Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Baked Fish

Baked Fish

Two brand new babies were born in our household the other week in my husband’s fish aquarium.  The tiny baby fish match their surroundings so well that at times it is hard to spot them, but soon they will become a colorful orange with black markings and outline like their mother- a sunset Molly.  When my children were small I had an aquarium with fish that needed cleaning out periodically- quite the chore in those days.  When Dawn and Dwight hit their teen years I opted for an outdoor goldfish pond and turned the aquarium into an enclosed still life relieved to cross cleaning an aquarium off my list.  Years later Dana decided we needed an aquarium and bought a thirty gallon tank that he put on his desk and has become his hobby.  Thankfully now-a-days aquariums are a lot easier to keep clean.  The only time I bother with Dana’s aquarium is taking fish water- when he needs to add new- and using it to water my plants.

An interesting thing about fish is that they are sensitive to change so whenever you add new fish to an aquarium it is important to stir up the gravel and move things around to disrupt any previously set boundaries.  We humans often react negatively to any change in our life preferring for things to stay the same and yet life is full of changes.  Change helps us grow and expand in new areas.  I’ve learned along the way that when one door shuts other one will open.

Due to budget cuts at the Herald-Citizen this will be my last column.  A big thank you to all the staff for an excellent job done, along with their professional touch, in publishing my cooking column each week.  It has been great working with you. One of the biggest perks has been getting acquainted with many faithful readers of my column. I hope that we can stay in touch. Feel free to email me at: www. dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com  anytime.  If you want to keep up with the Walker household and all the crazy happenings here at the “farm” sign my guest book on my website at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com for automatic quarterly updates.   Meanwhile I shall concentrate on finishing my cookbook that many of you have requested- unfortunately delayed by complications of having Lyme disease that slows me down more than I like to admit.  In the meantime happy cookin to y’all!

Baked Fish

2 pieces of frozen perch, tilapia, or cod
1 tb butter sliced thin
minced dried onion
garlic salt
lemon pepper seasoning
reg salt & pepper
Place fish on a baking tray or pan.  Spread butter around and shake on spices and salts.  Place on the top shelf in the oven and bake at 350º for thirty-five minutes until golden brown.  Garnish with sprigs of parsley. Serves two!

Weekly tip:  Homemade tartar sauce: Mix together well 2 c real mayonnaise, ½ c sweet pickle relish, and 1 chopped hardboiled egg.  Fills one sixteen oz jar or 2½ c of tartar sauce!  

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at:  dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com  For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:  www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wheat Rolls

Wheat Rolls
Dorcas Annette Walker
Company is always a good excuse to get my house organized and back in shape.  I also like to check and see what tasks have been put off.  For over a year I wanted to get my daughter’s old bedroom painted and sorted out as it had become a catch all for items that overflowed my sewing room.  One of the greatest challenges as a housekeeper is keeping things where they belong.  When my children were small I’d go through the house each night making sure that everything was put in place.  There were always projects stuffed in closets that I planned to do someday.  I used to think that once my kids were grown I could catch up on everything and would have no trouble keeping a spotless perfectly organized house.  I still haven’t obtained that goal yet, but I did manage to turn out the bedroom and get it painted- barely getting it back in shape before my guest arrived.

The only problem with focusing on one area inside is that, even though we’ve had frost and cooler weather up here on the mountain, everything outside (namely weeds) has grown like “Jack and the Beanstalk” overnight.  I cross one thing off my list only to discover several more demanding my immediate attention.  Since I can’t go 24-7 like I used to in younger days, I’ve learned to do what I can and leave the rest for tomorrow reminding myself what my grandmother told me years ago, “that there will always be work even after we are dead and gone”.   So each day I make a goal of stopping (taking a break- preferably on my front porch in the rocking chair with a cup of tea in hand), looking around savoring the beauty and wonder of God’s creation right under my nose, and listening to my birds sing (the hummingbirds came back this week).

Since I spent time cooking in my kitchen while I had company I did up a batch of Wheat Rolls one day.  Homemade rolls are always a great addition to any meal and my yeasty Wheat Rolls are healthy as well.  You can substitute honey instead of sugar, add orange juice for some of the water, or use half white and half wheat flour.  This dough can be stored in the refrigerator overnight or for up to one week. Preparation time for my Wheat Rolls is around thirty minutes (not counting rising time) and this recipe yields thirty-two rolls.

Wheat Rolls

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 c warm water
1 tsp sugar
5 c wheat flour
½ c sugar
1½ tsp salt
2 eggs beaten
½ c shortening melted

Combine yeast, water, and tsp of sugar in cup, stir well, and let sit to activate.  In a large bowl place flour, sugar, and salt.  Add eggs, shortening, and yeast.  Stir then knead the dough with your hands until a large ball forms- dust hands with flour if needed.  Spread shortening on top, cover, and let rise in the bowl until doubled in bulk one to two hours.  Punch dough down and shape into rolls placing them in a greased pan. Apply shortening to the top of the rolls and let rise again. Bake at 350º for fifteen to twenty minutes until lightly browned!

