Category: sweet treats

…krave-worthy Krispy Kreme Kroutons!

Being that today is “National Doughnut Day,” seems fitting to share one of my Krispy Kreme Kreations with you.

It just so happens that my lastest, krunchy Cinnamon-Butter Krispy Kreme Kroutons, is one of four North Carolina food icons I got to blab about in the November issue of Carolina Country Magazine. I chose Krispy Kreme as one of the four for a couple of reasons. For starters, when talking about iconic foods here in North Carolina, KK is at or near the top of any such list. KK is also celebrating a milestone birthday this year… their 80th! I even made this scrumptious sundae with KK Kroutons and Kookies to celebrate.

Aren’t we so happy Krispy Kreme was born?

I’ve been making these blissful little krouton morsels for years, just never got around to sharing until now!  You can make ’em in no time flat, but be warned.

….krunchy krispy kreme kroutons

Nobody can eat just one, or 10, so make a big old mess of them! Folks love to munch on “kroutons” right out of the bowl, but I enjoy on top of Ma Perry’s Boiled Custard, a Perry family tradition that started before I came along… a long time ago.

I do hope you will make some kroutons, and come back to let me know what you think… I’m pretty sure you will be the Kueen if you serve up a pile of these sometime soon.
Don’t you think KK should bag my kroutons too?  

Krispy Kreme Kroutons

Cinnamon-Butter Krispy Kreme Kroutons

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Cinnamon-Butter Krispy Kreme Kroutons
Krispy Kreme “Kroutons” are a fun treat by themselves, but floating in boiled custard to enjoy at the bottom of your cup is good, too!
Ingredients
  • 6 Krispy Kreme Doughnuts,
  • 1 stick butter. melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Using kitchen scissors, cut each doughnut into 12 "coins." Spread cut pieces out on baking pan and let air dry, uncovered, overnight.

  2. Preheat toaster oven or oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in microwave and stir in cinnamon. Toss “kroutons” in bowl with cinnamon butter. Bake about 5 minutes, tossing as needed, until golden brown.

  3. Cool and store in airtight container.

So, what are your ideas for using Krispy Kreme Kroutons?
Do tell…

What time is it? Muscadine time….

One of my favorite things about the arrival of fall would be grapes! Muscadine grapes…. native to the south grapes. We know, as they turn into those sweet little balls of deliciousness and ripen into nature’s candy, that fall is on our doorstep. And for those of us who are drained by the heat and humidity of another North Carolina summer, they are a harbinger of cooler days ahead!

I have fond memories as a child of the vines….  one was in my Mama and Daddy Hocutt’s back yard… a vine he’d planted and tended and nurtured long before I came along in 1958. He left us when I was just 8, but I still can remember going up under that big shady vine with him that would be hanging full of luscious scuppernong grapes. We would suck the slimy pulp and juice out of dozens of grapes, spit seeds, laugh… then fill our bowls to put in the refrigerator to get nice and cold for later.  I remember how sweet the air that surrounded us was. I remember how nice and cool it was up under there. I remember…

muscadine grapes

Now let’s stop right here and do a little grape lesson… 
Scuppernong grapes are muscadines, but not all muscadines are scuppernongs…. got it?  Scuppernong is a variety of muscadine… but many of us grew up with only scuppernongs and thinking they were one an the same and only muscadine, so we grew up believing what turned out to be a myth.

OK… back to the topic at hand!
So, I’d never cooked anything using muscadine grapes. The few recipes I’d come across just seemed like a whole lot of work with those seeds and skins and all… for only a few bites of something.  Oh my, was I WRONG!

A couple of years back, my old friend Lisa Prince (at NC Department of Agriculture) asked me if I would like to be a part of an episode of Flavor, NC they were going to be filming on muscadine grapes!  And if so, I would need to come up with a few recipes using them. Well of course I would LOVE to be a part of a show I love… and helping promote goodness grown here in North Carolina… but I admit, a bit of panic set in about creating grape recipes!  But I love a challenge and new culinary adventures, so I jumped right on it.

However… my first question as we were to film in November…. where the heck shall I get grapes at that time of year?

First thing I learned… you can freeze grapes!  Whaaaat?  
Yep, Lisa assured me so and said they would have bags for me to work with!  Who knew?!?  So folks, as we are in the prime days of our muscadine grape season here in North Carolina, grab yourself some big old zippered bags and freeze away! Because when you see my Muscadine Crisp recipe, you’ll know why.

So with that worry aside, I started googling, and “Pinteresting” (my new word) to find inspirations and “how-tos” from others who have created muscadine grape recipes. I quickly learned… these are about as scarce as a fresh muscadine grape in April!  I could count on one hand anything close to what you’d call “creative” that my searches turned up.
No problem… I’ll figure this out because that’s what I do… even if I have a limited supply of frozen grapes, with little room for error to recreate or start all over. (Insert mini panic attack, but hey, I’ve GOT this.)

Well it just so happened that in the time between I was to do this creation and then make again for filming the show, I had previously planned another of my culinary adventures up… wayyyyyy up in the NC mountains to the John Campbell Folk School, for a week-long 18th Century Open Hearth Cooking Class! 

{Let me digress here for a moment to tell you that this place is “all THAT and then some!” If you love learning new things… in the old school way, be it wood-working, blacksmithing, banjo or dulcimer making and playing, art by needle/thread/fabric and a gazillion other things, GO THERE! My jaw was on the floor at our lunch on Friday as we all gathered to display our accomplishments that week and I long to go there again and again. A small group actually built, from scratch, their own dulcimers AND learned to play a few songs from Sunday eve till Friday noon!}

So… in my hearth cooking class, where I learned the most amazing things and actually cooked in a ginormous hearth so big we could bend over up in it to move pots and kettles and coals around (while hobbling on crutches as well), we cooked things each day, 100% authentic to that era.

Hearth at John Campbell Folk School

Hearth at John Campbell Folk School and WAY bigger than it looks in this picture!

We even learned which of the herbs we could harvest from the garden there to use in our cooking since not all of them had been brought “here” yet. Recipe choices would be laid out on a wooden table (that was, of course, made at the school in the woodworking shop) that was draped in vintage cloth and we would select those we wanted to prepare. Well normally, I wouldn’t choose any sort of baked thing, but low and behold, there laid a “receipt” for a Muscadine Pie!  And as it was in October, there were muscadine grapes there in the mountains in our pantry fridge. I grabbed that one right away so I could get down to the nitty gritty (and get my fingers stained and “broke in”) of this muscadine phobia here, where I had an instructor who could help me with this self-imposed terror.

First, I had to… MAKE DOUGH for my pie! A terrifying thing in itself…. that turned out to be a piece of cake.
Next, I had to prepare the grapes, and to my surprise, wasn’t such a big deal either… as I had no idea the hulls were a part of the filling. (And oh my, the soft baked texture in the sweet muscadine syrup of the pie was divine!)  

Without belaboring this story to get to why we are here (my Flavor, NC grape recipes!), I share my very first ever muscadine creation!  I even “garnished” it with some edible violets from the garden and a dough design of a bunch of grapes (unlike how you see muscadines growing)… LOL  Pretty snazzy, eh?  

Muscadine Pie

…my first muscadine creation!

And I’m here to tell you, this may have been the b.e.s.t. pie to ever cross my lips. It SO inspired me to get in my cookhouse when I returned home to create muscadine recipes for the show.  I think the timing was surely one of those Godwink moments… to put that muscadine challenge before me, the week before I was to attempt my first creations, with few resources “out there” to help me.  I knew in that moment as I savored that deep, rich grape infused pie… yet, I’ve got this too!

Fast forward to getting back home, after pulling my cute little Squash Blossom Vintage Camper into, and back out of the mountains… as far into the mountains you can go in North Carolina and still be IN North Carolina. Eight hours, much of which was the definition of “white knuckles.” 

My adventure to John Campbell Folk School!

I didn’t fully set up Squash Blossom due to an ongoing foot “issue” but just enough to sleep at night! So this is the abbreviated Blossom….

My mini Squash Blossom set up at John Campbell Folk School.

So… back at home, it was time to hunker down and get some muscadine recipes created for the show! I had sent Lisa my thoughts and she liked them all.  My creations were Muscadine Pepper Jelly, Muscadine Shrub and Muscadine Grape and Gingersnap Crisp. Now I’m here to tell you, although I don’t care for a lot of sweets, this crisp may be in my “Top 5” of the best things to ever cross my lips in that category… not to mention the incredibly wondermous smell of it fresh out of the oven!

We had such a fun time filming this episode in my vintage cookhouse and in the process, I overcame my intimidation of “the grape” cooking, created some tasty recipes, and fill my freezer each fall with grapes to enjoy making my crisp during cold, winter, fireplace months. Find and enjoy all 3 of my Flavor, NC Muscadine Grape recipes down below.

Filming Muscadine Grape Episode for Flavor, NC with Lisa

Fun day filming Flavor, NC Muscadine Grape Episode in my cookhouse with friend Lisa Prince!

We had this crisp for our family Christmas dessert last year, and might again this year too. 

muscadine grape and gingersnap crisp

Muscadine Grape & Gingersnap Crisp on Flavor, NC

My Muscadine Pepper Jelly is yummy over cream cheese… or as a baste on chicken or pork & veggie kabaobs!

Muscadine Pepper Jelly

Muscadine Pepper Jelly over Cream Cheese or as a Chicken or Pork & Veggie Kabob Baste!

And to freshen up, how about a nice Muscadine Shrub?

Flavor NC Muscadine Grape Shrubs

Refreshing Muscadine Grape Shrubs for Flavor, NC!

I hope you will enjoy my recipes, and leave a comment about ways you enjoy muscadine grapes too!

muscadine grape and gingersnap crisp
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Muscadine Grape & Gingersnap Crisp
Don’t be intimidated by using muscadine grapes for crisps, cobblers and pies. It’s a simple process that takes just a few minutes of time to cut into and remove seeds with your fingers… but so worth the time and effort! Every North Carolinian needs to be sure and make muscadine desserts… the flavor will have you asking “why haven’t I done THIS before?”
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, North Carolina Goodies, Southern Desserts
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • about 6 cups muscadine grapes, washed
  • about 1 1/4 cups sugar*
  • about 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 30 small gingersnap cookies
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • pinch sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.

  2. To prepare grapes: Over bowl (to capture juices), cut grapes in half (scissors work best) and push seeds out with thumb. Toss grape halves (hull and pulp) and juice into bowl. Stir in sugar and flour. Mix well and put mixture into prepared baking dish.

  3. Put all topping ingredients except butter into food processor. Pulse until cookies are roughly chopped. Add butter and continue pulsing until incorporated and mixture is crumbly.

  4. Scatter crumbs over grape mixture. Bake about 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly. Baking time will vary a bit depending on depth of baking dish.

Recipe Notes

*If grapes are super ripe and sweet, you might use a bit less sugar.

This recipe will do best in 9×9” or 11×7” baking dish.

 

Muscadine Pepper Jelly
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Muscadine Grape Pepper Jelly (and basting sauce)
This tasty jelly can be warmed and used as a glaze on meat and vegetable kabobs! Serve over salty and tart cheeses on toast as an appetizer too. The muscadine flavor really shines through with this jelly. If using purple/black hulled grapes, the rich red-hued color is spectacular!
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Main Course, Sauces
Cuisine: Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, Grilling, North Carolina Goodies, Southern
Servings: 8 1/2 pint jars
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 5 cup muscadine grape juice
  • 1 box pectin
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1-2 finely diced jalapeno jelly, optional
Instructions
  1. Heat grape juice and pectin in heavy bottomed pot. Whisk to dissolve the pectin. Stir in sugar and peppers. Bring to a boil for one minute. Remove from heat and put into hot sterilized jars. Process as usual.

 

Flavor NC Muscadine Grape Shrubs
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Muscadine Grape Shrub
This refreshing old-fashioned “tonic” is making a comeback. The syrup is really versatile and can be used for all sorts of tasty beverage concoctions. Such an easy way to enjoy the rich flavor of muscadines throughout the year!
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • about 4 cups muscadine grapes
  • 2 cups sugar, (see notes)
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • aromatic herbs, optional (I use rosemary)
Instructions
  1. Combine grapes and sugar in large jar with lid. Muddle to break up grapes and incorporate with sugar. Cover and sit in a cool dark space for up to 24 hours. Shake occasionally so that sugar dissolves.
  2. Add vinegar and any aromatics as desired. Cover and shake. Let this mixture steep in cool dark place or refrigerator for about a week (or more) to let the flavors meld.

    Using a sieve or cheesecloth, strain the syrup into jar. This mixture will keep in the refrigerator up to six months (if it lasts that long!).

  3. To serve: Pour a bit of the syrup over ice and top with club soda or sparkling water. For cocktails, omit the water and add a splash of liquor. Those that work well are vodka, rum and gin.

    Generally, you will want to mix one part syrup to about 3-4 parts sparkling water. Champagne shrubs are tasty too!

Recipe Notes
  • Sugar options: Most any sugar (and combinations) will work. Just be sure the sugar you use complements the grapes (or whatever fruit you use).
  • Vinegar options: Apple cider vinegar tends to offer best flavor for shrubs, but other flavorful vinegars work nicely, as long as they do not complete with and drown out flavor of the grapes.

So… visit a local muscadine farm right now while the get’n is good… and if you don’t have time to use them, fill up your freezer so when hunkered down on a cold winter’s day, you can make yourself this Crisp… you will be SO glad you did!

Squishy Fig Gingerbread… oooh la LA!

Squishy Fig Gingerbread

It’s no new news that I’m not the baker. I can do it when need be, but all that chemistry of proper measurements annoys me… I’m not particularly into tedium, and I much prefer concocting stuff where the final successful outcome isn’t determined by improper measurement of a bit of this or that. 

When I was recently gifted with a bunch of sweet ripe figs, I said “self, what SHALL we do with all these here figs?”  Of course, I could throw together some quick and simple preserves. I’ve got that covered. But dang, look at all those figs still in that bowl (aside from those I’m throwing in my mouth while pondering).

So, first thing I did was to fill up my mini crock pot (I adore that thing) with figs, squishing with my fingers as I threw them in.

NOTE:  Squishing is an accepted cooking term and process, at least in my kitchen. You squish when you want to break up whatever ’tis you’re working with, but still want to keep pieces in tact, mostly for the texture. 

…the makings of crock pot fig preserves

So once I had my little crock filled with squished figs, I drizzled in some honey, a squeeze of 1/2 an orange and a little orange zest. I didn’t put much honey, because the figs were perfectly ripe and fully sweet all by themselves.  I turned my little gadget on “high” and in a few hours, had…. fig preserves!  I only made a small batch so I didn’t go through all the processing… and made a few batches of this to share.

Trader Joe’s Raisin Rosemary Crisps!

My favorite way to enjoy fig preserves is with cheese! If you have never savored fig preserves on some good salty cheese… or in my case, my FAVE Cambozola Cheese, well, you just haven’t lived! My family loves this too, and it’s always on our Christmas “nibbly” table. We particularly love this on these Trader Joe’s Raisin Rosemary Crackers! 

That weekend, some friends invited me over, so i took a little nibble…. some cambozola with some fruited crackers, my tomato jam and these freshly made fig preserves…. most there had never had such a combination and loved it. AND, the ones that “don’t like blue cheese” really liked this creamy Gorgonzola blue/Camembert combination cheese too.  

…Cambozola Cheese with Tomato Jam & Fig Preserves

 

 

 

Another way I love these preserves is in a grilled bacon and Swiss cheese sandwich…. 

Grilled Swiss Cheese & Bacon Sandwich with Fig Preserves….

 

 

 

OK…. so let me get back on track and tell you about my gingerbread.  I had had gingerbread on my brain for a few days and suddenly, the thought of combining moist sweet figs into rich gingerbread seemed like something to do… or at least ATTEMPT to do.

I pulled out an old recipe I had and went to tweaking… having no idea what would happen! I was really hoping for success so I could spring a tasty baked goodie recipe on all those who know me as the NON-baker,” self included. I’m so tickled to report that… IMO, success has been achieved! I declare, this gingerbread is da’bomb and exactly what was in my head when I embarked on this culinary cooking adventure.  I do hope before the figs are all gone, you will give this recipe a try, and come back here and tell me what you think…. did you like it? did you tweak it?

So since I have 11 new recipes I must get to in the kitchen and create for publication deadline, (but let myself get diverted to this post)…. here you go!  I hope you enjoy as much as I have… I even wrapped up some of the bars and threw in my freezer to enjoy after all the figs are gone this year!  

Note: This recipe was created using Savory Spice Shop Raleigh spices!

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Squishy Fig Gingerbread

Looking for a new way to enjoy all those ripe figs? Here you go... my squishy fig gingerbread! The figs make this gingerbread sooooo moist and a bit "gooey" too. A dusting of powdered sugar and you're good to go. Cut into bites, bars.... or enjoy a slab if that suits your fancy. 

Course: Brunch, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, Southern Desserts, Summer Food
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, liquified
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup self-rising corn meal mix
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon apple pie spice
  • 2 cups very ripe figs squished with fingers
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 13x9 baking dish.

  2. Using mixer, gently combine eggs, sugar, molasses, coconut oil and extracts until blended.

  3. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix into wet ingredients a little at the time until well incorporated. 

