Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Dorcas Annette Walker

With the availability of warm-up light rolls muffins have become more of an item sold in gourmet shops. Some use muffin mixes rather than trying to prepare muffins from scratch. I enjoy creating homemade muffins as they are cheap to make and there is endless varieties that you can concoct to customize for your family. Years ago I got my 1-2-3 Muffins recipe from an old cook who told me that during the depression these muffins were popular with mayonnaise being substituted for eggs and the recipe was easy to remember since the first three ingredients numbered one to three. I fell in love with the Velvet Crum Muffins the first time I tasted one. Next time you turn your oven on to bake something why not pop in some muffins? My muffins take five minutes to prepare and each recipe makes one dozen muffins.

Muffins originated in the “downstairs” servant quarters of Victorian England made of leftover bread or biscuit dough mixed with mashed potatoes and fried on a hot griddle dating back to the 10th and 11th century. When the members of the “upstairs” family tasted these rich muffins the English muffin quickly rose to prominence and muffins were sold in the streets to private homes and clubs. The English muffin was split, toasted over an open fire, and then served with tea.

Muffins were not marketed as baked goods until the middle 20th century limited to certain types of grain and additives of nuts and dried fruit. Packaged muffin mixes with preservatives were introduced in the 1950’s and became an alternate to doughnuts by the 1960’s. In the 1970’s and 1980’s there was a decline in home-baked goods along with a movement for healthier eating that gave rise to specialty food stores and gourmet coffee houses that sold muffins.

English muffins are different than American as the English muffin uses yeast producing a thick pastry while the American version utilizes baking powder making a lighter quick bread type of muffin. The American muffin is baked in a mold as the ingredients construct a batter rather than dough. Muffins are not as sweet as cupcakes nor frosted, but are often baked in muffin/cupcake baking paper cups and eaten mainly at breakfast. Today there is an endless variety of muffins that can be made from about any kind of fruit you can imagine, all kinds of nuts, chocolate chips, pumpkin, carrot, and even cucumber. Three states have adopted official muffins: Minnesota the Blueberry Muffin, Massachusetts the Corn Muffin, and New York the Apple Muffin.

Velvet Crumb Muffins

In a mixing bowl combine:
1/3 c shortening
½ c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
½ c milk

1 c self-rising flour
¼ tsp nutmeg
Beat well and then place a heaping tb of batter in muffin/cupcake papers.

Mix together:
½ c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Spoon a heaping tsp of this mixture over the batter. Bake at 350º for 15 min. Serve warm!

1-2-3 Muffins

In a medium bowl mix together:
1 c milk
2 c self-rising flour
3 tb mayonnaise
¼ c cooking oil
1 tb sugar
Drop a tb of batter in a greased muffin/cupcake tin and bake at 350º for 15 min until golden brown. Serve hot with butter and your favorite jam!

Weekly tip: To prevent a bowl from slipping around on the counter when mixing by hand place a damp folded towel underneath the bowl!

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cheesy Broccoli Noodle Soup

Cheesy Broccoli Noodle Soup

Dorcas Annette Walker

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I thought I’d give a soup recipe what I refer to as my greenish soup. In former school days if one didn’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, whether there was a drop of Irish blood in you or not, some unspoken rule granted your classmates the privilege of pinching you. In other words if you didn’t start the day green you’d end up looking black and blue.

Today going green is quite a popular topic. I hear it constantly on the news and read steps to achieve this coveted rank in magazines. Now I’m not against saving the environment by any means. I’m just slightly befuddled trying to understand how what was once considered poverty status could become so popular overnight. According to all the facts I’ve read I’ve been green all my life.

I raised two children with cloth diapers without a dryer so every week faithfully hung out clothes on the line. Even though I finally obtained a dryer, I still hang my clothes out on the line every chance I get. Not only does it give one a sense of satisfaction to see clean clothes swaying in the breeze, but no fabric softener can compare with the smell of sun-dried clothes. Now I’ve discovered that not only have I been saving electric, getting much needed exercise by hanging up clothes and lugging heavy baskets of wash to the line, but the rougher fabric of air-dried bath towels gives your body a healthy massage.

For years my husband and I got by with one vehicle as we were too poor to afford two. Little did I realize as we juggled our schedules that we were actually car pooling and saving the environment by having only one vehicle expelling exhaust. I do know that trips to town were a family adventure always taken together and today my husband still goes with me to the store every chance he gets. I’ve always felt pity seeing young mothers struggling with small children by themselves in the stores. Hopefully as families go green there will be more togetherness.

As for saving trash, I think my mother topped the list. She not only saved store-bought foil pie pans and foam meat trays that could be used for kids crafts, saved and washed throw-away plastic silverware, plates, and cups using them several times before discarding, but she also cleaned saran wrap and tin foil to use at least twice. If my mother was living today she would be ideal to be in charge of a recycling center to help give additional ideas on how to save.

Meanwhile now when I show off rows of filled canned jars in my pantry I can now inform my guests that every glass jar saves the environment the equivalent of two canned tins.

