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2022 Memories and Favorite Photos

It’s hard to believe that 2022 is almost in the books! Sharing a few moments with y’all from our hardware life from this year in the form of pictorial memories and a few of my photo favorites.

We welcomed Cookie into our home in January. She was found abandoned at a local car wash, very thin and wet. The top pictures depict her thin size when she was found/first came home. On December 26th, 2022 she weighed in at the vet at 21 pounds…. She is definitely living the good life now.
Beautiful blooms in January 2022
January snow 2022
Hardware show in Orlando, back in person! Richard & Steve Foster
The freight elevator from a unique perspective, top down view … yes, it still works and we use it frequently
Afternoon Sun gleams in from the front windows
Spring Feature… thanks for sharing y’all
Friday morning friends 😊, a diverse group who gather together as they can on Friday mornings, to discuss business, and have a bit fun too.
Graduation 2022! Very proud of our son who has gained not only his high school diploma but his two year degree at WCC.
Spring Storm clouds
New Bern boats all aglow at night. Richard & I took a few days away to celebrate our anniversary in New Bern. What a beautiful town!
Cutie pie Joy enjoying life
August morning Fogs… did you keep count???
A photo collection of the fire at Smithey’s across the street. Very thankful for our amazing community of firefighters, police, who kept the fire/area under control.
September morning sunrise
Wet return for the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival in 2022
A very popular new t-shirt available at WCH this Fall. Thank y’all!
Amazing fall colors this year
The first annual Spooktacular was a tremendous success! So many people came out for this event this year. We hope to make it bigger and better next year!
November brings leaves 🍁 falling everywhere
Lighting up the night with Christmas lights… Light Up Downtown North Wilkesboro
Our view has dramatically changed with our neighbor gone, capturing this beautiful sunset after the time change in November
Mistletoe spotted in the height of a tree. My parents neighborhood has a ton of trees with mistletoe everywhere.
December… the festive month with Christmas trees and more!

As the book closes on 2022, I’m personally noting the ebb and flow of the year is often marked with highs and lows. The perspective and reflection of 2022 should be the focus on the blessings in life.

Wishing you and your family a blessed 2023. We await the new chapters in 2023 to see what blessings will mark the highlights of each of the 12 new chapters. Happy New Year to all!

Do you celebrate New Year’s with a traditional meal each year??? Pork chops, black eyed peas, cheese grits, cabbage and cornbread was on our menu for 2022 .

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

December 21st, Winter Solstice… no snow today but the cold temperatures are coming by the end of this week! Brrr 🥶

Today marks the first day of the winter season. Soup and stew season has already begun at our house and is a regular feature in our weekly menu.

There is simply nothing better than a hot bowl of soup and a melted, gooey grilled cheese to take the winter chill off after a long day at the hardware store.

Christmas is almost here… a wonderful time of the year!

During the Christmas season, I love to curl up on the couch and enjoy my favorite Christmas classic movies. This past weekend I stumbled upon a recipe from one of my favorite vintage movies, It Happened on 5th Avenue(1947).

Thankful for TCM and my small collection of Christmas classics that I have on DVD

Richard & I have watched this movie countless number of times, but as our conversation took a turn about the stew featured in the movie, I decided to do a quick internet search to find out more about the intriguing dish. Slumgullion Stew, an Irish stew, mentioned in the 5th Avenue movie, was easy enough to find a few different variations of the recipe. I settled on my favorite and then decided to give it a try and see if it will make the cut on our menu board for our family favorites.

It looks like I’ll be adding Slumgullion Stew to our menu board favorites soon!

One of the central characters in the movie, Mike, enters the room and instantly smells the fragrance of Slumgullion Stew cooking in the kitchen, which transports him to a memory of a better time in his life. This stew scene will ultimately mark the beginning of change for him.

Upon further reflection, many of those old, classic black and white movies have the theme of transformation for the main character in the movie. An iconic example is, It’s a Wonderful Life(1946). The central actor, George Bailey is transformed into a more appreciative person by the end of the movie.

Many of our Christmas favorites we have on DVD

Regardless if you love those old movies or not, I’ve decided to share my version of Slumgullion Stew with y’all today. I believe the original intention with the recipe/movie version is to use what you have. I did conclude that one unique feature of the stew is black eyed peas and pasta from my research.

A full crockpot of Slumgullion

There are different versions of Slumgullion are out there when you check the internet, but I’m sharing my take on the original movie stew pictured on the big screen.

Recipe for Slumgullion Stew

⁃ 1 to 2 lbs. of stew beef (cooked)

I used my leftovers from earlier in week

⁃ 2 cans of black eyed peas

⁃ Cubed carrots (add as many as you like)

⁃ Potato chunks (I added approximately 3-4 red potatoes)

⁃ 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

⁃ 1 32 oz. Beef broth

⁃ 1 beef bullion cube with 1 cup water

⁃ Salt and pepper to taste

⁃ 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

⁃ 1 bay leaf

⁃ Pasta (macaroni noodles would be the traditional favorite)

⁃ Add all ingredients into a large crock pot for simmer on low for 8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Add pasta hour before serving.

Slumgullion, holds an earthy flavor profile

Special note: The recipe I found online added cabbage, and chopped red peppers. I opted to leave them out. The consistency of my final stew was soup like, which is what I intended since I added the pasta into the recipe. For a thicker stew like consistency add a flour roux.

Lastly, sharing my Classic Christmas Movies Favorites… in no particular order

1. White Christmas (1954)

2. It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)

3. Going My Way (1944)

4. Shop Around the Corner (1940)

5. Bishop’s Wife (1948)

6. Holiday Inn (1942)

7. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

8. Remember the Night (1940)

9. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

10. Holiday Affair (1949)

11. The Thin Man (1934)

Wishing everyone a fantastic holiday season and hoping that you will enjoy the most wonderful time of the year whether it is spent trying new recipes, establishing new Christmas traditions, gathering with friends and family, or even watching a few new classic Christmas movies .

Sonker Summers

I really hadn’t thought much about Sonker since my teenage years but an early morning walk few weeks ago brought the word back into my vocabulary once again.

Our walking group had converged on the North Wilkesboro Greenway trail and we had begun talking about miscellaneous things, ie… who was doing what over the next few days… Summer fruits seemed to be on the agenda for discussion and the term Sonker came up… chiefly the origin of the term. One of my friends never had heard of the term and begun to ask questions about it and how it was similar or different from a fruit Cobbler.

My input into the conversation…Sonker was a common summer dessert in my home growing up and I also remembered my Granny used the term often. Cobbler wasn’t the commonly used term to describe the fruit-filled pan of goodness at our house nor in my extended family households.

Sonker can be made with any type of fruit. We often had fresh blueberries or cherries at home during the summer months.

As we continued our walk and daily topics of discussion changed, I made a mental note to ask my mom about the Sonker recipe later and if she knew anything about the origin of the name.

A week or so elapsed in time before I recalled the Sonker conversation on the Greenway when I was talking on the phone with my mom one afternoon. She immediately answered my questions. She recalled an article that she had read in Our State Magazine about Sonker. She relayed key details from the article, and encouraged me to go read more about it. Mom discussed the differences between her version of Sonker and Granny’s. Granny usually had leftover fresh biscuit dough which she topped with fruit. Mom’s recipe, y’all will be able to find at the end of the blog post today.

Granny would take her leftover scraps of biscuit dough to top her Sonker.

FYI, Mom is fantastic with last minute supper guests…she can whip up an easy dessert effortlessly. My sister & I often challenged her to this task, with extra guests at the table. Sonker was one of those perfect, easy desserts… baking and bubbling in the oven while supper was being served. The aroma filled the kitchen with goodness waiting patiently for the final feature, dessert fruit-filled Sonker.

Blueberry Summer Sonker

For those of y’all who are still wondering what on earth is Sonker??? Sonker is a deep-dish fruit “pie”, usually served in a square/rectangular baking pan. Sonker is supposed to be “juicier” than a typical cobbler. Sonker can be a dessert large enough to feed a family or accommodate guests in your home. Sonker is NOT a “fussy” dessert. The ease of recipe is part of the charm of Sonker. On the other hand, cobblers, tend to have more of a thick biscuit texture to the breading and the texture on top appears to be “cobbled”. The dough is dropped or spooned onto the top of the fruit typically in a cobbler. The end result of a well baked Sonker, in my opinion, showcases your fruit, cobblers often showcase the beautiful breading.

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Have an abundance of fruit??? Make a Sonker and freeze the rest of your fruit for a special Sonker treat for later on in the winter months

Upon my Mom’s urging to further read & research, I also learned that Surry County hosts a Sonker Trail and a festival each October. Surry County even has a classic Sweet Potato Sonker with a creamy/milky type “dip” which is a finishing feature of the Sweet Potato Sonker.

Y’all still might be thinking …really, IS a Cobbler the same thing as Sonker??? In my opinion, these two are very “close first cousins.” Honestly, I simply prefer to use Sonker to describe my fruit-filled deep dish pies.

According to the research articles I have read, the term “Sonker”, was derived from a Scottish word meaning straw saddle. The Sonker experts tell us that they suspect that cooks used the analogy of the crust likeness of the fruit-filled pie to compare it to the Scottish word.

North Carolina settlers have connections to Scotland via the Great Wagon Road

Also, the Sonker experts believe that the term Sonker originated in Surry and Wilkes Counties. I suspect that if you aren’t a “native” to these two geographic areas NOR your parents, you may not know the term Sonker.

My husband had no clue what Sonker was all about, even though he has lived in Wilkes his entire life BUT his parents were not “natives” of Wilkes. Cobbler is the term he definitely prefers to use for the fruit-filled dessert.

My sister, on the other hand, a Wilkes County native, who now lives out of state, is teaching her young daughter to make Sonker… thereby keeping the legacy of our mom’s recipe going strong.

I would suspect the term Sonker is locale specific. My grandparents lived in both Surry & Wilkes Counties during their lifetime. So I believe they were well connected to the locale and it was reflective within their vocabulary and local food choices. Sonker was definitely a sweet part of summer during my younger years. I hope to continue my Sonker Summers by experimenting with my mom’s classic recipe and just simply enjoying the “fruits of my labor”.

Your personal preference of the term Sonker or Cobbler could be ingrained into your vocabulary mindset. But cobbler makers & lovers, I hope that you will add Sonker into your vocabulary AND into your food palate. Let’s keep our local food history alive and growing! Go experience Sonker this Summer.

Mom’s basic recipe for Sonker :

Ingredients & Utensils

-Square baking pan (this recipe is easily doubled or even cut in half in order to accommodate the number of people you wish to feed, for my 8-9 inch square baker I use 3/4 cup instead of full recipe)

-1 stick melted butter

-1 cup self rising flour

-1 cup milk – (I added a dash of vanilla to mine but it is not necessary)

-1 cup sugar

-Fruit (fresh, frozen, or canned… use what you have on hand)

Fresh blueberries, a staple of Sonker Summertime

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Melt butter in baking pan.

3. Mix together milk, sugar, flour and dash of vanilla (if desired) into bowl as butter melts.

4. Once butter is melted, pour milk /flour/sugar mixture over the butter into pan. Do not stir!

5. Add fruit on top of milk/flour/sugar mixture. The breading will disperse throughout the Sonker as it bakes. Sprinkle extra sugar on top of fruit for extra sweetness if desired.

Canned fruit typically has plenty of extra sweetness, so skip the sugar topping if desired.

6. Bake until crust is golden brown.

7. Note: You may want to let your Sonker cool down for 10 minutes before eating. No one wants to get burned eating a hot Sonker.

8. Sonker is goes well with vanilla ice cream, enjoy y’all.

I believe y’all can find a few different versions of Sonker recipes online… this one is definitely nostalgic to me and my favorite one.

Southern Summer… Making Homemade Ice Cream

Southern Summer Mornings

The summer season is here!!! The Dog Days of Summer are quickly approaching and this Southern Summer has already been hot! What summer cold treats do you offer to family and friends to cool down?? Homemade ice cream is definitely a Southern favorite.

The only thing that could make this hot summer day better is ice cream! 🍨🍨🍨🍨

Nothing seems to excite my family more than the treat of homemade ice cream. Homemade Ice cream just simply tastes like a southern summer at its best. Last year, I posted my favorite vanilla homemade ice cream on Pinterest and it has definitely been a hit!

As the July 4th holiday approaches, I thought it would be a great time to share this very simple recipe with y’all today. This recipe works well with my current ice cream maker. You can add fresh summer fruit into the mix or simply sprinkle across the top as a beautiful garnish.

Fresh peaches or strawberries are amazing with Homemade vanilla ice cream
Gather your ingredients…
I use whole milk
1 cup will give you a very sweet cream mix
Mix together all ingredients and make sure sugar is fully incorporated into milk/cream mixture. Pour into 2 quart ice cream maker.
I have one that is similar to the ice cream maker on the left. These are currently available for purchase at WCH!
Life is like ice cream, you need to enjoy it before it melts 🍨

Dog Stories

“The best therapist has four paws and fur.” Sometimes after the long, hard days all I need is the endless love of my sweet pups.

I believe in our entire married life, Richard & I have always had at least one dog. Most of them rescues.

The first house we purchased in North Wilkesboro, literally came with a dog! That was totally an unexpected surprise when we went to closing and the previous owners asked us to care for the neighbors dog that virtually lived at our new “soon to be home”. The seller was crushed that the neighbors were unwilling to sell the dog to him, hence the request to us. We could tell that the seller was very attached to the dog, so we agreed to care for the dog and keep him updated on the dog, which we all called Sugar Bear…our very first rescue pup. Sugar Bear quickly became a cherished pup. We all loved her dearly and she was a fantastic guard dog.

Sugar Bear loved to be inside as well as outside.
A pic of our first kitchen… Sugar Bear was terrified of thunder storms. She would try to crawl inside my bottom kitchen cabinets or bathroom cabinets during a bad storm

Today is National Rescue Pup Day. Over the years, we have had the opportunity to bring a few special rescue pups home. The joy & memories of these furry friends still linger. Here’s a glimpse back into time to our “fur babies” that we loved dearly and a small portion of their rescue stories.

Elvis & Gigi were adopted at the same time. They were definitely a dynamic duo.
Elvis never missed the opportunity for a good costume change. He had a great personality and loved his people.
Elvis loved a good nap
Elvis loved to spend time with us at the hardware store sniffing out all the good things
Gigi was our little diva dog.
Gigi had a severe burn that was healing on her back when we brought her home.
Gigi loved photo time
Annabelle “Bella” came to us after losing an eye. Eventually she lost her other one too. Blind Basset Hound was a first for our family. Bella navigated our home effortlessly. She was amazing
Bella would smile when she was happy.
Naps and love… Bella was always ready for both .

Our current rescue pups…

Joy is a fireball of energy. She loves to play all day long. Joy was rescued with her brothers and sisters… nine total.
It’s all about bones & finding a good blanket
Joy is definitely a mom’s girl…
Cookie came to our house to live with us this January. She was found abandoned at a car wash in town. So hard to believe how much she has grown since this original photo
Thus sweet pup loves to be close to us, scouting the neighborhood for any movement of cats, or people, and definitely playing with Joy.
Cookie loves snacks too & mom.

Our lives are definitely rich with love with memories of our former rescue pups and they are dearly missed. Cookie and Joy keep us active and busy now.

Each rescue pup came to us with a definite need, love & healing. All of these sweet babies found love and new home. Their story should not end. Their stories should be told so more rescues can find homes.

We are truly blessed and thankful for the Humane Society of Wilkes. The volunteers, & foster pet parents work tirelessly to keep local animals safe and happy. Consider supporting your local rescue organizations if you can.