Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Southern Green Beans

Southern Green Beans
Dorcas Annette Walker

One main introduction to southern cooking was beans when we pastored in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each meal had at least one dish of cooked beans. The kind of beans one grew in the garden and ate was of major importance. At every church dinner you could count on at least one table being full of nothing but all kinds of beans. Up until that time I had never encountered so many beans in my life. Thus began my education in southern-style green beans. I soon was canning and filling shelves of white half-runner string beans just like the rest of the church folk. Since then I’ve ventured out and even grown foot-long string green beans.

The common bean has been cultivated dating back to the ancient Egyptians. There are over 4,000 classifications of beans on record in the U.S. alone. There are three main types of beans: snap, string, and green (string-less) beans that grow as pole or bush beans such as: Kentucky Blue, Kentucky Wonder, and Blue Lake. You can choose between a rainbow of colors: green, purple, yellow (wax), red, black, red-striped, white, and navy beans. Other varieties include: lima or butter, kidney, pinto, and soybeans. With some beans the tender pods are eaten, others you let dry out and store for soups (Shelly or fall beans), while bean sprouts are used in stir-fries. Oriental, Mexican, Southwestern, Middle East, and Southern folk all use different kinds of beans in their cuisine. One recipe called Fifteen Bean Soup is made up of fifteen different types of beans. Field beans are mostly bush and used for stock feed.

Green beans are available year round as canned, frozen, or fresh and are cooked by boiling, steaming, or baking. Some restaurants serve battered and fried green beans. Beans continue to be one of the principal sources of protein for vegetarians and are a healthy food alternative for the poor. Green beans are low in calories, have an excellent source of vitamin K, C, and A, contain fiber, potassium, folate, iron, magnesium, thiamin, copper, calcium, phosphorus, protein, omega-3, and niacin.

My Southern Green Beans are easy to prepare and make a colorful addition to any meal. Some southern cooks use shortening or fatback instead of bacon grease. I have also added small chunks of ham or bacon in my green beans. Preparation time for my Southern Green Beans is around twenty minutes and this recipe serves four.

Southern Green Beans

1 quart canned green beans
1 tb bacon grease
1 tsp chopped onion

Rinse green beans and dump into a medium-sized saucepan. Almost cover the beans with water. Sprinkle on the onion and add the bacon grease. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and let boil for at least ten more minutes until most of the water is gone. Serve hot!

Weekly tip: My recent Lemon Squares recipe had the (three eggs) omitted from the listing of the first six ingredients that you creamed!

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, September 22, 2010

Toasted Banana Pudding

Toasted Banana Pudding
Dorcas Annette Walker

Every time my mother made toast we made sure to be in the kitchen. The object that kept us enthralled was a tall thin metal appliance. When plugged in a conveyer belt would start to move. My mother would put a slice of bread at the opening and inch by inch the bread would enter the tunnel-like entrance. As soon as one slice of bread disappeared, she would put another slice at the opening until it looked like a train of bread moving through a tunnel. What was even more captivating was the tiny glass window about the size of a quarter in the middle on either side of the toaster where one could see the bread as it slowly moved through the toaster. We would take turns catching the toasted slice of bread waiting until the last second before it began to fall. It wasn’t until my high school years that I discovered that nobody else had a toaster like ours. Whenever I’d invite a friend home with me they always wanted to make toast sitting spellbound besides my mother’s toaster watching as slice after slice of bread got toasted. Today it is rare to find a toaster like my mother’s even at an antique store.

People have toasted bread since the Romans era over an open fire with a simple metal frame or long-handled fork. The word toast comes from the Latin word, “tostum”, which means scorching or burning. The first electric toaster was invented in 1893 in Great Britain. In 1909 the first American toaster only toasted one side of the bread at a time. In 1913 the Copeman toaster was patented, which automatically turned the bread. Then during World War I, Charles Strite, tired of the burnt toast served in the company cafeteria invented a pop-up toaster. The first fully automatic pop-up toaster was invented in 1926 by Toastmaster one-A-one and was considered a prized wedding gift. When the first pre-sliced bread when on sale in 1928, toaster sales skyrocketed by 1933.

Toaster facts:

- In Norway, every other Tuesday, people gather and pay homage to the almighty god “Tohstre”.
- An estimated 75 million Americans eat toast every day.
- The average person spends 35 hours a year making toast.
- Toasters are the subject of a 2005 Kaiser Chiefs song.
- Toasters cause 95% of deaths in children under 5.

My Toasted Banana Pudding captures the last days of summer with its light texture and mild banana taste. Preparation time for my Toasted Banana Pudding is thirty minutes (not counting cooling time) and this recipe serves fourteen.

Toasted Banana Pudding

1 baked angel food cake
4 bananas
2 (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
2 c milk
2 c plain yogurt
cool whip

Cut up the angel food cake into inch-size pieces, spread on a large tray, and bake at 350º for 15 minutes; turning every five minutes with a large spatula. Spread toasted cubes in a 9 x 13 dish, slice bananas, and layer on top. Mix up pudding as directed and add yogurt. Pour over bananas and stir until everything is covered. Refrigerate for a couple of hours until firm. Garnish with cool whip and serve!

Weekly tip: A toaster uses almost half the energy as an oven; energy is wasted if a toaster is left unplugged after use!

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, September 15, 2010

Salsa Dip

Salsa Dip
Dorcas Annette Walker

It seems like yesterday that our house phone buzzed nonstop with teenage conversations- back in the dark ages before cell phones and wireless phones. In fact I seldom answered the kitchen phone as there was always a teenage grabbing the headpiece as soon as the phone rang, with a surprised look of amazement when a caller actually wanted my husband or me. Since I didn’t believe in letting my teenagers have a phone of their own, much less in their bedroom, the cord was stretched to maximum tautness with the headpiece attached to my daughter’s ear as she’d walk down the hallway talking nonstop. Those were the days when the constant ringing of the phone became normal background noise. My younger son complained that all his sister ever did was talk and giggle on the phone with her friends. He thought it was quite boring and dumb. When Dawn started going with Randy, who lived in Nashville, the only communication we could get with our daughter was between intense private talks on the phone that somehow she managed to stretch to her closed bedroom doorway. Each chat with her boyfriend meant more analyzed and dissected discussions of feedback from her closest friends. It probably would have been more appropriate to have had the florist use phone cords instead of trailing ivy in our daughter’s bridal bouquet.

My husband and I thought that after our daughter was married we would once again have the use of the house phone to ourselves, but lo and behold if our son, who usually didn’t talk much, hit the teenage stage and he became attached to the phone head piece. All kinds of friends called for long and debated conversations ranging around car and truck parts and how many miles a gallon a certain vehicle got. Interestingly enough when I compared all the earlier girl giggles to the present boisterous boy laughter they seemed just about evenly matched and the length of the phone calls remained just the same. So after our son got married it was quite a shock to suddenly discover that when the phone rang we had to answer it. Since then our house has been quite silent without the continual ringing of a phone in the background.

The only way I survived those hectic teenage days was with my Salsa Dip and plenty of tortilla chips during sleepovers. Today there are a variety of tortilla chips that you can use. You can also add or substitute chopped red & green peppers, mushrooms, onions, sausage refried beans, black olives, or serve with sour cream. Heat the dip in the microwave or keep in a Crockpot on low for instant use. My Salsa Dip takes about fifteen minutes to prepare and this recipes makes around six cups of dip.

Salsa Dip

1 lb hamburger
1 pint of medium salsa
15.5 oz jar of salsa cheese or cheese whiz

Brown, chop fine, and drain hamburger. Mix together in a medium bowl the hamburger, salsa, and cheese. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator!

Weekly tip: Use mugs or foam cups instead of bowls or plates for dips, and paper towels as an alternative to napkins for holding chips!

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, September 8, 2010

Chocolate Oatmeal Lunchbox Cookies

Chocolate Oatmeal Lunchbox Cookies
Dorcas Annette Walker

Another school year has started and the Labor Day weekend is upon us- the last holiday of the summer signaling the beginning of a new school and work year. I vividly recall the days in yesteryears hurrying down a gravel road to meet the school bus each morning; walking through crisp autumn leaves hoping the bus would be late, shivering and stomping my feet on the snowy ground while turning one’s back to fierce winter gales praying that the bus would hurry up and arrive, to the delight and wonder of spotting the first blooming violet announcing that spring was on its way all while waiting for bright yellow school bus. Today children rush out the front door and hop on the school bus at their doorstep hardly noticing the weather.

Arrival at school meant reuniting with old school friends that you hadn’t seen all summer, checking out new students amidst the confusion and uproar of shouting and laughter, coordinating the labyrinth of different schedules, teachers, and classrooms, inhaling the intoxicating smells of thick textbooks that soon would become familiar companions, and writing down the first word in a brand new notebook.

