Griffin’s Quick Lunch is an Eastern North Carolina Icon
Griffin’s Quick Lunch – Mom and Pop Diner in Eastern NC
Griffin’s Quick Lunch, just like many Mom and Pop diners in eastern North Carolina, is a landmark. Unfortunately, we are losing many of these cafes; Williamston is lucky to still have Griffin’s.
If you go to Griffin’s, you MUST try the Banana Fritters. These were first made famous at Cobb’s Corner Restaurant; sadly, Cobb’s is gone. A relative who worked at Cobb’s gave the recipe for her Banana Fritters to her son; he later bought Griffin’s, so now they serve these sweet delights. I have the recipe, but like the recipes my mother passed down, it is just a list of ingredients. I am still trying to make this recipe work. When I do, I will post it.
Biscotti is perfect for those who don’t want a super sweet confection. I like to bundle up a few Biscotti, tie them up with a festive ribbon, and take as a house gift or as my donation to the the Christmas party.
The biscotti will keep for several weeks if stored in an airtight container.
2½-cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs (if mixture is too dry you may need to add another egg)
2 egg yolks (reserve the egg whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
1½-cup slivered almonds (reserve ¼ cup)
Zest of one lemon or lime
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grease a large, heavy cookie sheet.
Mix flour, sugar and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. In another large bowl mix eggs and egg yolks together. Add vanilla, almond flavoring and 1 ¼ cup of the nuts and the zest to the eggs.
Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, stirring until just barely blended. You will have to use your hands and perhaps add another egg or you can use some of the reserved egg whites if the mixture is too sticky to form.
Using greased hands, form dough into three 4-inch by 9-inch (or thereabouts) rolls that are 2 inches thick. Mixture will be sticky and you will have to use your hands. Using a greased spatula, gently place the “rolls” on greased cookie sheet, making sure the rolls are several inches apart.
Press reserved almonds on top of the shaped dough.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the dough will hold together. Remove from oven and cool slightly. (You must not cool the biscotti too much because they will get too hard to cut). When cooled slightly, gently slide the rolls to a floured cutting board and gently cut through each roll at an angle into 1½- inch pieces. Turn each piece on its side and place on the cookie sheet.
Bake again for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn each piece onto another side. If you prefer harder biscotti, turn biscotti and bake for 5-10 more minutes.
Picking peanuts reminds me of growing up in eastern North Carolina. My nephew Barney and I loved to play hide-and-seek in the peanut fields. Back then, the peanuts were dug and stacked on poles to dry. There is a certain earthy smell that is everywhere.
Harry Roberson leaning on his Peanut Stacks in Gold Point, NC, circa 1940 (Thanks to Hank Roberson for the use of his grandfather’s photo)
We loved to hide behind these stacks and to climb them, much to the dismay of my parents. All the children in the neighborhood joined us and we stayed out until way after dark. Sadly, the peanut stacks are gone. Click to see video of Peanuts being Picked
Young, just-dug peanuts are called green peanuts. Here in the South, we boil these peanuts in the shell with a lot of salt. In late August or early September, you can find these green or boiled peanuts at farm stands and some grocery stores like Piggly Wiggly. As the Georgia bumper sticker says, “It is time to Brake for Boiled Peanuts.”
• 2-3 pounds raw, green peanuts in the shell (this is about 12 cups peanuts with shells) The peanuts are not green, just raw
• ½-1 cup of salt
• 3-4 quarts of water or enough to cover the peanuts - add more water as they cook
"Green" peanuts are not green; they are just young, raw peanuts. These peanuts are usually dug by hand several weeks before the farmer moves through the field with the machines that dig the peanuts. Here in eastern North Carolina, these green peanuts are ready late August or early September.
Wash the peanuts, still in the shells, several times until the water has no grit in it. Pick over and remove any bad peanuts and discard.
Put the peanuts still in shells into a large cooking pot. Cover with water at least 2 inches above the peanuts. Add the salt and stir.
Bring to a boil. Lower heat and boil slowly for 1-3 hours, depending on how mature or old the peanuts are. If the nuts are really young and pink, it will only take about 1 hour of cooking. If they are older, it can take up to 3 hours. You might also have to add water to keep the water level above the peanuts. Keep cooking until the peanuts are soft inside. Cooking time varies according to how old the peanuts are.
After they are done, they will continue absorbing the salt. If the salt taste is like you want it, then remove the peanuts from the salty water. They will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
Refrigerate or freeze after cooking.
It is much easier if you eat the peanuts outside. You can just spit out the shells.
Calling all watermelon lovers!! This Watermelon Salad is a beauty. I adapted this recipe from one in the June, 2017 issue of “Our State Magazine,” the same magazine that did a wonderful story about Big Mill in their August issue.
1 sweet onion like Vidalia or 1 red onion, cut into very thin rings
4 ounces of Feta Cheese (or goat cheese), crumbled
Juice of 1 lime (about 3 Tablespoons)
2 Tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
This is a “make now and eat now” salad. If you dress it, you eat it. You can cut the parts of the salad early, but do not amalgamate it until you are ready to eat it.
Cut the watermelon into large chunks and lay it out on a plate lined with paper towels to remove some of the excess water. I do that when I am making watermelon skewers for my B&B guests. It keeps the watermelon from weeping into the dish.
Cut watermelon again into cubes about 1½" large. Put cubes of watermelon, pepper strips and onion rings into each salad bowl. Add crumbled cheese. For each salad, cut 1 basil leaf and 1 mint leaf into very thin strips and place on top of each salad.
Wisk together the lime juice, honey, salt and pepper.
Garnish with an edible flower like a begonia or nasturtium. Dress salad just before serving.
Instead of individual salads you can make one large salad if you prefer. Also do not dress this until just before serving.
This salad recipe is adapted from a Watermelon Salad in "Our State" magazine.
In eastern North Carolina, we do many things with watermelon. We also are very picky about where we buy our watermelons. Folks around here swear by Rocky Hock watermelons and cantaloupes. Rocky Hock is a small, rural area of the Chowan River – folks say the sandy soil is the reason these melons are so good.
I heard about this new gardening idea – it is called the Rain Gutter Grow System (RGGS). Being a real southern farm girl, I love farming and gardening. Once I read about this innovative growing system, I couldn’t wait to start.
Folks in eastern North Carolina love Purple Martins and I am one of those folks. My dad taught me to treasure these special birds. Every spring he watched for his Martins to return. And now I do the same thing.
A Family Squabble
In March, a Purple Martin scout would come and sit on the bird house – these are special houses or gourds. Then in mid-April, if the scout approved of the accommodations, the “family” of Martins would arrive. By this time, you had better have your Martin houses or gourds ready!
The houses must be built to certain specifications – my Martins seem to prefer painted white gourds. They demand a clear flight path and a water source. Of course, they like to have a good supply of bugs. If the Martins arrive early and we have a late freeze, they will suffer because there won’t be any bugs. Click to read more about these spectacular birds.
• 1 large sweet onion or 2 small onions, peeled and chopped
• 4 Tablespoons butter
• 2 cups fresh, tender okra (about a double hand full)
• 6 large ripe tomatoes (or a 28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes - canned tomatoes are fine)
• 3-4 ears of fresh, mature corn
• 1 teaspoon sea salt or regular salt
• Pepper, if desired
• ½ cup water
Melt butter in a large saucepan. Cook chopped onion for a few minutes until transparent, not browned.
While the onions are cooking, blanch the tomatoes for half a minute. Drain and cool tomatoes. Peel, remove the cores and cut into chunks, making sure that you save the juice. If using canned tomatoes, cut the tomatoes into large pieces, saving the juice.
Wash the okra. Cut stem ends off and cut into ½ inch round pieces.
Shuck corn and cut corn off the cob. Older or mature corn works best for this recipe.
Add the tomatoes and juice, okra, corn, salt, pepper and water to the cooked onions. Cook covered over medium to low heart for one hour or until the ingredients are all done.
I have always wanted to write a cookbook that told the stories behind the recipes.
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One time, I took a month off and house-sat for my friends in the Florida Keys. Well, as usual, I was sidetracked with the beauty of the area. I would make a recipe and spend all my time taking photos of the food. I do love to photograph food – it doesn’t whine or wiggle or complain that the picture makes it look fat.
Friend Jody has helped me FINALLY produce a wee digital cookbook that features some of my favorite Southern recipes; we call it Chloe Ann’s Farm Life Recipes. My folks grew up in an area very close to Big Mill B&B called Farm Life, so that seemed like a lovely homage.
While we were pulling this book together I was happy that I took the pictures. I’m guessing all these recipes will hold memories for those of us who grew up in the South.
I hope you enjoy it and I promise there are more to come.