Weekly tip:  Adding a little bit of ground ginger to the bread/roll dough improves the rising of yeast.  Use ¼ teaspoon for a two loaf recipe- around six to seven cups of flour!

 Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at:  dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com  For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:  www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tex Mex Mac & Cheese

Tex Mex Mac & Cheese
Dorcas Annette Walker

It felt like a lazy summer day as I took a moment to swing in my woods watching the chickens scratch around in the dirt clucking contentedly. Everywhere I looked was a vision of spring color. Delicate violets carpeted the ground in my orchard and other shady spots. My lettuce, beets, carrots, peas, and potatoes had popped out in the garden. It seemed like warmer weather had come to stay. Then overnight like an April fool’s joke the temperature plunged down to freezing up here on the mountain as cold north winds blew scattering flower petals everywhere. Not just one night, but a couple days in a row making one feel like winter had returned as I’ve kept my wood stoves burning day and night. Again I had to grab my warm jacket when going outside to make sure the animals stay safe and warm.

As though disgruntled by the cold weather, my hens started pecking at one of my beautiful white ducks that have lived together side by side for over a year. And when one hen starts to pick and jab it seems like the entire brood joins in on the hapless one. By the time I discovered what was going on the hens had surrounded and stripped a good portion of the feathers off my poor duck. Talk about a sorry sight. I was good and mad as I waded in the bunch of hens threatening to wring any neck that stood in my way letting them know exactly what I thought of their behavior. Dana helped me rescue the ducks relocating them in my enclosed garden.

When all the feathers and dust had settled, those attacking hens reminded me of gossip. All it takes is one whispered comment or exaggeration and before you know it everyone is talking about a certain person. By the time the unfortunate one realizes what is going on their reputation has been ruined and they are left vulnerable like a sitting duck. Meanwhile my ducks think they have arrived in paradise after being switched from a barren dirt chicken yard to a garden full of bushes and plants with a goldfish pond to swim around in. They spend their days hunting bugs and playing in the pond.

My Tex Mex Mac & Cheese will warm up your insides during cold days with its zesty spicy south of the border zing providing you with extra vitamin C to ward off colds and flu while giving your immunity a boost during spring weather changes. You can add green chilies or Tabasco sauce for more heat if you like your food extra hot. For meat lovers brown and crumble up hamburger or sausage and/or include pepperonis. Either way my Tex Mex Mac & Cheese will grab attention each time it is served. Preparation time for my Tex Mex Mac & Cheese is thirty-five minutes and this recipe serves four.

Tex Mex Mac & Cheese

1 (12 oz) box of shells & cheddar cheese
1/3 c frozen seasoned onions & peppers
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes drained
¼ c jar salsa cheese

Cook shells according to the directions adding the onions. Drain macaroni and stir in the tomatoes and cheeses. Keep on low heat until the cheese is completely melted. Serve hot!

Weekly tip: Adding a tb of cooking oil when preparing macaroni or noodles will keep the pot from boiling over and prevent the noodles or macaroni from sticking together!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Double Strawberry Cupcakes

Double Strawberry Cupcakes
Dorcas Annette Walker

The Easter season is the complete embodiment of spring. Several of the churches in our area join together for services focusing on the Holy week of Christ’s death and resurrection- the pinnacle point of Christianity. The earth coming alive giving a dazzling array of colors during this time of the year is a perfect example of the resurrection as nature itself celebrates for all to see. Even the baby bunnies, eggs, and chicks found in Easter baskets represent new life. No wonder we love to celebrate Easter and springtime. Our brooder in the henhouse is filled with tiny chirping chicks that only a short time before were encased inside an egg. These little fuzz balls are full of life as they peck and scratch around. Soon they will be all feathered out. Our grandchildren are coming up the weekend after Easter. Annette and William are anxious to see Grandma’s chicks. Meanwhile this Grandma is counting the days until she can hold tiny Katie Dawn once again in her arms. Ah, the wonderful mystery and celebration of new life!

One thing I always delight to see during the spring season is when the strawberry plants start blooming and begin to bear fruit. There is something enticing about the smell and tangy sweetness of fresh strawberries. Nothing compares with going out and picking a ripened strawberry out of your own patch. When you consider how some strawberry plants keep bearing and the way strawberries spread and multiply you can’t help but be impressed by its generosity to mankind. What would the world be like without strawberries? I’m glad I don’t have to find out. Meanwhile until my strawberries mature, I can buy some at the store shipped in from across the country. We truly are blessed here in America.

My Double Strawberry Cupcakes make perfect deluxe treats for this Easter season with their moist cake interior sprinkled throughout with pieces of strawberry topped by cool whip. You can use a regular white cake frosting if you prefer. These Double Strawberry Cupcakes also freeze well and can be made up ahead of time. Preparation time for my Double Strawberry Cupcakes is fifteen minutes (not counting baking or cooling time) and this recipe makes two and one half dozen cupcakes.

