Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Twice-Made Baked Potatoes

Twice-Made Baked Potatoes
Dorcas Annette Walker

I’m amazed that in our lawsuit happy society someone hasn’t sued the flower/plant companies that send out seed catalogs and brochures all year tempting plantaholics like me. All I have to do is step into a greenhouse full of flowers to turn into a wild woman. Surely by now someone has faced financial ruin from compulsive ordering and buying plants besides me. I came to the realization that I was obsessed with flowers years ago when in one of our moves I was more concerned about transporting a station wagon load of plant starts rather than my household stuff. There is nothing like the thrill of receiving packages of tiny plants or seeds ordered during the dreary days of winter when I couldn’t resist the bright colorful pictures in seed catalogs. Like a true addict the first area I visit in any store when shopping is the plant section to check out new arrivals. Now that I’ve filled up all the space possible with flowerbeds around my house, I’ve turned my attention to our woods. My husband shook his head in disbelief when I sowed part of our new garden area for vegetables this spring with flower seeds. The only saving factor that keeps the courts from being tied up in lawsuits versus seed companies and greenhouses is the reason that most gardeners are some of the most loving big hearted folk around. Who else after spending hours of toiling in the dirt, weeding, watering, and caring for a garden will turn around and give away part of the harvest for the sheer pleasure of helping their fellow man? No matter how bad the economy gets as long as there are plantaholics or gardeners’ alive seed companies and greenhouses will flourish.

Early this past Sunday morning I was out in my herb garden snipping off the tops of a couple of garlic stems to add to my Twice-Made Baked Potatoes. These baked potatoes are a yummy deluxe version of a regular baked potato with a fresh garden taste that melts in your mouth. Each bite of my Twice-Made Baked Potatoes is flavored with bits of bacon, a hint of onion, and melting cheese. Twice-Made Baked Potatoes can be made the day before, refrigerated, and then popped in the oven along with the dinner rolls for Sunday dinner. You can also add black olives, green peppers, or substitute other herbs like chives, thyme, parsley, oregano, and rosemary to the Twice-Made Baked Potatoes to pamper your family’s taste buds. Preparation time for my Twice-Made Baked Potatoes is twenty minutes and this recipe serves eight.

Twice-Made Baked Potatoes

4 large potatoes
½ stick margarine sliced
salt & pepper
½ c milk
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
¼ c bacon bits
1 tb minced chives

Microwave potatoes until the potatoes are soft when you insert a fork into them. Put margarine in the bottom of a small bowl, carefully slice the hot potatoes in half, and scoop out the insides with a spoon. Mash the insides together, sprinkle salt & pepper to taste, and add milk beating until creamy. Then mix in shredded cheese, bacon bits, and onion. Refill the potato shells and bake at 350º for twenty minutes until lightly browned. Can garnish with a scoop of sour cream!

Weekly tip: To microwave a potato: first wash the potato and dry. Then poke holes into the potato with a fork. You can either wrap one potato in a paper towel or microwave a couple of potatoes in a covered microwave dish until soft alternating with microwaving and letting them sit a couple of times!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Breakfast Scones

Breakfast Scones
Dorcas Annette Walker

My henhouse was in an uproar last week when a strong gust of wind blew open the door to the pen and my curious hens and one rooster decided to investigate the world outside the fence. I was inside when I heard my dogs making a big racket. I discovered the dogs having the time of their life chasing hens all over the yard. I jumped into the midst of squawking hens and barking dogs in time to rescue my rooster, but when the dust cleared three of my hens were dead and the rest had disappeared into the woods. At dusk my husband spotted two hens in the woods so we coaxed them back into their pen. The next day I rescued two more hens, but one died the next day. Our flock is now reduced to one large rooster missing all of his tail feathers, two normal looking hens, and one hen without any tail feathers. Talk about a sorry looking bunch of fowl. Meanwhile in another area life is buzzing with twenty-four baby chicks. By fall we should be getting lots of eggs once more. There is nothing more satisfying to a cook than having a good supply of eggs on hand.

Contrary to common belief there is no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs. You can tell what color of egg a hen will lay by its ear lobes: red for brown, white for white, and black for colored or green eggs. A hen must eat about four pounds of feed to produce one dozen eggs and it takes 24-36 hours to make one egg. Research has showed that people can eat an egg a day without raising cholesterol, boost brain health, promote strength, and reduce inflammation. Eggs provide essential nutrients for a balanced diet containing protein, minerals, iron, calcium, and multiple vitamins. The egg yolk contains Vitamin D. The U.S. production of eggs totals more than 600 million dozen per month with Tennessee producing around 30 million dozen. The largest egg had five yolks and was 31 cm long while the heaviest egg weighed 454 grams. The world’s biggest omelet was made from 5,000 eggs in Madrid weighing 1,320 pounds. The longest throw of a fresh egg without breaking was achieved at 98.51 meters.

My Breakfast Scones are great for a weekend brunch; any leftovers can be frozen and quickly microwaved during the week for an instant breakfast. These filling scones with a biscuit-like texture are a perfect companion with a glass of milk or coffee. They can also be served under a fried egg for a more hardy breakfast. Preparation time for the Breakfast Scones is fifteen minutes and this recipe makes sixteen scones.

Breakfast Scones

6 slices of bacon
2 c self-rising flour
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 tb minced garlic, or scallions
1 egg
½ c milk

In an iron skillet fry the bacon until brown and crispy. Stir together in a small bowl flour, cheese, onion, egg, and milk. Crumble the cooled bacon, add to the dough, and pour in the bacon grease. Mix well and spread out on a greased 12 inch round pizza pan. Score dough with a pizza cutter to make sixteen scones. Bake at 350º for thirty minutes until lightly browned. Serve scones hot or cool!

Weekly tip: Place bacon in a cold skillet when frying to prevent shrinkage or dip bacon in milk and roll in flour before frying for an improved flavor!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake
Dorcas Annette Walker

The beginning of April signals when I hang out my hummingbird feeders. I have always been fascinated by these miniature birds that appear every spring. The birch trees that line our driveway is a favorite spot for hummingbird nests. Summer evenings I sit out on my front porch captivated by the colorful flying jewels buzzing around. My feeders become a busy airstrip as a dozen or more hummingbirds swoop and dive in to feed. A big highlight of our family one summer was rescuing a hummingbird after a storm, feeling the magic of tiny claws perch on our finger while feeding, until it became strong enough to survive outdoors. I’m always spellbound when a hummingbird hovers near my face enjoying one of creation’s wonders up close. So this week I made a Hummingbird Cake.

Hummingbird facts:
- are among the smallest of birds with 325 to 340 different species; their English name is derived from the characteristic hum made by rapidly beating wings; they have 1,000- 1,500 feathers; the average ruby-throated weighs only 3 grams; the smallest bee hummingbirds measures 2.25 inches long; their average lifespan is 3-5 years
- they cannot walk or hop, but scoot sideways while perching; have no sense of smell, but very keen eyesight seeing ultraviolet light, which helps them identify certain plants
- their feathers are actually black; the iridescent colors are caused by refraction of light level, moisture, and other factors
- they breathe an average of 250 breaths per minute, but their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute while in flight
- can fly backwards and upside down; hover in midair by flapping their wings 12-90 times per second; flight speed is 25-30 mph, although in a dive they can reach 60 mph; most U.S. hummingbirds migrate to Mexico or South America flying nonstop 500 miles across the gulf of Mexico each spring and fall
- drink nectar from flowers, but also feed on insects and spiders; are continuously hours away from starvation only able to store enough energy to survive overnight; may visit up to 1,000 flowers daily; feed in many small meals; they do not suck the nectar through their long bills, but lick it with fringed forked tongues
- due to high energy cost the majority of their time is spent sitting or perching and digesting
- their nest is half the size of a walnut shell or smaller; they use spider silk to bind the nest material together and secure its support allowing the nest to expand with the growing young; two white eggs are laid about the size of a navy bean; a female can care for more than one nest at a time
- although the smallest of the bird species proportionately by body weight, hummingbirds have the largest brain in the bird kingdom; are also one of most aggressive birds attacking jay, crow, and hawks that infringe on their territory

My Hummingbird Cake is a rich, moist, and filling dessert that will add elegance to any meal. Instead of three layers you can make this into a large sheet cake. Preparation for the Hummingbird Cake takes about fifteen minutes and this recipe serves sixteen.

Hummingbird Cake

3 c self-rising flour
1 c sugar
1 c br sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1 c cooking oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
2 c mashed bananas
1 c chopped pecans
2 (16 oz) cans of cream cheese frosting
shredded coconut tinted or plain

In a large bowl mix together flour, sugars, and cinnamon. Add eggs, oil, vanilla, pineapple with juice, bananas, and pecans. Beat until all ingredients are well blended together. Divide the batter and pour into (3) 9-inch greased round cake pans. Bake at 350º for 35 minutes. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting. Garnish with coconut and a sprinkling of chopped pecans!

Weekly tip: Homemade hummingbird nectar: 1 c sugar to 4 c water, boil, and then cool. You do not need to use red food dye to attract hummingbirds, instead plant or hang tubular flowers nearby. I’ve always had success with purple petunias!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Ham

Easter Ham
Dorcas Annette Walker

Spring has arrived here in the mountains of Tennessee. Warm sunny days fill me with spring madness. I want to live outdoors, dance in the sunshine, and dig in the dirt. Easter is my favorite season of the year as nature renews itself in a magnificent rainbow of colors. My family and friends know I’m crazy about color. Each room in my house is a different color, I love to dress and wear matching hats in vibrant colors, and my new website at: is full of color. Holidays are an excuse to celebrate with color. Around the world Easter is observed with special services to commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ, the end of the Lent season, and beginning of spring with flowers, family meals, treats, and colored eggs. Traditions include eating hot cross buns that symbolize the cross, bunnies to represent life, and Easter egg hunts. At our house we always prepare an Easter Ham for Sunday.

My grandfather raised pigs on his farm to butcher for market and had a smokehouse where he cured meat. Today we can go to the store and pick out the type of ham that we prefer. Hams are cured in three basic methods producing different flavors. The dry curing is where the ham is rubbed in a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices producing a salty product. Brine curing is the most popular method of immersing the ham into a salty liquid with sugar and spices added and some cooking may occur during this process. Smoking is where the ham is hung in a smokehouse under a smoldering fire adding flavor and color, although modern methods include using liquid smoke. Traditional wet-cured hams are finished by a light smoking. Tennessee or Appalachian hams include honey and are hickory smoked. One of the most popular and expensive ham in the U.S. is the Smithfield or Virginia ham. Ham is one of the leanest cut of pork, contains vitamin B-1 and B-12, but is high in sodium due to the curing process.

My Easter Ham is very easy to make and produces a rich Tennessee flavor in each slice, although you may substitute any of the following glazes to make your own unique Easter Ham: honey/whole cloves, brandy/ raisin/marmalade, sliced pineapples/whole cloves, mustard/brown sugar/lemon juice, applesauce/honey/brown sugar, orange juice/apricot jam or any fruit jams. I have also cooked my hams in a Crockpot with great success. Preparation time for my Easter Ham is about ten minutes and will serve ten.

Easter Ham

1 (10 lb) half ham
1 c honey
1 c water
1 tsp ground cloves

Unwrap and place the ham in a baking pan with the largest side down. Pour honey over the ham, add water to the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle on cloves. Cover with tinfoil, seal completely, and bake at 350º for three hours. Slice and serve!

Weekly tip: Line your baking pan with tinfoil for easy cleanup, let the ham sit for 15 minutes before carving, use a sharp knife with a thin blade, and don’t throw out the ham bone as it is great to flavor soups or bean dishes!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: