The Tuna Fish Incident and Pecan Chocolate Potato Cake

I will always have a bit of down home cooking in me. Now my mother would have denied this and she actually would have been correct. We didn’t cook this way. My Grandmother would have never created Dora Beaver’s Chocolate Potato Cake or Trailer Meat Snacks or Donna Sue’s Cheesy Hamburger Dish. Why the one time my mother tried to make a Tuna Fish Casserole she caused an International Incident of epic proportions which involved 1 angry father, 1 upset mother and 1 screaming crying child who broke out in hives. It seems I was allergic to Tuna.

My Grandfather, I might add, made out like a bandit. He had Gravy Bites. A rich hamburger gravy smothering bread or crackers. Considering how much I love Gravy Bites, I howled even louder.

She never made Tuna Fish Casserole again. Which might I add was a blessing. I was so traumatized that after 40 years, I still remember the Tuna Fish incident and I still will not eat Tuna to this day and not only because of the reaction but because I clearly remember the Tuna Incident. The Bay of Pigs was quieter.

In fact I don’t eat fish. Unless it is the store bought, very cheap breaded fish sticks that are flavorless and you can cook them until they are little Lincoln logs. I like those. I also cook them until they are little Lincoln Logs. That cure was brought about by your favorite University Dining Hall experience back in 1978 about the same time as the shoe leather smothered liver. I have liked liver every since. However, that is another blog post.

I grew up on a farm. Everything I ate came out of our land except for a few essentials like flour or Crisco. Everything else came from us. Granny canned. Mom canned. We butchered our own meat who was raised running in the fields with the other cattle until it was time. Our chickens waddled around the entire farmyard putting those worms and bugs in their places and stomach. We got our fruit from our heirloom orchard on the hill. Never mind at the time it was just ‘the old orchard that came with the place’. There are much worse ways to live. We could have been totally self sufficient. A far cry from the already packaged with Sweet and Sour Sauce included things they pass off today in the vegetable section. Convenience has taken the place of real living. And if the experts are correct in their studies it may take the place of living.

I didn’t suffer, Granny’s egg custard was a delight, the Rice pudding/custard water cooked in the oven was golden and rich with fresh milk from our cows. I picked pails of blackberries to eat. Most went in the stomach when I got them. It was heaven.

So my developing taste for food such as Ruby Ann’s Down Home Trailer Park Cookbook, came later. It is my addiction to high fat, savory junk foods. I adore the stuff. The USN is at fault here. Having been stationed in various areas exposed me to the different foods. I developed my inclination to Southern, Southwestern and TexMex cooking into addictions. The little or rather not so little side venues such as Trailer Park or White Trash simply was included. Rich fatty and savory is my keywords. I can pass on the sweets but give me smothered biscuits and we have a deal going.

Now I have done it. I am craving Gravy Smothered Biscuits with a side order of ham and of eggs, dippy. Dippy? Our local area’s way of saying sunny side up. They are dippy.

So naturally with all the fat and the savory, something like Ruby Ann’s Trailer Park cooking was just the thing. As everything else, good in it’s own right.

The recipe is in the Down Home Trailer Park Cookbook. It requires mashed potatoes so instead of serving leftover mashed taters the next day, simply serve up a chocolate cake. Ruby Ann says it is something else. It was so good she almost slipped a disk.

Dora Beaver’s Pecan Chocolate Potato Cake

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup shortening, Crisco, lard, butter [you pick.. I would vote for Crisco]
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 cup pecans, chopped
Sift together the first 5 ingredients. Do not sift the Crisco. It will cause a heck of a mess. Set this aside.

Cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. For best get one of the kids. It will keep him or her busy, give them exercise, make them feel like a cook and teach you to keep your eye on both what you are doing and the kid. If you don’t, he or she will eat the whole darn thing. I know.

Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Once upon a time that was a danger zone for child gobbling the recipe up too.. Alas no more.

Add those left over mashed potatoes and the vanilla. Mix well. Alternate the flour mix and the milk then after mix in the nuts.

Pour in a 13 inch by 9 inch by 2 inch sheet pan. Bake at 350F for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pan and after cooling cut into bars. Top with whipped cream and serve with ice cream if desired.

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