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I am a simple country girl who loves life and lives it to the fullest. I cook for one of the greatest families ever. Cooking is my passion and I consider it as well to be my gift.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009


My friend Eb Pope asked me what I considered to be a traditional New Years dinner. Here is my answer.

If I could go back in time Eb, on New Years day I would be setting at my grandmothers (Mama Joe) table. She considered anything green to mean money or prosperity, so there was always a pot of greens cooked with ham hocks and a pot of boiled cabbage. The greens represented 'folding money'. Spareribs cooked in a pressure pot meant prosperity as well,because pigs root forward, so it's seen as moving forward into the new year. Most people consider pork to mean good luck as well when following this tradition. No chicken because they scratch backwards. Black-eyed peas were thought to bring good luck because they resembled 'coins.' There was always a cake of cornbread cooked in her wood stove, and it symbolized what you might call 'humble pie'. Anything else would have been simply a preference. Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, banana pudding, spiced peaches, and sweet tea showed up as 'extras'.
I hope you and your family have the most wonderful New Year Holiday!

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."~Luciano Pavarotti


Try these sweetly addictive onions with your New Years day pork.

1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp. salt
6 large sweet onions, sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
4 shakes hot sauce

Heat butter in small saucepan. Add honey and salt. Layer onions in baking dish and sprinkle with lemon juice. Shake on hot sauce. Pour honey mixture over onions. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."~Oprah Winfrey

COOKS NOTE:  The last two pictures feature Honey Baked Onions over Honey /Baked Onions & being stirred into sauteed cabbage.......divine deliciousness....

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


If you love the delicious sweetness of Red Velvet Cake, then you will totally lose yourself in the irresistible richness of these 'way out of the ordinary' pancakes. They would be perfect for a 'Date Night' with your honey. Break out the red lingerie and be ready for the ooohs and the ahhs to begin!

2 cups of Red Velvet cake mix from an 18.25 oz. box
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
pure maple syrup, warmed and poured into a pretty pitcher to serve
whipped cream, the real thing (don't trust anything from a can for this recipe)
powdered sugar
dark chocolate shavings

Combine cake mix with well beaten eggs and water in mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer until just combined. If it looks to thick, add a little more water.
Preheat non-stick skillet to medium heat. Pour in desired amount, and watch carefully as these will brown quicker than regular pancakes. Keep warm in oven on lowest heat setting.
To Serve: Top with maple syrup, whipped cream, powdered sugar and chocolate shavings. If you're feeling a little theatrical, and you well should be if you are wearing the red lingerie, top it all off with some stemmed maraschino cherries. Light a red cinnamon scented candle, place the plate before him, set down on his lap, and feed him and yourself this delectable concoction. Sweet Dreams!

"I can resist anything but temptation."-Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


My good friend Summer Dawna requested this recipe and I am happy to share it with her and all of you...it is fabulous!

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 large pkg. vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 (2oz.) bottles red food coloring
2 tsp. cocoa
1 stick butter, softened and halved
1 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese. softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Add cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, milk, food coloring and cocoa to 1/2 stick of the butter in bowl. mixing well. Pour into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, remove and cool completely.
Combine remaining 1/2 stick butter and cream cheese in bowl, mixing well. Add confectioner's sugar and vanilla, mixing well. Spread between layers and over top of cake.

"Sin and red velvet go well together (remember Scarlett O’Hara’s scandalous party dress?) Like sin, Red Velvet cake is shocking at first, then intriguing, then irresistible. When you succumb to the temptation of it, it’s easy to you lose yourself in its delicious sweetness, mindless of the consequences. And when you wake from your frosting-coated fugue to find your platter empty and yourself filled with remorse (and cake), you swear oaths of abstinence, restraint, and moderation — until the next irresistible temptation comes along."-from 'Hugging the Coast.com'

Picture courtesy of http://www.geekphilosopher.com/  Free pictures of every description.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Here's a Christmas treat that would be fun to make with your little ones. Mix up the dough, it only takes a few minutes, then let them roll into balls. Bake them, then the little elves can roll them in powdered sugar. Make gift bags out of them, and let the children hand them out to friends and family who drop by. It will give them the gift of accomplishment and sharing.

Cream 1 1/4 cups butter with 2/3 cup granulated sugar until fluffy. Add 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 cups sifted flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup cocoa, and 2 cups chopped pecans. Mix thoroughly. Refrigerate 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Form dough into 1-inch balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Cool on wire racks; roll in powdered sugar.
Makes 6 dozen.

" Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall."~Larry Wilde,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Your children are out of school...for how long? And you have been stuck in the house! So it's time to find new ways to 'entertain' them. If they can count to 3, then they can make these biscuits..with your help of course...

1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup oil
2/3 cup milk

Mix first 3 ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Mix oil and milk together, add to dry ingredients. Mix just a little more. Place a mound about the size of a small child's fist, about 3 tablespoons, onto greased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for for about 12 minutes, just until golden brown.

“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.”~Henry Ward Beecher


Three ingredients is all it takes to make this delicious dip.

2 cups Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped
2 cups Swiss cheese, coarsely grated
2 cups mayonnaise

Spray pie plate or other 9-inch baking dish with Pam cooking spray. Mix all ingredients together and place in dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Serve with chips and crackers.
Yield: 5 cups

“The onion and its satin wrappings is among the most beautiful of vegetables and is the only one that represents the essence of things. It can be said to have a soul.”~
Charles Dudley Warner


Susie Smith is one of the nicest gals I know and today is her birthday, so I would like to dedicate this yummy recipe to her.
 2 quarts commercial eggnog, chilled
1 (12oz.) Cool Whip, thawed
1 cup chocolate syrup
1/2 cup brandy (optional)
shaved chocolate bar for garnish

In large bowl combine eggnog, 3 cups of cool whip, chocolate syrup and brandy. Mix with electric mixer at low speed until smooth. Serve immediately, with a dollop of cool whip and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings.
Serves 12 to 16.

"If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give."~George MacDonald

COOKS NOTE: Picture of chocolate uploaded from http://www.geekphilosopher.com/

Monday, December 21, 2009


Years ago I cooked for an elderly couple from Vero Beach, Florida, in Grandfather Golf & Country Club. They were some of the nicest people I had ever met and always sat with me in the kitchen when I was cooking. We took to each other right off, and they had traveled the world, as he he was an engineer, and also played the big bass guitar in The Big Bands. I learned a lot about cooking during that phase of my career, particularly from her. I had never cooked veal before, or a risotto. I learned the fine art of cooking both of these dishes as well as others.
She had requested beef stew for the nights dinner and I had bought the ingredients and just beginning to fry-out the meat when she made a suggestion to my technique. She said, "Fry it out in batches until it's really browned well. This will make it more tender as it cooks in the sauce." So I 'put a turn on it", fried each piece to almost, but not quite, a crispness. I learned a valuable lesson that day. Now every time I make beef stew, I fry it out just like she taught me to. It has never failed to please.

1/3 cup canola oil
3 lbs. beef chuck, cut extra-lean in 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup sliced celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 (8oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup red wine, I use more
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
6 small potatoes, pared and halved
6 medium carrots, pared and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 onions, peeled and quartered
1 Tbsp. flour

In hot oil in Dutch oven, brown beef cubes WELL on all sides. Remove and set aside. Add next 3 ingredients and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Return beef to pan. Add next 9 ingredients and 2 cups water to pan. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 1 1/4 hours. Add vegetables, and simmer, covered, 1 hour, or until tender. Remove from heat. Skim off fat. Mix flour with 2 tablespoons cold water and stir into beef mixture. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Serve with crusty bread.
Serves 6.

"I would like to find a stew that will give me heartburn immediately, instead of at three o'clock in the morning."~John Barrymore


If you love cornbread, then definately try this recipe. Serve it with beef stew.

3 Tbsp. butter-melted
2 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup self-rising cornmeal
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen kernal corn
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pan and place in oven to heat. Whisk flour and cornmeal together. Whisk eggs and butter in another bowl, whisk in sugar, milk and vinegar. Add flour mixture and whisk until just smooth. Stir in corn. Transfer to heated pan. Pour cream into center. DO NOT STIR. Bake until golden and set, about 50 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Remove from pan, serve warm.
Serves 12 to 16.

"Sex is good...but not as good as custard-filled cornbread!"~A.F.


This is one of the most popular catering recipes that I have ever possessed. I never gave out the recipe, though everybody wanted it. Little cheese biscuits of this caliber only come along once in a great while.

2 sticks butter (use the real thing-I have not cooked with margarine in over 30 years-trust the cow)
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 cups self-rising flour

Melt butter in bowl and add grated cheese, stir. Cool 2 minutes. Add sour cream, mixing well. Stir in flour. Fill greased miniature muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until golden. Remove from pans and serve hot.
Makes 48 mini muffins.

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."~John Ruskin


This easy to make appetizer is a hit every time you serve it. I am dedicating it today to Amber Williams. It is her birthday and I thought that this would be the perfect recipe for her. Love you Amber, and appreciate all the good work you do with the Boy scouts. They are very lucky to have you!

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 (10oz.) apricot preserves
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup salted peanuts

Press cream cheese into a small plastic bowl or butter tub. Loosen the edges and invert onto the center of a shallow serving dish. Smooth surface with a spatula. Mix preserves through red pepper flakes. Pour over cream cheese. Sprinkle with nuts. Serve with crackers.

"The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age."~Lucille Ball


Happy Birthday to Anna Lee Stanley!

2 (11oz.) pkgs. frozen Gorton's Southern Fried Country Style Breaded Fish Filets
2 (12-inch) French bread loaves
1 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. creole mustard
1 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
lettuce leaves

Bake fish fillets according to directions on package. Set aside and keep warm.
Cut bread in half crosswise. Split each half lengthwise and toast.
Stir together mayonnaise and next 6 ingredients. Spread mixture evenly over cut side of bread halves. Place lettuce and fish on bottom bread halves; top with remaining bread halves. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.

"I will probably begin with a very classy first line... something like: say, sweet thing, can I buy you a fish sandwich?"-Leon Phelps

Saturday, December 19, 2009


1 C. raisins
1 C. pecans (chopped)
*flour in 1/3 C. of flour (you know what to do) (they are optional but really add to the bread, I think); toss the raisins and pecans in the flour
3 C. sugar
4 eggs
3 1/3 C. flour
1 C. oil
2/3 C. water
2 tsp. cinn.
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 C. cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (I add more)
add raisins and nuts
Grease and flour pan or pans
Bake 1 hr. 350 degrees
Wrap in foil til cooled-really moist!!!
I got this recipe from a good friend, Debbie Edwards, many years ago. I make it every year for Christmas. Can be made in cans-(I could never get them out!) or make in small loaf pans. You can drizzle cream cheese icing over it or ice entire thing!!! Will be a success!!!

"I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich."~Dan Wilcox


A girlfriend of mine from Greensboro shared this recipe with me several years back and I have stuck with it because it is truly divine.

2 cups water
1 (14-oz.) can chicken broth
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tsp. salt
1 cup uncooked regular grits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
4 slices bacon
1 lb. medium fresh shrimp-peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
chopped green onions

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Add cheese and next 4 ingredients. Keep warm.
Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, set aside.
Sprinkle shrimp with black pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt. Dredge in flour.
Saute mushrooms in hot drippings in skillet 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup green onions and saute 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic and saute 2 minutes or until shrimp or lightly browned.
Stir in 1/2 cup chicken broth, lemon juice and hot sauce; cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet.
Serve shrimp mixture over hot cheese grits. Top with crumbled bacon and chopped green onions.
Serves 4

"Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day."~Dalai Lama


Cake mixes make great cookie recipes too. Here is one of my favorites. Can you think of anything better than an easy brownie chocolate chip pecan cookie to fill up your holiday cookie jar?

1 pkg. Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 (6oz.) pkg. Ghirardelli 60% cacoa chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine brownie mix, eggs, and oil; beat until just smooth, about 50 strokes. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, no more. Cool just slightly, about 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks or a dish towel to cool completely.
Yield: Around 6 dozen.

"Friends Are Like The Chocolate Chips In A Chocolate Chip Cookie. They Make Everything Taste Better."~anon


Whew!! Just got this out of the oven and the smell of it has made me dizzy, not to mention the taste. It is out of this world. This was my first attempt at this particular recipe and I am rating it right up at the top with all of my other pound cake recipes. You cannot go wrong with this one.
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup commercial diary eggnog
1 cup flaked coconut
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract

Cream butter, shortening and sugar, beating well at medium speed of electric stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add flour to creamed mixture, alternately with eggnog, beginning and ending with flour. Mix just until blended after each addition. Stir in coconut and flavorings by hand with wooden spoon.
Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely.

"A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece"~Ludwig Erhard


This is a Paula Deen recipe. The title speaks for itself.

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 cups hot water
Mini Marshmallows (optional)
In a large saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well. Over medium heat, slowly stir in water; heat through, stirring occasionally. DO NOT BOIL. Top with marshmallows, if desired.

Tip: This can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Mix well and reheat before serving.

“Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time.”-anon


This my best soup. You can never go wrong with it when you need simple nourishment for yourself or if you need to take something warm and filling to a grieving family that has lost a loved one. Be sure and serve with a cake of my Mama Joe's Cornbread.

10 or 12 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced
2 to 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 or 4 large stalks of celery, diced
8 chicken bouillon cubes or 2 (15oz.) cans chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 large can evaporated milk
3 Tbsp. flour
fresh or dried parsley, chopped

Place potatoes, onions, carrots and celery in your largest soup pot. Add the chicken bouillon cubes or the stock. Add enough water to cover potatoes well. Salt and pepper to taste. (I use 1 Tbsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper)
Cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Lower heat to medium low and mash vegetables with a potato masher. Place the flour in a small bowl and add about 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk to it using a wire whisk. Whisk until smooth then add a ladle of the hot soup and whisk well again. Add this back to the pot and stir well to blend. Simmer for a few minutes until soup begins to thicken. Slowly add remaining evaporated milk, a little at a time, until all is used. Add a tablespoon or two of the parsley. Serve with cornbread.

“When I was a young man, I had a mentor on women and he said when you meet a woman that you think you like, don't ask her for a drink. Take her out for a bowl of soup. Because a woman who can enjoy a bowl of soup is bound to be more interesting.”


Brandy Holden Ross is a treasure in and of herself so I deemed this to be the perfect birthday recipe for her today! She is the daughter of Ralph Holden of Newland, NC, whom I grew up next door to. Ralph and his brothers, Gary, and Wayne, were the boys next door and along with my sister Nan, and my brother, Bill, we were thicker than thieves. Those were the days my friends, we thought they'd never end.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 Tbsp. grated orange peel, and 1/4 cup chopped pecans; set aside. Cut each of two 3-oz. packages cream cheese, softened, into 10 equal pieces, for a total of 20 pieces cream cheese. Separate each of two 10-oz. cans of refrigerated biscuits into 10 biscuits; separate each biscuit into 2 layers. Place 1 piece of cream cheese between the layers of each biscuit and seal edges. Pour 1 stick of melted butter into a small bowl. Dip each filled biscuit in butter, then in the sugar-pecan mixture. Stand biscuits on edge, overlapping slightly, around a greased 12-cup fluted tube pan. Sprinkle remaining sugar-pecan mixture and drizzle remaining butter over biscuits. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan 1 minute; invert onto serving plate.Cool slightly and serve.
Serves 10.

“Wish on everything. Pink cars are good, especially old ones. And stars of course, first stars and shooting stars. Planes will do if they are the first light in the sky and look like stars. Wish in tunnels, holding your breath and lifting your feet off the ground. Birthday candles. Baby teeth.”~ Francesca Lia Block

Friday, December 18, 2009


Made my first from this-'the best gingerbread recipe ever'-with my grandson, Kristopher Lane Calhoun, on Wednesday, January 4th, 2006. He was so proud of it that I named it after him. I told him that he was the only boy in the world that had a gingerbread named after him. His face lit up like a Christmas tree.

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 eggs
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar flavored corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1 cup boiling water

Blend flour with ginger and cinnamon with a wire whisk. Add the remaining ingredients being sure to put the boiling water in last. Mix well. Pour into a 9X13-inch pan sprayed with Pam for cakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Serves 15.

“Had I but a penny in the world, thou shouldst have it for gingerbread.”~William Shakespeare (1564-1616)


This dressing has been in our family since the children were young and still at home. It was originally a spinach salad dressing and over the years took on the name of Larry's Favorite Dressing, because he loved it so good. Well, it turns out that he was not the only one who loved it so much, everybody loves it, and anybody who tastes it has to have the recipe. A jar of this dressing is always on hand in our refrigerator. We particularly like it with grilled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli and carrots on a bed of romaine lettuce.
1 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped onion

Place all ingredients in a quart mason jar. Cover tightly and shake well. Store in refrigerator.

“All our recipes, specials, pies, pastries, soups and salad dressings are homemade. Very few people do that.”~Jim Maas


Florence Weatherman made the best peanut butter fudge that you ever put in your mouth. She was an oil customer of Larry's and she would often give him a bag of this fudge when he made a delivery to her. She sent me the recipe one day and I tried to make it several times but mine never tasted like hers. She is no longer with us but her memory stays on with all of us who were lucky enough to have known her. She was a sweet, kind, gentle lady. She was Louise Stamey's mother, and Hardrock and Rita's grandmother. I know they miss her, and it has to be especially hard for them this time of year during the holidays. Rita recently told me that none of them could make her candy taste as good as hers did. To me, the reason for this would be the love that she put into it for all of her family and friends to enjoy. I am posting it here just as she had written it out.                                                        

2 cups sugar (I use 1 1/2 cups white and 1/2 cup brown sugars)
1/2 cup milk or canned milk
Boil until a drop forms a soft boil when put in cold water. Take off stove and let sit until partly cool. Add: 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 tsp. vanilla and beat until smooth. Pour into buttered pan and cut into squares.

“[In tribute to his grandmother] She still talks to me now, only now she talks to me in my dreams. And I can't wait to go to sleep tonight because we have a lot to talk about. I love you.”~Jamie Foxx

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I still get emotional every time I start to write about my Mama Joe. Had it not of been for her and my grandather, 'Buddy' to us children, God only knows what would have happened to me and my sibblings. Their love, faith, and hope for us was never ending. It helped us through many a hard time. Some of the very best times we ever had as children, growing up in their home, was when the heavy snows fell. They never had a problem with us being outside, be it Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall. In fact, they encouraged it. Snow storms were frequent in the winters of the 50's and 60's, and we were always sent out into the deep snow, all bundled up, of course, with a large bowl and kitchen spoon to scoop up the new fallen snow. In those years, we were not worried about pollution. Those days were some of the best days of our lives.
1 older sister
1 older brother
1 me
Bundle up to the point of only being able to see through a tiny slit. Walk stiffly through the bracing wind and new fallen snow. When you come to a big drift, take your big spoon and dig down a couple of layers to the 'clean' snow. Pile the snow lightly into that huge old bowl. Do not pack it. Hurry back to that big old warm house as quickly as you can without falling down. Once inside, Mama Joe will be waiting on you, with a smile that could melt the snow. Undress from your many layers as quickly as you can, because you know what is to come at hand.
1 large bowl of freshly fallen buried snow, but no yellow snow!
2 cups of evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon pure, and it has to be PURE, vanilla extract
Beat the eggs, milk, and sugar together with an old-timey egg beater. Us children would always take turns doing that. Add the dry, fluffy snow until you have just the right consistency, almost, but not quite, the consistency of ice cream. Gather round the old wood stove with your red cheeks and high spirits and dig into that big white bowl of the most heavenly concoction ever!
COOKS NOTE: Notice that I emphasized the word PURE for the vanilla extract. Pure vanilla extract in 'those' days had a high alcohol content, thus my Mama Joe knew we would sleep better on those cold wintry nights, as if playing out in the snow all day did not help on it's own.
“When it snows, you have two choices: shovel or make snow cream.”-anon


Requests keep coming in for dietary restrictive eggnog recipes.....hope this helps out my Alaska friends!
2 10 1/2 oz. pkg. reduced-fat, extra-firm, silken tofu
2 C. reduced-fat soy milk
2/3 C. turbinado sugar, light brown sugar, or Splenda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. cold water
1 C. rum or brandy
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
20 ice cubes
Freshly grated nutmeg

Place the crumbled tofu and the soy milk in a blender with the sugar and salt. Blend until very smooth. Scrape this into a large bowl or pitcher, and whisk in the water, rum or brandy, and vanilla. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate until serving time. To serve, blend half of the mixture in the blender with 10 of the ice cubes until frothy. Repeat with the other half. Serve in glasses with nutmeg sprinkled on top.
Yield: 10 servings

"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart."~Elisabeth Foley


My friend Larry Sudderth requested an eggless eggnog. Eggs are off his diet and so he is looking for an alternative. Hopefully, this recipe might work for him.

1 (3.5 ounce) package instant French vanilla pudding
1 1/2 quarts milk
2 teaspoons rum flavored extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine the pudding mix with 2 cups of milk, following package directions; allow to chill for 5 minutes.
To the pudding stir in the rum flavoring and nutmeg, then slowly mix in the remaining 4 cups of milk until the mixture is a thick but drinkable consistency. Chill until ready to serve.
Serves 8

"Capture this time of year when the world is steeped in a tradition that celebrates hearth and home and giving from the heart. Surround yourself with the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas—whatever that means to you—the twinkling tree, the mistletoe, sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles, the nutmeg-spiced eggnog, the music."-Christmas Love Quotes


This is my mother's recipe for eggnog. Somewhere along the line it got the name of Ho Ho Milk and I think it's an appropriate title for the holiday season. It is actually a boiled custard, thinner, than say a banana pudding custard, and every time I take a sip of it, visions of sugar plums start dancing in my head.

1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt
4 cups milk
1/8 tsp. salt
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
whipped heavy cream

Beat 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1/4 tsp. of salt into egg yolks in top of a double boiler. Add milk and cook until mixture coats a metal spoon, stirring constantly. Chill several hours or overnight.
When you are ready to serve, add 1/8 tsp. salt to egg whites and beat until stiff. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar as whites become frothy. Add vanilla. Gently fold egg whites into custard mixture. Add stiffly beaten whipped cream. Serve sprinkled with freshly grated nutmeg. Serves 6 to 8.

COOKS NOTE: Be sure and set out a glass of this creamy, heavenly concoction with the plate of homemade cookies for Santa Claus. You'll make him so happy.

“Santa is our culture's only mythic figure truly believed in by a large percentage of the population. It's a fact that most of the true believers are under eight years old, and that's a pity.”~Chris Van Allsburg

Picture courtesy of http://www.geekphilosopher.com/ Free pictures of every description

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


This is so simple, yet so good. A shot of hot buttered rum would be a welcome addition to those who partake.
1 medium orange, cut into 5 slices
2 quarts apple cider
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon whole allspice
16 whole cloves
10 cinnamon sticks
Cut 2 orange slices into quarters, set aside.
Combine remaining orange slices, cider, sugar, allspice, cloves, and 2 cinnamon sticks in a 3-quart saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir well, and pour into coffee mugs; garnish each with a quarter of an orange slice and a cinnamon stick.
Yield: 8 servings.

"Yes, I would be tempted to try your mulled cider with the hard cider."-anon


A jar of Russian tea is always handy to have on hand over the Holidays, when guests drop by you can offer them a hot beverage. Be prepared to share the recipe, or better still, send a jar home with them.
1 (8oz.) jar Tang (instant orange drink)
1 1/2 cups instant tea with lemon
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.
Use 1 or more tablespoons of mix to 1 cup boiling water.
Yield: 4 cups
“The "art of tea" is a spiritual force for us to share”~Alexandra Stoddard
COOKS NOTE: I use low-sugar Tang, unsweetened tea, and Splenda in place of the sugar. It tastes much the same, without all the sugar.


My daughter Joielle's birthday is today and this cake is for her. It is made 'from scratch', and is some where beyond delicious. Peanut butter lovers Rejoice! I rejoice everyday in having the most wonderful daughter. She is not only my daughter, she is my friend.
1 1/2 sticks of butter
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
Peanut Butter Frosting or Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
Combine butter and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl, cream well. Add sugar and beat well. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well. Spoon into a greased and floured 13X9X2-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until done. Allow to cool, then frost with which ever frosting you like. Sprinkle with peanuts. Serves 15 to 20.

1/2 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsps. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine butter and 1 cup sugar in bowl; beat until creamy. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla; beat until fluffy. Add additional milk, if needed. Yield: About 1 1/4 cups.

1 (6oz.) pkg. semisweet chocolate morsels
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Combine chocolate morsels and milk in a saucepan; place over low heat, stirring until melted. Stir in sugar; beat until smooth. Yield: About 1 cup.

“If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.”-Bruce Barton

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Grouper just happens to be one of my top 3 favorite fish to eat. It is often called the chameleon of the sea, as it changes in color to protect itself while blending into the rocks and coral. 'The Provision Company' restaurant in Holden's Beach, makes the most wonderful Grouper Salad ever in my humble opinion.
2 slices fresh bread
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, toasted
2 Tbsp. finely minced shallots
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 cup coarse grain mustard
1/4 tsp. Tabasco
4 (4 to 6 oz.) grouper fillets
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease rack and place in baking pan. In food processor, pulse bread to fine crumbs. Remove to bowl and set aside. Place toasted macadamia nuts in food processor, pulse until fine. Add to crumbs. Add shallots and parsley, toss to blend and set aside.
Combine lime juice, mustard, and Tabasco. Coat each fillet with this mixture and place on rack. Pack crumb mixture on top of each fillet. Bake 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
Serves: 4
" I have a lot of chameleon qualities, I get very absorbed in my surroundings."~River Phoenix


If you are looking for the perfect loaf of bread for Christmas Eve, then look no further. It is as delicate as the Virgin mother's love, and rich as the Three Kings treasures.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder. Set aside. In large mixing bow, cream 2 cups butter with 2 cups granulated sugar. Seperate 6 eggs; set whites aside. Add egg yolks to butter misture one at a time, beating after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture and 1/2 cup dark raisins, 1/2 cup golden raisins, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries, alternating flour and dried fruit, stirring well after each addition. Beat egg whites and fold into dough. Pour batter into greased and floured 9X5-inch loaf pan; bake for 45 minutes.
Yield: 1 loaf
"We three Kings of orient are bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain following yonder star."


Here is a vegetarian salad that will float your boat. Allow it to swim in it's own juices for at least 24 hours prior to enjoying.
1 (15oz.) can Great Northern or other white bean, rinsed and drained
1 (15oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/4 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes (I use Roma's in the winter time)
3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 head romaine lettuce, finely shredded

In a large bowl, combine both beans and tomatoes, stirring gently. Add bell peppers and onions, stirring gently again to combine.
In another bowl combine salsa through pepper, whisking to blend. Pour over bean mixture, toss gently. Refrigerate for at least 1 day and up to 2.
To serve: Line individual bowls with shredded lettuce and top with bean mixture.
"We are beginning to wonder whether a servant girl hasn't the best of it after all. She knows how the salad tastes without the dressing, and she knows how life's lived before it gets to the parlor door."~Djuna Barnes


This is my favorite cornbread. I start with MAMA JOE'S CORNBREAD recipe and add sauted bell peppers, onion, corn, jalapenos, and sour cream to the batter.
1 stick butter
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup coped red bell pepper
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 (8oz.) can whole kernel corn
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup self-rising white cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt 1/2 stick of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add onion, peppers, corn and sugar and saute for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Mix remaining ingredients together in bowl until just blended. Add sauteed veggies to batter. Place remaining 1/2 stick of butter in the empty skillet and place in oven just until butter melts. Add half of the butter to the batter leaving the remaining two tablespoons butter in the pan. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 30to 35 minutes until golden across the top.
Yield: 12 to 16 servings.

