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Sunday, November 21, 2010


Pumpkin Pie – Pies & Pastries, Pg. 198 – Flo E. Powers (Mrs. A.F.)

As our neighbors to the south prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and us Canucks begin to prepare for our own holiday spreads once again – we bring you a holiday favorite around many dinner tables.

A true tradition – pumpkin pie is a favorite dessert in the Johnson household during the holidays – taking its place at the forefront of the dinner table, the pumpkin pie comes under great scrutiny by all and is considered the essential component to the quintessential holiday meal. This past Thanksgiving the Dutch Oven Cookbook brought a pumpkin pie throwdown (Bobby Flay Style) to the Johnson home – and a new dessert to the Young family’s dinner table.

Peter’s Mom prepared her tried and true pumpkin pie recipe, while Peter and Jan took on the Dutch Oven recipe – preparing two monster sized pies – one for each dinner table – the Johnson’s and the Young’s.

For our pumpkin pies we used the pie pastry recipe provided in the Dutch Oven. See our thoughts on this and other pie crust recipe’s here. We were both using 11 inch ceramic pie dishes – very large and very deep! We admit – neither of us have a lot of pie making experience, we probably should have started smaller – but we wanted to use our pretty pie dishes. While this pie pastry recipe had a nice enough flavor, we felt it just didn’t hold up to some others we’ve tried – literally – it started to crumble while baking, never mind when trying to cut it.

Here are a few tips when making your pumpkin pie crust. Roll your dough to 1/8 inch thick and at least 1 inch larger than the pie dish. Lift your pie crust by gently rolling your crust onto the rolling pin, unroll the dough onto the pie dish and gently ease the dough into the dish. Trim crust leaving 1/2 inch overhang, fold overhang under and flute crust as desired. To ensure your crust is fully baked on the bottom you should par bake your crust (a process known as blind baking). Place a piece of parchment paper or foil over your pie crust and weight the centre of the crust using pie weights and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 375. Use reserved pie dough to make leaf garnishes for your pie. We used our handy dandy leaf cutters from Williams-Sonoma to make ours, but the same effect can be made by cutting leaves out of the dough by hand.

Onto the real star of this pie – Za Pumpkin!! Again, this recipe will make a standard 9 inch pie – we had to double the recipe to accommodate our monster pie dishes. If you want to make a monster pumpkin pie in a pretty dish, double all the ingredients except for the spices and salt and add only one extra egg.

Flo’s Perfect Pumpkin Pie:

1 Cup Pumpkin (canned pure pumpkin is a great shortcut)
½ Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Molasses
1 Tbsp. Butter (melted)
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
½ Tsp. Ginger
½ Tsp. Salt
2 Eggs (slightly beaten)
1 Cup 35% Cream
1 Tsp. Lemon (not sure what’s up with this, we tried it in one pie and not the other, didn’t notice any difference)

Add Sugar, molasses, spices, salt and melted butter to the pumpkin – mix in food processor. Add eggs and milk and continue to mix. Strangely…or maybe not so strangely when it comes to the Dutch Oven – there is no further mention of the Lemon. Those of you that have been following our journey through the Dutch Oven Cookbook are familiar with the little details, instructions and ingredients that just happen to be missing from some of the recipes. Some garner this the “Dutch Oven Conspiracy” – a conspiracy of the authors to protect their family honored recipe secrets (: In any case – we opted to add the tsp. of lemon juice to Jan’s pie just to see if we could detect any difference in the pies. Turns out that we didn’t notice any difference in the taste, however Jan’s pie did seem to take on a life of its own while baking – a very odd breathing movement – likely more to do with the monster pie dish than the lemon.

Once mixed, pour filling into prepared pie shell and bake at 475 for ten minutes, then at 325 for 45 minutes. If making monster pies your cooking time will be longer – once your pie is no longer jiggley in the centre, it is done. We made the mistake of cooking both monster pies at once (not recommended) – this took at least 2 hours and required us to rotate the pies halfway through baking. Oh – and watch your crust carefully – ours browned quite quickly. If this happens, you should tent your pie with foil to avoid over-browning your crust. We did take one liberty with this recipe - we sprinkled the top with nutmeg before baking since the recipe didn't call for any - other than that, it's all Flo!

While Peter’s mom’s pumpkin pie will always have a place in the hearts…and stomachs of everyone around the dinner table – Flo’s Perfect Pumpkin Pie took the prize in this Thanksgiving throwdown. Its dark, rich, spicy flavors and velvety texture were a sure hit with all! We have a feeling this pie may take up a permanent residency at the Johnson Holiday table. As for the Young’s holiday dinner table – after years of declaring her distaste for pumpkin – Jan had a pumpkin epiphany – she likes it – she really likes it!!

Easy As Pie Crust

Pie Pastry – Pies & Pastries, Pg. 194 – Ada L. Tanner (Mrs. G.P.)

Lately we’ve had our eye on the pie! The Holiday season is upon us – what better time to explore some of the many pie recipes that can be found in the Dutch Oven Cookbook. As we began our adventures in pie making we quickly discovered – behind every great pie is a great crust!

The pastry recipe in the Dutch Oven is a pretty standard one – all the basic essentials you’d expect to find in a pie pastry recipe – just a little light on some of them which is expected considering the time in which this cookbook was published. The recipe will make enough pastry dough for a 9 inch pastry pan; if you’re making anything larger you may want to consider doubling the recipe. We recently used this recipe while making some pumpkin pies and while this pie pastry recipe had a nice enough flavor, we felt it just didn’t hold up to some others we’ve tried – literally – it started to crumble while baking, never mind when trying to cut it.

Instead we have a couple of other recommendations. The first is a simple, light and flaky recipe from a recent pie making class we took, derived from the Matriarch of all things cooking – no – not Martha – but Julia. This recipe yields enough dough for a 9 inch double pie crust.

Classic Pie Dough:

2 ½ Cups Cake and Pastry Flour
1 Tsp Salt
½ Cold Unsalted Butter
¾ Cup Solid Vegetable Shortening
½ Ice Water

Mix flour and salt together. Freeze butter and shortening and grate into flour mixture – lightly coat butter and shortening with flour mixture. Gradually add ice water and mix lightly until ingredients are just combined (may still be a little crumbly). Turn out onto work surface and fold over onto itself, gently, several times. Divide dough if making two crusts. Wrap dough with plastic wrap, form into disk, and chill for 30 minutes to an hour, or overnight. It is key not to overwork your dough, you should be able to see streaks of butter and shortening in your dough – this is what creates a light, flakey texture.

Another great pie crust we recently tried while making apple pies is “Foolproof Pie Dough” (made with vodka) from the masterminds of America’s Test Kitchen. I know right…finally a pie that will really get the parTAY started at your next family dinner!!! Well before you get too excited – the vodka actually evaporates during the baking process. So the added vodka allows for a pie dough that is very workable during the dough stage, and leaves you with an incredibly tender flaky crust that imparts no alcohol flavor.

Foolproof Vodka Pie Crust:

2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

Process 1½ cups flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening, and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds, and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days. Makes double crust for 1 9 inch pie.

When you roll the dough out, you’ll need to use more flour than normal as this is a very moist pastry dough; don’t be startled like we were – it is a very wet dough. Allow your dough to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before rolling.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Two Rings Don't Make a Right!

Tea Ring – Bread & Rolls, Pg. 74 – Kate L. Corkum (Mrs. W. A.)

This recipe looks delicious, and for all intents and purposes it should be. Essentially it is cinnamon rolls formed and baked into a ring rather than sliced into separate rolls. It makes for a lovely presentation…perhaps the perfect coffee cake to wow the ladies at an afternoon auxiliary meeting.

The unfortunate thing about this particular recipe is that it is definitely lacking some instruction. This did not make our first foray into yeast bread making a very successful one. If you’ve never made a yeast bread before, we don’t recommend starting with this one. The dough itself turned out to be very dense and difficult to kneed or work with. Although it did rise slightly, not as much as you would expect yeast bread to do so.

Ultimately this recipe did produce a fine looking tea ring. But in the end, the dough fell flat, resulting in a tough, dense, chewy texture, rather than a soft, light and moist one as it should likely be.

In an attempt to turn things around we tried making a tea ring a second time with assistance of Peter’s Mom and her tried and true yeast bun recipe. This yeast dough did all the things it was supposed to do. It was light and fluffy, doubled in size, etc. However, because we didn’t end up dividing the dough to make two rings – we ended up with a monster size tea ring. Also, because the dough expanded so much, much of the cinnamon sugar filling ended up running out of the ring.

After two attempts – we’ve tired of tea rings a bit. So…if you want to give this a try – here are a couple recommendations based on our trials. Use a good yeast bun recipe, we’ve included Peter’s Mom’s below. Be sure to divide your dough to make two rings so you don’t end up with a tea ring on steroids. Also - rather then make cuts around the outer side of the ring, we thought it might work better to make the cuts along the top – so that the sugar cinnamon filling doesn’t run out so much – incidentally, the Dutch Oven Recipe doesn’t suggest making any decorative cuts in the dough – so not sure if this was just left out unintentionally or if they intended it not to have any. We don’t imagine it would look very attractive without the cuts. Anywho – if you give it a try – best of luck, and let us know how you make out!

Diane’s Yeast Bun Recipe:

1 ½ Cups Warm Water
¼ Cup Oil
½ Tsp Salt
¼ Cup Sugar
¼ Cup 1 Egg (Beaten)

Combine above ingredients in mixer. Add two cups of flour and 1 tbsp of yeast to the above mixture. Beat for two minutes. Gradually add 2-3 cups more flour until combined. Turn dough onto floured surface. Knead and form into ball until smooth. Place in greased bowl (covered) to rise – 15 minutes. Punch down, Kneed and repeat last step. Will be a very soft dough.

Punch down and divide dough to make rings. Roll the dough into a rectangular form (sort of like a jelly roll). Brush the dough with melted butter or spread with soft butter and fill with cinnamon and brown sugar. (about 1 ½ Cups brown sugar and 1 tsp Cinnamon). You could also go crazy and add nuts and/or raisins – just don’t expect us to eat it! Roll into one long roll and join ends to form a ring (seam should be face down). Place on lined baking sheet. Make cuts in dough as desired. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes on middle rack of oven. Once cooled drizzle with glaze (¾ Cups Icing Sugar, 1 Tbsp Milk, 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract).

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Tale of Two Loaves

Banana All-Bran Nut Bread – Breads & Rolls, Pg. 67 – Hazel Allen (Mrs. Robert)

Ahhh…Banana Bread…nothing says Fall like the smell of quick breads wafting from the oven. Three ripe bananas under siege by an army of fruit flies were the inspiration to try this next test recipe. For some, bananas, spotted and black are destined for the compost bin, for others – they are inspiration for a delicious quick bread!

The Dutch Oven’s Banana All-Bran Nut Bread is a nice enough recipe – all be it a little on the healthy side. We only made a couple of modification to this recipe. The first was the replacement of nuts with chocolate chips. We’re not a fan of nuts in baked goods – this may seem strange to some of you, but we know there are others out there – We’re here! We don’t like nuts in baked goods! Get used to it! Besides, 85% of bakers agree that the addition of chocolate makes everything better (this statistic is totally made up). Secondly we replaced the cup of all-bran with unprocessed bran – we figured this would blend better then the cereal bran. Overall this recipe is short on all the things that make banana bread so delicious – shortening, sugar, eggs, etc. Let’s not forget, this was the 50’s, and ingredients were not as accessible as they are today. As a result some recipes are reserved in their ingredients and often take advantage of ingredients on hand such as all-bran to reduce the amount of flour required. This recipe was good, and if you’re looking for a healthy banana bread recipe, this would be a great one to try.

Unfortunately this recipe left Peter yearning for the Banana bread of his youth. For a light fluffy bread, rich with delicious ingredients and loaded with sugar – Peter’s Mom’s recipe can’t be beat!

½ Cup Shortening
1 Cup White Sugar
2 Eggs (lightly beaten)
3 Medium Bananas (mashed)
2 Cups Flour
4 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Chocolate Chips (optional)

Cream sugar and shortening, add eggs (whisk until smooth), add mashed bananas. Combine dry ingredient and gently mix with your wet ingredients until combined. Place mixture in 9x5 loaf pan (greased and floured). Bake 45-60 minutes at 325°F. Nuts could be added as well if you're into that sort of thing...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Corn Chowdah ReMiXeD & ReInVeNtEd

Corn Chowder – Soups and Chowders, Pg. 52 – Alice Adams (Mrs. E.C. Adams)

During a trip to the Dartmouth farmers’ market a couple of weeks ago, fresh valley grown corn was plentiful – what better time to test this recipe! Corn Chowder can be made any time of year, but why not take advantage of ingredients at their freshest. Corn is harvested in Nova Scotia August through October, so if you’re local, now is a great time to give this recipe a whirl.

One of the things we’ve found as we work our way through the Dutch Oven cookbook is that some of the recipes are very basic…and sometimes very plain. Part of the reason being a lot of the ingredients we have access to today were not as accessible or were very expensive in the “olden days”. As a result, we will occasionally make modifications to some of the recipes, only to enhance them of course (don’t send any hate mail). This was one of those recipes that was screaming for a makeover – we may have gone a bit extreme, but we think you’ll really enjoy it. Since we modified this recipe quite significantly, we’ve include it below.

No offence Mrs. Adams, I’m sure your chowder is wonderful - we’ve just made it slightly better! We took a few suggestions from our good friend Beth Hansen-Gillis of the Lunenburg Hansens – self proclaimed snow pudding queen; she will be featured in an upcoming Dutch Oven Diaries post. Beth makes fantastic corn chowder and gave us some great tips!


•6 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 6 to 8 large ears) or frozen kernels(thawed)
•3 cups low-salt chicken broth
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•1 onion (finely chopped or grated)
•1 pound (about 3 medium) peeled potatoes cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
•2 teaspoons dried thyme
•2 cups homogenized milk (blend or cream could also be used)
•Smoked sausage - cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 cup)

The Dutch Oven recipe calls for 1.5 cups of canned corn – seems like a waste when we have access to the fresh stuff – and this recipe definitely doesn’t call for enough; this is “corn” chowder after all. You could use frozen, but definately ditch the canned stuff. Although we’ve kept the liquid amounts the same, we’re using chicken broth instead of water (for added flavor) and using less milk and more broth.

The biggest change to this recipe that we made was the addition of sausage. Little Fish, a restaurant in Halifax, used to be one of our favorite hot spots for lunch. They served wicked corn chowder with chorizo sausage. The sausage boosts the chowder’s hearty factor and gives it an awesome smokey flavor. This restaurant underwent some changes recently, and sadly the corn chowder left with the restaurant’s name – the restaurant has now been re-opened as "The Grill" located downstairs from its big sister, Five Fishermen.

The addition of sausage is completely optional, but it really does take this chowder from average to AWESOME! Personally we find the chorizo a bit spicy – our friends at Sweet William's (located at both the Dartmouth and Halifax Farmers’ Markets) suggested the Cajun smoked, which was perfect! Obviously if you want to make this recipe vegetarian, just substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth and omit the sausage.


•Blend 3 cups corn kernels and 1 1/2 cups broth in processor to coarse puree. Transfer to large bowl. (this is to thicken the chowder, many recipes call for creamed corn – the Dutch Oven recipe didn’t call for either)
•Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add chorizo and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes - transfer sausage to small bowl.
•Add onion and remaining 3 cups corn kernels to same skillet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté over medium-high heat until onion begins to soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add potatoes and stir until potatoes begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Transfer corn mixture to a large pot. Add dried thyme, pureed corn mixture, and remaining 1 1/2 cups broth to pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add milk and sausage. Simmer uncovered until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season chowder to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer longer to thicken, if desired. If more liquid is needed, add more milk. Garnish with fresh tyme and serve!

We’ve remixed and reinvented this recipe a bit, but all for the better. It's definitely a little fussier then the recipe you'll find in the Dutch Oven Cookbook, but well worth the extra effort!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nova Scotia Comfort Food

Hodge Podge – Old Lunenburg Dishes, Pg. 13 – Evelyn V.B. Ritcey (Mrs. C.D. Ritcey)

A recent trip to the Dartmouth Farmers’ Market inspired our next test recipe. New vegetables are plentiful in August in Nova Scotia – and the market was chock full of bright, fresh new vegetables straight from the garden to market – they don’t get any fresher than this. The Dartmouth Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday from 7 am to 1 pm at Alderney landing on the Dartmouth Waterfront. A small market in comparison to its big sister on the other side of the Harbor – but with the new Halifax Seaport Market currently under siege by most Halifax residents – this market is a welcome respite from the crazy crowds, and really has everything you could want - from fresh fruits and veggies, homemade breads, organic meats and lots more!

Hodge Podge, a traditional Maritime Recipe, is a vegetable stew made with fresh new vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, peas and green and wax beans. There are many varying opinions (some quite strong) as to how hodge podge is to be prepared. One thing that is for sure when it comes to hodge podge is that it is steeped in maritime tradition, quite possibly developed by some of Nova Scotia‘s first settlers (or original foodies) to take advantage of the land’s abundant harvest. Those who like this recipe – usually LOVE IT! It is pure Nova Scotia comfort food at its best! Meat is rarely added and considered by some to be blasphemy! The Dutch Oven cookbook does include an alternate hodge podge recipe from Francis Himmelman (Mrs. H.D.), Pg. 50, that includes lamb. If you like lamb and don’t have a problem with bastardizing hodge podge – go for it. However, there is only room for one hodge podge recipe in The Dutch Oven Diaries – the right one!

As mentioned above – there are many opinions as to how this recipe is to be prepared. For the purposes of this post – it was prepared the way that Peter remembers it being prepared growing up (Jan never had Hodge Podge – I know right?). One step that is consistent with every hodge podge recipe is that new vegetables are boiled until tender. Enough water should be added to a pot to cover vegetables – lightly salted (1Tbs. coarse salt seems to work well). The quantity of vegetables used is really dictated by the amount of hodge podge you want to prepare. The timelines for cooking the veggies are pretty vague in this recipe – we recommend adding the potatoes and carrots first (boil 10 min.), then add beans (boil 10 more min.), then add peas (boil for 5-10 min.).

The sauce is really where the real debate begins. The Dutch Oven recipe recommends beginning by sautéing finely diced salt pork (until crisp) – we didn’t have any salt pork, but bacon works fine (may add a slightly more smokey flavor). Obviously if you want to make this recipe completely vegetarian you would omit this step all together. This recipe includes a small note at the end – “omit onion” – not sure what that is all about, perhaps, Evelyn wasn’t a fan of onions, in any case – Peter remembers onions in his hodge podge – so onions there will be (one finely chopped) – sautéed in bacon grease. Once onions are lightly browned and tender, one cup of cream is added, and salt and pepper to taste. The recipe also notes to add one cup of liquid to the sauce (no mention of what this mystery liquid is to be) – you could reserve some water from the boiled veggies if you want to thin out your sauce a bit, however we found we didn’t need to add any additional liquid. There was one other glaring omition in this recipe – BUTTAH!!– do Paula Deen proud and add a couple of tablespoons of butter to this sauce. Once the sauce is heated through – add it to veggies and serve! One more tip - make lots – hodge podge is even better the next day!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sure Bet!

Grape Sherbet – Desserts – pg. 214, Christabel Cantelope (Mrs. D. C.)

The Dutch Oven doesn’t contain a lot of cool Summer recipes, but there are a few. It’s been a beautiful Summer in Nova Scotia this year and August has been no exception. To beat the Summer heat we whipped up this cool Summer treat compliments of Mrs. Christabel Cantelope (they just don’t make handles like this anymore – a lost art really).

Having never made sherbet before, we were fairly skeptical about this one. First of all, Grape isn’t a flavor you hear much about anymore, you just can’t help associate Grape with things like Crush and Hubba Bubba- right? Secondly the freezing method seemed a little questionable as there is no ice cream machine used in this recipe’s preparation – just a good old fashion freezer (Mrs. Cantelope suggests an electric refrigerator - great tip Mrs. C., we almost used our ice box for this one).

Sherbet almost always contains fruit and differs from a sorbet in that it contains dairy, but is usually lighter than ice cream (ice cream normally contains at least 10% milk fat and often eggs). This recipe uses a combination of milk and cream. The only other ingredients in this recipe are sugar and grape juice. Super simple!

A few tips if you decide to tackle this one. The recipe only calls for two cups of liquid so you best double it to ensure there is plenty of sherbet to share. Be sure to stir your milk/cream and sugar thoroughly ensuring that all the sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes). A metal loaf pan works well as a container to freeze the mixture in (leaving lots of surface area to scoop the sherbet). It’s important to remember to stir the mixture about every hour while it is freezing, this will ensure a nice creamy consistency (3 times over 3 hours using a small whisk). We then left the sherbet to freeze overnight.

The result was a delicious sweet and refreshing dessert. This recipe was super simple to pull together. With such little effort, it was surprising how creamy and smooth the sherbet was – we kind of expected it to be like a block of ice. Its consistency was much the same as ice cream. This one will be a “sure bet” with kiddies and adults, and one of the great things about this recipe is its versatility - you could easily replace the grape juice with any flavor juice…the possibilities are endless…

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Grunt or Buckle It?

Blueberry Grunt – Pg. 28 – Old Lunenburg Dishes – Beulah Thurlow (Mrs. James)

Blueberry Buckle – Pg. 234 – Just Desserts - Edith B. Morash (Mrs. J.B.)

What do you do with YOUR blueberries? Today we will tackle the great debate – do you grunt it or buckle it?

What better time to test these two popular Dutch oven recipes than now - during Nova Scotia’s wild blueberry season. Jan’s mamma (aka Mamma Mia) graciously offered to pick some up at the Thursday morning Lunenburg Farmers’ Market. We chose to go with the small wild blueberries as opposed to the larger, plump cultivated berries, as overwhelmingly recommended by many local blueberry enthusiasts.

So Lunenburg legend goes…blueberry grunt is to be made on one of the first cool evenings in August. A Lunenburg original, this dish consists of dumplings that are steamed in the juice of the blueberries. It is widely debated - Is this a meal or a dessert? Perhaps it’s the dessert that eats like a meal. The sweet stewed blueberries suggest it’s a dessert, while the heavy dumplings fill you up like a meal. I guess that leaves us with a second debate – do you eat it with a fork or a spoon?!

There is NO question when it comes to blueberry buckle – with its simple white cake base, a layer of blueberries and its sweet streusel-like crumb topping – this recipe is a dessert! Often served with whipped cream, it is the perfect simple summer dessert. (Although if you get a buckle craving in the middle of Winter, frozen blueberries will work fine in this recipe).

Both these recipes were surprisingly simple to make - few ingredients and quick preparation time. For the most part, these recipes were easy to follow, with a few exceptions – par for the course when cooking from the Dutch Oven…

A few tips regarding the Grunt…this recipe begins by boiling your blueberries in water and sugar – the recipe notes – “until there is plenty of juice” – we found 5-10 minutes is sufficient. The dumpling (biscuit dough) instructions were a little vague and didn’t specify the amount of milk to use – we found that ¾ Cup was the right amount. As with any biscuit recipe it is important not to overwork the dough – just a helpful hint to anyone without a lot of biscuit making skills – the ingredients should be gently combined, and the dough should remain somewhat sticky. As this recipe is cooked on the stovetop, we chose to use
a cast iron dutch oven pot (medium size), but just about any type of cooking pot would do. The blueberries should be reduced to a simmer before adding the dumplings; once the dumplings are added, the pot should be covered “closely” (tight) – and left to simmer for 15 minutes – NO PEEKING! – lifting the lid may result in dumplings tough enough to bounce off the wall!

Blueberry Grunt

1 quart blueberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste)

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3/4 cup milk

Boil berries, water and sugar in a saucepan unil there is plenty of juice (5-10 mins). Sift dry ingredients together, cut in 1 tbsp of butter with knife, then add milk until dough forms. Drop by tbsp into the bluberries, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Onto the buckle…the first question was – what type of baking dish to use. The recipe suggests an 8x8 pan – it does not specify the type (glass, metal). We opted to try two different types. A modern day 9” square spring-form pan and an old-school 50s style 7x9 Pyrex dish handed down to Jan from her great great aunt Gladdie – this pan may very well have seen its fair share of buckle action in its day. We also opted to line our baking pans with parchment paper – a modern day tip from our good friendMartha (don’t be a hater).
Although the recipe does not specify – like any cake batter recipe – your shortening and sugar should be creamed first, then mixed with the egg, followed by your dry ingredients alternated with your liquid (milk) – dry, wet, dry, wet. As far as the crumb topping goes…we found the pastry cutter worked great to cut the butter into the sugar/flour mixture to blend. The recipe also didn’t specify to use white sugar or brown sugar – so we tried both. We recommend brown - and believe this is likely what is intended. The recipe instructions say to bake “until the blueberries are done” – come on Edith, how do you know when a blueberry is done?? 45 minutes seems to be the appropriate time (@325 instead of 350 as suggested by Peter’s mamma). Pans – metal vs. Pyrex – we found the Pyrex pan was the best bet – perfectly baked, not overly brown, nice height on the cake layer. The 9” square metal pan was too large, so the cake layer was too thin and the cake was much more brown. Just a couple of personal modifications we made during a third run through of this recipe – we mixed it up Paula Deen style and swapped the shortening for butter and doubled the streusel crumb topping – oh yeah!

Blueberry Buckle


1 Pint(2 cups) blueberries

1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk
pinch salt

Crumb Mixture:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 butter


Combine cake ingredients and spread in baking pan. Spread blueberries over batter. Sprinkle with crumb mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 mins.

Overall these recipes were simple in execution. Both make great desserts and are the perfect recipes to take advantage of blueberry season. Although the Blueberry Grunt is a coveted traditional Lunenburg recipe – our sweet tooths naturally gravitate toward the blueberry buckle. This leaves us with the answer to this great debate – we Buckle it!