It’s officially fall in the mountains and we are still overcome with fruit. Apples have made their appearance, along with pears, and raspberries are here a second time to seduce us with their sweet red juiciness. The temperature is dropping which means we might stand the heat of the oven. We better make some pie.
A good pie crust is flaky and buttery and not always easy to get right the first time. It takes some cold ingredients and a little experience. We have some great pie makers in our extended Folk School family. Barbara Swell wrote a book about “The Lost Art of Pie Making” and she helped me get it just right. She can make an awesome crust with no lard or crisco, just butter. We have another great pie maker coming in to town for our Holiday Week in the Mountains in early December. Chris Carroll makes wonderful pies. Sometimes she even fills them with chocolate. Her Holiday Baking class will send each student off with home canned pie filling made from local seasonal fruit preserved in class. And there will be plenty of time to make pies before they leave, too.
We have a pie making project in process this week. The Brasstown Morris Dance teams will be performing English style seasonal display dances with garlands, sticks, bells, hankies and wooden clogs on the Festival Barn stage this Saturday and Sunday. They are fund raising for a trip to England next summer to learn new dances and meet other teams. Their booth serving British style food will feature handmade meat pies filled with ale braised local Brasstown Beef. There will also be cheese and veggie pasties along with a bunch of other treats like scones, shortbread and apple brown betty made from our own apples. Brasstown is a community that loves to cook and eat good food and wants to share it with others. But there is a limited number of pies, so get them quick. Morris dancers turn out to be doctors, nurses, builders, teachers, artisans and designers by the light of day which doesn’t leave much time for pie baking.
If the warmth of the kitchen and the glorious bounty of local fruit calls out to you this season, we are here to help. Say “aye” to a pie.
Nanette Davidson has lived for most of my her in Brasstown, NC. In 1999, she created the cooking program for the John C. Campbell Folk School and served as the Resident Artist in Cooking until 2019. She is the author of The Folk School Cookbook.
Nanette is also a professional weaver, a charter graduate of the Haywood College professional craft curriculum, and is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.