The year is 1946, and the place is rural middle Tennessee. My dad is walking down the dusty dirt road of Market Street to his grandparents’ farm. The early September morning is crisp with the sweet aroma of apples.
The apples are just getting ripe as September roars in and provides the last few days of summer warmth. This day Dad is picking apples with his grandmother, Cordie Harper, a thin, strong-minded lady in her 80s. Grandmother Cordie is wearing a full-length dress, and her long gray hair is tucked carefully inside a matching bonnet. She is wise to the dangers of overexposure to the sun and protects herself with her homemade long-sleeved cotton dress. Dad is barefoot, sporting denim overall shorts, no shirt, and a straw hat.
The trees are heavy with yellow and red apples. Some have already ripened and fallen to the ground. Grandmother collects those and the apples on the lower limbs. Dad climbs the tree and picks higher, where the apples seem larger. Once Grandmother collects the useable apples from the ground, Dad is allowed to shake the tree and topple additional ones. They repeat this process time and time again until all the apples are picked.
The apples must be washed, peeled, and cut for drying. Dad, Grandmother, and now Grandfather Tom join in to help as they sit under the shade tree in the backyard. The grandparents prepare the apples while Dad climbs up and down the wooden ladder leaning on the well house, carefully laying the exposed apples flat on a white bed sheet. Each trip requires more and more fly shooing. This takes the rest of the day and into the next day before all the apples are brown and chewy dried. Grandmother collects them in a cloth sack to use in apple recipes for the next several months. This fried apple pie recipe comes from her 1904 cookbook.
1. Peel and cut apples in slices.
2. Place apples on a WHITE BED SHEET and place on a roof.
3. Turn apples every 3 or 4 hours (approx. 2 days until brown and dry)
4. In a pot, add apples, cinnamon, sugar, apple spices, butter, pinch of salt, water. Note: The apples will swell, so don’t fill pot completely full. Place pot with apples on wood burning cook stove and boil down. (Taste often, but don’t GET FAT.) When the apples have cooked down and taste is right, take off stove and let cool.
5. Next, make biscuit dough using the following: plain flour, baking powder, salt, buttermilk, dab of lard. Mix up dough and roll out flat. Cut out circle of dough – approximately 8 inches.
6. Place apples on half of the circle of dough. Around the edge of the dough, put a light film of egg white. Fold dough over apples and press edges down with fork.
7. On the wood-burning stove, place an iron skillet and put in lard. Heat skillet then add the apple pie. Fry one side until brown, turn over and brown the other side.
8. Let cool for a few minutes before feasting.