Double Strawberry Cupcakes

1 white cake mix
1 (3 oz) box strawberry jello
1 c mashed strawberries
1 (8 oz) container of cool whip

Prepare cake mix as directed including the jello. Fold in mashed strawberries and place batter in cupcake papers. Bake at 350º for fifteen minutes. Let cool and frost with cool whip. Garnish with freshly sliced or whole strawberries. Store in the refrigerator!

Weekly tip: One pound container of fresh strawberries makes around two cups mashed. Store mashed strawberries with sugar added in Ziploc bags in the freezer for instant year round strawberry desserts!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dorcas Annette Walker

I was thinking about April Fool’s Day coming up this Sunday while outside taking photos of my blooming wisteria vine in my enclosed garden that covers a long trellis over my goldfish pond. The blossoms and fragrance of the wisteria this year is gorgeous perfuming the air with a heavenly scent. It struck me that nature itself gives us April fool’s each spring. In previous years, I have thought that the winter season was over when the earth warmed up and spring flowers bloomed only for temperatures to suddenly drop sharply and snow in April freezing all the blooms and flowers overnight- as though the weather slaps us in the face and says April Fool’s!

People certainly are fooled by the manufactures if they buy only the latest styles and trends that change yearly. I’ve noticed recently in home magazines that professional decorators are advising folk to replace their kitchen cupboards and stack their dishes and glasses on shelves. It used to be only the poor folk had to use shelves as they couldn’t afford cupboards. Just think of all the work involved keeping the dust off of everything sitting out on shelves. And you can count on it when everybody yanks out their cupboards the so called experts on style will begin decorating using cupboards again. I read about one specialist with initials behind their name recommend decorating a room only in one color while in the same magazine another professional advised throwing together all kinds of colors in one room- even advocating adding things that don’t match.

I think though the biggest April Fool’s joke is what politics has become. Has anybody noticed anymore that no matter what side of the fence the one running for president is supposed to be all the speeches and debates sound alike in their efforts to try and make sure they don’t offend any voter- while spending most of their time accusing and criticizing the other opponents? Quite frankly, if you’ve heard one you’ve heard them all. And it’s positively amazing the levels candidates now-a-days stoop too to discredit someone else not considering how it shows up their own character.

I thought I’d feature special cookies this week. Are they peanut butter or chocolate chip? They’re both; Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies in one. These nutty crunchy Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies will fool your family and friends, but once they taste one they will love them. Preparation time for my Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies is around fifteen minutes (not counting baking time) and this recipe makes two-and-a-half dozen cookies.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c shortening
1 c crunchy peanut butter
1 c brown sugar
1 c reg sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ c milk
3 c self-rising flour
1 (12 oz) bag chocolate chips

In a large bowl mix together the shortening, peanut butter, sugars, eggs, extract, and milk. Beat until smooth. Add the flour and then the chocolate chips. Mix well. Batter will be stiff. Form balls the size of a large walnut with your hands and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350º for ten to fifteen minutes until lightly browned. Let cool and store in an enclosed container!

Weekly tip: You can also add raisins, dried fruit, or nuts to make these cookies extra surprising!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Iron Skillet Nutty Sticky Buns

Iron Skillet Nutty Sticky Buns
Dorcas Annette Walker

The first day of spring has arrived feeling like summer with temperatures up in the 80’s lately. If this keeps up we are in for one hot summer. I’ve been working outside in the morning so I can quit by afternoon when the sun is bearing down and stay indoors until early evening. As the longer daylight hours expand- what joy- I love feeling the mountain cool down for nighttime after a sweltering day. The bad news is that due to our mild winter the ticks are already out. I didn’t think they would be alive this soon, but the other week when I was planting some potatoes on a cooler day I ended up with eight of the critters on me. For some reason I seem to attract these horrible insects. I immediately called my daughter to warm her about keeping a close watch on my grandchildren whenever they went outside. I spent a miserable couple of days with big red itchy welts that have slowly gone down. Thankfully so far my Lyme is staying in remission, although it really scared me. So now I’m putting on Skin-so-soft by Avon every time I work outside. Ticks are dangerous as they carry the Lyme virus so be extra careful. You can read more about Lyme disease on my Lyme blog at: http://dorcasannette.blogspot.com/

Yesterday I pulled out from my freezer a log of frozen bread dough and set it out to rise while I worked outside in my flower gardens. That evening when I started supper I rolled out the dough and made sticky buns, put them in my iron skillet, and set them in the oven to bake. By the time supper was done the Iron Skillet Nutty Sticky Buns were finished and ready to eat. I was amazed at how simple it was to make up a batch of Iron Skillet Nutty Sticky Buns; perfect for those working during the day or someone like my son, who likes to putter around the stove, but not spend hours cooking. Preparation time for my Iron Skillet Nutty Sticky Buns is around fifteen minutes (not counting baking time) and this recipe makes a dozen sticky buns.

Iron Skillet Nutty Sticky Buns

1 roll of frozen yeast bread dough
1 stick of butter
2 tb shortening
2 c br sugar
1 c chopped pecans
1 c powdered sugar
1 tsp shortening
2 tb milk

Lightly grease a bowl and log of bread dough, cover, and let rise for at least five hours. Punch down the risen dough, melt butter in an iron skillet, and roll out the dough in a rectangular shape. Spread shortening over the dough and then the brown sugar and nuts. Sprinkle on cinnamon. Roll up the dough lengthwise and cut into twelve pieces with a sharp knife. Place each section face up in the iron skillet. Bake at 350º for twenty-five to thirty minutes until golden brown. While cooling mix up the frosting by combining the sugar, shortening, and milk in a small bowl. Beat with a Wisk until smooth and then drizzle over the sticky buns!

Weekly tip: Always work with bread dough on a warm sunny day as the dough will rise more quickly and thoroughly and your end product will be of a lighter fluffier quality!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Asparagus Soup

Asparagus Soup
Dorcas Annette Walker

March is days of contrast; temperatures soaring into the warm seventies and then plunging into the low thirties. You never know from one week to the next just what the weather will be. Yet in spite of radical weather changes, barren earth comes to life, flowers begin to bloom, grass becomes green, trees unfurl tiny brand new leaves, and there is expectancy in the air because spring has arrived. Chill winter winds turn into blustery gusts with bursts of spring rain only to soften into warm breezes. I love hanging wash out on the line in March watching clean clothes play hide and seek with the clothes pins as the wind whips the clothes around with each blast of air that quickly dries the wash even under cloudy skies. Yes, March’s weather conditions are fickle, but seldom boring.

One of the first things a person can harvest when gardens have just started being planted is tender shoots of asparagus. I have become very familiar with asparagus due to the unfortunate circumstances of inheriting my grandmother’s weak bladder that often causes one to flare up with bladder infections. Anyone who has suffered bladder infections can sympathize. During my lifetime I have drunk countless gallons of cranberry juice and have been on numerous antibiotics only for my bladder to flare up again at a later date. I have researched and read about bladder infections trying all kinds of ideas, but it wasn’t until my daughter was almost a teenager when an older lady recommended eating asparagus with the juice that I finally found something effective in stopping bladder infections besides going on antibiotics. Ever since I have always kept a can of asparagus in my pantry for any beginning signs of a bladder infection. It’s been years now since I’ve had to take antibiotics for a bladder infection and I’ve noticed that I don’t have near as many flare up’s as before. So if you are plagued with bladder troubles start eating asparagus.

Each bite of my creamy Asparagus Soup is a delightful taste of spring and a perfect dish for St. Patrick’s Day. The Asparagus Soup can be made year round by using frozen or canned asparagus (just don’t forget to adjust the amount of salt). Preparation time for my Asparagus Soup is thirty minutes and this recipe serves two.

Asparagus Soup

1 c fresh asparagus spears
1 c celery
1 c water
½ tsp salt & pepper to taste
1 (12 oz) can of evaporated milk
1 tb dried onion
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 tb cornstarch

Cook the asparagus, celery, salt & pepper in the water for about ten minutes until soft. Let cool for five minutes. Place in a blender and liquefy. Pour back into the saucepan adding the milk, onion, and bouillon cube. Place the cornstarch in a little bit of water just enough to dissolve and stir in. Bring all the ingredients to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Garnish with asparagus tips!

Weekly tip: Asparagus is a member of the lily family whose cultivation began more than 2,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean region. Never wash or soak asparagus before storing. Instead stand upright in an inch of water in the bottom of a jar, and cover with plastic for up to two days. Asparagus is a good source of vitamins A, C and E, B, potassium and zinc!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mint Brownie Ice Cream Cake

Mint Brownie Ice Cream Cake
Dorcas Annette Walker

The month of March is hemophilia awareness- the same month my son, Dwight, who has severe hemophilia, was born in on the thirteenth. Life has been a whirlwind ever since. Three years later, despite my sister’s frantic endeavors to bring on her labor earlier, my niece was born on Friday, March the thirteenth too. Thankfully Stacy does not have hemophilia. So when we found out that my daughter was due in March, Dwight and Stacy were dearly hoping that Dawn’s baby would also be born on the thirteenth. Since my daughter had to have a C-section her doctor chose March the second (they usually do a C-section about a week earlier) to Dwight and Stacy’s dismay.

Nevertheless my sweet little granddaughter stirred up quite a cyclone of her own. We were all at the Baptist Hospital in Nashville around noon- after driving through stormy weather that morning- when Dawn went back for her C-section. All the television stations were focused on the weather first around our state and then here in Tennessee as several tornadoes began moving across the state. Dawn’s C-section has just been finished and she was in recovery when the hospital went on alert. Everyone was hustled out into the hallway from the waiting room and then sent down to the dining room in the basement when the hospital went on full emergency mode shutting everything down.

Meanwhile Dawn ended up staying in the recovery room five hours instead of the usual one due to her having a bad reaction to one of the meds. Since the Baptist Hospital, for security reasons keeps the babies with their mothers, it wasn’t until after 8 pm that night that we got to hold tiny Katie Dawn in our arms for the first time. My sweet granddaughter was well worth the long wait, although my husband is threatening to call her “Stormy” instead of Katie.

