Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Funny Cake

Funny Cake
Dorcas Annette Walker

It’s a cake, no it’s a pie, no it’s Funny Cake- one of my dad’s favorite desserts. My father, born on April 1st, wasn’t expected to live beyond his childhood having severe hemophilia, yet he constantly fooled the doctor’s. Despite numerous internal bleeds that nearly took his life and untold hospital stays, my dad lived with vigor and vim taking long road trips by himself proving that he could be independent- even if he had to get around with a couple of canes or crutches- starting churches in new areas, and moving our family to different states. He often disagreed with doctors saying, “What do they know? I’m the one who lives with hemophilia.” It was nothing for my dad to check himself out of a hospital when he decided that he was well enough to go home. Since hemophilia is a rare genetic condition, my dad had to go to hospitals with a trained hematologist often a couple of hours away. I’ll never forget the night a specialist from a large university hospital called me at home begging me to talk to my dad and convince him to stay overnight. Nobody ever forgot my father once they had met him. Today my son carries the same genetic gene of hemophilia like his grandfather, who died when Dwight was eighteen months old. Even though my son is more laid back that his grandfather, Dwight still has many mannerism of my father. I had to smile the other day when my grown son told me that he didn’t care what the hematologist or an orthopedic surgeon said about one of his ankles, he wasn’t going to have any surgery until he was good and ready. The last time I saw my father alive, I made a Funny Cake for him. After my father died, I quit making Funny Cakes. This week in honor of my father, I made a Funny Cake for my son, who shares the legacy of hemophilia with his grandfather.

Funny Cake is a German Pennsylvania Dutch dessert that is so named because it is a pie and cake all in one with a gooey chocolate bottom topped by a vanilla cake in a pie crust. Some put the chocolate on top of the cake batter that reverses itself when it is baked. The recipe I use comes from an Old Mennonite cookbook. Funny Cake is a perfect April Fool’s Day dessert. Preparation time for my Funny Cake is about ten minutes (not counting baking time) and this recipe makes one 9-inch pie.

Funny Cake

1 (9 inch) pastry

½ c sugar
¼ c cocoa
1/3 c hot water
¼ tsp vanilla extract

½ c sugar
¼ c shortening
1 egg
½ milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 c self-rising flour

Combine the sugar, cocoa, hot water, and vanilla in a small bowl and pour into the pie pastry. In another bowl cream the sugar, shortening, egg, milk, and vanilla together and then stir in the flour. Pour on top of the chocolate mixture spreading it around in a circle. Bake at 350ยบ for 1 hour. Let cool and serve on a cake plate!

Weekly tip: One easy way to line a pie plate with a crust is to wrap the pastry around a rolling pin and slowly unroll over the pie pan without stretching the dough. Trim the edges of the crust and then flute as desired!

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 23, 2011

Cheeseburger & French Fry Soup

Cheeseburger & French Fry Soup
Dorcas Annette Walker

March is known for its fickle weather. You never know what the next day will bring. One day is sunny and warm the next day chilly and rainy causing the temperature to drop sharply overnight only to wake up with a frosting of snow. Despite the up’s and downs of weather spring flowers valiantly bloom and trees continue to send forth buds. Each day is a new delight of color that boldly announces the fact that spring has arrived. After the drabness of winter months the rainbow of blossoms is a feast for the eyes- each fragile flower a miracle. As the earth comes alive there is magic in the air. People start smiling more, kids act like spring lambs let out into the pasture for the first time, birds start building nests, everyone’s thoughts turn to gardens, and even arthritic bones loosen up a bit. This past week during a cold spell I made up a pot of my Cheeseburger & French Fry Soup. My meat and potato husband loved it so much he nearly ate it all up.

Meanwhile the garden on my dining room table continues to grow. My Hubbard squash decided to bloom while my lima beans continue to climb all over my chairs. I plan on setting out my pea vines, lettuce, and spinach this week. I need room to start more flower seeds. In the henhouse our baby chicks have outgrown the brooder and are in the nursery section as they feather out. We bought three ducklings that seem to grow an inch a day. All sleep and eat until startled into a mass of squawking and flapping wings making an unbelievable racket. We have already started feeding them out of our hands. Our little farm is bursting with life.

My Cheeseburger & French Fry Soup is a filling soup with chunks of potatoes and hamburger floating in a creamy sauce. Any leftovers can be heated up in the microwave. The Cheeseburger & French Fry Soup makes a perfect meal for a chilly day. Preparation time for the Cheeseburger & French Fry Soup is 45 minutes and this recipe serves six- unless you have an appetite like my husband.

Cheeseburger & French Fry Soup

1 lb hamburger
1 small onion chopped
½ tsp garlic salt
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
3 c hot water
4 c crinkled cut French fries
1 tsp dried parsley
½ tsp salt
1 c cubed processed cheese

Brown hamburger and onion with garlic salt in a medium-sized pot. Drain the grease. Add milk, water, French fries, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and cook for five minutes. Lower the heat and add the cheese. Simmer for fifteen minutes until the cheese is melted. Garnish with parsley and serve!

Weekly tip: Did you know that you can grow potatoes in containers, trash bins, buckets, garbage bags/cans, and burlap sacks to free up garden space for other plants and avoid the backbreaking chore of digging potatoes out of the ground? All you need is a sunny spot, put holes in the bottom of your container/bags for drainage, and keep watered as needed!

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 16, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Jello Salad

St. Patrick’s Day Jello Salad
Dorcas Annette Walker

There are two kinds of fiascos in cooking; one where the dish tastes horrible or where your recipe didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to, but it still is delicious. I think it is the magic of combining and preparation of ingredients knowing that the results can either be perfection or a disaster that captivates us cooks. No matter how long a person has cooked or prepared a certain dish, who among us hasn’t come up unexpectedly with a flop? That’s why some folk don’t cook. They figure it takes too much effort, have become discouraged when recipes don’t turn out, or are intimidated by professional chefs that use high-fluting sounding words and costly equipment. While there are all kinds of gadgets today advertised as must-have for cooking- some which takes a science degree in order to know how to operate the complicated item- good cooking can still be done with simple utensils. Some folk jump on the bandwagon of every new cooking apparatus that comes out. I’m not against modern conveniences, equipment that cuts down on preparation time, or shortcuts, but I think each cook has to decide for themselves where to draw the line. Staying in homes all across the United States while out traveling on the road in evangelism with my husband, I’ve worked with all kinds of cooks. Some kitchens have been any cook’s dream filled with the latest up-to-date modern equipment; others have been sparse and simple, while some kitchens were a nightmare of cutter and confusion. I quickly found out that it was the cook that made the difference not the equipment.

I still smile whenever I think back to my first little kitchen in a rental cabin on a college campus where one had to use pliers to turn on the oven. That stove was a big challenge and easily could have overwhelmed me, but I was determined to rule it and not it me. When we moved a year later to a place that actually had an oven with a knob, I had become adept at knowing just where to twist the pliers for the correct oven heat. It stood me in good stead as I moved to different parsonages switching back and forth from electric to gas heat. I’ll never forget one kitchen where you had to prop the oven door shut with a chair to keep it closed. Today I cook on my own stove with a solid top and self-cleaning oven surrounded by a kitchen I designed myself. Ironically, it has been on broken down stoves and less than ideal kitchens throughout the years where I have produced the most of my home cooking entertaining folks from hitchhikers my husband picked up along the road to conference dignitaries.

My simple St. Patrick’s Day Jello Salad was the first molded jello salad that I attempted that turned out beautiful and is still a family favorite. The St. Patrick’s Day Jello Salad melts in your mouth with its creamy smooth texture. You can use other flavors of jello or add nuts if you prefer. Preparation time for my St. Patrick’s Day Jello Salad is around ten minutes (not counting chilling time) and this recipe serves fourteen.

St. Patrick’s Day Jello Salad

2 (3 oz) boxes of lime jello
2 c boiling water
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
1 (8 oz) container cool whip

In a medium-sized bowl mix water and jello together until dissolved. Stir in the pineapple. Chill until starting to thicken. Add cool whip and mix thoroughly. Pour into a large jello mold and refrigerator overnight. Turn out onto a plate and serve!

Weekly tip: To remove a jello salad from a mold flawlessly first spray the jello mold with a non-stick cooking spray then dip the mold in hot water afterwards. Also rinse the salad plate with cold water before turning out the salad for ease of repositioning to the center of the plate!

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 9, 2011

3-Bean Salad

3-Bean Salad
Dorcas Annette Walker

Springtime always turns my mind towards salads. Here is an old fashion Mennonite vegetable salad that can be made year round and is perfect for warm spring days when you are busy outdoors. While I wait impatiently for the weather to warm up enough to start planting, I keep occupied with my vigorous indoor garden that has outgrown my dining room table pinching back my lima beans that are over two feet tall and clambering up the backs of my chairs. My peas have outgrown the wooden stakes and are curling around the squash plants that in turn trail over into my tomatoes. I plan to start giving them a taste of some real sunshine during a warm sunny day soon. Meanwhile I find myself walking around outside checking to see the latest flowers that have popped up out of the earth to reassure me that spring is near.

Salads have been around since ancient times, but here in United States salads were not used regularly until the 1960’s when cold salads needing little refrigeration became popular for picnics and outings. During the J. Edgar Hoover era the bean salad was known as his favorite dish. The first half of the twentieth century garden salads were usually made of lettuce switching over to fruits in the winter season. Dressings were either oil and vinegar or mayonnaise sometimes with a sour cream base. Soon using other garden vegetables in salad became all the rage. Beans add fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, and iron to the diet.

My 3-Bean Salad is quick and easy to make as well as being an ideal and economical dish to use when feeding a crowd. Not only does the 3-Bean Salad give you a fresh summer taste, add color to the menu, but it is very nutritious as well. You can include other kinds of cooked beans such as limas or black beans, sprouts, carrots, broccoli, or sliced radishes to add a unique twist to your bean salad. You can also substitute the oil and vinegar dressing with mayonnaise if you prefer. Preparation time for my 3-Bean Salad is fifteen minutes and this recipe serves eight.

3-Bean Salad

1 (15 oz) can of cut green beans
1 (15 oz) can of cut wax beans
1 (15 oz) can of red kidney beans
1 small onion
½ c cooking oil
½ c sugar
1/3 c vinegar
1 tsp salt

Drain beans, mince up part of the onion, and place together in a serving bowl. Mix together the oil, sugar, vinegar, and salt. Pour over the beans and stir until well coated. Chill overnight and stir before serving. Garnish with onion rings!

Weekly tip: Beans are classified into two basic categories: pod and shell with a peak season from May until October. Fresh beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 to 5 days. If you want sweet-tasting and crisp fresh beans cut them as little as possible!

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: