Sunday, March 24, 2013

Baked "Fried" Apple Pies - with canned biscuits

1 can of biscuits (I use the Grands)
1 can of Apple or Peach Pie Filling (Comstock is good)

2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp butter
Sprinkle of cinnamon - to taste

Approx 2 Tbsp melted butter
Additional sugar

Empty Apple or Peach Pie Filling into saucepan.
Add sugar, butter and cinnamon.
Heat, on low, until butter is melted and pie filling begins to bubble
Mash pie filling with fork or potato masher

Dust each biscuit with flour, so that you can flatten them, without them sticking to your Rolling Pin.
Flatten to about a 5" circle
Fold in half, making a crease across the center

Put a tbsp (or a little more) into the center of the biscuit.
Fold in half and crimp edges together with a fork

Place on baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Brush butter on pie and sprinkle lightly with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for approx 20 - 25 minutes - until lightly browned.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Searching for Allens

Rambling through cemeteries, and searching for tombstones, was always a favorite pastime for my mother and me, when I would come home for a visit. For over 30 years, I've been researching my family - the various branches on the many trees of Walker, Anderson, Allen, Gibson, Duckworth, Miller, Hester, Langford, and the list goes on and on. Going back just 10 generations, to your 8th great grandparents, you have 1,024 ancestors from which to select. In addition, if you choose to track some of your indirect lines (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.); you will have a database with thousands of names.

My mom and dad's grandmothers were sisters, making my parents third cousins. My mother had a great memory and seemed to store as much information in her head as I do, on my laptop. She knew as much, or more, about my dad's family than he did (and was a lot more interested than he was!)

On one of my trips home, mother had a cemetery trip all planned. Dad's grandmother, on his mother's side, was an Allen. Someone had told mom, that there was an old Allen cemetery, in the county, and she wanted to find it. She pulled out the directions she had been given, and we headed out on our adventure. We were just certain this was to be a great day for collecting names and dates of ancestors.

Up Hwy 531 we went, and from there, I have no idea what country roads we took or how we finally made our way back home much later that same day. We stopped, several times, to inquire about the "Old Allen Cemetery" and were usually met with blank stares and shaking heads. Finally, we found someone who thought he knew where it might be.

We found the burial ground (it was no longer a cemetery). The few graves, many of the stones were broken and destroyed (reminiscent of our family's Old Miller Cemetery) sat in the middle of a pasture filled with cows AND bulls. Not being a brave soul, anyway, I was not sure just how interested I was now. My family tree might have to exist without these Allens!

Mom had a brilliant idea. I was to stop and let her out of the car on the road at the far corner of the pasture. Mom would call the cows, and bulls (as far as I was concerned, the bulls were the ones I was worried about) to the fence. While she had them "cornered" I was to get into the pasture and record the information. Now, mom was an old farm girl, and knew how to call the cows in, so I had no doubt this would be a success.

After mom was in place, I turned into the little road to the pasture and stopped just short of the cattle gap. As we had planned, I tooted the car horn to let her know I was ready to go in. As soon as I heard mom calling and saw them turn to go to the sound of her voice ......I began to make my way over the cattle gap and the downed, but treacherous, barbed wire fence.

I was wandering slowly, with my pad and pencil, through the few remaining stones when I heard mom yelling (quite frantically) "Run, Sarah, Run"! My feet didn't stop until I was over the barbed wire and across the cattle gap. Now, I'm sure cattle gaps keep bulls in, but I didn't feel safe until I was back in the car. Staring at me and pawing the ground, on the other side, was a very mad bull. 

When I stopped to pick mom up, she asked "Did you find many Allens?" My reply "Not a one! It wasn't an Allen Cemetery."

And I'm still searching for Allens!

The Double Yellow Line

As I stared up the narrow dimly lit flight of stairs ascending almost straight up, I wondered if this had been a poor choice. As a “Road Warrior” who spent every week on the road, I had thought that maybe switching my routine from a hotel to a Bed and Breakfast might be an inviting change.

