Remembering the love

By Lucie R. Willsie Lifestyles Reporter

September 11, 2013

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two parts taking a look at the cooking, recipes, and family traditions of Gilda Hamm.

“I remember all the love mama (Vassie Dollyhite) put into cooking … I remember mama being so thrilled when everyone came into eat … and so am I,” said Gilda Hamm.

She was referring to weekly get-togethers by the extended family featuring her mother’s cooking, a role Hamm took on about a decade ago when her mother died. “I know she passed that onto me … I love cooking for others.”

One of the important cooking skills that her mom taught Hamm was how to read a recipe.

“A lot of people don’t know how to read a recipe,” she said. “Mom taught me all the different meanings and temperatures on the oven.”

For example, meats need to be cooked on a lower heat — roughly usually somewhere between 300 degrees and 350 degrees — and for a longer time. Cooking meat at a higher temperature, faster, makes the meat tougher.

A dish like biscuits, for example, needs to be cooked faster.

“I have tried to cook biscuits at lower heat and they are tough,” she admitted. “Four-hundred-fifty-degrees, mom taught me.”

And a third piece of advice Gilda received from mom was to always make do with what she has.

“If the meatloaf calls for ketchup and you’re running short,” she explained, “I put tomato sauce in it and it’s like that for just about any recipe … I make it my own.”

She will follow the recipe the first time she makes one, but after that she tinkers with the ingredients to suit her tastes.

“I’m always trying new recipes … I think everybody should do that because everybody’s taste is different,” she said, “and there’s always something you’d like to change.

Except for her mother’s recipes.

Those she has kept the same, such as her mom’s meatloaf recipe, sweet potato balls recipe, green bean recipe, cole slaw recipe, and scalloped potato recipe.





A 4-pound roast

1 package of brown gravy mix

1 package of ranch dressing mix

1 package of Italian seasoning mix

2/3 cup of water


Put the roast in a 5-quart crock pot. Mix all the dry ingredients together with water and pour over the top of the roast. Cook on low for 8 hours. The crock pot can be left on warm until ready to serve. Start fixing the vegetables 1 hour before the pot roast finishes cooking. (Vegetable ingredients and instructions follow.)


4 large red potatoes, sliced in 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices

1 large onion, sliced

1 16-ounce package of baby carrots

1 stick of margarine, cut into 8 slices

4 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste


Put all the ingredients into a large piece of heavy aluminum foil and wrap tightly. Place the package in a preheated oven at 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 1 hour or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables from the aluminum foil and place around the cooked pot roast in a large serving bowl.




1 large can of sweet potatoes, or equivalent in fresh sweet potatoes

3 Tablespoons of sugar to each cup of potatoes

Large marshmallows

Graham Cracker crumbs


If not using the canned sweet potatoes, boil the fresh sweet potatoes until tender,then peel. Mash the sweet potatoes. Add 3 Tablespoons of sugar for each cup of sweet potatoes. Put the potatoes around large marshmallows and roll the balls in the graham cracker crumbs. Place the balls in an 8x11-inch baking dish and bake in a preheated oven at 400-degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until the marshmallows begin to melt.




5 cans, of green beans, 16-ounces

1 onion, sliced

2 Tablespoons of sugar

2 Tablespoons of vinegar

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1 small piece of fat back


Drain the juice from the green beans and pour them into a 3-quart pan. Add water to about 3 inches over the top of the beans. Add all the other ingredients and cook on medium-high for about 1 hour. You may have to add more water from time to time. Cook until no juice is left in the pan.




2 boxes of Jiffy cornmeal

3 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup of onions, chopped

1/2 cup of green peppers, chopped

2 cups of sweet corn

3 cups of pinto beans

1 pack of dry ranch dressing mix

1 cup of mayonnaise

1 cup of sour cream

4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese


Bake the cornbread as directed on box in a 9x13-inch pan. Chop the tomatoes, onions and green pepper. Mix in the corn and the pinto beans. Mix the sour cream, mayonnaise and ranch dressing together. Crumble ½ of the cornbread into the bottom of a 3-quart bowl. Spoon ½ of the vegetable mixture over the cornbread. Spread ½ of the ranch dressing over the vegetables. Spread 2 cups of the cheese over the ranch dressing. Repeat the layers in the same order, ending with cheese on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.




1/2 cup of lemon juice

3 cups of sugar

2 lemons

Roughly a gallon of water


Fill a gallon jug 3/4 full of water. Add the sugar and the lemon juice. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and then cut the lemon into rings. Add to the lemonade. Fill the rest of the jug with water and refrigerate.




Milk chocolate cake mix

1/2 cup of sugar

3/4 cup of oil

4 eggs

1 cup of buttermilk


Mix all ingredients together and pour into 2, 9-inch-round cake pans. Bake at 350-degrees Fahrenheit until done. Cool completely.



2 16-ounce boxes of strawberries

1 quart of heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup of sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla


Slice a 1-pound box of strawberries and set aside. Do not slice up the second box of strawberries. These are to be used for outside decorations but this step is optional. While the cake is cooling, whip 1 quart of heavy whipping cream until stiff. Add a 3/4 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Spread 1/3 of this mixture onto the bottom of the cake plate before adding the first layer of cake. Spread 1/3 more of this whipped cream mixture on top of the first layer of cake. Then also add 1/2 of the sliced strawberries on top of this whipped cream layer. Place the top layer of cake on top of this filling layer and add the rest of the sliced strawberries on top of this second cake layer. Now top this with the rest of the whipped cream and spread on top, as well as around the sides of the cake. For additional decoration ideas, dip 1 16-ounce box of strawberries in chocolate and place 4 on the top of the cake and circle the rest around the bottom of the cake plate. In addition, you also can use 2 boxes of extra creamy Cool Whip instead of heavy whipped cream, if desired, as an alternative to the heavy whipping cream.