Serving up memories

Old fashioned desserts sampled at Wilderness Wildlife Week
Jan. 18, 2013 @ 11:29 PM

A new offering in the heritage programs served up at Wilderness Wildlife Week let attendees use their sense of taste to step back in time.

With the room packed like the proverbial sardines, the Old Time Dessert Tasting Event organized by Veta King of the Pigeon Forge Library seemed to be a success from the outset. Like all of the heritage events scheduled during the week, King said the goal was to give examples of how things were done generations ago and as an effort to preserve those practices, or in this case, recipes.

Calling on women in the area she believed would have old-time recipes, King gathered about 13 different dishes. They ranged from old fashioned, made-from-scratch banana pudding from Henrietta Sharp, molasses cookies from Faye Cardwell, oatmeal cake from Shirley Caton Chesteen and dish called Poor Man’s Bread Pudding from Ruth Carr Miller.

Miller said her recipe for Poor Man’s Bread Pudding was one her grandmother, Mary Lillie Smelcer Watson, made to use up leftover biscuits. Watson’s daughter — Miller’s mother — Eunice Watson Carr, would make the dish for her 10 other brothers and sisters and later for her own family.

The recipe is a prime example of how previous generations used whatever they could to make sure nothing went to waste, King said.

“With old-time desserts, they evolved depending on what you had in your cupboards,” she said.

There are only four ingredients in the Poor Man’s Bread Pudding: biscuits, water, sugar and vanilla.

It creates a thick, stew-like mixture that, while not appetizing to the eye, is a warm, sweet treat that surprised some of the taste-testers.

“I liked it,” said Betty Powell of Sevierville. “I’ve never had Poor Man’s Bread Pudding.” She said she may make it in the future to share with family and friends.

A sponge cake provided by King brought back memories for Bill Collins, who said his mother made a similar cake. “It was delicious,” Collins said. Made mostly of eggs, King said the recipe developed as a way to use up extra eggs when the chickens were very productive.

Rev. Joy P. Williams of Sevierville said her favorites were the bread pudding, banana pudding and the blackberry cobbler. “It was fantastic,” she said of the event.

Wilderness Wildlife Week continues through Saturday at Music Road Hotel & Convention Center.

Poor Man’s Bread Pudding

21⁄2 cups water

Bring water to a boil.

Crumble 4 biscuits into water.

Cook 3 to 5 minutes until it thickens like a pudding mixture.

Add 3⁄4 cup of sugar

11⁄2 tsp. vanilla

Serve warm.

— Submitted by Ruth Carr Miller

Oatmeal Cake

11⁄4 cups boiling water

1 cup oats

1 stick margarine

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

11⁄3 cups plain flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

Mix boiling water and oats; let stand 20 minutes.

Cream together sugar, shortening, eggs & beat well.

Add oat mixture and dry ingredients and mix well.

Bake in greased pan (12 x 7 1/2) at 275 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Put topping on while cake is still warm.


1 cup brown sugar

1 stick margarine

1⁄4 cup cream

1 cup coconut

Mix together and spread on warm cake and broil for five minutes. Raisins or nuts may be added to cake.

— Submitted by Shirley Caton Chesteen

Banana Pudding

11⁄2 cup sugar

4 T. Flour

1 pinch salt

Mix these ingredients well. Gradually stir in 3 cups milk. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until it begins to cook.

Beat up 2 egg yolks and stir into a little milk.

Add this to cooked mixture and cook until it thickens, until it shines. Add 1 tsp. vanilla

In baking dish, layer vanilla wafers, then bananas (cut crosswise) and pour pudding over this.

Start another layer of vanilla wafers, then bananas and pour pudding over this.

Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until stiff.

Add 1⁄2 tsp. cream of tarter and 3 T. Sugar (no vanilla) and continue beating until fluffy and stiff.

Brown in oven on 350 degree until golden brown, about five minutes.

— Submitted by Henrietta Franklin Sharp