But I think the biggest change today is the absence of lunchboxes. How important one felt starting out the school year with a brand new metal lunchbox without any dents or scratches. While I am thankful that today’s school child gets a free nutritious lunch, I feel a pang of sympathy for school children that don’t know the joys of trading sandwiches or cookies with other school chums during the lunch hour. Lunchboxes have become a relic of the past sitting in dusty corners of antique shops forgotten and forlorn. Even the working man and woman of today seldom carry a lunch finding it more convenient to buy from a fast food place. I know that time marches on, but in the hurried rush of today I’d love to once again snap open up a metal lunchbox, unwrap a sandwich folded in wax paper, nibble on some homemade cookies, and take a crunchy bite out of an juicy apple.

My Chocolate Oatmeal Lunchbox Cookies are a soft and chewy cookie dusted in sugar with a double chocolate taste. You can add raisins or walnuts to these cookies if you prefer. Either way these cookies are delicious and filling with a cold glass of milk. Preparation time for my Chocolate Oatmeal Lunchbox Cookies is twenty minutes and this recipe makes about four dozen cookies.

Chocolate Oatmeal Lunchbox Cookies

2 c sugar
1 c shortening
1 egg
1 c milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1½ c self-rising flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
3 c uncooked quick oats
6 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips

Cream 1½ c of sugar, shortening, egg, milk, and vanilla together. Mix in flour, cocoa, and oats thoroughly. Fold in the chocolate chips. Form dough the size of a large walnut, roll in remaining sugar, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly and bake at 350º for ten to twelve minutes. Let cool slightly and store in an enclosed container!

Weekly tip: For softer and chewier homemade cookies substitute honey for part of the sugar called for in the recipe!

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:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares
Dorcas Annette Walker

I love hearing rumbling thunder in the distance signaling afternoon rain showers coming to wash away the dust and give a brief break in the humidity, even though at times I have to scramble in order to get my wash drying out on the line inside before the raindrops fall. It doesn’t take long for wash to dry on hot days so every opportunity I’m hanging some out. There is something addictive about the fresh smell of sun-dried laundry while nothing bleaches whites better than the sun in its zenith. Another thing good for bleaching is lemons. So here is another lemon recipe to enjoy as the summer days slowly wind down.

Some lemon facts:

- The word lemon is believed to have been derived from Asian language words meaning, "sour or sour fruit."
- There are two different types of lemons — acid and sweet.
- Lemons should be firm and bright yellow. Thin skinned fruit tends to have more juice, while fruit with a greenish cast is likely to be more acidic.
- You may store lemons at room temperature for two weeks; will keep for up to six weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
- Lemon trees bloom continuously all year and can produce up to 500 or 600 lemons a year.
- One medium lemon has about 3 tablespoons of juice and 3 tablespoons of grated peel.
- Get the most juice out of your lemon by warming it in the microwave for 15 seconds or rolling it with your hand on the counter at room temperature.
- Use juice on fruit or white vegetables to keep their color.
- Lemon juice can remove odors from hands, pots, and pans by rubbing with a cut lemon just before washing; run used lemon peels through your garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh.
- Lemon and salt can be used to treat rust spots, and to clean copper pots.
- Freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays or add a twist of lemon to the water in ice cube trays for added zip to beverages
- Add a few drops of lemon juice to whipping cream if it doesn't stiffen.
- Use lemon to replace salt in your recipe for less sodium.
- It is said that the citric acid in lemon juice will dissolve a pearl.

My Lemon Squares have a mild lemon flavor and look like captured sunshine ideal for lunches, snacks, or as a dessert. Drinking mint tea with these Lemon Squares enhances the flavor. For an added contrasting garnish use chocolate curls or drizzle chocolate syrup. Total preparation time for my Lemon Squares is fifty-five minutes and this recipe makes twelve squares.

Lemon Squares

1 stick margarine
2 c sugar
3 eggs
½ c lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ c shredded lemon peel
2½ c self-rising flour
2 tb powdered sugar

Cream the first six ingredients together. Slowly stir in flour beating well. Pour into a 9 x 13 greased baking dish and bake at 350º for 35 minutes. Cool and sift powdered sugar onto the top. Cut into squares and serve with a candied lemon slice and fresh mint!

Weekly tip: To make candied citrus slices or peel: bring one-fourth cup of water and three-fourths cup of sugar to a boil, add fruit, simmer for two minutes, drain, and let cool!

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: