Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 68

Dobson only used sweet potatoes, butter, vanilla and sugar for her filling.
Dough-to-filling ratios and the placement of the dough itself can vary from
home to home. Many sonker bakers line
the bottoms and sides of their metal pans
with dough. Some add a top crust.
"But I think you can have too much
bread," Marion Venable says. "I put strips
of crust on the bottom and sides, then
add my fruit and sugar, and put strips of
dough across the top, like a lattice-work
pie."
She says her definition of a cobbler
is a dessert with more dough. The "Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets"
describes sonker as "a soupy adaptation
of cake-style cobbler particular to western
North Carolina." It is not uncommon for
bakers to mix a kind of batter and pour
that over the filling.
Marion Venable says her favorite recipe in the 1980 booklet came from Bettie Hardy of the Siloam Extension Club,
who was well past the age of 80 when she
shared it: "2 or 3 big handfuls of flour; 2
or 3 pinches of soda, baking powder, and

salt; a generous handful of shortening;
mixed with flour, enough buttermilk to
make a dough that can be rolled out."
When I ask about the origin of the
word sonker, Venable points me to the
writing of the late folklorist and scholar
Dr. Cratis Williams, known to many as
the founder of the Appalachian studies
movement. Referencing the "English Dialect Dictionary," Williams wrote, "Sonker
referred originally to a small grassy knoll
suitable for use as a seat, then to a seat
made from bundles of hay or straw, and
then to a saddle made of straw. The word
is identified as Scottish dialect." North
Carolina, of course, became home to
many Scots-Irish immigrants.
Williams theorized that the irregularly shaped piece of dough used in making sonker reminded some "imaginative
cook" of a grass saddle.
Just about anything from the orchard,
the garden, or the larder can qualify as
the centerpiece of a sonker. Apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches,
rhubarb and strawberries are common
ingredients.

This plate of sweet potato sonker is from
Putters Patio and Grill, Dobson, North
Carolina.

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68 BlueRidgeCountry.com


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017

Features
Romance, Reunions and Family Fun for Summe
Mountain Summer: A Photo Essay
When Asheville Took over the 1970s’ Paper Dress Fad
Bateaux along the James River
On the Appalachian Trail, the Easy Way
BBQ!
Departments
Letters / Worth a Click
Contributors
From the Editor
Mill Creek Stories
Creature Feature
Mountain Report
The Good Walk
Country Roads
Singing in the Garden
Festivals & Events
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Letters / Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Contributors
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - The Good Walk
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Romance, Reunions and Family Fun for Summe
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Mountain Summer: A Photo Essay
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - When Asheville Took over the 1970s’ Paper Dress Fad
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Bateaux along the James River
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - On the Appalachian Trail, the Easy Way
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 48
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - BBQ!
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Singing in the Garden
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 67
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 68
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 69
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 70
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 71
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 72
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 73
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 74
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - Cover4
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