This was my introduction to the Miss Julia series, set in the fictitious Southern town of Abbotsville, North Carolina. Prepare yourself for a fun ride, laugh out loud moments, a cast of colorful characters in this quick read! I hope this won’t be the last we see of Etta Mae Wiggins!
“Bestselling author Ann B. Ross is back with another lively adventure set in Miss Julia’s Abbotsville. For the first time, though, she writes from the perspective of another resident: the hardscrabble, heart-of-gold Etta Mae Wiggins. Etta Mae is frustrated with her trailer-park life and her no-good family, and she has big dreams for something better. Working as the home nurse for the elderly but wealthy Howard Connard, Senior, she finally sees her chance—with her sexy curves and infectious charm, Etta Mae is determined to become his wife. Unfortunately, Connard’s scheming, money-hungry son and stuck-up daughter-in-law are equally determined to make sure she doesn’t. To make matters worse, Etta Me’s exhusband Skip (her first ex, that is) has shown up with a winning lottery ticket in his hand and local thugs hot on his heels. Plus, her dreamy former flame, officer Bobby Lee, keeps popping up to remind her that she’s not over him yet. In the middle of all this mayhem, Etta Mae has to get that marriage license—before it’s too late!
A hilarious wild goose chase that takes us from the mansions of Abbotsville to the trailer park that Etta Mae calls home, this book is filled with familiar faces (including Miss Julia, who narrates the first chapter), features Ann Ross’s signature wit and southern charm, and will appeal to fans of the beloved series and newcomers alike.”
Among the colorful characters of this book, Etta Mae’s feisty Granny was my favorite:
“She came running out of the kitchen wiping flour from her hands on her apron. Wisps of white hair flew wildly about her wrinkled face, a mustard-colored smear was on her cheek, and her Reeboks left a trail of Red Band flour with every step she took. When Granny cooked, she went at it like Sherman through Georgia.”
I took my Novel Baking cues from Granny. . .
“Gonna make me some fried pies. Got up this morning with a taste for ‘em.
You can find one from Amazon, here. You can also use a bowl as a template to cut a circle of dough for your pies, crimping the edges of your pies with a fork to seal them.
I made a cream cheese pastry crust, but you can use refrigerated store-bought pie crust.
I am a Novel Baker but not a baker :) and I promise this pastry crust recipe is quick and easy to make with a food processor as well as easy to roll out!
Cream Cheese Pastry
recipe courtesy of Kraft foods
2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened (I use light cream cheese)
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small cubes
Pulse all ingredients together in food processor until dough comes together.
Divide into two portions, and shape into flat disks. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes – 1 hour, until firm.
I got 10 pies (6″ circles of dough) out of this pastry recipe, re-rolling the scraps.
Peach Hand Pie Ingredients
1 pkg of refrigerated pie crust, or recipe for a double crust pie
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups fresh peaches, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Additional sugar, or sanding sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In small bowl combine peaches with sugar, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon and cornstarch.
Unwrap refrigerated dough and roll into a circle. Using back of pie press, cut circle out of pastry dough. Lightly dust pie press with flour. Place dough circle onto top of crimped side of pie press, pressing dough circle down slightly in center.
Spoon about 1/4 cup of fruit mixture onto indented portion of pastry circle. Using a pastry brush, brush edges of pastry circle with egg wash.
With handles of pie press, fold pie in half and squeeze to crimp and seal edges.
Place pies on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with additional sugar. Cut small slits in top of pie to allow steam to escape. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
You can substitute pie filling for a quick and easy hand pie if you prefer.
Cool & serve. You can find a printable recipe, here.
“Regardless of where you live —trailer or mansion or somewhere in between—- and regardless of what Granny says, names do count. They tell who you are, where you’ve come from, and what you’ve made of yourself, all in one word. I could’ve call myself Etta Mae Taggert or Etta Mae Whitlow or Etta Mae Connard, since I’ve been, or intend to be, one or the other at various times of my life. In between though, I’ve always gone back to Wiggins, and I don’t know why unless it’s because I figured I had to start at the bottom all over again each time.”
“. . . Granny’s pots and cans of flowers on the porch were blooming all over the place.”
I used Granny’s cans of flowers as an excuse to play by my Potting Shed. . .
“Every other flowering plant that lined the porch and sat on tables was planted in a Maxwell House coffee can.”
Since this is a Novel Bakers’ review, a Swift’s Jewel shortening can is standing in for the part of Maxwell House :)
“ ‘That Miss Granny, she something else, an’ that Miss Julia Springer, she a lady an’ a half.’ ”
“Any book by the beloved creator of the Miss Julia series is a cause to celebrate. Etta Mae is one of the South’s pluckiest, most endearing characters, and readers will love her fun, fast-paced adventures.”
— Michael Lee West, author of A Teeny Bit of Trouble