Goodbye Winter

Can you believe it is spring of 2021? Remember this time last year when the pandemic was just starting to make a difference in our worlds? I think spring almost slipped by without notice. As many things did of course.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts spring is definitely in the air. Trees are blooming, buds are popping out daily, the grass is getting greener and mowier. But I have to give winter it’s due diligence. Winter I love you. I love you for many reasons: I don’t have to bare a lot of this super frighteningly white skin. I feel more secure in layers. I can wear my stretchy pants and boots and I look somewhat stylish. I can pull a toboggan or hat over my staticky hair and it still looks fine. I can spend more time indoors, it is cold after all. Knitting is much more fun in the winter months when it is cold and you have yummy warm yarn resting on your lap and legs while you knit. Hot coffee and warm banana bread on a cold morning is just heavenly. Walks with the babies while I am bundled up and breathing the cold air is invigorating. I don’t sweat as much. I love wearing boots but in the south it is just too hot to wear boots all year long, winter is best for boots.

So you can see my love for winter is pure and true. I could go into some of the yucky winter things like icy roads, I’ll stay at home. Hibernation, I am the queen of that thank you very much. Boredom, I have never been bored in my life I can always find something to entertain me. Having to bundle up every time you go out, see the paragraph above and you will understand. No I can’t think of a lot of reasons to dislike winter.

Spring arrived yesterday with sunny skies and a slight breeze ruffling the trees. The air was soft and sweet like it is before the hot temps and humidity set in. It was a great day. I took the babies on a couple of walks and they seemed to enjoy being outside sniffing the grass and anything else they could plant their little noses into. It was so nice being outside and enjoying the sunshine and spring air.

So goodbye winter until we meet again and if you are from East Tennessee you know that could very well be next week, HA!!! It isn’t actually spring until we go through all the winters in the south. I know I have mentioned these a few times but here is a few that I swear by:

Redbud Winter – Mid-March to early April, when the redbud trees bloom.

Dogwood Winter – Mid to late April, when the dogwood trees bloom. Often a heavy frost falls in dogwood winter.

Blackberry Winter – Early to mid-May, when the blackberries are in full bloom. In the Tennessee mountains, this often coincides with the last frost of spring, which can kill new plantings on the farm.

Whippoorwill Winter – Mid- to late May, when the whippoorwills can first be heard in the twilight of evenings and before dawn.

There are a couple of others but these are the ones I grew up with. I would often hear my parents say its’ “Blackberry Winter, the black berries are blooming.” I knew that summer would soon be arriving but for a little while longer we would have to add an extra blanket on the bed.

My husband makes fun of me for believing in these different winters but that is what a lot of farmers use as a guide for planting different things. I can assure you they happen year after year. Who am I to question nature. Plus it gives me a little more of winter to enjoy. Now where did I put my sweater???

No matter the season,

Always remember,

Love your day your way!!!!

Making Fried Apple Pies

Happy Monday friends,

The weather here has been HOT!!! Temps have been in the upper 90’s with a heat index making it feel like it’s over 100 degrees!!!!

Oh what a perfect time for our air to go out. Yep, I came home from buying groceries on Saturday and heard Mark talking to someone on the phone. Turns out it was the man who services our heat and air unit. To tell you this man, Wayne, is wonderful would be such a gross understatement. And not just because he came out on a Saturday afternoon and serviced our unit but he has been there so many times for us, and for many of my family members.  First of all the unit was put in over 20 years ago when we built the house.  You know that most units these days don’t last that long. 

Wayne is not the type of repairman that will tell you that you need a new unit just so he can make some money. He is fair and honest. Anyway he had the air back on within two hours and I barely broke a sweat.

What does this have to do with making fried apple pies you may ask. Not really anything except if we hadn’t gotten the air back on I would not have been heating the stove for anything!!!

In all my days of cooking I have never made fried apple pies. WHAT??? I always wanted to try them. I don’t know if you follow Brenda Gantt on Facebook but she is a true southern cook from Alabama.  Check her out. I just love her.

So I went by Brenda’s recipe for the dough. All she uses is plain flour, buttermilk and solid crisco shortening, you know the white stuff in the tin can. My mama always had some when we were growing up.

Brenda doesn’t use much of a recipe so I watched her video on Facebook and went by that. Here is what I did:

I used 3 Granny Smith apples. I peeled them and  added about 3/4 of a cup of sugar, a half cup of water and sprinkled some cinnamon on top of the apples and cooked them down until they became soft and mushy and syrupy.  I used a heavy sauce pan. 

I put some plain flower in a mixing bowl and added 1/2 cup of the solid shortening and some buttermilk. I didn’t measure the buttermilk I just kept adding the buttermilk until I could form a small ball of dough. I then divided the dough into several pieces and sprinkled them with flower. I rolled them out, using a dough roller, in small circles about 4 inches in diameter. The dough cannot be sticky. Add a little flour to keep it from sticking.

The cooking time in the oil will vary depending on what kind of pan you use. The cast iron pan took 2-3 minutes on each side. They cook really fast.

They turned out really well. Mark had his with ice cream. I took what was left over to work and my fellow employees made short work of those.

I love using this Cast Iron Cookware by Lodge. It is perfect for frying.
Granny Smith apples are the best for these pies.
The apples tasted yummy I could have eaten them just like this. Actually I did.
I added powdered sugar to these.

I hope you have good luck with your fried apple pies.

Always remember love your day your way!!!

Southern Apple Stack Cake

This is one of my “Southern Secrets”  It is a secret way I have of making a really yummy treat.

When I was first married,  I remember my mother in law knew a woman in town who made the best Apple Stack Cakes you have ever eaten.  An apple stack cake is just what the name says.  It is a stack of cakes with apple filling in between.  The higher the stack the better, but most recipes call for six layers of the cake.  Now keep in mind the layers are very thin, that is one of the tricks to the Apple Stack Cake.  I am going to tell you the basic four steps for preparing the Apple Stack Cake and then I am going to give you a secret recipe that is unbelievably good.  You may already know about it. It doesn’t even involve baking.  What?? You won’t believe it!!!   Please know I am not trying to downplay the Apple Stack cake and the original way to make it.  It is a true labor of love and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If I could buy one or make one every week I probably would.  But I know I don’t have time for that and you probably don’t either.

But back to my original story.  When I was first married my mother in law knew a woman and her husband who made stack cakes at Christmas.  They had several apple trees and they would harvest the apples in the fall and peel them and dry them for Christmas time to be made into the cakes. They dried bags and bags of them.  This was a big deal for them.  They did it to earn extra money for Christmas.  They were both retired and lived very modestly.  When Christmas came around everyone knew this was the place to get your stack cake.  Many many cakes were made daily.  They even delivered them to you for the outrageously low price of $12.00.  I know!!!   I think the first year I knew about them they were $10.00 and then the price of the ingredients went up or maybe the apple crop didn’t do as well and they had to increase their price.  If you ever happened to stop by their house during the stack cake preparation, you would see a flurry of activity coming from that sweet couple.  You would find it hard to believe that only two people did all of the work that went into all of the cakes.

My mother in law always got one for Christmas dinner.  You had to put your order in early because they only made so many and when the apples were gone they were gone.  After I got married I got on the list so that I could have a cake for my mom and dad’s house when we went there for Christmas.  Two of these awesome cakes at Christmas, well it was just about the best thing you can think of.

The four basic steps for making your Apple Stack Cake:  I am not including an ingredient recipe you can google it or you may even have one from your grandmother or aunt Gene.
Here is one that I found that looks pretty good

1. You make the apple filling.  You are making the applesauce from dried apples by simmering them with water and spices and a bit of brown sugar.  Once the dried apples become soft and pliable you will put them into a food processor to be pureed.

2. Make your cake batter.  You can use a basic cake batter but you must chill it so that you can spread the cake batter very thinly for baking.  Some people put the batter directly on parchment paper and bake the layers (you must have at least six layers, I don’t know why but you do)  but my mama always used a cake pan and just spread the batter really thin along the bottom of the cake pan.

3. When the layers of cake are cooled you put one of the layers on a plate.  Spread the filling on top then add another layer continue with this until you get to the last layer.  Some people spread the filling on the top and sides.  I think this makes it really messy.  It also makes it hard to wrap it later.  Once you wrap the cake the delicious apple filling will seep into all of the cake and make it really soft and yummy.

4. Top the cake with waxed paper and wrap in plastic wrap.  Let stand at least 12-24 hours before cutting.


Doesn’t that look delicious?

Now I will tell you my little cheater way of doing this.  A friend told me about this years ago and whenever I get a craving for an Apple Stack Cake I just fix one of these:

You will need a jar of reaaaallllly good apple butter.  This is the apple butter I bought at the Mennonite market a few weeks ago.  It is so good. You will also need a pack of graham crackers.  I use the regular kind. I guess you could use the cinnamon ones.

Spread the apple butter between each of the graham crackers and start layering the crackers.

This is what it will look like when you finish.  I may have gone a little crazy on the apple butter but it is just so good!!!!

You then wrap plastic wrap around it and put it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Actually waiting 24 hours makes it even better but it’s so hard to wait!!!  The crackers absorb the apple butter. They will no longer taste like plain graham crackers.

This is what it will look like when you cut it.  You will get about 3 servings out of this because it is really dense.  It is soft just like a cake and it tastes yummy.

Like I said I am in no way telling you not to make a “real” Apple Stack Cake. But if you don’t have time and you want a treat that brings back a lot of memories, try this.  Let me know how it goes.

Always remember,

Love your day your way!!!



It’s Blackberry Winter

Happy Wednesday friends.  It is cool here.  Only about 50 degrees F right now and it is 7:00 PM.  It is supposed to be 36 Degrees F in the morning at sunrise.  Do you know what this means?  It can only be Blackberry winter here in the south.  You have probably heard me mention Redbud Winter and Dogwood Winter but those are not the only winters we have in the spring in the south. There are actually five little winters in Tennessee and they all take place in the spring.  Let me explain.

After the weather starts to turn warm in early March, and some of our days can get really warm, we always have a few cold snaps.  They almost always fall at the same time give or take a day or two.  Farmers have used their belief in the “winters” to know when to plant crops.  These little bits of cold weather are sometimes a shock to your system. Just when you think you have packed away all of those sweatshirts and sweaters  and things, you wake up and it is 36 Degrees!!!!  Frosts and freezes can occur which can damage or kill tender vegetation that’s already started blooming. So here are the five winters in the order in which they arrive.

Redbud Winter:  This usually happens around late March or Early April when the Redbuds bloom. This one isn’t such a shock to the system because winter is still in the rearview mirror and we know it is awhile before true warm weather arrives.
     Redbud blooms.  They are only red when they first bud out then they turn purple.

                                           Now the Redbuds look purple.

Dogwood Winter:  This happens around mid to late April when the Dogwood trees are blooming.  And well, it is just such a beautiful time that I think we barely realize that it has gotten a little colder.  The Dogwood trees are flowering and the air is soft and it is just a nice sweet time.

 Dogwood, my mama’s favorite.

Locust Winter:  This happens in Early May when the Locust trees are blooming.  I have to say this is one winter I haven’t ever really noticed that much.  I remember thinking in Early May about a week ago that it got really cool for a couple of days and I was thinking is it Blackberry Winter?  But I knew the blackberries hadn’t started to bloom.  So I guess it was Locust Winter.  I will pay more attention next year.

   Blooms from a Locust tree

Blackberry Winter:  This is what we are experiencing right now!!!  It usually happens early to mid May. I know that almost every Mother’s Day Sunday it is cool and everyone attributes it to Blackberry Winter.  Sure enough the blackberries are flowering in full force.  But flowering is the key word. We won’t actually have blackberries until mid summer.  They are only starting to bloom now.

    Flowering Blackberries, they will not produce fruit until mid summer.

Britches Winter/ Whippoorwill Winter:  This one is the last winter that we have in the south.  It usually happens in late May.  The way I know we are getting close to Whippoorwill Winter is the Whippoorwill start calling like crazy.  This is usually at dusk, just after dark or early in the morning just before daylight.   I love to hear the sound.  There is a lot of folklore that surrounds a Whippoorwill call such as, does it foretell death, marriage or woe? Can your aching back be cured by its call?  All I know is I love to hear the sound.    The reason it is also called Britches Winter or Woolen/Britches winter is that it happens just when you think you have put your long underwear up for the winter and all of a sudden it is cold for a few days and you need it again.  As I said I have always called it Whippoorwill Winter.  And I love to hear the song.

Click this picture to listen to the song of the Whippoorwill!!!

So there you have it.  The five “winters” in Tennessee.  I hope you have enjoyed learning a little about them.

I added a category to my blog posts called Southern Secrets.  I hope you enjoy those posts.

Always remember,

Love your day your way!!!