Saturday, September 27, 2014


And there was FUDGE!


House after house offered a tray of flat little inch-wide pieces of fudge---the old-fashioned (fairly new then, I suppose) grainy kind, with a bit of moist sugary crunch in some pieces, like when you scraped the bottom of your cornflakes bowl as you spooned up a bite.   The bits were enclosed in every twist and turn and fold of waxed paper known to woman.  I think now how many a scrrrrritttch-and tear across the saw-teeth of the box, how many scissors-snips into squares and rectangles, the opaque little curves drifting to the table like the leaves outside, must have occurred all over town on those October afternoons.


The small packets varied in skill and care as well, ranging from hasty twists, unfurling in the basket to reveal small peeks of brown or butterscotch or plain old Pet Milk Peanut Butter, to precise neat folds like a valued present, crisply creased and secure.


Several local ladies “went all out” in their offerings---notably Mrs. Freeman, whose six boys were all grown and out of the house, for her big basket trays on the porch held one of our favourite things in all the world---fried pies. 
 Her maiden sister Miss Beatha had lived with them long as anybody could remember, and was one fine cook herself.  The two sisters must have got going in that kitchen way before daylight, making up the dough and cooking those huge pots of dried apples into such a sublime filling.   You could smell the wonderful scent of frying dough and sugar from two doors down at the Reed’s. 
 For politeness’ sake, we’d stand quietly in line as little old Mrs. Reed, her three strands of powdery pearls riding high up on the back of her neck from her hunched posture, stood beside a table with a round silver plate of candy, elegantly dropping a single sugar-crusted  “orange slice” into each person’s bag with the sugar tongs; we uttered the requisite “Thank you, Ma’am,” and turned for the steps.  Her daughter, the formidable Miss Reed, teacher of second grade and all things MANNERLY, stood chatting out front with some of the adults, keeping order all down the block, merely by dint of her presence.  And ONLY that stern presence, perhaps, kept us from rushing the Freeman porch like water bursting a dam.



It seems to have always been daytime still when we lined up at that wide green porch, mostly because we all made a beeline for there first.   There would be sweet Miss Beatha, picking up a neat square of brown paper from the pile she’d cut out of saved-up grocery bags, sliding it deftly under and around a pie, with that irresistible fragrance rising around all us impatient kids like praise to Heaven.


She’d hand you yours and you’d accept it with the heartiest thanks of the night, and take that first glorious warm bite before your feet left the steps.   Those pies were the reason that many a Mama allowed the kids to take off before supper---they’d get fed SOMETHING good before all that candy.   It was FRUIT, for Goodness’ Sake, after all. 

I’m sure none of us gave a Minute’s thought to the hot, intensive labor that went on in that kitchen all day---the steaming pots in that still-hot southern climate, the rolling out and the cutting around a small saucer, the crimping of the edges, and the manning of several black skillets of bobbing, sizzling half-moons, all in various stages of Done and Ready To Turn.  Then onto a tray of laid-out grocery sacks, for that last, gnat-enticing shower of Double X sugar.


We just accepted the sweet simplicity of that lovely gift, delivered warm and crisp and delicious into our eager, grubby hands.   We held tight to our sacks, flipped up our masks or tried to avoid the painted-on charcoal or lipstick that magically transformed our faces into goblins and gangsters and fortune-tellers in big hoop earrings.  And we bit into those sweet crusty handfuls of generosity, adding a taste of homey comfort to the excitement and the scary and the wonder of the night.

Internet photos


donna baker said...

Fried pies? How lucky were you. The only thing I ever got homemade were popcorn balls. That is such a cute picture of the trick or treaters. I love fudge, but not the grainy kind. Mine always turns out hard so I quit making it. I want it the be soft and creamy.

racheld said...

Oh, Donna! DO try this easiest of all recipes (not counting the one where you just melt chocolate chipe in Eagle Brand).

We've made this for about forty years now, and I think I could make it blindfolded, if somebody would watch the clock for me.

I think out of all the hundreds of batches of this over the years, maybe ONE just MIGHT have had a little sugar-crunch in a bite or two. It's SUPER creamy and wonderful.

Vary the depth and firmness by the amounts of chips or chopped chocolate you use.

bj said...

Fudge brings me right back to my childhood and teen yrs. We made the old fashioned Hershey, recipe on the can, electric mixer so we beat it by hand, sitting on the front porch. Sooo good and,to this day, when I make fudge, it's that same recipe.
Now, fried pies...oh, honey. My mother in law made the best apricot fried pies I've ever put in my mouth and I have her recipe. Love them...
Loved your cute post...
Thanks for coming by..come back soon...and I am now following you.
xo bj

racheld said...

How very nice to have you here, bj! Though we make pounds and pounds of the Marshmallow-Cream fudge every year, every now and then I just get a hankerin' for that old dense, intense Hershey's recipe. I think it holds more than just a taste memory---it's more of a sense of a time and place, when you buttered a platter, had a little cup ready with cold water to check the "ball stage" and could scritch those last sugar-grained deep chocolate bits off the WearEver to lick from the spoon.

Thank you for joining us---I hope you'll come by again soon.


Kim S. said...

Oh, dear. Now I'm dying for a fried pie. Wonderful writing, as always.

Tonja said...

Don's grandmother used to make fried pies. And, I was lucky enough to eat a few before she passed on. Every year, my friends Tina and Shirley and I go to a little craft show in the teeny town of Gay, Georgia. It's really just 2 highways crossing! But, it comes alive for 2 days in the spring and fall. Well, they have a group there every year making those hot, delicious peach fried pies. We get one when we go in and get another on the way out!

Cheryl said...

I just found your blog and wanted to see how very much I enjoy your writing! You have SUCH a unique gift. It is just a pleasure to read the words that flow here. So grateful you were able to take all of those words and create the wonderful five books. What a treasure for your little ones to carry with them through life! God bless you for bringing a smile to my face today.

racheld said...


I wish you were here (or I there, which would be a dream-come-true) so we could give that old recipe a try. Our kitchen would take on the look of the Fried-Green-Tomatoes Caffay, with flour and dust and such a scent of frying sugar in the air.

love and,

racheld said...


It's always a treat to have you drop in---I miss your fun messages and most of all, your remembrances of moments stirred by whatever today's post was.

Hope all is well and that Fall is as grand in beautiful Alabama as it's been here!


racheld said...


What a lovely thing to have you drop in! I'm so glad you enjoyed the little bits that you read, and I thank you SO much for the kind words. It's wonderful to stir a memory or a feeling in a reader, and I hope you'll visit often.