I’m not much for roller coasters after getting sick many years ago at both Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland. (Never again!) So while the Brandcation gals were riding the Wild Eagle (and being filmed by the Discovery Channel), I was busy nerding out over the food at Dollywood as well as the folk art and crafts.
There’s a section of Dollywood called Craftsman’s Valley that’s perfect for anyone who isn’t into the rides, has time between music shows to take a stroll, and has already visited the Chasing Rainbows Museum, or the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame. (I did all the above and had a great time.)
My foodie favorite was the Grist Mill where they grind meal and flour for sale. I also enjoyed watching the woodcarvers, blacksmiths, glass blowers and more practice their trade before the Brandcation group met for lunch at Granny Ogle’s Ham N Beans. There we dined on Southern favorites like greens, corn bread and shredded pork. Yum!
However, the cool discovery I made – even the PR person hadn’t seen it yet – was the sorghum making demonstration in The Village. Sorghum syrup is a sweetener made from pressing sorghum cane. The old fashion way is to feed the cane into a mill that is powered by a horse. The day I was there, they had a four-month-old colt tied up to the mama horse. This way mama could teach her baby how to run the mill. It was fascinating and the baby was darling.
The sorghum cane juice is then boiled into a thick syrup that tastes like a cross between honey and molasses. I bought a small container of it at one of the Dollywood stores and wish I bought more because it’s delicious! I hope I can find some here in Georgia, but if not, I may just have to drive back up to Pigeon Forge and buy a gallon or two!
Cooking with sorghum – Apple, Sausage and Sauerkraut Slow Cooker Stew
You can use sorghum in any recipe that calls for agave, honey, molasses or maple syrup. It’s very thick, so you may have to make adjustments by adding a little water or juice to your recipe. I used it in a slow cooker recipe I used to make all the time. I’ve since lost the clipping from the Denver Post, but found a recipe that’s close but without the potatoes. I healthed it up by using chicken apple sausage and using half veggie broth and half apple juice. I also tried to use organic ingredients since I didn’t peel the apples and potatoes.
This was a big hit with my son Nathan who adores sauerkraut and thinks chicken sausage – unlike other forms of chicken – is yummy. My daughter Lucie just ate the sausage, which is odd because she loves pickles. Darn kids!
Apple, Sausage and Sauerkraut Slow Cooker Stew
Serves 4 to 6 with lots of leftovers
- 1 – 32 ounce jar sauerkraut (Claussen is our favorite brand)
- 24 ounces (2 packages) of sweet apple chicken sausage (Trader Joe’s), sliced into 1’’ pieces
- 4 small organic granny smith apples, cored and cut into 1” pieces
- 1 pound baby potatoes (leave whole)
- 1/4 cup sorghum
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- Pour sauerkraut – juice and all – into your 6 quart or larger slow cooker or Crock-Pot.
- Add the cut up sausage, apples and whole baby potatoes to the crock.
- Add the sorghum, salt, pepper, juice and broth.
- Cook on high 4 hours, or low 6-7 hours.
- Stir before serving.
Disclosure: The Brandcation bloggers received special discounts and passes to many of the attractions we visited. All experiences and opinions expressed here are my own.