"I heard some of them say they didn't come to the sale. They came to get something to eat," Southerland says, noting that some people have even carted the pies off to neighboring states.
The women's early mornings in the kitchen have paid off. They began fixing lunches because the church had purchased a parsonage and needed to pay for it. The sales of pies and sandwiches now have helped pave the parking lot.
Southerland says the pies still sell for $1.
"We went to a dollar and a quarter, but we came back down to a dollar," she says.
This year, there has not been a bumper crop of apples on her two backyard trees that she and her husband planted when they moved to their home in 1959. Since many of the apples were too small, the cows across the fence will feast on several of the rejects.
Southerland gathered a bushel of yellow delicious and a friend gave her another bushel, but one of her trees did not produce. Normally, she has lots of varieties from which to choose.
"My big tree is supposed to be five different kinds," she says.
When Southerland is ready to dry a batch of apples, she knows it requires patience.
"It takes me two good days to dry them," she says, noting it depends on the weather. Two days is sufficient if the weather is hot and sunny.
The drying process starts with thinly slicing the apples. Southerland places a piece of plywood over sawhorses in the yard. She covers the board with newspapers and places a cloth over the newspapers. The apples are placed over the cloth and another cloth is placed over the apples to protect them from insects.
After letting them dry all day, she brings them inside at night. If the sun is shining, she puts them outside the next day.
After the apples dry, they are put in a 100-degree oven and stirred often. The apples stay in the oven, just long enough to heat. Finally, they are placed in jars. The apples will keep for a couple of years.
"Watch them and when they get hot, you take them out," Southerland says, noting that some people keep them in the freezer instead of jars.
After handling many bushels, Southerland finally invested in an apple peeler.
"A lot of them don't have an apple peeler. They just peel them by hands and slice them."
She's not sure who taught her how to make apple pies. Maybe after years of making them, she has no desire to taste one.
"I don't care much about them," she admits, adding that she prefers custard pies.
The church is filled with good cooks who have produced a couple of cookbooks over the years. One of Southerland's contributions to a book was Vegetable Casserole. It is frequently requested for church dinners.
"That's what they holler for me to bring every time."
Southerland also is known for her walnut candy. Of course, she gets the key ingredient near her home.
"Yeah, I gather my own walnuts," she says.
Fried Apple Pies
Makes 12-15 pies
Wash and cook a quart of dried apples.
Place in a pan with enough water to cover. Cook until tender, and boil dry. Add sugar, sweetening to taste, a pinch of salt and season with cinnamon to taste. If sugar makes them soupy, cook until dry.
2 cups of self-rising flour, measure before sifting
1/4 cup Crisco
Mix flour and Crisco. Add enough milk to form a stiff dough. Pinch out biscuit-size pieces of dough. Roll out reasonably thin. Use a saucer and cut around it, which is about 6 inches around.
Put apples on half and fold. Press sides together with fingers, and then seal with a fork.
Place pies in hot shortening. Cook until brown on each side.
You can contact Emily Toadvine at email@example.com.