Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mock Apple Pie

Mock Apple Pie
Dorcas Annette Walker

All kinds of pranks are played on April Fool’s Day. My father was one of the best for catching us kids off guard. I carried his legacy over to my family and enjoy playing jokes on April 1st. It is a great way to get back at my husband, who is known for his jokes. I made sure that Dana wasn’t driving down the road the other year before announcing that I was a pregnant grandma, but I really scared my husband and kids last year when I called them and told them that I had fallen. Dana said he nearly had a heart attack and made me promise never to do that again. So this year I am going to be good, uh… at least try and make an effort not to alarm my family too much. Instead I plan to serve them my Mock Apple Pie.

Most believe that April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day started around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. Since communication traveled slowly it became the custom to play pranks. Even the Romans had a festival in early spring with masquerades. Today Scotland devotes April Fool’s Day to spoofs involving the buttocks, England, Australia, and New Zealand only plays jokes before noon, the Flemish tradition is for children to lock out their teachers or parents, in Portugal people throw flour at friends, the French try to attach a paper fish unnoticed to a victim’s back, and in India they play jokes and smear colors on each other.

Because there are so many practical jokes on April Fool’s Day people have doubted real news releases. In 1946 an earthquake tsunami killed 165 people in Hawaii and Alaska due to people drowning because of the assumptions that the warnings were a prank, the merger of Square and its rival company Enix in 2003 wasn’t believed, nor was Gmail’s launch in 2004, the announcement of the Mario & Sonic Olympic Games a couple days before April 1st was thought to be a joke, and in 2007 a ball python kept in an engineer’s cubicle at Google’s New York City office escaped… you guessed it, on April Fool’s Day. Another year there was a serious overload to a zoo’s switchboard after people began obeying hoax messages to call fictitious people such as Mr. C. Lion and Mr. L. E. Fant. So if you plan on playing tricks on April Fool’s Day just be sure and let the person know that it is indeed a joke.

The Mock Apple Pie is a perfect way to celebrate April 1st. With its flaky pastry and apple-tasting filling no one will believe that they aren’t eating a genuine apple pie. Preparation time for my Mock Apple Pie (not counting baking and cooling) is about twenty-five minutes and this recipe makes one deep-dish apple pie.

Mock Apple Pie

9 inch pie crust for top and bottom
2 c water
2 c sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tb lemon juice
1 pkg of Ritz crackers
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tb margarine

Bring water, sugar, and cream of tartar to a boil in a small saucepan, let simmer for fifteen minutes, take off the heat, and add lemon juice. Crumble the crackers and put in the bottom of the pie crust. Sprinkle on cinnamon. Pour the syrup over the crackers and dot with margarine. Layer on the top crust, seal, and sprinkle with sugar & cinnamon. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350º until golden brown. Cool completely before serving!

Weekly tip: When shaking on spices to get a more even dusting hold the spice about a foot above the food!

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, March 24, 2010

Lasagna Supreme

Lasagna Supreme
Dorcas Annette Walker

We never had Italian dishes at home while I was growing up so it wasn’t until I was married and in my own kitchen that I began experimenting with different styles of food. After becoming comfortable making spaghetti, I ventured into the field of lasagna. Throughout the years I have tweaked my lasagna recipe as I sampled other cook’s versions and discussed different methods of making lasagna to what I now call my Lasagna Supreme dish. Mouth melting lasagna takes time to create, but the preparation is well worth the investment. A dreary rainy March day is a perfect occasion to schedule making a Lasagna Supreme.

Lasagna is a classic Italian dish consisting of alternate layers of pasta (wide flat or ruffled edged noodles), cheese, and tomato, meat, or vegetable sauce baked until bubbly and golden brown. England was the first to feature a lasagna recipe in a cookbook, even though the recipe does not mention meat. Richard II was noted for enjoying lasagna in the 14th century, although pasta faded from the British diet when potatoes arrived. Today there are recipes for lobster, Mexican, pumpkin, turkey, vegetarian, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, and chicken lasagna. So no matter what flavor you desire there is a lasagna dish to please everyone.

My Lasagna Supreme has melting cheese surrounded by chunks of meat in a zesty tomato sauce; a meat lover’s delight that can also be made in a Crockpot. Any leftovers can be frozen and heated up in the microwave for an instant meal on another day or taken to work as a filling lunch. Mix-match different meats and cheese for your own family’s style or add chopped veggies for a one-of-a-kind gourmet dish. Either way a Lasagna Supreme is sure to please the fussiest of taste buds. Preparation time for my Lasagna Supreme is about an hour and this recipe serves twelve.