My Mint Brownie Ice Cream Cake is a scrumptious birthday cake I’ve made up ahead of time to feature in this week’s column for Dwight’s birthday. Ever since Dwight was a teenager and I bought an ice cream cake for his birthday one year, he has always asked for an ice cream cake for his birthday. I have combined two of Dwight’s favorites: mint ice cream and brownies interlaced together with a fuggy chocolate topping to create this personalized cake. Even though the Mint Brownie Ice Cream Cake takes time to make, the look Dwight’s face when he takes his first bite will be well worth the effort. Preparation time for the Mint Brownie Ice Cream Cake is around thirty minutes (not counting freezing time).

Mint Brownie Ice Cream Cake

1 pan of brownies already prepared
2 (1.5 qts) mint chocolate ice cream
1 (11.75 oz) jar of hot fudge ice cream topping
1 (16 oz) container of cool whip

Soften ice cream in the microwave, spread into two 9-inch round cake pans, cover with wax paper, and freeze for a couple of hours. Dip a knife in hot water and move around the inside edge of one layer, run hot water over the bottom to dislodge the ice cream, and place on cake dish. Quickly spread half the jar of topping, sprinkle a layer of crumbled brownies on top, and refreeze. Pour the rest of the topping on the brownies, remove the second layer of ice cream and position on top. Frost with cool whip- refreezing if needed-, garnish the top with brownie crumbs, and then freeze until completely hardened!

Weekly tip: Ice cream cakes can also be layered in loaf pans and then frosted. Spraying a thin layer of cooking spray inside the pan helps the frozen ice cream slide out easier!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Zesty Chicken Quesadillas

Zesty Chicken Quesadillas
Dorcas Annette Walker

Even though spring doesn’t technically start for a couple more weeks outside my mini irises and crocuses are blooming while the daffodils and hyacinths’ are starting to open and add their color to the world. Each day brings new anticipation of what flower will be blooming next. My bushes and trees have been budding out for a couple of weeks now due to our mild winter season thinking that spring has already arrived. I’m just hoping that once everything is in full bloom we don’t end up with a spat of freezing weather and snow the end of March or in April like it has done some years when we have had an earlier spring. On the other hand we’ll just have to take what the good Lord sends our way. Meanwhile I’ve been enjoying hanging out wash on sunny days and working in my flower gardens. I’m running behind this year on my veggie garden and starting plants from seed as Dana was back in the hospital again and this week there have been doctor visits. Sometimes it seems like there isn’t enough hours in the day to get everything done that needs doing.

This weekend is going to be very exciting for our family as on Friday our daughter, Dawn, is scheduled for a C-section. We can’t wait to hold tiny Miss Katie Dawn in our arms. For the past month or so Dawn’s amniotic fluid has been fluctuating up and down. One week our daughter was only one point away from having an emergency C-section. Right now our family is all on a countdown as we plan on heading down to Nashville early Friday morning to help entertain Annette, who is nine and quite anxious to see the baby sister that she prayed for, and William, who is six as we await the birth of our brand new granddaughter. Technology and science has advanced so much from back when I gave birth to Dawn years ago.

My Zesty Chicken Quesadillas are finger lick’in good and a quick filling lunch with crispy tortillas stuffed with leftover chicken or turkey, onions, and peppers covered in melted cheese. You can add chopped tomatoes, refried beans, black olives, mushrooms, or use a different kind of cheese if you prefer. Any leftover Zesty Chicken Quesadillas can be popped in the microwave and heated up for another day. Preparation time for my Zesty Chicken Quesadillas is fifteen minutes and this recipe makes one quesadilla.

Zesty Chicken Quesadillas

1 tb butter
1 flour tortilla
½ c chopped chicken
¼ c seasoned frozen onions & peppers
¼ c shredded coby-jack cheese
salt & pepper

Melt butter in a skillet. Fill half of the tortilla with the chicken, onions, and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and fold in half. Fry tortilla on medium heat until one side is browned, turn over, and fry for five more minutes until the other side is brown. Serve hot!

Weekly tip: The quesadilla originates from Mexico derived from the Spanish word queso (cheese). Most quesadillas contain cheese with a savory mixture of meat and vegetables folded in half and fried until the cheese is melted. It then can be cut into slices or wedges. In the USA many restaurants serve quesadillas as appetizers. Dessert quesadillas come in flavors of chocolate, butterscotch, caramel, and different fruits!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Deluxe German Chocolate Cake

Deluxe German Chocolate Cake
Dorcas Annette Walker

There is always something relaxing each time I step inside the hen house to collect eggs. Invariably a couple at hens will be sitting in their nests brooding over a stash of eggs that I rob while the rest of the flock stays in a frenzy of activity around my feet hoping for some extra crumbs to fall their way. I admit I do spoil my dear hens considering I have to push their feathery bodies out of the way just to gather eggs that range in colors from dark brown to a pale cream (some plain, others speckled) interspersed with a few white eggs. I always make sure to thank my fat hens and praise their bounty, especially when a first small egg has been laid.

Every flock has a pecking order and scrawny Priscilla is the one at the bottom in mine. I can’t help but admire her grit. Regardless of the fact that her white feathers stay constantly in disarray, Prissy is always the first one to greet me diving in between and around the other hens, staying a beak length away from the rest trying to put her back in her place, while inquisitive dark eyes check me out. Even as the hens press closely around my feet Prissy refuses to give up hopping around on her long skinny legs doing all kinds of contortions to dodge the sharp beaks aimed in her direction in order to remain close by. So I was quite proud the other day to discover Priscilla’s first-laid perfectly formed tiny white egg about the size of a quarter. This bedraggled hen, whose lot in life has daily difficulties to overcome, inspires me not to give up when life throws a curve my way. If Prissy can fulfill her duty as a hen, I too can stay optimistic.

My Deluxe German Chocolate Cake is not something put together quickly. Instead it is a culinary masterpiece well worth the effort involved with its elegant 4-layers. Each bite is scrumptious delights of moist cake with caramel amidst toasted coconut and pecans topped by fuggy chocolate frosting. Preparation time for the Deluxe German Chocolate Cake is forty-five minutes (not counting baking or cooling time) and serves eighteen.

Deluxe German Chocolate Cake

1 chocolate cake mix
1½ c black coffee room temperature
3 eggs
2 c br sugar
1 c evaporated milk
2 tb butter
1½ c shredded toasted cocoanut
1½ c chopped toasted pecans
1 (16 oz) container of chocolate frosting

Combine the cake mix, coffee, and eggs beating on medium speed for two minutes. Pour the batter into two 9-inch round greased cake pans and bake for thirty-five minutes at 350º. Remove from pans, cover, and cool. In a small pan mix together the sugar, milk, and butter with a Wisk. Bring to a boil and cook for fifteen minutes stirring frequently until thickened and caramel colored. Fold in one cup of the cocoanut and pecans. Microwave the frosting for a minute or so until runny. Cut each cake layer in half. Divide the caramel mixture into thirds placing one third on the first layer and drizzling a thin layer of frosting on top. Do the same for the second and third layer. Completely cover the top layer with the rest of the frosting letting it run down the sides. Sprinkle on the rest of the cocoanut and pecans. Let sit for four hours at room temperature before slicing!

Weekly tip: Toasting nuts brings out their rich flavor. A quick way to do this instead of using the oven is by placing the nuts in a bowl, microwave on high for one minute, stir, and microwave at thirty second intervals for another minute or two (stirring each time) until the nuts are fragrant and golden!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Double Chocolate Malt Brownies

Double Chocolate Malt Brownies
Dorcas Annette Walker

To any chocaholic there is only one way to celebrate and that is by some form of chocolate with the rule of thumb being the more the better. So hang on as we indulge in more chocolate recipes for the rest of the month. After all I did manage to make it for five weeks (with the help of my leftover Christmas chocolate candy) in the New Year before I gave a chocolate recipe. I can’t remember the first time I tasted a chocolate covered malt ball, but I was instantly hooked with the unique combination of malt and chocolate as anything covered in chocolate is wonderful…uh, within reason of course.

And with the upcoming presidential election we need all the chocolate we can get to keep our spirits up as we wade through the bombardment of useless campaign promises that each time around gets larger and more convoluted- Does the average citizen really believe such jargon?- and yet it seems anymore that the candidate who promises the most and spends the largest amount of money wins. Have we Americans become that naive? What our country needs is not a politician, who upon entering office is already bound by promised handouts and positions to his own party, but an honest business man, who will be more interested in what he can do for his country instead of himself with a history of turning bankrupt companies around. Where is the man, who instead of spending billions for election in the face of the struggling financial average citizen to give towards helping the economic crisis in America instead of blowing it on publicity for him? Today’s politicians seeking the presidential office are the total opposite of the founding fathers of our country, who were willing to go bankrupt in order to create a government for the people and by the people.

Perhaps this Presidents’ Day we should take a long hard look at what our country needs for a president instead of letting politics tell us who to vote for. Ironically enough Presidents’ Day evolved out of increasing controversy due to Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays being so close together. In 1968 Congress voted to shift the three existing holidays to Monday thus also moving Washington’s Birthday to Monday. In 1999 bills were introduced to the House and Senate for Washington’s Birthday to officially be called Presidents’ Day, but both bills died in committees. Until the late 1980’s businesses were closed on Presidents’ Day, but this was gradually turned around in order to promote sales. In 1971 President Nixon proclaimed Presidents’ Day to be observed on the 3rd Monday of February honoring all the presidents. Today the spelling of Presidents Day and Presidents’ Day are both considered correct.

My Double Chocolate Malt Brownies are a luscious indulgence of soft chewy crunchy brownies topped by a fuggy chocolate frosting that will satisfy any sweet tooth. The Double Chocolate Malt Brownies make a “finger licking” snack or classy dessert garnished with strawberries or whipped topping. You can use any kind of brownie mix with added chocolate chunks or chopped nuts if you desire. Preparation time for my Double Chocolate Malt Brownies is fifteen minutes (not counting baking or cooling time) and serves twelve.

Double Chocolate Malt Brownies

1 brownie mix
1 c malted milk balls
1 (16 oz) container of chocolate frosting

Mix brownies as directed, cut the malt balls in half, and stir in. Spread batter in a 9 x 12 greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes at 350º. Let cool for fifteen minutes before spreading the chocolate frosting over top!

Weekly tip: The weight of the world’s largest chocolate bar is 12,290 pounds measuring 21 feet long by 3 feet high!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Red Velvet Cream Cake

Red Velvet Cream Cake
Dorcas Annette Walker

I remember as a youngster how the suspense would build each year right before Valentine’s Day. How many valentine cards would one receive? Would you be included in the popular girls’ list? Most important would a certain boy that you had your eye on give you a special card? We didn’t have money to buy store bought cards. Instead my mother would create attractive homemade heart cards years before the idea of crafts became trendy. I wish now that we had appreciated the time invested from an overworked mother and the intricate artwork instead of secretly longing for store bought cards to hand out like the few rich kids. Our mother also didn’t believe in showing partiality so we always had a card for every student in our class.

Finally Valentine’s Day would come and we would arrive at school loaded down with a stack of cards and a batch of cupcakes or a gallon of drink that had been designated for us to bring. That afternoon as our teacher set out the snacks us students would go around putting cards in the decorated boxes sitting on each desk. What anticipation and excitement as you opened up your stack of cards that were mostly homemade and read the signed name on the back.

When my children were young I would take the time and make homemade Valentine cards, but soon I ended up buying store bought cards like everyone else as it was so much easier and quicker. Now each year as I see the aisles stacked full of boxed Valentine cards- some of which look more like a horror movie advertisement than a Valentine card- and all the decorations, bags of candy, and commercialism that surround today’s youngsters, I sigh and remember the days when homemade Valentine cards and cupcakes was the norm.

My Red Velvet Cream Cake is ideal for making into a heart cake for your Valentine celebration with its soft cake texture surrounded by white frosting. The special pudding layer in the center makes this Red Velvet Cream Cake stand out. The elegant Red Velvet Cream Cake is something that even a beginner cook can make with success. Preparation time for my Red Velvet Cream Cake is about seventy-five minutes (not counting the cooling time) and this large heart cake serves twenty-two.

Red Velvet Cream Cake

1 red velvet cake mix
1 (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
1½ c milk
½ c powdered sugar
½ tsp almond extract
1 (16 oz) container of vanilla frosting

Mix the cake mix according to the directions separating the batter in half and baking it in a heart-shaped pan. Cover and let cool. In a small bowl mix together the pudding, milk, sugar, and extract with a Wisk until smooth. Spread over top the first cooled cake layer. Carefully put the second heart layer on top of the pudding. Cover the sides and then the top of the cake with the vanilla frosting. Garnish with Valentine hearts, gel writing in red, or surround the cake with roses!

Weekly tip: Whenever an egg is stuck to the carton, wet the carton, and the egg will come out without breaking!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Potato Soup

Potato Soup
Dorcas Annette Walker

I have sneezed, blown my nose, and coughed my way through this past week from a cold that I caught from my husband. With the fluctuating weather the winter season is ripe for colds and flu. The bright spot in my world as I sat in my recliner with a box of tissues close by was the seed and flower magazines that arrived almost daily in the mail to pore and drool over. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but I’m still amazed at all the new varieties that come out each year while on the other hand it is a good thing that there are pictures to identify various plants as one would never recognize some of the outlandish colored vegetables. Between doctoring my cold and looking at gardening magazines I fixed up a batch of homemade Potato Soup.

February is also National Potato Lovers month. So I looked up some facts about the potato:

- Potatoes were first cultivated by the Inca Indians around 200 B.C.
- Marie Antoinette wife of Louis XV was known to wear potato blossoms as a hair decoration.
- Up until the late 18th century, the French believed that potatoes caused leprosy. To accept the potato as a safe food reverse psychology was used by posting guards around potato fields during the day leaving them unguarded at night. Every night thieves would sneak into the fields and leave with sacks of potatoes!
- The first established potato fields in North America were in 1719.
- The ‘Idaho’ potato or ‘Russet Burbank’ potato was developed in 1871.
- The Yukon Gold potato honors the Alaskan Klondike gold rush where potatoes were actually ‘worth their weight in gold.’ Potatoes were so valued for their vitamin C content that miners traded gold for potatoes.
- In 1912 the Idaho Potato Museum was built in the old Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot.
- In 1974, an Englishman named Eric Jenkins grew 370 pounds of potatoes from one plant.
- The world’s largest potato chip was produced in Jackson, TN by the Pringle company in 1990 measuring 23’ by 14.5’
- Instant mashed potatoes (dehydrated potatoes) were introduced commercially in 1955.
- The potato is the fourth most important crop in the world and requires less water to grow than wheat, rice and corn.
- The potato produces more food per acre than any other crop and one acre of land can provide sustenance for nearly10 people.
- Potatoes are grown in all 50 states, and in 125 countries; New York consumes more potatoes than any other state.
- The average American eats about 140 pounds of potatoes each year; the most popular is the Russet Burbank.
- The potato is about 80% water and 20% solid, grows underground, is actually swollen stems, not roots, and changes its chemical structure after harvested by the outer layer thickening and hardening converting to the same substance that is found in corks.
- An 8-ounce baked or boiled potato has only150 calories.
- The Potato was the first vegetable grown in outer space.