“The North thinks it know how to make corn bread, but this is a gross superstition. Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern corn bread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite as bad as the Northern imitation of it.”
Mark Twain


Today is Robbin Trice's birthday. Robbin and I have been friends for many years. My sister Nan, is married to her uncle Ray Trice, Bud's brother. She is one of the nicest people have have ever known in my life and I wish only beautiful thoughts for her today and every day.
1 (16oz.) pkg. pound cake mix
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup water
2 eggs
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp. butter, melted
In mixing bowl combine all cake ingredients. Beat on low speed of electric mixer for 30 seconds; then beat for 2 more minutes until batter is smooth. Pour half of mixture into a greased 9-inch baking pan.
Combine all the topping ingredients and sprinkle half the mixture over the cake batter. Carefully spread with remaining batter. Sprinkle with remaining topping.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Serves: 9
"Friends are family you choose for yourself."-anon


Today is Barbara Hughes Cuthbertson's birthday. Barbara and I go back as far as the cradle together. We lived just a piece down the road from each other in Newland, NC, and went through elementary and high school together. She is jolly as an elf, beautiful, and a dear friend. I wish for her a most wonderful day and all of the happiness that life can offer her. This luscious lemon cake is for you Barbara. Enjoy!
1 pkg. lemon cake mix
4 eggs
1 (15oz.) can lemon pie filling
1 (3oz.) pkg. softened cream cheese
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
In mixing bowl, beat cake mix and eggs until blended. Fold in pie filling. Spread into a greased 15X10-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done. Cool completely.
In another bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and confectioners sugar until smooth. Stir in vanilla, spread over cake. Store in refrigerator or freezer. It is best served cold.
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth."~Robert Southey

Monday, December 14, 2009


Today is Regina Henson Hood's birthday and I would like to dedicate this most decadent cake to her. Happy Birthday dear girl. Thank you also for being such a wonderful friend to Joielle. We love you!
1 package German chocolate cake mix
1 cup (8oz.) sour cream
3/4 cup water
3 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
Combine cake mix through vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat on low speed of electric mixer for 30 seconds, then beat for 2 to 3 minutes longer until mixed. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into a 9X13 greased and floured baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool completely, then top with two tubs of Coconut Pecan store-bought frosting.
Serves: 12
“Wish on everything. Pink cars are good, especially old ones. And stars of course, first stars and shooting stars. Planes will do if they are the first light in the sky and look like stars. Wish in tunnels, holding your breath and lifting your feet off the ground. Birthday candles. Baby teeth.”~ Francesca Lia Block


Mama Joe was my maternal grandmother. Born, Effie Susan Wright, on November 19th, 1898, to Joe E. Wright and Nora Clark Wright. She married my grandfather, Paul Madison Vance, on December 7th, 1924.
She iwas a registered nurse, (rode all over these mountains on horseback with the Sloops of Crossnore), carpenter's wife, and everybodys friend; especially mine, as I was raised in her home and the youngest of all her grandchildren. From her I learned that a grandparent-grandchild bond is one of life's greatest gifts, an unconditional love, free from the conflicts and pressures of the parent-child relationship. From her I also learned the friendship rituals of all-day Sunday cookings. People came from far, near, and wide to sample the bounty of wonderful food that was prepared in Mama Joe's kitchen. It was a happy home, full of love, laughter, family, and friends.
I've often wondered how I came into the world so lucky. Surely the Almighty must have looked at the situation with a great deal of compassion. Mama Joe always looked for the good in everything and everybody. She gave me roots and then opened my eyes to visions of the possible and always encouraged my attempts to attain them. She taught me how to laugh at myself and and at times encouraged me to cry. In times of need, her arms were always open. Her inate wisdom was always a breath of fresh air in my life. Yet it was her heart that I loved the most, for it was like no other I have ever known. For through her heart she affected all who came in contact with her. Through her love she gave me confidence and wings to fly. I will always love her. My cookbook, "In Mama Joe's Shadow", and this blog are my tribute toi her.
When she died, I inherited an extensive recipe collection, full of words of wit and wisdom. To Mama Joe, the world of food was a world of friendships. She knew which dishes would console a grieving family, or be the asked-for recipe at church suppers. The recipes were written on paper bags, old stationary, greeting cards, backs of envelopes, and in old-timey lined notebooks, which I hold as my most prized possessions. One such notebook dates back to 1916 when she was a nursing student at Lees McCrae College in Banner Elk. It was her pasion even before she had a family of her own. In one of her cookbooks which was passed down to me, "The White House Cookbook", copyright 1924, she even listed the birth of each calf that she owned, beginning with Blue, born March 29th, 1928, and on and on. She loved each and everyone and talked of them often through the years.
She had written notes on most all of her recipes, particularly her favorite ones. Notes such as "This is Buddy's (my grandfather) favorite", or, "Given to me by So and So", aalong with the date. These recipes and their edible counterparts were communications between people, friendships remembered and shared. I now know that it was not the instructions and baking ingredinets which were ultimately important, but the lesons of love and friendship that may now be passed along the way.
As Forrest Carter in "The Education of Little Tree", copyright 1976, states: "Grandma said when you come up on something good, first thing to do is to share it with whoever you can find; that way, the good spreads out where no telling it will go. Which is right."

Sunday, December 13, 2009


This happens to be one of my all time favorite recipes. 3 ingredients; cheese, eggs, salsa, makes it so. Elaborate on it as you please as some of my friends have done by adding whatever you please, but just the 3 ingredients makes it fine as wine!
In a 9X9 dish or whatever you have place a layer of grated cheese over the bottom of it. Beat 3 eggs with 1/2 cup chunky salsa and pour over the cheese. Top with another layer of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until golden and bubbly. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
COOKS NOTE: You may be tempted to cut into it before the 10 minute wait as 'Some People That I Know Do' is over..but please try not to.....it will be easier to eat.
"The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."-anon


1 (6.5 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix together artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, Parmesan and garlic. Spoon into a medium baking dish. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve with crackers.
"After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual "food" out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps."~Miss Piggy


This is a much simpler version of Brunswick Stew which is still delicious.
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 lb. ham, cut in cubes
3 1/2 qts. water
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 cups of fresh or canned tomatoes, undrained
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
16-oz. can lima beans
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. butter
Place chicken, ham, and onion in large pot and cover with water. Add some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and beans. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add butter and serve with cornbread.
Yield: 12 or more servings.
"Brunswick stew is a delicious stew. Folks in Mississippi cook it in big iron pots on a wooden fire on old cotton plantations for lunch on opening day of dove season and stir the pot with a boat paddle as they needed a large amount for all the hunters. They use huges amounts of chicken, pork and beef. I learned from an ole timer and used pork, chicken and squirrels. You boil the meat and it becomes "stringy" and along with corn, tomatoes, onions, celery, parsley, butter, catsup et al, it's mighty good."-Ike


I have tried a lot of Brunswick Stews over the years but this is my favorite. To some it may appear complicated, but the preperation is broken up over a two day period, making it realy not complicated at all. (That is how I see it, some may beg to differ.) You will need a large stockpot as it yields just over 2 gallons. Eat it, share it, or freeze the leftovers for later.
1 (5-lb.) pork loin roast
2 (3-lb.) hens
3 quarts water
3 lbs. sweet onions, chopped
4 1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 (28oz.) can pureed tomatoes
(28-oz.) ketchup
1 (10-oz.) bottle mustard/mayonnaise sauce
1 (5oz.) bottle Worcestershire sauce
juice of 2 lemons
2 sticks butter
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 (17oz.) cans cream-style corn
1 (16oz.) can whole-kernal corn, drained
1 (16oz.) pkg. frozen lima beans, thawed and drained
2 (16oz.) cans English peas, undrained
Combine pork, chicken and water in large stockpot; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours. Remove meat from broth, reserving broth. Skin, Bone, and shred meat; refrigerate overnight. Refrigerate broth as well. When you are ready to cook the stew, remove the solidified fat from the broth.
Heat broth, add onions, potatoes, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard/mayo sauce, lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 2 hours, stirring often.
Add reserved meat, corns, and lima beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 2 more hours, stirring often. Add additional water if needed.
Yield: Over 2 gallons
ON BRUNSWICK STEW: "I had always heard that you got the pot boiling and then sat down in a clearing in such a way that whatever flew over you could shoot and have it land in the pot. You then fleshed it out with whatever walked or ran by in the trees or on the ground. Really good eating, though."-Sandy


This appetizer is literally 'to die for' if you are a fan of bleu cheese. It is one of my most requested recipes and the combination of ingredients will set your taste buds to dancing.
This post is for my good friend, Sue Weed, of Linville and Greensboro. She is a caterer extraordinaire and I could learn a lot from her. Enjoy Sue!
12 oz. bleu cheese
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup minced fresh cilantro
Crumble the bleu cheese evenly over the bottom of a tart or other suitable dish. Whisk the garlic and olive oil together and drizzle over the cheese.
Combine remaining ingredients and spread over the cheese mixture. Chill, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Serve with tart apple slices and wheat biscuit crackers.
Yield: 10 servings
"People who know nothing about cheeses reel away from Camembert, Roquefort, and Stilton because the plebeian proboscis is not equipped to differentiate between the sordid and the sublime."
Harvey Day

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Mama Joe is my maternal grandmother, and I was raised in her home and was the youngest of all of her grandchildren. Her kitchen was the center of our universe and my love of cooking sprang from what I believe to have been that sacred space. The majority of the cooking was done on an old-timey wood-fired stove. She had an electric stove, but preferred the wood one. Some of the most precious memories of my life were made in that kitchen. One of the most memorable was her cornbread. I inherited her cast iron skillets. To this day I have never made my cornbread in anything else.
1 stick butter
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place butter in 10-inch cast iron skillet. Place in oven just until butter melts. While butter is melting, mix remaining ingredients together, just until blended. Add all of butter but about 2 tablespoons to batter. Pour in to pan and return to oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until top of cake is golden in color.
COOKS NOTE: I have won 8 blue ribbons with this cornbread recipe. It is sweet and has a cake like consistency.