Lasagna Supreme

1 (16 oz) box of lasagna
2 tb salt
2 tb cooking oil
2 lb hamburger
garlic & regular salt
1 (26 oz) jar of spaghetti sauce
1 pint of mild salsa
½ (24 oz) container cottage cheese
1 (12 oz) pkg mozzarella cheese
1 c parmesan cheese
4 oz pkg pepperoni
sliced black olives

In a large kettle fill with water, add salt, cooking oil, and bring to a boil. When boiling immerse the lasagna and cook for twenty-five minutes until tender stirring occasionally with a large spoon to keep the noodles from sticking together. Brown hamburger in an iron skillet sprinkling garlic, regular salt, and pepper. In a large saucepan bring spaghetti sauce, salsa, and cottage cheese to a boil and then add browned hamburger.

Spray a 10 x 14 baking dish with cooking spray. Layer lasagna to cover the bottom of the dish, then a layer of hamburger/spaghetti sauce, sprinkle parmesan cheese, pepperoni, and then mozzarella. Repeat until all the lasagna is used only using pepperoni slices every other layer. Finish with mozzarella cheese and garnish with sliced black olives. Bake at 350º for thirty minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve hot with garlic bread and a tossed salad!

Weekly tip: Always place casserole dishes on a large baking tray before baking in the oven to catch any run over’s!

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, March 17, 2010

Garden Peas

Garden Peas
Dorcas Annette Walker

Every time we visited Grammy Lehman’s house she always made sure to have frozen peas just for me. Whether it was the dark green color or the taste of fresh garden peas- we only had canned peas at home- I loved my grandmother’s frozen peas. So after I got married every spring I planted a couple rows of peas in my garden. Neither one of my kids shared my love of fresh garden peas. To them peas didn’t taste that great and were not worth all the work involved. Long and loud were the complaints when it was time to pick and harvest my precious peas. After “torturing” my kids for several years I finally gave in admitting that peas did make a lot of work for the amount gained. Dawn and Dwight did a victory dance to celebrate the year I announced that we wouldn’t plant peas- not that I was going to give up having garden peas mind you. If you don’t plant peas this year and run out of frozen peas my Garden Peas recipe is a nifty way to turn your canned peas into tasting like fresh garden peas.

Traditionally peas (round-seeded varieties or wrinkle-seeded kinds) are planted on St. Patrick’s Day because they perish in the heat and have a brief growing season. Peas grown either for their edible seeds or pods are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables; the sweetness of garden peas is legendary. From 1858 to 1866 an Austrian monk, Gregor Mendel discovered the basic rules of inheritance by testing roughly 28,000 pea plants where he bred and analyzed garden peas in his monastery garden. There are two main types of peas- English or garden peas and sugar pod peas. Garden peas have a valuable source of protein and iron, along with vitamins A, B-3 and C, but are low in fat and fiber. Last year a new Canadian study showed that the protein in peas fight high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease.

My Garden Peas are the perfect vegetable to eat this St. Patrick’s Day. Not only will the Garden Peas add color to your menu, but they give the taste of fresh peas just picked out of the garden instead of coming from a can. Preparation time for my Garden Peas is fifteen minutes and this recipe serves three to four.

Garden Peas

1 (15 oz) can of peas
1 heaping tsp self-rising flour
2 tb margarine
salt & pepper

Drain the liquid from the can of peas into a small saucepan. Add flour and shake in salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a Wisk while bringing to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and add margarine. Stir until melted. Fold in the canned peas, cover, let sit for five minutes, and serve. Can garnish with mint leaf and a pat of butter!

Weekly tip: Frozen peas are a colorful and nutritious addition to any tossed salad. Simply sprinkle in frozen peas as you prepare the salad. By the time you are ready to eat the salad the peas will be soft enough to eat and yet be full and round!

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, March 10, 2010

Crème de carotte Soup

Crème de carotte Soup
Dorcas Annette Walker

Now before you think I have gone and jumped off the deep end with my French soup stick with me for a minute, okay? It really is all my sister’s fault- thankfully she lives up in Pennsylvania and doesn’t read my column. I was talking to Lois on the phone over the weekend and like usual we got around to discussing food when I mentioned that I was wishing I had a new soup recipe since I’ve already gone through all my soup recipes a couple of times this winter. My sister, who has toured Europe and has become quite the gourmet cook, began raving about a French carrot soup that she absolutely loves. Right now when it feels like winter is going to last forever and you are simply itching for some warm spring weather a person is liable to do something plum crazy. So I decided to try her soup.

My meat and potato husband grunted in disbelief when I first dished up my French soup. He asked me what in the world it was supposed to be, but after filling his soup full of crackers like he always does- just don’t tell the French- and taking a cautious taste he said that it wasn’t at all bad and even had a second helping. Europeans don’t eat chunky soups like we Americans do. Instead all their soups are pureed. When I informed Dana of that fact, since he wanted to know why there wasn’t anything solid in the soup, he replied that pureeing French soup was okay, but to please leave my other regular soups nice and chunky. I think he was afraid that I was going European on him. I agreed since I hate to think what pureeing would do to my wonderful homemade vegetable soup. So if the winter blues have hit you try my Crème de carotte Soup.

The Crème de carotte Soup has a summery creamy mild carrot taste and is ideal for luncheons. This smooth colorful European soup is a healthy way to tide a person over the winter, although it would be good year round. You can also substitute chicken broth or stock instead of water. Preparation time for my Crème de carotte Soup is about an hour and this recipe serves eight.

Crème de carotte Soup

2 lbs carrots or 5 c peeled and chunked
2 large potatoes peeled and chunked
4 medium onions peeled and chunked
1 tb fresh ginger peeled and minced or grated
1 tsp salt
2 bay leaves (optional)
10 c water
½ c evaporated milk
1 tb sugar

In a large kettle cook the potatoes, carrots, onions, and ginger with salt in water until soft. Let cool a bit. Puree everything until smooth being careful to only fill the blender or food processor half full as hot food expands quickly when pureeing. Pour back into the kettle and stir in the milk and sugar. Sprinkle pepper to taste and bring back to a boil. Let simmer for fifteen minutes. Serve hot with thick slices of French or homemade bread. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg!

Weekly tip: Since most recipes call for only a small amount of fresh ginger and one ginger root goes a long ways for storage peel the entire root, chop in a blender or food processor with a small amount of water, and then pour into an ice cube tray and freeze!

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, March 3, 2010

Crockpot Roast

Crockpot Roast
Dorcas Annette Walker

This is the time of year when our minds turn towards taxes and the dreaded income tax forms that invariably have to be filled out. Even though I keep everything filed in an orderly fashion all year long, I still find myself putting off going through all the stacks of papers in preparation for filling out our income tax forms. After working on taxes all day long the last thing I want to do is to figure out what to make for supper or spend hours in the kitchen. That’s when my Crockpot Roast saves the day. There is nothing like the aromas of a slow cooking roast spreading throughout the house to make even the poorest of tax payers feel rich. So to help you through this year’s income tax time I’m giving you a Crockpot Roast recipe that feeds eight and will stretch for two meals. Nothing like two meals for the price of one!

Crockpot Roast

4 lb beef or pork roast
½ (2 lb) bag of carrots peeled and cut into chunks
6 large potatoes washed and cut into chunks
2-3 c water
1 large onion sliced
1 pkg brown gravy mix
1 tb dried parsley
garlic salt & regular salt

In a large Crockpot put roast and sprinkle on salts and pepper. Layer slices of onion on top and hold with toothpicks. Cover with carrots and potatoes. Pour gravy mix over everything and add water. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley. Set the Crockpot on high and let cook for 4-5 hours until the meat and vegetables are tender. Serve with homemade rolls!

*For thicker gravy add ½ c of cornstarch to the gravy mix and water!

Leftover Homemade Stew

leftover meat, gravy, potatoes, and carrots
1 pkg brown gravy mix
¼ c cornstarch

Peel and dice potatoes, slice carrots, and shred leftover meat into a large saucepan with leftover gravy. Add 1-2 c of water and bring to a boil. Dissolve gravy mix and cornstarch in a small amount of water and add to stew mixture. When thickened turn the heat to low and let simmer for ten minutes. Preparation time for my Leftover Homemade Stew is 30 minutes and this recipe serves 4-6. Eat with leftover rolls or bread!

Weekly tip: Save those plastic store bags for putting in, wrapping up,
and throwing away bloody Styrofoam trays and plastic wrappings when using meat as this will keep your garbage from smelling!

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: