar, flour, and salt in large bowl. Stir in egg whites and flavoring until well blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Immediately remove from cook sheets. Cool completely. Makes 3 doz. Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In September of 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.
Coconut Macaroons for Patti Callahan Henry