Joining family and friends for Sunday dinner after church recently was extra special and a walk down memory lane
Sunday dinner is way more than the delicious homemade food and the best homemade desserts ever, but talking about days gone is so much a part of the gathering around the table.
When the dessert was uncovered — homemade fried apple pies — on this particular Sunday, my mind traveled back to the days when Mama made her own delicious fried pies.
It seems like a long time ago now when Mama would make the absolute best fried apple pies in the world – at least that’s what I remember. They were fried perfectly with the right amount of butter that created a beautiful light brown crispy crust and plenty of apples.
I can still see Mama and Daddy (when he wasn’t at his Stonecutter job) peeling buckets of apples in order to have plenty to dry for pies.
After the peeling process, the slices of apples were carried outdoors and placed on a flat wooden surface on what once was the winter hog killing table.
She’d spread her apples on a cloth that covered the flat area and promptly shield the fresh cut apples with a screen to keep away all insects while allowing the hot summer sun to do its job.
Dry apples dry.
I told my friend Billy and other family I could see those yellow jackets swarming around the table, but they never made it through the screens. Mama would go outside often on the hot summer day and make sure the apples were doing well and then she’d turn the apples over and repeat the process.
After the apples were dried she’d bring them in the house for safekeeping. Honestly, I don’t remember if she put some of them in the freezer, but probably so.
Clearly I can see Mama as she was standing in her kitchen making the pies. She’d fill the dough with plenty of apples and with a fork she’d press the dough all around its sides until it was ready for frying. They were even beautiful before they were fried.
Way back in the day she had a large electra mate frying pan. No such thing as an air fryer but she used the electra mate especially for fried pies, sometimes fried chicken or for pancakes on a Saturday morning when her grandchildren were at the house.
Often in the fall my parents would load up their vehicle for a short fishing vacation to the coast.
They loved their time away together, especially when Mama made fried apple pies to take along.
I remember one day when I walked into her kitchen just a few days before their beach trip, she was in the process of making pies. She was a messy cook, so with a bit of flour on the table, the floor and even some in the frying pan, she frying pies for vacation.
“Oh Mama!” I remember saying.
“You can have one, but these are for our vacation, you know,” I can hear her saying. She wasn’t kidding.
My mother was the most unselfish person in the world, but when it came to her homemade fried pies for vacation, she couldn’t be too generous or they’d all be gone when neighbors and my sisters found out what was going on in her kitchen
The long hours of hard work peeling apples, drying them — never with a modern dehydrator — checking on them numerous times under the makeshift screen in the boiling hot sun were all worth it when it came to vacation time.
Life was simple. Fried pies in a lunch bag, a tackle box and fishing gear made for the best day ever
When I told Billy that story, he offered me another fried pie from the batch he brought to his daughter’s house.
The pies were gently placed in a large pan covered with a kitchen towel to keep them warm.
I thanked him for always making the best desserts and being such a good friend, and I took a second pie.
Honestly, the second pie barely made it to the end of the driveway. It looked too good to save.
Sunday summer dinners with friends and family around the table, well that’s the best.
Try it soon and remember, food is always better with memories, too.
Jean Gordon is an award winning journalist, reporting Rutherford County news for nearly 49 years.