Nannie Doss’ Award Winning Apple Prune Pie
The county fair was back in full force this year, they had cancelled it when the pandemic struck, and it was a huge boon to the local economy. Lots of folks in our red county thought the mask mandate and the lockdown were just to take away our freedoms and ruin us financially, and were quite upset. We had the guys in the pickup trucks driving around the Safeway with giant Trump flags waving, and people in the post office who thanked each other for not wearing masks, and nasty remarks on our Facebook group. We who chose to wear a mask got used to the hostile looks, and the mutterings of “stay home and cower if you are so afraid” behind our backs.
Now that we had a vaccine trickling into the county, I hoped for unity so I volunteered to help out at the fair. You had to check off your interests online, and I ended up being picked as a judge for the pie contest. I had a vegan cooking blog, but I guess the powers that be hadn’t checked it out, because lard and butter aren’t vegan, and they are often used in pie crust. But, I was too gutless to confess my plant-based proclivity. As a child and teen in meat eating home, I had long ago mastered the art of pushing food around my plate. Plus, judging the pies was an easy task, we were only scheduled to do the tasting from 10-11 am, and the winning pie would get the blue ribbon right then and there! I decided to fake it.
They laid the pies out on a red gingham checked plastic tablecloth in one of the halls, a quintessential county fair motif. They also arranged daffodils in mason jars with raffia ties around the jars, so cute and cheerful. There were fruit pies and meringue pies and mousse pies, about six in all, but the apple prune pie had the most eye appeal.
I couldn’t help but notice that Nannie Doss, a local woman who had been in the foothills since the late sixties, had made that one. She was known not only for her pastries, but also was rumored to be a white witch, helping folks with mild spells or finding lost objects, with a little skin cream thrown in. All the pies had cute hand lettered cards next to them, but Nannie’s had a cool rune symbol, and a note that said her local apples and prunes had been used.
We judges were to take one bite of each pie and fill out a card with categories like flakiness and freshness and originality and aesthetics. My fellow judges were the guy who ran Tess’s Cooking Supply Shop, the woman who owned the Flour Garden bakeshop, the chef at Sergio’s Italian cooking, the owner of the Old Town Café, the bartender at Friar Tuck’s Bar and Grill, the mayor’s daughter, and the head of the Chamber of Commerce, a total of twelve judges. Fun fact, they were all the folks in town who had resisted the mask mandate and the lockdown and had been fined for opening too early or not being supportive of employees who were reluctant to work.
I sat off a little to side, so no one would see I was not really tasting, too many of the local home cooks loved that lard; it made for a flaky crust that was decidedly not cruelty free. I made sure to take a sip of water between each pie, as though I was at a wine tasting. I carefully filled out my card, and went to the desk to turn it in.
My fellow judges all did the same, and I noticed that some of them had taken rather large pieces, particularly Steve from the cooking store. He mingled with the other judges, talking with his mouth full, but eventually all of us had filled out the cards.
The representative of the fair gathered the cards, and quickly announced that Nannie Doss had won First Place! Lemon meringue and cherry vanilla pies were Second and Third. We are clapped as the blue ribbon was placed by what was left of Nannie’s pie.
I headed to the door, glad there was plenty of time to still do yoga that morning, while feeling self satisfied at helping the community, when I heard a huge thump behind me.Steve had fallen to the floor and was foaming greenishly at the mouth and clutching his throat. Then Sergio weakly fell into a folding chair, looking decidedly blanched. “Call 911!” I shouted at the fair representative. And then they all fell like flies.
Here is the recipe Nannie Doss used, which can be modified with vegan butter and Just Egg substitute.
Ingredients: 1 cup water, 1 cup flour, ½ cup butter, 3 eggs 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 sliced Granny Smith Apples, 1 cup dried prunes, 5 tablespoons rat poison, squeeze of lemon, baker’s sugar and cinnamon for top.
Directions: Soak prunes overnight in rat poison. (Generic hardware store poison is fine.) When ready to bake: Bring 1 cup water to boil. Add butter and sugar. At boil, stir in flour, and stir over low heat until you can make a doughy ball. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Grease a 9-inch pie pan. Roll out pastry. Layer apple slices into crust, then pour “marinated” prunes over apples. Add a squeeze of lemon if you like, it hides the bitterness. Dot with butter, then cover with top crust. Bake for 40 minutes in a 350-degree oven. When fresh from the oven, sprinkle bakers sugar on the warm crust, or cinnamon sugar. Poisons twelve