Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Potato Cakes

Potato Cakes
Dorcas Annette Walker

For some reason when I am snowbound or get cabin fever during the winter- feeling like the walls of my house are caving in from having to be indoors so much- I start scrounging around in my cookbooks and recipes for something different to cook. The other day I came across an old recipe for Potato Cakes. As soon as I began frying up a batch in my kitchen last Saturday morning, my husband grabbed a plate and fork and proceeded to hover close by until a sizzling hot Potato Cake was finished. There is nothing like eating a homemade Potato Cake right from the skillet. If you are feeling hungry and want something filling whip up a batch of my old fashion Potato Cakes.

Potato Cakes actually refer to many ways of making fried potatoes. Here in the United States the term is commonly used for frozen hash brown potato patties that are available in supermarkets and served by many restaurants. In England and New Zealand potato scallops or potato fritters- a regular cheap item in fish and chip shops- are usually thick slices of potatoes dipped in batter and fried. Irish potato cakes are typically mashed potatoes mixed with baking soda and fried while Scottish “tattie scones” uses flour, are fried on a griddle, and served with breakfast or topped with baked beans. Southern Australia potato cakes are a sweet dessert made of mashed or sliced potatoes with other ingredients baked in the form of a cake or an actual cake recipe using potato flour.

My Potato Cakes are a type of home-style fried potatoes in the form of a pancake that are delicious as a weekend brunch with bacon, sausage, and eggs or eaten by themselves. For variety you can use unpeeled potatoes, leftover mashed potatoes, add shredded cheese, mushrooms, or chopped veggies to make a well balanced meal. For lower fat content drain fried Potato Cakes on paper towels for a couple of minutes before eating. Either way you like them these crispy Potato Cakes are filling and lip smackin good. Preparation time for my Potato Cakes is about fifteen minutes and this recipe serves eight large man-size cakes.

Potato Cakes

4 large potatoes peeled and shredded
1 small onion diced
½ c self-rising flour
2 eggs
salt & pepper
2 tb shortening or bacon grease

Heat up shortening or grease in an iron skillet until it sizzles when you flick a drop of water on the pan. In a medium bowl mix together the shredded potatoes, onion, flour, and eggs. Drop large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot skillet and mash flat with a wide turner or spatula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using medium heat let the Potato Cakes brown for five minutes, flip over, cover the skillet, and then let the other side brown for another five minutes. Serve hot and garnish with ketchup!

Weekly tip: To save time use a food processor to shred the potatoes then immediately rinse all the parts of the food processor in hot soapy water and drain to save up washing up later!

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, February 17, 2010

Red Velvet Sweetheart Cake

Red Velvet Sweetheart Cake
Dorcas Annette Walker

Thirty-four years ago on Valentine’s Day my husband and I became engaged. I’ve kept all his love notes throughout the years in heart boxes. I also make card books by punching holes in cards tying them together with ribbon and using special cards to make placemats that I use for holiday decoration. While browsing through a book of Valentine cards I found this poem that my husband wrote me not long after we were married.

When our locks have turned to gray,
And our three score and ten years of days
Have spent themselves and flown swiftly away.
Still will I wish you at my side to stay;
For every day with you is a Valentine’s Day!
Dana Walker

It was an instant love affair as soon as I heard the intriguing name of Red Velvet Cake. Seeing and eating a piece of this colorful dessert only enhanced my devotion to this unique cake. Since then each year for Valentine’s Day I make a Red Velvet Sweetheart Cake. No matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day my Red Velvet Sweetheart Cake will make a perfect addition to your Valentine holiday.

A recipe for Red Velvet Cakes appeared in numerous 19th century cookbooks and was considered a popular southern dessert, although cake at the time was considered to be a rich man’s food due to the ingredients being so expensive. Red Velvet Cake was a signature dessert at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City during the 1920’s. After the Industrial Revolution baking ingredients became more affordable for the average folk. During World War II due to food rationing some bakers began using boiled red beets instead of food coloring for their Red Velvet Cake recipes while others believed that the combination of vinegar and buttermilk turned the cocoa to a red color. By the 1960’s Red Velvet Cake recipes were appearing across the nation in major newspapers. Red Velvet Cakes are typically frosted with a white butter cream or cream cheese frosting to give a dramatic contrast.

My Red Velvet Sweetheart Cake is a regal and moist cake that will capture instant attention with its deep red color making it a perfect Valentine’s dessert. Preparation time for the Red Velvet Sweetheart Cake is twenty-five minutes (not counting baking or cooling time) and this heart cake serves sixteen.

Red Velvet Sweetheart Cake

1 devil’s food cake mix
1 (1 oz) red food coloring
1 c cold water
3 eggs
½ c cooking oil
2 (16 0z) cans of cream cheese frosting

Beat the first five ingredients for two minutes and then pour half of the batter into a greased 9-inch heart shaped pan. Bake at 350ยบ for twenty-five minutes. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Let both layers cool, frost, and then decorate your heart cake!

Weekly tip: The best Valentines come from the heart and don’t have to be elaborate. Even if you aren’t a professional cake decorator a simple homemade heart cake still sends a special message of love!

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, February 10, 2010

Snow Cream

Snow Cream
Dorcas Annette Walker

This past week when we got six to eight inches of snow here on the mountain we once again became snowbound on our dead-end road. It took my husband five tries before he finally was able to make it over our steep hill yesterday. Since we are one of the last side roads for the snowplow to reach- and that just in later years- we always keep a bucket of ashes handy to help give traction in order to make it out to the main road.

The recent snow bought back memories of my first introduction to winters in the Tennessean Mountains when we pastored a rural church in Morgan County where the closest neighbors lived a mile away. I was expecting my son and in my sixth month began having labor pains. Each week we traveled down to Oak Ridge where the doctor would shake his head and tell me to try and hold out a little longer. I didn’t become too worried until winter set in. Although we lived on the main road the snow plow went by once a day and after that we were on our own. We discovered the year before the army had to send up a tank in order to get a lady down to the hospital. Dana was intrigued with the thought of using a trip with me in an army tank as an advertisement for our church. I flatly refused to consider being hauled off the mountain in an army tank. I told my husband that he would have to find some other promotional idea. Each time a big snow hit, my husband would hover close by asking me how I felt. My son didn’t make his appearance until early spring right on his due date.

Once again I couldn’t resist the newly fallen snow and made up a batch of Snow Cream or what some might call “poor man’s ice cream”, although to begin with only the very wealthy enjoyed ice cream made from snow. The Emperors of China were the first known people to eat ice cream that their cooks made by mixing snow and ice with fruit, wine, and honey as a tasty treat. In 62 A.D. Roman Emperor Nero wanted snow ice cream so badly he sent slaves up into the mountains on a special trip to bring back snow and ice so his cooks could make some for him. In 1295 Marco Polo returned from China with a recipe for snow ice cream that used yak milk. Soon the rich people of Italy were enjoying frozen milk that eventually evolved into the ice cream we enjoy today.

My Snow Cream can be made using a variety of flavors or eaten with different toppings. Snow Cream tastes like homemade ice cream with its soft creamy texture and should be eaten slowly. Once frozen though Snow Cream becomes solid and hard. Preparation time for my homemade Snow Cream is ten minutes and this recipe makes one gallon.

Peach Snow Cream

1½ gallons of fresh clean snow
1 c sugar
4 tb vanilla extract
2 c frozen peach jam (thawed)
2 (12 oz) cans of evaporated milk

In a large bowl mix together the snow, sugar, extract, and jam. Drizzle the evaporated milk over the snow and stir until well blended. Immediately serve and freeze leftovers!

Weekly tip: Use only wooden or plastic utensils to make snow ice cream as the snow will stick to metal making it difficult to mix!

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: