If you’re going to attend a small town Southern Baptist Church covered dish supper, bring your A-game.
You don’t want to take the “walk of shame” with a dish ofuntouched food at the end of the night, a fact my Aunt Sue had forgotten after years of living in Dallas, while working as a flight attendant.
According to legend, she created a monster trying to replicate her mother’s Apple Brown Betty; foregoing white flour, butter and brown sugar, the main ingredient as indicated by the name...then a crazy lady—in disguise—snuck off with it, Pyrex dish and all. Town speculations of the recreated Betty ran amok, at one point not even including apples as an ingredient.
Years later and wanting to hear the real story,I cornered her at my Uncle Bill’s house following the funeral of my Uncle WT (pronounced Dubya-T) where the family reconvened to reminisce and eat.
Bill, always the aggravator, immediately hit her with, “Bring us some of that Apple Brown Betty, Suzie-Q?” so I dove in, not wanting to miss the perfect opportunity. “Tell me,” I simply stated.
Aunt Sue immediately debunked what I’d heard through the rumor mill by stating that apples wereindeedin the compromised recipe.
Syrupy sweet tea in hand, we sat in a quietish corner, rare in a family of loud interrupters, while she filled me in. I already knew some details. She was home on a visit, a much-needed vacation from flying, which coincided with a monthly church covered dish supper and decided to demonstrate a “healthy-yet-delicious” versionof the traditional southern dessert, being mindful of the increased rate of obesity and ever-expanding waistlines.
She began, "Bill took me to Piggly Wiggly to find whole wheat flour. The recipe was just like mother’s; only missing white flour, sugar and butter.” (Not the same at all, I thought.)
“I baked it in a Pyrex dish. It was surprisingly dense and, well, a weird brown.” (Gross, but I nodded and smiled.)
“I put it on the table with all the fattening desserts; ambrosias, pies, banana puddings and strawberry shortcakes.” (I felt the beginning stage of diabetes, but my mouth still watered at the image.)
“Everybody lined up and I was toward the back with Vicky (Sue’s childhood best friend) and her mama. My plate was pretty full by the time I got to desserts.” (An understatement since 102-pound Aunt Sue typically ate her weight in food at these events.)
She continued, “I’d just picked up the spoon to put a dab of The Brown Betty on my plate, and that’s when it happened.” (Images of a hero throwing himself on the table to save her from “The Betty”, ran through my mind.)
“Vicky’s mama said, ‘Ewww, WHAT is THAT?’” Sue reddening at the memory, continued, “I threw down the spoon and said I DON'T KNOW BUT I DON'T WANT ANY.” (Sweet tea shot out of my nose and mouth. Sue looked puzzled so I said, “I saw a bee,” swatting at nothing.)
“Naturally, I pretended to get another napkin so I could get that little dab without anyone around and honestly, it wasn’t THAT bad.” (“Honestly" usually meant a lie would follow.)
“Bill and I had to hang around an hour so I could get my dish off the table without any witnesses because it was STILL FULL,” (I pictured her in sunglasses with a scarf covering the lower half of her face, slipping the full dish—only missing the one dab—into a paper bag then fleeing the scene.) “I needed the Pyrex back, but I don’t think anyone saw me.”
And so, “a witness” started the legend of the “healthy" Apple Brown Betty and how it was stolen by a stealthy lady in sunglasses and a scarf.
Lisa Owens writes a monthly column for the Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter. Her columns are inspired by true events. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.