Tag Archives: recipes

Cobbler, Slab, Crisp or Slump?

Some might consider the various terms used to describe fruit desserts as jargon, “insider” language to be avoided. I consider their colorful names words to ponder, and the dishes delicious treats to savor.

We all know what a pie is, but why all the other creations and the many names? A 2013 article by Kim Severson in The New York Times, “Sonkers, Grunts, Slumps and Crumbles: What You Call Your Pie Depends on Where You Live,” begins with the search for an authentic recipe for a sonker and ends with a helpful glossary.

Many of the dishes were created to stretch the use of fruit that wasn’t ready for display in a tart. Food author Amanda Hesser maintains that the various names disguise “plain desserts that have been well marketed with good names. Who doesn’t want to try a slump?”peaches-869386_640

A slump? A sonker? Give me a pinch of patience and I’ll describe them. Let’s start with the ubiquitous cobbler. Severson said that what you call a cobbler depends on what you grew up with.

Here in the West, pioneers brought their recipes with them, so a cobbler may be interpreted in several ways in the same state. A 1984 fundraising cookbook from the Owyhee County, Idaho,  Senior Citizens, Country Cooking, shared a recipe for a cobbler with a crumbly top, while a cobbler in a 1970 cookbook by The Idaho Historical Auxiliary had a pie crust-like topping. Some cooks top their cobblers with biscuit dough; others consider that an outrage and stick to batter or pie crust toppings. My stepfather made a great peach cobbler, notable because I believe it had more sugar than peaches. Pandowdy is another colorful name for the cobbler, so named perhaps because of its dowdy appearance.

4969-3-large
Gluten-free Cobbler from King Arthur Flour

Some say the biscuit toppings resemble cobblestones and give the dish its name. Others say it is cobbled together.

Fruit crisp or crumble: In this Northeastern favorite, the fruit is topped with oatmeal and brown sugar. Again, however, the 1970 Idaho cookbook sprinkled flour, cinnamon, margarine and brown sugar over apples and called it a crisp. The same cookbook contained a Rhubarb Crunch. Rhubarb, a plant in the buckwheat family, that is neither fruit nor vegetable, is covered with an oatmeal crumble and baked.

Brown Betty: made by layering fruit and buttered bread crumbs.

Apple slab: A pie made in a 9 x 13 rectangular pan, easier to divide and serve than a round pie.

Buckle: Made with more batter, a buckle is more cake-like. Some top it with streusel.

Slump: Similar to a grunt. In these American cousins of British steamed puddings, stewed fruit is topped with batter or biscuit dough, which is then steamed into dumplings.

Sonker: Specific to Surry County, North Carolina. Some cooks in the county insist that sonkers are made only with sweet potatoes and buttermilk, but others allow it can be made with fruit. The sonker is made in a large, deep pan, ideal for feeding big farm families and their crews. Some cooks insist it be covered with a pie crust, others opt for batter.

Severson quoted Alma Venable, one of the cooks who believe that a proper sonker is made with a crust. On what separates a sonker from a cobbler, Venable said, “You have the violin and you have the fiddle. The sonker is the fiddle.”

Gratitude, Hope and Squash Pie

I saw the movie “This Changes Everything” last week. Narrated by the author of the eponymous book, Naomi Klein, it painted a powerful and disturbing overview of climate change caused by our pursuit of growth and its resultant pollution. Klein’s ultimately hopeful premise is that people, working together, can reduce the impact of pollution through grassroots action. The imagery and the film’s message moved me.

I found hope in the full theater and in the volunteers from several environmental groups who handed out information before the movie. I am grateful for those volunteers and have hope that we can take action to combat the deniers of reality.

I also am grateful that President Obama and his advisors are, even if overdue, taking the threat of global warming as seriously as that posed by terrorists.

It’s often said that only the rich can afford to be environmentalists. But the effects of global warming will impact all of us, from farmers whose fields are flooded to those with second homes on shrinking, soon-to-be parched lakes. Each of us can take steps to reduce consumption of fossil fuel and slow global warming. Not everyone can afford to convert to solar power or buy a hybrid vehicle, but we can all use compact fluorescents or LEDs and turn off the lights when we leave a room. We can all encourage our utilities to implement alternative energy in their grids. If you have to rwild-turkeys_w520eplace an appliance, buy one with an Energy Star label.

Even eating wisely can reduce global warming. Try buying local products that haven’t been trucked for miles. Eat low on the food chain. Meat and dairy production contribute to greenhouse gases, so try a vegetarian meal once in a while.

Which brings me to my recipe! Enjoy, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

butternut squash tartSavory Butternut Squash Tart

The recipe suggests using a tart pan. I find a pie pan works fine. This makes a great meal or a good side dish for leftover turkey or ham.

Start to finish: 45 minutes, depending on your skill at peeling winter squash.

9 inch prepared pie crust (I used to make my own, but have found those by Immaculate Pie Co. an excellent substitute, and a lot faster, if you remember to get it out ½ hour early to soften)

1 ¾ pounds peeled and cubed butternut squash (approx. ½ inch cubes)
3 eggs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoons brown sugar (dark or light)
½ teaspoon dried thyme (leaves, not powder)
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Unroll pie crust and set it over a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press the crust into the pan and up the sides. Crimp and remove excess dough. Refrigerate pie crust.

Steam the squash over boiling water, in a steamer basket, covered, until very tender, about 15 minutes.

Transfer squash to a blender or food processor. Process or blend until mostly smooth. Add eggs, cheese, brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper, then process again until very smooth.

Remove the crust from refrigerator and set in on a rimmed baking sheet. I line mine with foil to save cleanup time. Carefully pour the squash mixture into the crust. Bake for 25 minutes, or until set at the center. (It takes longer if you use a traditional pie pan.) Cool slightly before cutting into slices.

I am grateful for readers, other authors, good food, friends, my dog, my cat, my spouse, my new home, the ability to read and so much more. How about you?