This picture brings tears to my eyes, even though it was taken 4 years ago, I call this picture dried apple Sarah. Sarah lived four more years after this shot and lived to be 102. Not unwell.
Never unwell. None of us can remember a time when she was sick. She broke her hip at 92, but recovered and lived 10 more years to tell the story.
You could say that Sarah was never a pretty woman, but even at 100 she radiated warmth of spirit. She was fiercely independent with strong cheekbones and and not afraid to work. She had boundless energy and could match just about anyone in the cotton field. Just don’t ask her to grab eggs from under a chicken’s behind. She had a fear of feathers. She was the oldest and had three brothers under her.
Most of the time, Sarah, feathers or no feathers, ruled the roost. She never married or had children, but there were a slew of us nieces and nephews that loved her to pieces. She was a kind, thoughtful, opinionated country mouse. She was a sharp and witty, and mostly dressed in a collared shirt with a flannel jacket and green scull cap, unless it was super hot. Then it was shorts. I suppose she was a Tom-boy of sorts. I never once saw her in a dress or in anything girly, until I saw her laid out to rest in a pink suit with a rose corsage. She had her funeral planned 20 years ago and told us it was paid for and her suit was picked out. And sure enough, there she was.
The one thing that we all agree on, is that Sarah was Home. The old home place was an actual place. A destination to touch, not unlike going to a special place inside yourself, yet, this place had hot fried apple pies.
The apples came actually from a 100 year old pear-apple tree, with smallish fruit, more in the shape of a pear. It was more like an asian pear, an interesting variety with more of a pear crunch than an apple crunch. Sarah would gather the pear-apples in a bucket and cut them up on the porch. Then she would lay the wedges on a drying screen and put it in the back of the old Plymouth. There the apples would dry quickly in the hot Alabama sun, a perfect dehydrator with the windows rolled up.
Those dried apples would be stored to be reconstituted with a little water, cinnamon and sugar and put into a flat round of rolled out biscuit dough, folded over to make a half moon. A fork would be used to crimp the edges, as well as poke a fork line into the top to let the steam come out. These beloved pies, were not fried as they are often called, they are baked. Usually known as Fried Apple Pies, I prefer to call these heirlooms, Dried Apple Pies.
This Thanksgiving, I will attempt to make a rendition with store-bought dried apples. I can’t live without them. I will one day dry my own apples and even if I do, they will never taste like the pear-apples of Olive Branch in Clay County, Alabama.
Join me in celebrating Sarah’s life. She was the real thing. She represents everything I know to be good and wholesome and an example of what can happen if you grow your own food, can it, drink good (well) water and live a simple, kind, happy life. We could live to 102, that is, if you wanted.
Here’s the recipe for her Dried Apple Pies so you can try them too.