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:  For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

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: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

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: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

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: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: