Slump and Grunt
When you say the words slump and grunt, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? In my mind, there's an image of someone slumped in a chair who grunts in your direction to answer a question. It's the first thing I think of, anyway. The second image that comes to mind is old-fashioned fruit desserts. Fruit, when cooked in different ways, takes on a variety of names. These became popular in colonial times and were ways to enjoy stale leftovers with fruit of the season, or dried and stored fruits in the winter.
Slumps originated in New England. They are a fruit mixture topped with biscuit dumplings and cooked on top of the stove. The dumplings flatten out while cooking, or slump, giving them the name. Grunts are sometimes called slumps. Fruit is topped with drop biscuit dough and cooked covered on the stove top. Their name comes from the sound given off by the fruit when it's bubbling on the stove. It also has the characteristic of making the lid pop up and down. It makes me think of a little gremlin trying to decide if it wants in or out of the pot.
Then there's cobblers, which have a sweet biscuit dough on top of the fruit. The dough is rolled, cut out or dropped on top of the fruit and baked until golden. Buckles differ by having cake batter on top instead of biscuit dough. A pandowdy contains fruit mixed with molasses or brown sugar covered with pastry dough. Once it is partially baked, the crust is cut, scored, and pressed into the fruit, then returned to the oven to finish cooking and browning.
A Brown Betty is often served for breakfast and contains sweetened fruit layered with buttered bread crumbs, then baked. Similar to this is the Veiled Maiden, with the same ingredients as a Brown Betty, and the addition of a small amount of jam.
And don't forget the very popular crisp. Most common is apple crisp.
Apples on the bottom topped with a mixture of butter, sugar, flour and sometimes nuts. This is baked until it the topping is "crisp." A crumble is similar but has the addition of oats to the topping, usually with brown instead of white sugar _ my absolute favorite, and one enjoyed hot out of the oven. I prefer the apples on the tart side (actually really tart) with the sweetened topping. My husband usually can be heard asking where the sugar is while he does a little quick step dance around the kitchen with a puckered-up face. It's priceless. Somehow he manages to eat his share, though.
There are numerous cookbooks at the library containing recipes for these fruit treats. "Dessert in Half the Time" by Linda Eckhardt contains a chapter titled "Pandowdies, Grunts, Betties, Crumbles, Crisps, and Other Desserts with Funny Names." If that doesn't say it all, I don't know what does.
"Betty Crocker's Old Fashioned Desserts" contains a chapter called "Sweet Cobblers, Crisps, and Fruit." Color photographs and simple instructions make the recipes easy.
Nancy Baggett's "The All-American Dessert Book" also has a section called "Cobblers, Crisps, and Other Fruit Desserts." More than 15 recipes are included along with words of tidbits of information.
Linda Zimmerman and Peggy Mellody have written an entire book on these desserts. "Cobblers, Crumbles, & Crisps and Other Old-Fashioned Fruit Desserts" can keep you busy for a year if you make one a week.
Not only will you find common fruits, but fruits such as mangos are also included.
You'll find these and many other cookbooks with yummy fruit desserts at the library.
The Friends of Huntington Memorial Library sponsor a book group that meets the second Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m. in the library's meeting room. Midweek Musings is looking for some new members. If you are interested in learning more about this or joining the group, please call the library and ask for Vivian Weaver. She'll put you in touch with the group.
The library will be closed Monday to observe Veteran's Day.
Library Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m-5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Sunday.
Marie Bruni is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Thursday.