Rosa Parks and Apple Pies

In Montgomery Alabama 67 years ago the average high temperature was about 58 degrees. Not exactly balmy weather, but not frigidly cold either. The overnight lows dropped to about 40 degrees that year. Interestingly enough, on the 3rd of December 1955 Montgomery reached a daytime high of a whopping 78 degrees.

Why the weather report? It was on December 1, 1955 that Rosa Parks became the face of the Civil Rights Movement that was spurred by many injustices, including the Whites Only seating aboard city buses. Rosa Parks was not the first person to refuse to give up her seat to a white passenger. She wasn’t the only person named in the suit that wound its way all the way to the Supreme Courts, but she was selected as the face of Civil Unrest.

The first person to refuse to give up her seat was a 15-year-old girl named Claudette Colvin. Claudette was on her way home from the all-black segregated high school. On that day in March 1955, she was seated in the middle section, behind those seats reserved for white riders. She and three men were asked to move further to the back of the bus to make room for white passengers once the white section had been filled. The men moved. The young girl refused. Two police officers were summoned. She was kicked and dragged from the bus in handcuffs. Claudette was later convicted of violating the segregation law and assaulting a police officer. A family friend who worked as secretary at the NAACP helped raise money for Claudette’s defense. Her name was Rosa Parks.

Some say Rosa Parks was inspired by the teenager’s raw courage in refusing to give up her seat. Others believe Rosa Parks was selected to be defiant since she was better suited to bring publicity to the unfair segregation laws. A quiet, well respected woman was seen as a better public image than that of a head-strong teenager. Rosa Parks became the face that spurred a boycott of the public bus systems, the driving force behind peaceful marches in the streets and finally the face seen when the suit had its day in court.

So today, while we remember and pay honor to Rosa Parks for her brave stand, let’s not forget Claudette Colvin who inspired it all.

Today is also Red Apple Day and Fried Pie Day. What a winning combination! I can remember when McDonalds once served up deep-fried apple pies. Many a time I’ve burnt my lips or chin on the piping hot filling. As a teenager, no trip to McDonald’s was complete without including their apple pie.

McDonald’s began in 1948 in California serving up those All-American burgers and fries. Twenty years after the franchise made its mark on the restaurant industry, the search was on for something new and exciting to add to their menu. What could be more All-American than a slice of Apple Pie?

It was in this atmosphere of expansion that a franchise owner named Litton Cochran started experimenting with dessert ideas at his location in Knoxville, Tennessee. He began offering mini home-cooked apple pies at his restaurant. His inspiration came from his mother who used to make him deep fried hand-pies as an after school treat. His pies, served in little cardboard pouches, were an instant hit in Knoxville and caught the attention of Ray Kroc, the head of the McDonald’s corporation. By 1968, Deep Fried Apple Pies were flying out the door from coast to coast.

In 1992, as part of the whole Healthy Foods Movement, McDonald’s switched from frying their pies to baking them. Unfortunately, the change was not a success. The irony is that baking their pies did not make them a healthy alternative since everything else about the pies remained the same.

Since then, McDonald’s has continued to play around with a healthier alternative. The changes have included the use of real butter rather than shortening, less sugar, extra cinnamon and the use of six different apples. Even so, the original deep fried pies were the best. And when it comes to dessert, are we really thinking healthy choices or indulging in a little cheat?

Fried Apple Hand Pies with Powdered Sugar Glaze
Powdered Sugar Glaze
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 tablespoons Milk

Sift powdered sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in vanilla and milk to create a glaze. If too thick, add a about a quarter teaspoon of milk. If too thin, add a pinch more sugar. Set glaze aside until ready to use.

Fried Apple Pies
2 sheets Puff Pastry
1 Granny Smith Apple
1 Red Delicious Apple
3 tablespoons Butter
3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
Pinch Salt
Oil for Frying

Defrost the puff pastry according to package directions.

Peel, core and dice the apples into small pieces. Place apples into a saucepot over medium heat. Add butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla and lemon juice. Sprinkle mixture with salt, stir to blend as the butter melts. Cook apples for about 10 minutes or until just softened. Remove from heat, set aside.

Lay out puff pastry, cut into 8-inch squares. Working with 1 square at a time, spoon a heaping tablespoon of the cooked apple onto one side of the square, Brush edges of the pastry with water, fold square over to encase the filling in pastry. With a fork, crimp the edges together to seal.

Once all the squares have been filled, pour enough oil to a heavy-bottom pot or deep fryer to a depth of about 3 inches. Heat oil until 350 degrees. Test the oil with a small piece of dough. It should fry up quickly.

Gently place 2 pies at a time in the hot oil; fry for about a minute on each side. Place fried pies on a wire rack to drain, blot with a paper towel.

While the pies are still warm, brush with the glaze. The glazed pies can be held in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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