Novel Baking: Etta Mae’s Worst Bad-Luck Day and Peach Hand Pies



I’m joining The Novel Bakers with Etta Mae’s Worst-Bad Luck Day

 by Ann B. Ross

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.

Peach, I’m thinkin’.”


My pies are baked instead of fried.

I used my Nordic Ware Pocket Pie Press that I used for my Scary Hand Pies and Pocket Plum Pies.

You can find one from Amazon, hereYou 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.

Nordic Ware Pocket Pie Press

 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.

Peach Hand Pies

“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


Visit Jain and Michael Lee to see what fun

 and trouble they cooked up with Etta Mae!

a quiet life

Rattlebridge Farm


The Novel Bakers return September 8th for Picnic Week

with themed picnics, recipes, inspiration and guest bakers!

Peach Hand Pies

Thank you for your visit!

  41 comments for “Novel Baking: Etta Mae’s Worst Bad-Luck Day and Peach Hand Pies

  1. August 19, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Those hand pies surely look good! Great picnic food! Yummy! Have a great day.

  2. August 19, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I love this book series. I almost laugh until I’m sick. Ross really knows Southern humor. I love peach anything and your pies look delicious…. and the cans…. My mum used to save every can that came into the house. I never quite knew what she was going to use them for. I love the old cans with flowers in them. Fun post!

  3. donna zoltanski
    August 19, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Love your posts~must bake some peach pies too – look delicious! Thanks for book tip too – looks like a fun beach read!

  4. August 19, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Hi Mary, I have been a Miss Julia fan for a long time! The audio recordings of this series are so amusing–I like to listen while I’m doing a little organizing project or taking a long drive. Miss Julia, Hazel Marie and Etta Mae are such interesting characters. Now I’m looking forward to this newest book. I just love your flowers in the cans and tea canister…I think you will start a trend here! And the little peach pies look soooooo good! I could eat one now with my morning tea. Linda

  5. Carol Jones
    August 19, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Mary~ You are just incredible!!! I never tire of your posts and your imagination is endless! Thanks for letting us revel in your dreamscapes!

  6. Pat Kaiser
    August 19, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I really, really like your web site…but they come too fast, I’m still on last weeks because there is so much to take in… maybe you could send less often…….. Thank you, Pat

  7. August 19, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Oh my, Mary, the book and the pies sound so tasty! I’ve never read that author, but I will now…I need a good laugh. Your collection of tins, both old and new, sure look cute gathered at your potting shed. Grandma would be proud!

  8. August 19, 2014 at 8:33 am

    How FUN!! You really brought this book to life & made me want to request it from the library immediately. The author sounds like the twin sister of Michael Lee.
    Those scrumptious peaches are making my mouth water, just thinking about them. They have been wonderful this year & our Ohio crop of red ones is just now ready. YUM! Cute little hand pies!

    Now you’ve made me want to go shopping for interesting tins…very colorful & creative display on your potting shed’s bench.
    Every one of your posts just amaze me, Mary. I don’t know how you come up with such interesting & NEW ways to display things each time.

    BTW, I just bought some Cath Kidson fabric yesterday that looks very much like your pretty linens in the background. Where did you find yours, please????

    • August 19, 2014 at 8:39 am

      Hi Rett, They are a pair of dish/hand towels that found at HomeGoods several years ago :)

  9. August 19, 2014 at 9:18 am

    I just read a sample from “Miss Julia Speaks her Mind” and can’t wait to meet Etta Mae! I love quirky Southern novels, so I will be eating this one up soon, hopefully with a warm peach hand pie! I am lazy when it comes to pie crust, but I will definitely try your cream cheese crust~and I love your handy little pie maker! Your tin collection is fabulous, flowers everywhere showing their personalities~delicious fun Mary, and I can’t wait for Picnic Week!

  10. August 19, 2014 at 9:35 am

    how darn adorable is all of this! from the perfect fabrics, to grannies garden and mouth watering pies you have done an excellent job on etta maes arrival! looks like granny had a big impact on both of our taste buds today too ;-) i love all your colors swirling together, again blue and green is all i see so i REALLY notice color these days!

    which is why grannies garden is ever so resourceful and delightful to me! love all your fabulous touches and quotes, you truly made the book come alive, ESPECIALLY adding ml’s quote ;-)

    fun fun fun, i can tell you we had a delish dinner thanks to etta maes crab salat and grannies peach pie, it is so nice to truly relish your books from the pages to the plates!

    now i gots some picnic planning to do, yesterday in rained fog all day… happy anni to you, see you baskets in hand soon!

  11. Betty819
    August 19, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Mary, Just looking at those little peach pies and just the peaches alone have my mouth watering! Those books sound like it would be something I would enjoy. Right now DH and I are hooked into some Guidepost books that are always super. Two came yesterday and I am dying to get started on mine..but have other priorities..Drs. appts. Dr. Appts. Dr. Appts. Do they ever end?

    Are the flowers taken from the book or are those your home grown flowers? You’re confusing me..Thos ones that look like sunflowers look like Prairie Sun variety. I grew those last year and they are geautiful..didn’t get around to replanting the seed I had gathered from my plants last Fall. Hopefully they will still be good come Wintersowing time. Love all the display on today’s blog. Thanks for brightening my day!

    • August 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Betty, The flowers in the cans were inspired by the Etta Mae’s grandmother’s character in the book who plants her flowers in coffee cans. They’re all flowers I picked or planted with the exception of the sunflowers which came from the grocery store :)

  12. Betty819
    August 19, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Gosh, looks like I made some spelling/typing ooofs..Only thing I’ve had this morning to drink is decafe coffee. honest injun! Prairie Sun is a variety in the rudbeckia family if I remember right. They are perennials too.

  13. Cheryl
    August 19, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Welcome back Novel Bakers! I just love when you gals get together. And today’s post does not fail. Those peach pies are making my mouth water. I’d love to try making them, but I never have good luck with crust. However, your cream cheese crust sounds like a never-fail…I think I’ll give it a try. Wish me luck!

  14. August 19, 2014 at 10:35 am

    OK, disregard the e-mail! When I got here by my e-mail notice I can comment, but when I typed in your blog address it didn’t show the comment link? Anyway, LOVE this post!!! And I may just make some of these adorable hand pies. I LOVE pie, much more than a cake anyday, and Joe doesn’t eat any sweets so I could have these and maybe share the rest with neighbors!

  15. linda kemp
    August 19, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Thank you for all the fun I have reading your blog

  16. rattlebridge farm
    August 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Mary, what fun! Loved seeing Granny’s garden–and those vintage tins, filled with wildflowers from your meadow are beyond perfect. It’s always a delight to visit your potting shed, and I can almost see Etta Mae stepping down your path, pausing a moment, then lifting a flower from a tin and tucking the stem behind her ear. Now I have a hankering for peach pies, myself (I have the press/mold…just need peaches). See you at picnic week!

  17. jae
    August 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    I have loved the Miss Julia series for years! Always brings a smile reading about her adventures. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the beautiful pictures. Reading your blog is a treat I give myself.

  18. Chris
    August 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Love, love, love your flower arrangements!! Did you plant directly in the tin (with drainage holes?) or do you have a container in each? You have a beautiful blog!

  19. August 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Oh, Mary…
    What is not to love about this post!?
    The photos, the flowers, the peaches, the recipe…
    and of course, the book.

    I have been following the Miss Julia series for several years and find them hilarious. I have read all of them, in the order written and have laughed and laughed when I ‘recognize people I have known’… Ann Ross truly knows the workings of the Southern mind…

    Have been waiting for this book which promises to be as much fun to read as all the previous ones..

  20. Lynn@Happier Than A Pig In Mud
    August 19, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Your baked hand pies look great Mary! Also lovin’ the cool retro cans full of pretty flowers:@)

  21. Elizabeth
    August 19, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Another fabulous post! I always look forward to your next one.

