Recently this column touched on the importance of regional baking traditions. At the McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History, and Community Action, myself and Marie Williams have been working on a series of events highlighting the stories of a few of our region’s local pie makers to be featured in our Pies for Pavement event in partnership with the Russellville Community Market. Below are just a few of the pie makers’ stories. Would you be willing to share yours? Read on to learn more!
Jennifer Freeman of Dover is best known for her homemade cheesecake, which was a favorite of her husband’s when they were dating. After years of baking the instant version she learned to cook them from scratch and now makes them for local events, including weddings. She sites her grandmother as an early baking inspiration: “On holidays or special occasions she would ice the cake, always white icing, and crush up peppermint candies for decoration.” She recalls. “She never used a mixer just a slotted spoon, which I can proudly say that I now have,” she explained to Marie Williams.
Marie also spoke with Charlotte Haralson of Dover who is known for her Chocolate Cream Pie. “She learned to make the pie working for a lady who made them for Bewley’s Tasty Burger, a restaurant Charlotte worked at during her senior year of high school,” writes Marie. Making the pies reminds her of working at the diner where she met her husband, Billy. Like Jennifer, Charlotte first learned the basics of baking from her grandmother. “My granny made the best homemade rolls and she had the best homemade butter,” recalled Charlotte. They were just so delicious,” Haralson says. “I enjoyed going to see her so much that just knowing the rolls would probably be there was an added bonus.”
Freda Cossey of Dardanelle learned to cook by watching her mother in the kitchen. “She allowed me to do little things, such as peeling potatoes, washing vegetables, but eventually making biscuits,” Cossey explains. “When she started working, I was about 12, and she allowed me to start cooking meals at that time,” she adds. For the Pies for Pavement event, Freda will be making a Sweet Potato Pie she discovered in a Martha White Flour Cookbook years ago. “The cover is missing, so I don’t know the copy-write date,” she explains, adding that “sweet potatoes are really nutritious, so I don’t feel so guilty about indulging with an extra slice of pie.”
Connie Nelson of Dardanelle learned to cook from her Mother and grandmother. “As s a child, I stayed with my Mammaw while Mom was at work and a lot of our time was spent in the kitchen,” she explained. For the event she will be making a pecan pie from a recipe her mother wrote down as she had learned it from her mother. “My Mammaw, being quite frugal, used what she had on hand and there were pecan trees on their property that my great grandfather (her father) planted. We still own property with some of those trees and I will use pecans from there in my pie,” she explains. Baking is one way Connie says she can stay connected to previous generations. “I enjoy making pies and feel it is a way to sort of stay connected to my Mother and Mammaw. I have my Mammaw’s dough board and Mother’s rolling pin and use them when I bake.”
Here’s How the Event Works:
The pies will be sold online through the Russellville Community Market, which will begin October 14th. You go to market webpage, browse the pies, select the one you want, and place your order. You can pay for the pies at the time of pickup. Pies can be picked up October 17th at the pickup site for the Russellville Community Market at All Saints Episcopal Church located at 501 S Phoenix Ave in Russellville. We’ll be at the market to hand out the pies along with a card containing a copy of the pie makers story! If online ordering is not your thing, we’ll also be holding an event in November which will also include pies! More information on that soon!
To read more stories from pie makers, please visit us at mcelroyhouse.wordpress.com. And we’re still looking for pie makers, so please consider sharing your story!
The Seed and the Story is a partnership with the Courier and Post Dispatch newspapers in Pope and Yell County, Arkansas. Written by Boiled Down Juice editor, Meredith Martin-Moats, this weekly column explores folklife, oral history, and community in central Arkansas, particularly the Yell County area where the column originates. Columns are often written in partnership with the McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History, and Community Action and humbly attempt to bridge intergenerational themes in the region.