Potato Soup

2 large potatoes
½ tsp salt
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 tb dried onion
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
pepper & salt
½ stick of butter

Peel, wash, and cut potatoes into small chunks. Add water to cover, salt, and bring to a boil. Let cook for ten minutes until potatoes are soft then mash. Stir in milk, onions, parsley, pepper & salt to taste, and butter. Simmer for five more minutes until butter is melted. Preparation time is twenty-five minutes and this recipe serves four!

Weekly tip: Don’t store uncooked potatoes in the refrigerator as the taste and texture will be affected!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Homemade Pretzels

Homemade Pretzels
Dorcas Annette Walker

I started the month of January with pretzels and I am going to end the month with another pretzel recipe. Our family always ate big fat pretzels with ice cream, but then we were Pennsylvania Dutch, who’s German and Swiss ancestors immigrated here to America in the early 1700’s searching for religious freedom. For years my sister has made Homemade Pretzels, but it wasn’t until this month that I decided to try it myself. To my surprise pretzels aren’t that hard to make and Homemade Pretzels are softer than store bought ones.

Pretzels originated in Europe made of dough in soft and hard varieties, savory or sweet flavors, tied in a knot-like shape known as the pretzel loop. Most agree that pretzels were invented by monks and became associated with Lent and Easter. By the 12th century the pretzel was an emblem of bakers. The custom of using lye in baking pretzels evolved in the 18th century and became well liked due to baking out excess moisture and increasing self life and crispness. In the 20th century pretzels had become popular throughout the United States as Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York became renowned for their soft pretzels. Today Pennsylvania is the center of American pretzel production.

Some pretzel facts:

- The annual U.S pretzel industry is worth over $550 million.
- The average American consumes 1.5 pounds of pretzels per year while the Philadelphian consumes 12 times more pretzels as the national average.
- In the early 1950’s the Volkswagen Beetle was nicknamed the “Pretzel Beetle”.
- The Pretzel Museum opened in Philadelphia in 1993.
- Governor Ed Rendell declared April 26 as “National Pretzel Day”.
- The Anderson Pretzel Factory produces 65 tons of pretzels daily.
- The largest pretzel weighed 40 pounds and measured 5 feet across.
- Speyer Germany is called the “pretzel town” and has a weekend festival in July that attracts 300,000 visitors with over 100 bands and floats where 22,000 pretzels are thrown out to the crowds.
- On January 1st some people give each other pretzels for good luck.
- In Germany the fourth Sunday in Lent is called “Pretzel Sunday” where boys give girlfriends pretzels.
- On May 1st love-struck boys paint a pretzel on the doors of sweethearts.
- An upside-down-pretzel means a sign of disgrace.
- Some pretzel sayings: “today the sun pretzeled down” means the sun is hot, “he got pretzeled” means he crashed, “I pretzeled him one” means I punched him in the nose, “he pretzeled down the road” means he went fast, and a “pretzeled appearance” means stylishly dressed.

Pretzels can be seasoned and decorated with: salt, sugar, sesame, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin, or caraway seeds, nuts, melted cheese, bacon bits, mustard, icing, and cinnamon. You can use different flours such as whole wheat or rye. Christmas pretzels are made with gingerbread and covered with chocolate frosting. For unique shapes boil the dough in baking soda water for 30 seconds. For a darker look glaze with egg yolk before baking. Preparation time for my Homemade Pretzels is around 1½ hrs and this recipe makes (depending on the size of pretzels) close to 30 pretzels.

Homemade Pretzels

1½ c warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 pkg dry yeast
4 c all-purpose flour
cooking spray
4 tsp baking soda
Kosher salt

Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a cup and let sit for 5 minutes until yeast rises. Put flour in a medium-sized bowl and add the yeast. Knead dough for 5 minutes until smooth adding a little flour as necessary. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, spray dough, and cover. Let rise for an hour. Take a pinch of dough and roll out into a thin string with your hands then loop and knot. Dip into a small bowl mixed with baking soda and ½ c of warm water. Place on greased baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350º for twenty minutes until browned. Cool and store in a zip-locked bag!

Weekly tip: Pretzels can be used as a crunchy topping for salads, desserts, and soups!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcasannettewalker@gmail.com For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com