Appalachian Food

Aunt Mary Jo’s Apple Pie

worlds best apple pie
This morning it was 36 in Brasstown-fall has definitely arrived and old man winter seems to be knocking on the door. With the cooler weather I’m still thinking about foods I like to eat in the fall of the year like Granny’s Soup and Applesauce.

My favorite Apple Pie-is one made with Miss Cindy’s Blueberry Pie recipe. But sometimes you want something easier and quicker-like Mary Jo’s Apple Pie.

When I was growing up-every summer Mary Jo had the Elliott reunion at her house. We didn’t always get to go-but when we did there was always tons of good food to sample-and one of our favorites was her apple pie.

Since Mamaw Marie died suddenly of a heart attack when I was in 5th grade-most of my memories of being at Mary Jo’s don’t include her. Oh I have lots of memories of Mamaw-she babysit me for Granny so I spent lots of time with her-but as I’ve gotten older I realize I wish I had more. Since I was in 5th grade when she died-it wasn’t like I ever ask her about cooking or gardening-things I wish I could ask her now.

A year or so ago I was thinking about Mamaw and wishing I could ask her about the old days-about the early years of her life. I grabbed the phone and called Great Aunt Mary Jo. I told her “I’ve been thinking about Mamaw. Pap has told me lots about her-but I wanted to see what you could tell me.” Well she said she didn’t rightly know what I meant. I said anything-just tell me anything your remember. So she did the first memory that came to her mind was about Mamaw’s bravery:

Pap with his father, Wade, and mother, Marie
Mamaw and Papaw sharecropped on the Harshaw Farm, Mary Jo went to spend the night with them. Papaw was an avid fox hunter and was gone off hunting-leaving Mamaw, Mary Jo-and maybe Pap (if he was born yet-Mary Jo couldn’t remember) home alone. Mary Jo said suddenly someone began knocking on the door and yelling. After Mamaw saw who it was, she wouldn’t let him in. He was hollering for Wade (Papaw)-and he was very drunk. Mamaw told him through the door “Wade is not here you’ll have to come back some other time.” Mary Jo said it took some persuading from Mamaw but finally he gave up. Or so they thought. In a few minutes they heard him trying to get in the bedroom window. Mamaw stopped him at the window and told him “Wade is not here and you are not coming in this house.” He said what he wanted was a cigarette. She told him she didn’t have any and he needed to go on down the road and come back when Wade was home.  Mary Jo and Mamaw watched through the window as he finally left, walking out under the trees until he disappeared from sight.

The 2nd memory she shared with me was funny-and so reminded me of my girls when they were little:

Mamaw was one of the oldest children in the large family-and Mary Jo and Frances were 2 of the youngest. All 3 were walking to Bethel Church. Frances announced she wasn’t going to walk anymore-not one more step. Mamaw told her she had too. After they went a little farther, Frances said she needed to tell Mamaw something, she needed to whisper it in her ear. Mamaw bent over to let her-and Frances grabbed her around the neck refusing to let go until Mamaw carried her the rest of the way to church.

By sharing the memories above, Mary Jo didn’t think she told me anything much. But she did. She gave me a peek into Mamaw’s life when she was a girl still living at home taking care of her younger sisters and when she was a young woman married with a home of her own.

Mary Jo’s Apple Pie

  • 1 frozen pie shell (or you could make your own)
  • 2 cups chopped apple
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg

Only takes 2 or 3 apples to get 2 cups of chopped apple. Put the 2 cups of apple in a small sauce pot with 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for 5 minutes–checking to make sure it doesn’t scorch.

Pour cooked apples into an unbaked pie shell.

Melt butter-remove from heat-stir in 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon plain flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a slightly beaten egg.

Pour mixture over apples. Bake in a 350 oven for 35 minutes.

Mary Jo’s Apple Pie is the best straight out of the oven-but it’s good cold too. A slice with a cup of coffee makes a dandy breakfast.


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  • Reply
    October 7, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Fall is surely Apple Pie and Apple Everything Sweet Time! This recipe resembles one I have made for 40+ years that has a custard filling, and crumb topping. One of the replies mentioned apple pie with cheese. Brings back sweet memories of dessert time with my Mom and grandparents-they were the only folks I have ever seen top apple pie with cheese, sharpe cheddar is best!
    Regarding listening and recording life memories of our family seniors, since we are seniors ourselves, we realize now that we should have carried a tape recorder with us when visiting our elder family members since we are remembering sketches of stories and family history, but not the whole. We don’t have many left to query, so we’d better get busy listening, and saving.
    Thanks so much for your delightful blog.

  • Reply
    October 7, 2010 at 9:23 am

    love the old photos and the pie looks divine, i think i smell it now.

  • Reply
    October 7, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Dear Tipper,
    I really enjoyed the writing of Jim Casada and his description of fall. I don’t want to wish my life away, but always look forward to fall with lots of anticipation. The heat of summer seemed terribly oppressive this year. Thanks for all your interesting topics covered on your site. I miss my mountains(the Ozarks- not the Appalachians), but the similarities are great. On another note, I have never made an apple pie with egg in it; this should be an interesting experiment! Also, I am really glad you learned about the Buffalo Nut. I felt like I was fairly well acquainted with the plants of the mountains, but I had never seen that one. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    October 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Good for you, gathering information like that.
    As for me, I think I need to make an apple pie.

  • Reply
    October 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I love apple pies and enjoy them throughout the year. But my most favourite one which I enjoy mostly in autumn is the good old English apple pie served with plenty of custard sauce or cheddar cheese(preferably in winter). It’s the best dessert together with a hot cup of tea! In the summer I like it slightly hot with lots of nuts and cinnamon and some vanilla ice cream!

  • Reply
    October 6, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I am looking out the window while it is pouring rain and thinking about hot apple pie sounds like a good idea.
    Whitetail Woods Blog / Blackpowder Shooting

  • Reply
    October 6, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Thanks for sharing your family stories Tipper.
    Thanks for the recipe too. Sounds wonderful and looks yummy.

  • Reply
    October 6, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Becky-I think any apple will work well. I just use whatever kind I happen to have on hand and the pie is always great!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    October 6, 2010 at 1:14 am

    I heard about this pie from Bet er EBet. I think she actually plans on making it, I can’t wait! And hey, thanks for the stories, I love that I turned my daughter on to your blog and that she loves it as much as I do, you’re priceless my dear.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I wish I had asked more questions when my grandparents were around.
    Seems life was just too busy.
    I’ve got the recipe copied and I WILL be trying this. I love apple pie!!!
    I’m curious though, what type of apple, like granny smith sour or a less tart apple?
    Maybe I should just experiment. tee hee

  • Reply
    Rick M
    October 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    All I can say is apple pie and a cup of coffee on a fall morning. Life is good!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    well you know I’m printing this one as I write this. Love that you got stories to remember -it sure does makes them seem so much closer. One day I started writing down all the stories Mama told me through the years. It seems like they had so much more fun and excitement when she was growing up. Now they will be passed down thru the ages.

  • Reply
    rudy frias
    October 5, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    hey tipper dianna and i were wondering what type of apples you used in the apple pie. say hello to your mom and dad for us.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Tipper, wonderful memories as always. I only have a great-aunt left and I treasure her stories. She just turned 92 and still drives her Ford pickup everywhere. She was a fisherman’s daughter raised along the Gulf coast in numerous spots from Mississippi to Florida. She’s about 4’10” and still a spitfire! Can’t wait to try the apple pie recipe it looks so good.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    October 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    A little bit nippy today…and in the shade right doggone chilly…
    Made me a apple dish in the iron skillet the other day and yummm it was good..but I know it was a heart clogger with 1 stick of pure butter..LOL
    Your recipe sounds awfully good and maybe a little lighter than the one I threw together…gotta get me some more apples and try it..
    Love your stories too…
    I too wish I had written down the many stories (mainly for clarity) that I heard growing up thru the years while visiting those “sit-ins” on the porch, when the older folks where spewing those tall and short tales of the mountains and our relatives…
    Thanks again Tipper

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    October 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Tipper–Apples, in their many guises,whether cooked or raw, surely have to be the ambrosia of mountain folks.
    Tasty as the pie sounds though, and I’m speaking as someone notorious in family circles for my sweet tooth, it pales in importance in my eyes to the other thought your blog presents.
    One of the enduring regrets of my life, and it is one which can’t be rectified, is my failure to get more information and wisdom from my family (and others) down on paper or otherwise recorded. Grandpa Joe was a flowing founting of Appalachian lore and Grandma Minnie had an intimacy with mountain days and ways which no longer exists–cooking, yarbing, folk medicine, and much more. Then too, I knew mountain icons such as Doc Kelly Bennett and Granville Calhoun. Oh, to be able to call back yesteryear. I realized, as a trained historian,that I’m keener on these things than most, but my attitude is similar to that held by the great Western painter, Charlie Russell. He felt compelled to “get it all down before it’s all gone.” He was talking about the West of old, but the sentiments apply equaly here. Keep getting them all down and giving cause to others to do the same.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    October 5, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    tipper dont you wish we could do things like refusing to walk.. lol
    that is such an adorable story, and i too love hearing of old times..
    that apple pie sure sounds good, and i bet that the house smells yummy when baking 🙂
    thank you so much as usual for sharing.
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    October 5, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Such a heartfelt post about your mamaw Marie, Tipper! Thoroughly enjoy sharing old stories, esp. around a table of hot apple pie and tea!
    And just before that apple pie, there’s nothing like a delicious bowl of soup made from scratch, too! :))

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    October 5, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I’m in the midst of making applesauce now, but think I’ll hold a few apples back to make your pie. It looks and sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing the story and the recipe Tipper!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    the pie sounds so easy and luvly.. it is an apple product type of week around these parts for certain this week. I had to light a fire in the shack this morning and have apples cooking down for sauce and jam as we speak nothing like reading a post on apples and smelling apples, it is almost like smellovision…yum!

  • Reply
    Stacy Guidice
    October 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Can’t wait to try the apple pie recipe! You are right – the cold weather definitely brings to mind fall foods – yum! I am enjoying your blog – thanks!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 5, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I love the “old stories”. I sat down many an afternoon with my Great Aunt Polly and she told me of her childhood crowing up with 4 brothers, the baby and the only girl. My
    Grampa (Daddy Curt) was her oldest brother. She was 93 when she died and her chicken stew was my favorite fall and winter food.
    PS I am gonna make that apple pie.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Love reading your stories. They are truely “A Touch of the Past.”
    I too am going to jot down some of
    my stories before they get lost. I
    got a bunch of grandchildren and
    they should know about their past.
    Thank you! Got to have that apple
    pie soon…Ken

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 9:58 am

    That pie sounds good, thanks for sharing! And thank you for sharing the stories, I love to hear childhood stories.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 9:58 am

    This nippy weather makes me nostalgic – and hungry! – too! I will definately try this recipe, looks scrumptious! But first, the dish this cold, damp weather has me craving – spinach & cheese lasagne! And you have inspired me to take on a new project for this winter; putting all the old family stories down on paper, for my grandbabies! Thanks, Tipper!

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    October 5, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Little tid-bits like that make genealogy come alive. They fill in “The Dash”. And we can spend a lifetime gathering stories we wish we’d asked about. The lesson to us all is: Ask Now!! I’ll try the recipe, of course. There’s two more pounds…

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Thanks for those stories, I really enjoy reading all your stories of days gone bye. That pie really looks delicious, can’t wait to try it. Really enjoyed seeing Chitter and Chatter clog on Saturday, but dissappoointed that I didn’t get to meet you.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    October 5, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Tipper: What a neat story of life in the past. Life has changed so much in this time.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    October 5, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Nothing like a homemade apple pie. I like to add nutmeg to mine too. And sometimes a few cranberries. Or peaches. Now you’ve made me want to make pies! That’s a good thing.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Thanks for the old time stories. I wish I had asked my Grandma, Floda, more about her childhood too. I only have a couple of stories, but they are precious to me.
    Those old gals were quite the characters!!! I never saw my Grandma flinch from anything, including trying to talk me into hurrying out of the outhose because there was a big copperhead in the roof beam!!!!
    The pie sounds delicious!!!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 8:28 am

    This sounds easy and delicious. Haven’t heard of this recipe, but will try it soon. With a cup of coffee,what could beat it.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 5, 2010 at 7:55 am

    That pie sounds good, I’ll have to try it.
    Those old family stories are real treasures aren’t they. They are like a window into the past.

  • Reply
    Rhonda J.
    October 5, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Enjoyed reading about the “old times”! Makes me think about my Gram and some of her stories of her childhood. The apple pie recipe looks good too,I’m going to be trying that soon!:)

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