Tag Archives: amazon best selling author

Recipes From The Bottle Tree – Fried Apple Pies

One of the finest things I have ever eaten is a Fried Apple Pie. These aren't the kind you buy in the convenience store, overly sweet, with a crumbly crust and covered in a glaze. Instead, these are made with real fruit, usually dried, and the taste of the fruit bursts in your mouth as opposed to the store bought kind that are cloying.

This recipe, slightly modernized as lard is not used, would be the same one used by Johnny Robinson's grandmother and the ones which Ukiah loved so much in the book,  The Bottle Tree  .

It is extremely hard to find anyone that still makes these but they are well worth the trouble!

The ones I like the best used reconstituted dried fruit, since that is the old fashioned way, but today it is cheaper and easier to use fresh fruit. Likewise, the old fashioned recipe used lard instead of butter and incidentally, lard gives you a flakier crust than anything else.

The best recipe I found was the one from the Foxfire books, but unfortunately I've loaned those to someone and don't have access right now. However, this is another recipe that is extremely close to the old fashioned one and almost impossible to tell any difference:

The Filling:

  • 3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced, or 8 ounces dried apples
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water (1 cup if using dried apples)
  • 3/4 cup oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

The Pie Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon of fine salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten

1. To make the filling with fresh apples, combine apple slices, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 20 minutes. To make the filling with dried apples, combine the dried apples, sugar, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the apples are soft and syrupy, about 30 minutes.

2. On a floured surface, roll out half the pie dough out until you have a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Use a 4-inch round cutter to cut out as many circles as you can.

3. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of each circle. Fold dough over to form a half-moon. Using the tines of a fork, press down on the edges to seal them. Repeat with the remaining dough.

4. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over high heat until very hot. Working in batches, fry the pies, turning them once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve the pies warm or cool. The best ones I have ever eaten were snuck from a plate covered with a "dish towel" from my great grandmother's pie safe.

Yield: Makes 20 to 24 pies.



The Worst Part of Writing

The most frequently asked question to those of us who write is "Where do you get your ideas?" The answer, of course, is everywhere. People you see, things you hear about, dreams (or nightmares) anything that gets the hamster in your mind to start running on that wheel.

But the question that you rarely hear is "What is the worst part of writing?'

It's not the writer's block, we all get that at times, it's not the boredom, it's not the panic of a deadline, it's not the research that you have to do.

For me, the worst part of writing is the rewriting/editing.

Right now I'm in the editing/rewriting phase of getting  The Bottle Tree,  Junebug and The Body, and  No' Chance  in their final form for the print editions and it is draaaagggggiiiinnnngggg on. The people who know me also know that, as a rule, I'm pretty laid back. However, a lot of that is a holdover from my lawyer days when I didn't want the other side to see me sweating so while I may appear calm on the outside, on the inside I may be just about to have a nervous breakdown.

But what very few people know is that sometimes the littlest things drive me nuts. I know, I know, that seems odd given my penchant for torturing people who are a little OCD. For instance, my best friend is OCD to the max. When we took trips together and shared a hotel room he would always place his items in a certain order on the bathroom vanity. When we got ready to leave the room I'd always move a couple of things around and then tell him about it as the elevator started moving or as we left the hotel, just to make him twitch. Occasionally I'd have to wait in the lobby until he went back to the room and put the things back the way "they were supposed to be".

I'm finding that, as a writer, I'm getting like that. In reading over the proofs I find myself compelled to correct problems that no one else will notice. For instance, on one page I noticed that there was an extra space in a sentence. Even though it meant the entire print process would have to be redone, I found myself unable to allow that extra space to stay there. In another, I spent an hour researching a point of grammar that I assure you no one else would ever notice.

That doesn't mean I can't use bad grammar, write in "the vernacular", or purposely break all kinds of rules, but I just can't allow myself to do it unless it was intentional.

Because of this I am now on my third printings of the proofs and edits. But, hopefully in the next week the prints will be ready.

Unfortunately, I'm now stressed about what is going to happen when the proof has been approved and then I spot another mistake.