My client was near the Chesapeake Bay in such a beautiful area; surely, there was a wealth of places from which to choose. After searching the Yellow Pages, I discovered that there were not that many choices. After deciding on the one that seemed to be the closest, I made the call to get reservations and directions.

In giving directions, the owner of the Bed and Breakfast told me to “follow the double yellow line”. Not wanting to appear stupid, I didn’t question “What yellow line?” I figured it would become apparent. And finally, it was. You know those lines; the two down the center of the road! I had informed him that I would arrive late in the evening. His instructions had been that the key would be left under a flowerpot by the front door. I had also been told that there was only one other guest in the B&B that week.

I drove down the darkened street, passing row after row of apartment buildings, always following that double yellow line. I thought that this certainly didn’t look like an area where one would find a Bed and Breakfast. Suddenly the street, and the double yellow line, came to a dead end into another street. Either I had seen no B&B, or I had missed it. Being right-handed, whenever I am given a choice, I usually turn to the right. Thankfully, for some reason, I turned my car to the left. There, in front of me, loomed a dimly lit, monstrous house. It would have been just perfect for televising the old “Addams Family” show.

I slowly drove forward and pulled into what had once been a driveway, but was now beginning to be overgrown. The yard looked like it was several weeks past the scheduled mowing. Every part of me knew I should turn around and head back to town, but my adventurous side said "go for it." I parked, in the grass, and walked up onto the unlit front porch of the old two-storied Victorian style mansion. Looking into the foyer through the antique frosted, beveled glass door, the subdued lighting reminded me of a funeral parlor! 

I had not gotten a complete description of the house, and in the dark, it would not have mattered. I did notice that there was a flowerpot, in the grass, by the front steps. I experienced mixed emotions as I groped under the pot, in the dark. Why couldn't they have left a light on? I hoped this was the house, for I did not relish having someone call the police because a stranger was plundering in front of their house. I also did not know how I felt about going inside this darkened old relic. Was it going to be as scary on the inside, as it was outside? When my fingers touched the key, I didn't know whether to feel relief or fright. Should I pick up the key, or just get in the car and leave? I knew I had to see what was inside!

I went back to the car and took out my briefcase and luggage. I came back to the front door and followed the instructions given by the owner. I went inside and began to search for the back staircase. As I passed through the high-ceilinged living room, dining room, and kitchen on my way to the backstairs; the rooms were furnished with wonderful pieces of antique furniture. 

As I lugged first my luggage, and then my briefcase up the narrow, steep stairs I decided to score one for hotel elevators. From the description I had been given, I knew I had arrived in “The Baltimore Room.” It was a beautifully appointed room with green and white striped wallpaper, an antique four-poster bed, and an adjoining bath containing an old bathtub with claw feet. I went through my “week on the road arrival routine” and unpacked all the essentials. All the while, I had one ear tuned to listen for any other sounds in the house, and I heard nothing. Score two for the noise in hotel corridors.

After I finished unpacking, I decided it was time to call home and let my hubby know that I had arrived safely. I looked around the room and found that there was no telephone (this was before cell phones). I had left the room door open while going through the unpacking routine, I closed the door ready to lock up for the night, and I discovered not only did the room have no phone, the door had no lock!  At this point, I decided that hotels were not so bad after all. My score pad was leaning heavily in their favor.

The antique four-poster bed was very comfortable, but it did not matter. A good night's sleep, in a room with no phone and no lock on the door, was not in the cards for me that night.

I was relieved when daylight came, after a sleepless but uneventful night. A bountiful and delicious breakfast was on the table by 7:00 a.m. The other guest and I heard the story of the house, which was on the National Historic Register. It truly was a beautiful home, and would have been a great choice had my husband been traveling with me.

In later years when I began to tire of hotels, I only had to remember my night in the house at the end of the double yellow line. I reminded myself that those continental breakfasts came with phones and locks on the door!