  4. Using spatula, fold in squished figs.Pour into baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the surface starts showing cracks.
  5. Let cool, slice and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

***Happy 80th Birthday Krispy Kreme!***

One of North Carolina’s finest, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, is turning 80 today!  And THAT, my friends is cause for celebration.  Those of us lucky enough to have grown up with being fed KK’s in our high chairs are truly blessed.  And I’m certain, just better folk because of it.

Life gets better with Krispy Kreme KKroutons & KKrispy KKookies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many memories of going to the KK on Person Street in Raleigh and swooning by the doughnut-making room window…. and years later, beckoning the call of the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign aglow!  Even today, if passing by, I succumb to that sign!! My car just automatically “hangs a left” into the parking lot. And even though now there’s a drive-thru, I just must go inside…. for the full and complete experience ~ ok, so I just want to watch those morsels of heavenly round fried dough get slowly bathed in a shower of liquid sugar!! Oh lort, is there anything better on earth? If so, I’d just as soon not even know.

(Trivia…. Do you know what year that “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign made its debut?  Why that was in 1992!)

There’s even a “Hot Light App!”

My now ‘tween nephew Wyatt was raised “right” as they say… and in the south, that raise’n includes full indoctrination to Krispy Kremes from near’bout the time of birth. I suspect there are probably folks who detoured down Person St. over the years on their way home with their new baby… to celebrate!

Surely made some fond memories with my nephew Wyatt on Person Street… @ Krispy Kreme!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve got other Krispy Kreme Koncoctions to share, so stay tuned. But for now, without further ado, I bring to you…. my Krispy Kreme Birthday Sundae “Kake” ~ because who needs “cake” when you can have Krispy Kreme Kroutons, Krispy Kreme Krispy Kookies and Krumbles instead!  I’ve been making these things long as I can remember… (mostly just to nibble on) and decided as a birthday present to you, it was high time I passed along this quick little secret!

To make KK Kroutons, snip a few doughnuts with scissors and toast about 1-2 minutes in toaster oven until lightly browned.  Let sit for about 5 minutes to let cool and turn krispy! EAT ’em. Or, scatter on ice cream sundaes…. or crumble and scatter on ice cream, on milk shakes…. they’re pretty tasty with a sprinkling of good flaky salt too.
I find them rather tasty with crispy crunchy bacon with coffee in the morn. Put in the comments below what you’d do with them!?!

To make KK Krispy Kookies, just tear doughnuts into about 4 pieces. Roll flat and place pieces into preheated waffle iron. It’s hard to say exactly how long since those things all seem to have a mind of their own… just check after a minute and keep a close eye on ’em or they will burn.  Lay out on a plate or pan and let cool. They will crisp up once well cooled!  Great alongside ice cream… (you can use them to “dip” in your ice cream).  Also yummy with a dab of peanut butter or with your morning yogurt. Let your mind go wild…. or, just eat them as they are!

And a final note… Thank you, Mr. Vernon Rudolph, for bringing us this melt-in-your-mouth simply divine concoction. And thank you for an outstanding fundraising opportunity, that has bought band uniforms and air conditioners for schools, books for libraries… and paid for church needs too!  Gosh, it surely would be interesting to see a list of all the many things your doughnuts have helped to fund.

Now go make yourself one of these KKrispy treats…. because we all need to celebrate Krispy Kreme, right?

Grunt?… or Slump? Campfire Blueberry Peach Fruit Grunt

So which is it…. Grunt? or Slump?  You might have seen these descriptions for fruity desserts and wondered…what the heck?  Well you will be happy to know that grunts and slumps are one in the same!  Now don’t confuse them with cobblers, crumbles and crisps, buckles, brown bettys, pandowdy or the regionally almost-famous North Carolina Sonker!  Are you fully befuddled now?  

Each one of these baked goods are delicious in their own way, but are not the same… and traditionally include fruit, flour, sugar and butter. What can be wrong about any such thing? So, let’s have a quick lesson to un-confuse ya. 

Let’s start out with the grunt, aka slump, since this post’s recipe is just that!  Featured in June’s Carolina Country Magazine, you will find my Campfire Fruit Grunt recipe down below you can easily print out and make for your crowd this July 4th!

Originally an English steamed fruit dessert, a grunt/slump is basically a cobbler, but cooked covered on a campfire or grill… or stovetop, rather than inside the oven. This kinda sorta steams the topping (typically a biscuit type dough)… and when it cooks, it makes a “grunting” noise around the edge and topping… thus, the name “grunt.” And once done, it “slumps” down into the skillet…. voila, “Slump!”  I’m particularly fond of crispy crunchy things, so you will find the topping on my grunt/slump recipe below to have a bit of those features rather than a softer biscuit dough as you will find with traditional recipes.

Cobbler… the name comes from the “cobblestone” appearance of the baked topping of a cobbler. Traditional cobblers are cooked casserole style and topped with biscuit dough and once cooked resemble cobblestones you may see on an old street…. not pie crust as many folks do these days. If you are served cobbler with pie crust on top, that’s pie, not cobbler! Sometimes you might even see a “crust” bottomed cobbler too. The filling cooks down into a fruity syrupy goodness. Nowadays you might see cobblers topped with such things as cookie dough and even cake batter.

Crumbles and Crisps... as the name says, this crumbly-topped fruity baked goodie is topped with an oatmeal struesel mixture…. thus, you have a “crumbly” topping.  Nowadays these have become one and the same. Originally, the main difference was that crisp toppings had oats while crumbs did not. Other toppings might have nuts, graham crackers or cookies in the mixture.

Buckles… these are kind of a cake with fruit on top of the batter and a crumb topping.  They are kinda sorta like a coffeecake, but have a softer and more buttery texture. And of course the name…. because it buckles when cooked!

Brown Bettys…. from Colonial days, this dessert usually features layers of sugared apple slices and buttery crumbs, most often made from stale bread.  Our ancestors wasted nothing and of course, would turn old bread into a sweet treat! 

Pandowdy… this is basically a pie without a bottom crust. Pieces of crust dough are scattered about the top and as ready to serve, broken up into the fruit with a spoon a bit and “dowdied” up so to speak.  Traditionally made with apples, pandowdy can be made with any sort of fruit. Molasses is sometimes used as sweetener in Pandowdy, or Pan Dowdy, spelled both ways.

NC Surry County Sonker… The Sonker is indigenous to North Carolina and so loved that it has it’s own festival (1st Saturday in October) and “trail.”  Over in Surry County, the rich heritage of the Sonker is celebrated and showcased on the trail in cafes and restaurants. Sonkers are cooked casserole style, like a deep dish pie, in a rectangle baking dish. Back in the day, it was often cooked in a big bread pan so there would be a plenty to feed all the farm hands that day.  As for its composure, you will get differing opinions on that. Some say it has a bottom crust while others say only side crusts. Either way, the fruit is often covered with a lattice pastry top.  Pretty much any sort of fruit can be used, combination of fruits…. and some even have vegetables like sweet potatoes… one of the most popular kinds of sonker.  No matter the crusts, a milk “batter” is poured over top, and the cooked sonker is served with milk “dip.”
I could go on and on about the sonker and will one day do a post just on that topic. For now, you can read more about its history at Our State Magazine.

And for a traditional Sweet Potato Sonker, here’s a recipe I prepared and styled for this piece a few years back when at Our State Magazine as food stylist and recipe developer. (This is not my recipe.)

There are other similar fruit desserts, but will save those for another time… like Clafouti, Shortcakes, Boy Bait, Long Cakes, Bird’s Nest Pudding and some I may not even have heard of.  Today’s post will get you started…. so throw yourself together this Grunt/Slump I recently created for Carolina Country’s June edition. I declare, here in mid-blueberry/peach season in North Carolina with folks camping and grilling all around, there’s no reason not to!  So stop by your local peach and berry farms or farmers’ market and get some fresh summer fruits… your favorites, and GRUNT!

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Campfire Fruit Grunt

Grunts (also called Slumps) were born in New England and are a steamed cobbler that “grunt” when cooking and “slump” as they settle. This treat will make you the envy of the campground!  Great as a dessert, but also enjoyed as a breakfast treat as well.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Servings: 8
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 12" cast iron skillet
  • about 3 cups each fresh blueberries and sliced peaches
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup self-rising corn meal mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
Instructions
  1. Prepare coals or heat grill to medium high heat. Put fruits, sugar and cornstarch in skillet and stir to combine.

  2. Put all dumpling ingredients except milk into zippered plastic bag. Squish with fingers until butter has been incorporated and you have a crumble mix. Blend in milk.

  3. Add dollops of dumpling batter on top of fruit, leaving space for it to bubble and “grunt.” Close grill lid to cook. If cooking on open coals, cover with foil.

    Cook over indirect heat for about 15 minutes until hot and bubbly.