Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Dorcas Annette Walker

Yesterday I was sitting out on my front porch in the late afternoon jest a’rockin a spell watching the sunlight filter through the canopy of autumn leaves all around me sparkling like multi-colored gems letting it all soak in. I feel sorry for folks, who don’t have a front or back porch where they can sit every so often and let their spirit catch up with their bodies. Life too often turns into a frantic race with the clock. Earlier that day I had been in town making several stops and needed a chance to sit and catch my breath. All was quiet except for a chirping of the birds now and then in the treetops broken by a few loud crows echoing through the woods by Red Pepper- my large white rooster with his fiery red comb. Rocking and sipping a mug of warm tea I felt my body relax and wouldn’t have traded places with the richest person on earth.

Today it is raining outside with the temperature dropping for another cold spell. As soon as I got up I started a fire in both of my stoves and decided to make an old dish- what I call comfort food on a dreary day- that I can’t even remember where I first tasted it what my family calls Goulash. To my surprise I discovered when doing some research that what I call Goulash is a far cry from the original recipe. My Goulash is made up of macaroni cooked in a tomato sauce with ground beef that makes a hearty satisfying meal. Often I use leftover cheese and macaroni when preparing Goulash.

Goulash originated in Hungary and is a national dish of thick stew consisting of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika made by cattle herders and stockmen that initially used three kinds of meat. Today only beef, veal, pork, or lamb is used. Some cookbooks suggest using flour to thicken the stew while others use tomatoes cooked down into a paste. Many Hungarian chefs forbid the use of tomatoes instead employing chopped potatoes to cook down as a thickener. The Slavic’s use deer, boar meat, or bacon and mushrooms in their goulash while the Czech Republic’s goulash is served with dumplings. Some mix match carrots, parsnips, green peppers, celery, hot chili peppers, bay leaf, thyme, caraway seeds, red wine, sauerkraut, sour cream, and substitute kidney beans in place of potatoes. Others spoon the soup or stew over noodles or potatoes.

In Canada and the United States we use hamburger instead of beef and macaroni in place of potatoes, which cuts the preparation time down drastically. In the mid twentieth century the Betty Crocker and Margaret Fulton cookbooks made Goulash here in America a popular dish. In parts of New England and the Midwest, Goulash is known as American Chop Suey. Goulash is also a slang term for a dish made with miscellaneous leftovers. Some replace the beef with chicken or use taco seasoning for a Mexican flare. No matter how you like your food seasoned or what kinds of vegetables you prefer, you can experiment and make a Goulash recipe to suit your taste buds.


1 (7.25 oz) box of Mac & Cheese dinner
1½ lb hamburger
1 tb dried minced onion
garlic, regular salt & pepper
1 qt canned tomatoes
1 pt mild salsa

Prepare the Mac & Cheese dinner as directed. Brown hamburger adding onion, salts and pepper to taste in a large pan. Pour in the tomatoes and salsa and bring to a boil cooking for fifteen minutes. Stir in the macaroni and cheese and simmer for five more minutes. Preparation time is thirty-five minutes and this recipe serves seven!

Weekly tip: Another way to jazz up leftover cheese and macaroni is by pouring homemade chili over the top before serving!

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, October 19, 2011

White Chili

White Chili
Dorcas Annette Walker

Every day I look outside and see the colors intensifying on the tree leaves. Soon they will reach their peak. Sunny days with cool breezes surrounded by many autumn shades enchant me until I can hardly stay indoors. Like a squirrel hoarding nuts up for the winter season, I want to soak up every bit of this delightful weather possible. Clothes hung out on the line dry quickly even when the temperature doesn’t get high. There is something invigorating about battling the wind while pinning wash to a clothesline and seeing clean clothes whip around in breezy gusts. Even the hens in the chicken yard squawk and do a two-step dance as the wind ruffles their feathers giving them a fall dusting while colorful leaves float down to the ground all around.

One such delightful day this past week found me outdoors burying spring bulbs in different spots reminding me of Lady, my golden German shepherd, who will scratch around in the leaves until she makes a spot to hide a bone or choice morsel for later instead of eating it right away. Digging in the dirt gives time for contemplation. I’ve discovered that planting bulbs is like planting seeds. It’s really a matter of faith putting brown dead-looking bulbs in the ground, forgotten during long winter months, trusting that a resurrection will occur next spring and turn something lifeless into beautiful flowers like those photographed on the labels that entice people into buying them.

Autumn weather also brings rainy weather, damp days, and cold nights where the only good place to be is close by a warm stove. I keep plenty of dry wood on hand and keep my wood stoves cleaned out. Already I have kept fires burning several times savoring the smell of the crackling wood that keeps my house warm and cozy. Fall also means the start of watching tendrils of smoke curling out of the chimney until they disappear into the atmosphere leaving behind the scent of wood smoke that wraps around one like the comfort of an old quilt. This past week during a cold spell I made up a pot of White Chili.

I became intrigued the first time I spotted a recipe for White Chili awhile back and have checked out different recipes before trying it myself. White Chili can be made as simple or exotic as you like. Some add oregano, garlic, green chilies, cumin, green peppers, cayenne peppers, and even jalapeno peppers to spice things up or sour cream to enrich the broth. My White Chili is a milder version. However you prepare your White Chili it is an ideal way to use up leftover chicken or turkey. Preparation time for my White Chili is twenty-five minutes and this recipe serves eight.

White Chili

2 c chopped chicken/turkey
2 (15 oz) cans of white Northern/kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can of creamed corn
1 (11 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 tb dried minced onion
1 tb dried parsley
1 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan mix together the chicken, beans, corn, and soup (adding one soup can of hot water). Then stir in the onion, parsley, chili powder adding salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Serve hot with shredded cheese, nacho chips, or sour cream!

Weekly tip: Doing up extra chicken or turkey when preparing a meal is a great way to have instant leftovers later for quick use in soups and salads by chopping up the cooled meat, putting it in sealed bags or containers, labeling, and freezing !

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, October 13, 2011

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes
Dorcas Annette Walker

Every autumn when the leaves begin to change colors and the brisk breezes begin to blow up here on the mountain, I am drawn to cooking with Sweet Potatoes. This is the time of year that stores stock fresh supplies of Sweet Potatoes making it easy to add to your menu. Sweet Potatoes provide excellent nutrition as they are loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber and are one of the most versatile vegetables to fix. Sweet Potatoes can be prepared as part of the main meal in a baked casserole, mashed, eaten by themselves, grilled, or served as a snack. There are endless possibilities when it comes to preparing Sweet Potatoes. Here are a couple of ideas to try:

Microwaved Sweet Potatoes

Poke holes all around a whole sweet potato with a fork, then it wrap up a paper towel or place in a microwave bowl with a lid (what I always do when preparing several potatoes at a time), and microwave until soft when you pierce the sweet potato with a fork. Cut the sweet potato in half, place butter and a scoop of brown sugar on top. Garnish with cinnamon and serve!

*You can also use applesauce, crushed pineapple, raisins, or chopped pecans as added toppings!

Sweet Potato Fries

Cut sweet potatoes (peeled or with skin left on) in half and slice into wedges. In a bowl combine melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and toss until the potatoes are coated. Place on a baking tray in a single layer and bake at 350º for thirty minutes until crispy brown. Serve hot!

*You can also substitute taco seasoning mix, paprika, garlic salt, red pepper, or Tabasco sauce to give your fries added zest!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Bake sweet potatoes wrapped in tinfoil in the oven at 350º for forty-five minutes until soft. Let cool, then cut in half, and scoop out the center. Mash the sweet potato and mix with a little milk, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour the mixture back into the shells, sprinkle on chopped pecans, and bake for ten minutes until the nuts are toasted and the topping is slightly browned. Serve hot!

*You can also add cream cheese or cottage cheese to the sweet potato mixture for a creamier texture!

You can find the recipe for my Candied Orange Sweet Potato and Sweet Potato Delight on my Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

Weekly tip: Handle sweet potatoes with care as their skins are delicate. Store in a cool dry place as dampness will cause the sweet potatoes to spoil. Never store raw sweet potatoes in the refrigerator as the insides will become hard and affect its taste. If sweet potatoes are stored properly they will keep for several months!

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, October 5, 2011

Carrot Zucchini Brownies

Carrot Zucchini Brownies
Dorcas Annette Walker

I was in my veggie garden this week harvesting pumpkins and the few remaining vegetables. I’m always sad to see the brown shriveled remains of what once were growing green vines loaded with zucchini and yellow squash signaling the end of the summer season. Long ago an ancient Hebrew writer penned the words, “To everything there is a season.., a time to be born and a time to die.” Right now our household is in a time of mourning a beloved aged pet.

Years ago I agreed to let my son have a dog out of sheer frustration as personally I was a cat person. Dogs chewed things, barked at night, ran through flower beds, and were more trouble than they were worth, but ever since Dwight was little, he kept asking for a dog. It wasn’t until my son went through two knee surgeries that backfired due to internal bleeding- undoing everything done to stop his knee bleed in the first place- that I gave in. Dwight, who has severe hemophilia and averaged two to three internal bleeds a week was no stranger to pain, but this episode had lasted five months with the orthopedic surgeon pressing us for another surgery brought me to the brink of desperation. Always on the skinny side, my son had lost twenty pounds and was in constant pain despite strong narcotics. I had tried everything I could to bring the spark of life back into my Dwight’s eyes without success until the morning I mentioned the possibility of getting a dog.

As soon as people heard about our situation, we were overwhelmed with offers of dogs and advice from friends and dog breeders. I was hoping my son would pick out a small dog, but Dwight fell in love with a six month old chocolate lab pup- the color of sand- and named her Sandy. From the start Sandy was Dwight’s dog, whining at the door every morning until she saw Dwight. My son began spending his days outdoors propped up on the porch swing with pillows or sleeping in the yard using Sandy for a cushion. He’d hobble around on crutches playing with Sandy to give “her” exercise or painfully limp down our gravel road to walk his dog. Then one day Dwight wanted to ride his bike so my husband rigged it up where he could drive it with his stiffened leg. From morning until night, Sandy and Dwight were inseparable. Dwight began going longer periods without his pain medication and slowly became a lively healthy-looking boy once again.

One month later we went back to see the orthopedic surgeon, who shook his head in amazement as Dwight bent his knee back and forth without pain, asking me what on earth we had done to get more movement in a knee than expected without another surgery. I smiled and told the surgeon it was God and a chocolate lab while Dwight chattered nonstop about his dog, Sandy.

Carrot Zucchini Brownies

1 c shredded carrots
1 c shredded zucchini
1 c sugar
2 eggs
½ c vegetable oil
¼ c orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
2 c self-rising four
½ c raisins
½ c chopped pecans
1 tb cinnamon
cream cheese frosting (optional)

In a medium-size bowl mix together thoroughly the first seven ingredients then stir in the flour, raisins, pecans, and cinnamon. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish and bake at 350º for thirty minutes. Makes twelve brownies. Let cool before serving!

Weekly tip: Dust nuts and raisins with flour before adding to the batter as this will prevent them from sinking to the bottom while baking!

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: