I’m off on a whirlwind tour of Texas teaching at Central Market this week.  Last week I was in Nashville, Atlanta, and Chicago. I had a great time teaching at the Viking in Franklin. I also got to speak at the Culinary Historians of Chicago meeting on the “Exceptionalism of Southern Foodways.”

Folks ask me all the time about traveling. Sure, sometimes it’s hard, but mostly? Mostly, I love it. I get to meet so many nice people. Many folks are friends on Twitter and Facebook. And, the part I love the most is when students bring in their spattered and well worn copies of Bon Appétit, Y’all  for me to sign. I call that my carrot. It’s impossible to describe.

FEELING EXTRA CRISPY

Having said that, I’d like to make a few comments about air travel. I’m feeling a little extra crispy about a couple of things. First of all, there seems to be a direct correlation between how sleep deprived I am with the number of people that recognize me at the airport, which is, actually in and of itself, really, really weird.

So, heads up, although there are biscuits, Meme, and Mama — this post is a bit more colorful than my typical MO of biscuits and reminiscences of Meme and Mama.

I think a substantial number of the TSA agents were bullies growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I cannot imagine having that job. I would just be very happy if the King of TSA would make up his mind if my shoes are meant to go in or out of the bin when going through the X-ray machine. I will do as I am told. Quit moving my cheese. Or shoes, as the case may be.

Madame Real Housewife of Atlanta, I don’t think your thigh high lace up high heel boots are the best choice of footwear for the security line.

I sound like a grumpy old woman, but I do not think that college coeds need to be in their PJs with “Juicy” stamped on their butt with their tan, toned, and taunt mid-drifts showing. It’s practically soft porn in public. I am fairly certain I saw a dirty old man in the beginning stages of heart failure the other day when a bevy of sorority girls on holiday break passed him in the corridor. BTW, I didn’t stop – he was old enough to be their grandfather.

What is up with pillows at the AIRPORT? Why not just use your bed linens to wipe out the dumpster at the CDC? Eeeew.

I don’t need to watch the news or a special report about how America is failing it’s school children in math.  Airplanes board in zones that are numbered sequentially. 1-2-3-4. Never, ever does 3 jump to the front of the line. It’s not like lotto where they pull numbers off of bouncing balls. And, by the way, the plane does not board faster if you block the entrance and your zone has not been called.

TWO carry-ons are allowed per person. The number between ONE and THREE. (See above.)

If you can’t lift it, you shouldn’t be carrying it. And, if it’s the size of a body, no, it is not going to fit in the overhead compartment, otherwise, the airlines would sell seats there, too.

Off means off. It does not mean everyone on the whole plane turns off their phone except one lucky person. It means everyone. And, yes, Mister Platinum Business Man, I can see you fly a lot because you are platinum. And, no, it hasn’t changed since your flight yesterday. Off means off and that means you, too. (see Alec Baldwin)

I’d like to ban the ability for seats to recline. Seriously, is it really that much more comfortable to recline the seat? Dude, does it really transform the cattle car realm of existence you are laboring in, into the naugahyde Barcalounger back in your man cave? I don’t think so.

On that same note, I want to know who exactly figured out that the tray back on the seat in front of you is the exact height necessary to pop the screen off of a laptop? It’s exact almost to the millimeter. We’re talking infinitesimal space, “Can’t-insert-a-sheet-of-paper-between-blocks-at-Mayan-ruins” kind of thing….

That same engineer should be put on something really, really important, like creating a wall to activate instead of the armrest that comes down between you and your seatmate. I tweeted this and someone commented on the potential increase in mile-high club activity. I don’t care. At least then contorting would be worthwhile.

Maybe a force field would be best. It would need to go all the way to the floor and be extra strong near the seat area. It has become clear to me that there are some gentlemen that are quite confused about how wide their legs need to be when they sit down. Honestly. If their package were as large as they seem to think it is, they’d need a harness and a back brace.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

VA

MAMA’S READING LIST & UPCOMING EVENTS

Check out Country Living for great party and holiday entertaining ideas.

Need roasting recipes? Take a look at Eating Well.

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MEME’S OLD FASHIONED APPLE HAND PIES 

MAKES 15

Mama, Lisa, and I made these the morning after Thanksgiving using Lisa’s homemade applesauce. They were incredible. Mama and I took a bite and immediately burst into tears. They tasted just like Meme used to make. (See, you know I had to have a maudlin moment.) For serving, dust them with powdered sugar or serve them Yankee-style with maple syrup.

2 cups White Lily or other Southern all-purpose flour, or cake flour (not self-rising), more for rolling out
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
3/4 to 1 cup milk
1 heaping cup applesauce, preferably homemade
Canola oil, for frying
Confectioner’s Sugar, for serving
Maple Syrup, warmed, for Yankee-style serving

Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Set aside. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in the milk, and gently mix until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly, using the heel of your hand to compress and push the dough away from you, then fold it back over itself. Give the dough a small turn and repeat 8 or so times. (It’s not yeast bread; you want to just barely activate the gluten, not overwork it.) Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out 1/4 inch thick. Cut out rounds of dough with a 4-inch round cutter dipped in flour; press the cutter straight down without twisting so the dough will rise evenly when fried.

Place about a tablespoon of applesauce just to one side on the circle of dough. Fold the dough over, using your fingertips to remove any air pockets. Dip the tines of the fork in flour and press to seal.

Pour oil in a cast iron skillet to 1/2-inch deep. Heat over medium high heat to 350°F. Add the pie and cook until golden on both sides, 3-4 minutes total.

Repeat with remaining dough and applesauce.

Make them a few at a time to fry; don’t be tempted to make them all and then fry them. The dough is far too delicate.

It’s a good tag team dish. Have one person on the skillet and 1-2 people making the pies. When bundling the scraps, don’t smush them together in a tight knot. Lay the scraps on top of each other to roll out. The hand-pies will be more tender.

Serve hot with confectioner’s sugar or warm maple syrup.

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.

Food pics by me.