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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.

The Wooden Rocker

I realized a few weeks ago that I had never really vocalized the importance of the wooden rocker in our family. It has always been a central part of our 27 years of married life. I hope y’all enjoy the Wooden Rocker a little bit more each time you visit us. Happy reading & rocking y’all!

Many people who stop by to shop with us will often say, “oh my goodness, you are sitting in Harry’s chair! “ True, HG loved that rocking chair but did y’all realize that chair has not always been a fixture at Wilkes County Hardware???

I never really had vocalized the story behind the rocker until a few weeks ago when I was speaking to Carl White as he visited with us at the hardware store. The seed was then planted for a new blog post.

The rocking chair actually appeared at Wilkes County Hardware after we purchased the store. The wooden rocker was actually one of the first furniture purchases that we made as a young married couple at Gray Brothers Furniture. I rocked my son as a tiny baby to soothe him into blissful slumber in that same wooden rocking chair.

Here’s a snapshot of the same areas… 2015 on the left ( shortly after we purchased the hardware store) and a few years later in 2019. The rocking chairs were added into our store & at first the staff was unsure where they go “fit”. We always found a place for one more chair.
Harry’s rocking chair was carried upstairs to safety after the flooding incident in 2020.
Eric Brown & Keegan Watson both worked to repair the rocker. Keegan ultimately had to take it apart safely at his workshop and secure the back. We are blessed 💕
Here’s our son, Benjamin full circle… in the old wooden rocking chair… circa 2019 visiting with Skye.

The rocking chair carried memories of our home to our new business. One of the things we wanted to bring to our new existing business was a more “homey”, welcoming, hardware store experience. Over time, the locals and staff became accustomed to the wooden rocking chair. It was now a “fixture” and a new portion of our store legacy. Harry loved that chair but he also sat down wherever there was an empty spot. He was never picky about where he was going to dwell for his daily visit.

The rocker is also featured on one of our logo t-shirts. Thanks to Cooks for creating the amazing graphic from my heart and mind and ultimately bringing it to reality.

For those of you who may not have been blessed to know Harry, he was an amazing individual. Harry loved life, each and every day. Harry was a dear husband to his sweet wife, a great family man, and cared deeply for his surrounding community.

💕

Harry spent a lot of time with us at Wilkes County Hardware. He was our resident advisor, & he greeted all of our customers with a smile. Harry would sit and talk with those who would take time to sit down with him while he rocked in the rocking chair. Harry loved people, engaging conversations, and in general terms, living a simple life.

Harry gave Richard & I love each and every day. I know in my heart in the first year of ownership of Wilkes County Hardware, he gave Richard confidence to keep going, pressing on to do what needed to be done, changing the layout of the hardware store, & adjusting to running a small business. Harry was one of our biggest supporters and we are eternally grateful for his love and friendship.

In the second and third years of ownership, he became an honorary family member. He was never far from our minds or hearts. His sudden parting left a huge hole in our hearts.

The plaque of remembrance on the wooden rocker was a great and powerful way to honor such an amazing man who brought so much love, new hardware store life memories, and blessings upon us. His lasting impact on our lives are ever changed. We have wonderful friendships formed as a result of his influence. One person truly can make a difference in the lives of many people.

Thanks to Mark Cook for making this happen 💕

As Harry would say, S’agapo

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 🍨

Pulling Weeds

As your garden grows, so do the weeds😳! Weeds, the unwanted earthy material we desire to rid our flower & vegetable gardens of forever. Weeds can somehow creep into your garden and appear almost overnight. Weeds steal valuable water & nutrients from your growing garden. Before you know it, your once gorgeous garden is chocked full of weeds and struggling to survive. So, as a gardener, an ongoing task is weeding.

Some people say, that pulling weeds is a laborious task, while others seem to get lost in the joy of nature. Regardless, of your mindset, it is a maintenance task that must be routinely addressed as a homeowner in order to keep an approachable, well maintained landscape.

On the blog today , I have researched and found my Top Weeding Tips to share with y’all. These are not fool proof, but it could help you with your summer garden maintenance routine.

Top Ten Weeding Tips:

1. Timing is Everything … Pulling weeds is a much easier task after a good soaking rain. Those of us who live in red clay soil zones, can definitely attest to the ease of pulling after a rain versus the dry, hard clay soil. Smaller weeds are much easier to yank than larger ones. So don’t ignore the task of weeding. Pulling weeds in morning or later evening are definitely easier during those long, hot summer days.

After a rain is a perfect time to walk in garden to see the beauty of your labor & be active in weeding out those pesky little weeds.

2. Tools… the right tools for the job are important! I usually carry a small bucket for weeding to dispose of those pesky things. A weeding tool, gardening spade, gloves, and gardening hoe are essential for getting the job done, get the root out!

Great tools make quick work of weed control!

3. Think about your mulch layer… If you mulch heavy( 3-4 inches deep) it should help somewhat with weed control. Simply putting down an inch or two of mulch around perennials, annuals and shrubs is simply not going to cut it. A shallow layer of mulch won’t keep weed seeds buried in the soil below from germinating. The key to weed control is to smother them out! Weed seeds need light, water, & air in order to thrive and grow. Make conditions harsh for weeds to prosper. Also, don’t forget to think about the birds who float in weed seeds that can get into the soil below to sprout and grow. Mulch in flowerbeds should be at a minimum of depth of 4 inches.

4. Tilling… the least amount of soil that is disturbed, the better chance you have to keep weed seeds from being distributed . Weed seeds are buried in every inch of your beautiful garden, but only those in the top inch or two of soil get enough light to trigger germination. Digging and cultivating brings hidden weed seeds to the surface. So don’t dig or till unless absolutely necessary!

5. Think about planting more… the unused garden space in your garden invites the opportunity for more weeds to grow. It maybe time to grow more veggies or flowers!

On sale now!!! All remaining flower & vegetable seeds

6. Turn the pages of your Almanac!!! Pulling weeds during a barren sign(Leo, Gemini, Virgo, Aquarius) is impactful!

I usually consult my Almanac before I go pull weeds. It is a fruitless task to weed control on a day that is unsuited for it. I never weed on good planting days.

7. Take a daily walk through your garden, & pull a few weeks everyday. Pick a section to focus on each day and just work in it.

8. Technology time… plant apps are readily available to help you identify plant material. Weeds can be identified and help you determine how to get rid of it. How does this weed spread… seed, runners, or rhizomes/root based ???

Consider using a plant identification app.

9. Talent… use your talent as an amazing gardener by never leaving the roots behind. If you pull only the leaves, weeds will grow back. Grab the weed close to the ground and pull straight up. Remove the entire root for a successful weeding session. For those really hard ones to kill, we have some amazing chemicals to try, if you need them. Our customers have requested chemicals that are people/pet friendly that work! We have them!!! Come stop by and talk to us about options available.

Amazing products inside WCH!!!

10. Tenacity will pay off… there will always be weeds in the garden, hopefully less than more… if you use a few of these tips to help reduce your weeding chores. Don’t give up on your garden. The joy it brings is definitely worth it and persistence is key in weeding the garden.

June Gardening Guide

Gardening became a lovely little side hobby of mine when we purchased our first home years ago. I loved learning about all the different types of trees and flowers in my yard. The gardening gene runs deep in my family. From my youngest memories, my family always had a garden full of veggies and beautiful flowers dotted the yard.

Snowball Hydrangeas were a staple in our yard growing up.

June is normally a month when your flowers and vegetables begin to show off in full beauty. The hard work of May and the other spring months pays off but it is not a time to relax just yet!!!

For a beautiful garden, June is a month when watering, weeding/hoeing, and monitoring for insects & disease can reap rewards. If these go unchecked during the summer months, it can definitely lead to disaster!!!

I love, love 💕 this water hose for watering plants!!! It is lightweight and easy to move around in the yard to water flowers during those drought filled days.

Wilkes County Hardware has the tools in order to help you be a successful gardener this summer. Don’t forget to stop by and consult with our staff if you have questions, concerns, or if you need gardening supplies. We will be there to assist you.

Black Wonder soil builder has been a garden favorite of our gardening customers!!! What a great way to supplement your soil and add much needed nutrients!!! You will definitely see the difference!!!

According to 2022 Blum’s Almanac, June is a great time to continue to plant tomatoes 🍅, eggplant, peppers 🌶, cabbage, beans, and celery. Sowing seeds for later transplanting…collards, cabbage, & cauliflower. Plant blackeye, crowder, and lady peas, squash, cucumber, and pumpkins 🎃.

Only a few of these are left! Gardening calendars still available.

In your flower garden, plant all types of lovely cut flowers like zinnias, marigolds, dahlias, calendula, nasturtium, phlox for later fall flowers. Remember to monitor your gardens carefully for insects 🕷, pests, or disease.

Deer 🦌 are always in my yard. I use the deer spray pictured here to keep activity at bay. It works well for me! Spray your plants routinely for 3 weeks to get the scent firmly established on the plants. Reapply if you have a heavy rain. After the 3 weeks, you should be able to apply once a month depending on the rain.
Plants looking stressed??? Use this concentrated spray to give your plants a boost! Good for struggling house plants too!!!

The “Best” days to plant 🪴 for June … 1-2, 8-11, 18-19, 23-24, 28-29.

We still have seeds left for planting!!!

The “Best” Weed killing days are June 16-17, 25-27. But these 3 barren signs (Leo, Gemini, Virgo) is usually a good time to spray weeds.

Wilkes County Hardware has several options available for your weed control needs.

Tuesday June 14 will bring the Strawberry 🍓 Moon!!! This moon is named after the wild strawberries that ripen in the month of June.

I love fresh strawberries!!! This dishpan makes it easy work. Yes, these dishpans are available at Wilkes County Hardware 😎

Also, Don’t forget to fly your American flag 🇺🇸 on June 14th for Flag Day!!

Need a new flag??? Don’t worry, you can drop off your old flag at Wilkes County Hardware too!

Happy Gardening Y’all!!! 👩🏻‍🌾👩🏻‍🌾

New ladies gardening t-shirt !! This one is selling fast!!!