  22. Betty819
    August 19, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Mary, I just checked our county library system website and they have all of the series..which one is the first one or how can I find out which to start out reading first? They sound like something I would love and enjoy immensely.

  23. paula
    August 19, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Again a super post ! Yummy lil hand pies, and such pretty flowers ! I think Queen Annes Lace is lovely , here people call it a weed. I always look forward to each and everyone one of your new posts !

  24. August 20, 2014 at 12:49 am

    The series sound like fun reads. I’ll check it out. As for the fried pies, OMG I so wish I had one or two right now. I’ll have sweet dreams tonight. It’s been a few years since I made fried pies. I think I need to plan a party. ;-)

  25. Betty819
    August 20, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Good Morning! Mary, Thanks for the information on Miss Julie book series. I will reserve the first one today via our Library website. When I was in the 6th. grade, we had a teacher that read to us after lunch from a series called Miss Minerva..She would put in the dialect of some of the characters while reading aloud and we hated it when she stopped for the day. I often wondered what happened to those books when she retired and when she went up to Heaven. Maybe she’s reading to all those who entered the Pearly Gates and entertaining them. She was one of the best teachers I ever had. I learned so much in her class..She even taught most of my siblings before me; the oldest living is now 87. I was the youngest of 6..I can picture her now driving up in her big old Lincoln car with other teachers that carpooled with her. Beautiful Memories this morning.

    Has anyone ever hear of a book series called Miss Minerva and Billy Green Hill? I wished I knew who the author was of those books.

  26. Betty819
    August 20, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Just googled Miss Minerva and Billy Green Hill and came up with a series written by Frances Boyd Calhoun but guess the boy character was really William Green Hill. Some others recalled the series and said their teacher read the series to them in school too. Evidently they were written in 1909 if I read the summary correctly. Amazon has the books for sale. Good ole Some people commented that the books might be considered not appropriate in today’s time.

  27. Sue
    August 20, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Thank you Mary. I’ve been delighted with every book you have recommend… and the inspiring posts you do to introduce us to these colorfull characters are a joy. I love the old cans. My gramma used them and uncles kept screws and nails in them. The peaches in Idaho are ready to be made into those pretty pies. What a peachy keen post, thank you!

  28. August 21, 2014 at 7:04 am

    One of these days I’d love to come play with you and having a fried pie wouldn’t be bad either!

  29. August 21, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I need to get my little pie maker out. These look beautiful! I would love to try them fried too – naughty!!

  30. August 22, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    You and ML do such a beautiful job. So natural looking. Those hand pies look wonderful!

  31. August 25, 2014 at 6:37 am

    Too cute. I have been on a hunt for peaches, but for some reason they have not be good in my area. No smell/no flavor. :) Your tablecloths is perfect.


  32. Betty819
    August 31, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Mary, I checked the first book of Miss Julia out and read it in 2 days. Finished it up this morning and really enjoyed it. Went on the library website and reserved the next book, probably will get notice that it is at my branch by end of week. Can’t wait to read it. Are the same characters in all the series?

  33. Betty819
    September 21, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Thank You for recommended Miss Julia books..I’m almost finished with Miss Julia takes over and this lady is quite a character and has guts and strong determination. I have laughed out loud so many times when reading and since we are NASCAR fans, we are familiar with the racing circuit crowd. My husband and a neighbor used to go to all the races, because he worked for Ford and got free tickets to the races, pit passes, free parking and sometime was invited into the Ford hospitality suite. They made friends with many of the drivers and car owners, especially Joe Gibbs, Richard Petty and got invited to one’s shop in Dawsonville, Ga. but we can’t remember his name right now..having a Sr. moment! The end of this book has stirred up a lot o memories.
    I have reserved Miss Julia throws a wedding at our library so should be getting the notice that it is in my local branch and I can pick it up. Can’t wait to start reading that one.

  34. Peggy Esposito
    July 4, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Hello! I am looking forward to making these hand pies with my peaches today but was even more surprised to see that you have the same statue that I have! – The one with the lady looking up at the sky or heaven, whichever you prefer! I love garden statues that look up !

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