Not only is my Cheesy Broccoli Noodle Soup a greenish hue perfect for St. Patrick's Day, but it is quite healthy and filling. This smooth and creamy soup has a rich cheese flavor, is packed full of vitamins and calcium, and makes a perfect meal on a cold rainy day. My Cheesy Broccoli Noodle Soup takes about forty-five minutes to prepare and this recipe serves around twenty!

Cheesy Broccoli Noodle Soup

In a large kettle cover with water:
1 (16 oz) bag of frozen broccoli or cut up one large fresh bunch
1 medium onion diced or 2 tb chopped dried onion
1 tb salt

Boil until the broccoli is tender and then add:
1 (12 oz) bag of noodles
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

Cook for fifteen minutes until the noodles are soft. Then cube and add to the soup:
¼ (32 oz) box of processed cheese spread
Simmer until the cheese is completely melted. Serve hot. May garnish with croutons or sprigs of fresh broccoli!

Weekly tip: To keep broccoli and other vegetables fresh and rust-free when storing in the refrigerator wrap them up in paper towels!

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eggless Milkless Butterless Cake

Eggless Milkless Butterless Cake

Dorcas Annette Walker

Every year there is a collective groan when tax time comes around. Depending on how accurate records one has kept throughout the previous year decides how much of a struggle it is getting those much needed figures in order for the IRS. One and all we give a huge sigh of relief when our taxes are finished even though we may be left feeling impoverished by the federal government. To boost tax weary spirits I thought I’d give a family recipe that I copied off years ago from my grandmother that was an old standby, yet is still good for today.

The Eggless Milkless Butterless Cake got it’s beginnings during the war time era and was often called, “Victory Cake” or “War Cake”. During World War I and II there was an involuntary and voluntary rationing done out of necessity. Different staples were earmarked for the soldiers overseas leaving the cooks back home to come up with creative ways to feed their families. The Eggless Milkless Butterless Cake recipe first appeared in a collection of wartime recipes in 1917 by the Royal Baking Powder Company. During World War I there was an emphasis on conservation of the use of eggs, milk, and butter. Also corn and rye flour was often substituted for wheat. Good patriots were encouraged to observe “Wheatless Mondays and Wednesdays”, “Meatless Tuesdays”, and “Porkless Thursdays and Saturdays”.

Compared to those wartime days of scarce commodities, I feel mighty rich today. I have also posted my Tax Time Crazy Chocolate Cake recipe that doesn’t use any eggs, milk, or butter and can be mixed in the pan that you bake it in this month on my website Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin page at: http://www.dorcasannettewalker.com/

My Eggless Milkless Butterless Cake recipe is a newer version of the older wartime cake. This Eggless Milkless Buterless Cake is a solid-type texture spice cake with raisins sprinkled throughout making it an ideal snack eaten with a cup of tea or coffee. Other dried fruit or nuts can be added or substituted. My Eggless Milkless Butterless Cake takes ten minutes preparation time and serves sixteen.

Eggless Milkless Butterless Cake

In a large bowl mix together:
1 c brown sugar
1 c regular sugar
½ c shortening
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg

Pour in and mix:
2 c hot water

3 c self-rising flour
1 c raisins
Beat together thoroughly and pour into a grease bunt pan. Bake for 1 hour at 350º. Turn out on a cake dish, cover, and cool. Then spread powdered icing on cake and serve!

Powdered Icing

In a small bowl beat together until smooth:
¾ c powdered sugar
3 tb warm water

Weekly tip: To prevent raisins, dried fruit, or nuts from sinking to the bottom of the cake batter roll the fruit or nuts in flour before mixing in the cake batter!

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

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tennessee Fish Chowder

Tennessee Fish Chowder

Dorcas Annette Walker

I love fish, but I’d be the first to confess that I am not a fisherman. When our daughter was small my husband finally convinced me to go fishing with him. While I do enjoy working outside in my flowerbeds, I was not thrilled to wade through knee-high weeds in order to get to the creek. Sweaty and out of breath- I was carrying my daughter, water, and snacks while my husband carried the fishing equipment- we arrived at the chosen spot. As my husband got the fishing poles ready, I admired the trees along the gurgling creek, heard birds singing, and relaxed. Fishing wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

Then my husband insisted that to be a real fisherman I needed to bait my own hook. There was no way I was going to touch one of those slimy crawling creatures! After a heated debate I finally convinced my husband I had no desire to be a real fisherman, he could claim the title, and I would be happy to settle for second rate. I then was initiated into the art of casting. With a swift flip of his wrist and a zing, Dana’s hook sank perfectly into the middle of the creek. Mine unfortunately caught in a tree. I confess I kept an eye on the wiggly bait to make sure that it didn’t come near my head rather than on the creek. I held my husband’s rod and kept an eye on my daughter while Dana climbed the tree to rescue my line. Our first fishing trip was short. My poor husband was kept busy climbing trees to rescue my line instead of fishing. I was more than ready to go home myself bored with swatting at misquotes.

The second fishing trip my husband chose a large lake with no nearby trees. This time I became professional at casting as the fish ate my bait. Poor Dana couldn’t do any fishing for constantly re-baiting my hook. I finally caught a fish and held the pole out as far away from me as possible over the water having no desire to let the wriggling fish near me while Dana hollered in my ear for me to reel it in. I surrendered the pole to my husband with relief figuring I was now a bon-a-fide fisherman. All the excitement drew the other fishermen as it was the first catch of the evening and good sized one. After minutely inspecting my catch, they all shook their heads in disbelief when I declared I was done fishing. I was thrilled to finally sit down and not have to keep one eye on my line and another on my active toddler. Ironically my fish was the only catch of the evening. Even when a shower came up and I huddled under a blanket with my daughter to stay dry all the guys kept fishing in the pouring rain. I determined then and there it was the last fishing trip I was going on.

My Tennessee Fish Chowder is a hearty soup ideal for the blustery days of March. The Tennessee Fish Chowder takes about an hour to prepare and this recipe serves eight to twelve.

Tennessee Fish Chowder
In a large kettle place:
1 lb of frozen or fresh fish
1 tb salt
1 large onion minced
3 medium potatoes peeled and diced
Cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are soft. Mash the potatoes and fish into small pieces- unless you prefer a chunky-type soup.

2 (12 oz) cans of evaporated milk
1 c instant potato flakes
1 stick of margarine
Sprinkle and stir in:
Black pepper
1tb dried parsley flakes
1 tb crushed dried celery leaves
Bring chowder to a boil and simmer for fifteen minutes stirring every little bit. Serve hot with cornbread or hush puppies. You may garnish the soup with fresh parsley or croutons!

Weekly tip: You can make homemade croutons using leftover hamburger, hot dog buns, or old bread by buttering then sprinkling garlic powder and parmesan cheese. Cut into inch cubes and toast until lightly browned!

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

Cabbage Bean Ham Soup

Bean Cabbage Ham Soup

Dorcas Annette Walker

The past weeks have been stormy with freezing temperatures. I’ve cooked a pot of soup on my stove every time the weather turns frigid. The other night I told my husband I could feel the temperature dropping and my bones said snow. He laughed at me as there wasn’t any snow in the forecast. Guess what? The next morning we woke up to a couple inches of snow. No matter what the weatherman says these bones of mine are an accurate weather prediction. So as we finish up the month I thought I’d share one of my hearty soups that not only feeds the body and warms the bones, but is guaranteed to rejuvenate the soul.

I’ve been asked several times how I make my photos. One of my readers, who hated anything to do with coconut, told me that she finally had to try my coconut pie as the picture and my descriptive details made her mouth water. She made my pie and loved it. Then a recent picture of my cherry cheese pie evidently had some of the Herald-Citizen staff drooling as the head editor joked that they would soon have to require me to send a sample along with my recipes. Others have said that my pictures make them hungry. So I must be doing something right.

Actually each photo is a week-long procedure. As I plan my recipe ahead for the week I begin thinking about the photograph and how to tie it in with theme for the month or any holidays surrounding it. Then I consider contrasting colors and where I want my focus to be. On very rare occasions my first shot has been a winner. Normally it takes me a couple hours until I get what I am aiming for. I have already spent half a day shooting numerous angles, changing lighting effects, and using diverse backgrounds as reflected colors give off different values. Also using real food is challenging as it tends to have a mind of its own. After getting some pictures that please me I start looking for sharp clear lines. I often end up with a couple of snapshots that I have to closely scrutinize to eliminate or decide which picture speaks to me. Even after obtaining a good picture I still will mull over the photo to see if there is another twist that would draw a person more into the picture or make my recipe look irresistible. Then when I am satisfied I critique how my print will show up in black and white when published in the newspaper.

I’ll confess that there are times when I still am not pleased with the end results, but the few times I know I’ve captured a mouth-watering photograph makes all my efforts worthwhile. Frankly I’d probably go crazy if I didn’t have a fascination with taking pictures, possess a wild imagination that has saved me on more than one occasion, and loved working with food. I’ve learned through trial and error what works for me. And if my photography strikes a chord with you them I am well repaid.

My Bean Cabbage Ham Soup has a hint of chili flavor that gives this creamy soup a unique twist while the chili beans and tomatoes add color. The Bean Cabbage Ham Soup can also be prepared in a Crockpot by halving the recipe. Preparation time for my Bean Cabbage Ham Soup is 3-5 hours and this recipe serves twenty.

Bean Cabbage Ham Soup

Soak 2lbs of white beans overnight in water. Rinse and put soaked beans into a large cooking kettle.

Cover with water and add:
1 large onion diced
1 meaty ham bone
1 cabbage head cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tb salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Cook for a couple of hours until the beans and cabbage are soft.

Then add:
1 (15 oz) can of hot chili beans
1 qt of tomatoes diced
1 tsp chili powder
Bring to a boil and let simmer for another hour. Serve hot with cornbread!

Weekly tip: Adding 1 tsp of baking soda to hard shelled beans when they are cooking helps to break down the beans during cooking and reduce the effects of gas!

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