Sailing Through Memories with Megan

***Series Summary – In an effort to clarify my personal definition of food culture, I’ve invited a few food forum friends to share stories and recipes on my blog, with the hope of it giving us insight into the culture developed within their own home kitchens.***

Megan is Californian to the core. An incredibly hard worker, who loves to spend as much time on the water as she does with her family. I love seeing her Facebook updates on what she’s cooking for dinner as it’s always mouth watering and makes me want to join the clan.

A mother of one and married to her husband of 26 years, Megan is deeply devoted to those she loves. She is a core member of one of the two forums I’m part of and I couldn’t imagine it with out her. Here’s a little bit on her own personal food culture, how it was developed and a recipe that’s as much an American staple as apple pie.

I’m an American, a born and bred Californian, and when I think of American food hamburgers, meatloaf, potato salad and baked beans come to mind. But for me, American food is a cuisine of many old traditions, plus the influx of new cultures. I have been heavily influenced by 4 major cookbooks – The Original Betty Crocker Cookbook from the 1950’s, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American by Jeff Smith, How to Grill and, finally, Miami Spice both by Steven Raichlen.

For me, cooking is about love and comfort. It is my way of relaxing at the end of a busy day, a creative outlet, a way of bringing friends together, and a way of satisfying my family without breaking our budget. My mother was a good cook, but she didn’t have a passion for it. However, she did like to make certain dishes that were easy and rewarding, and she taught them to me. 

One of my earliest memories is one of learning how to make Sour Cream Cake. I stood on a kitchen chair, following the directions as my mother spoke them, struggling to hold the mixer and scrape down the batter at the same time. I remember my mother laughing as we topped the batter with chocolate chips, saying “oh, one for the cook” as we nibbled a few.

I lost my mother last year, and my father passed away a few months ago. A few weeks later, a friend asked for recipes for cakes that traveled well, and I posted it on our forum with a short description of its history with my family. Another forum friend, Mary, adopted the recipe for her Book and Coffee shop in Western Virginia. It was a great success, and she asked if she could name it for my mother. My mother’s friends and family always called her “Dolly”, and so “Dolly Cakes” were born. It’s such a graceful tribute to my mother!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Here is the recipe, a simple, 60s retro cake that is delicious, easy to make, and travels well. Mary added some cocoa to the batter, and macadamia nuts to the topping.
6 Tlbs (1/3 cup) soft butter or margarine
1 Cup plus 1 Tlbs sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Cup sour cream
1 package (6 oz) semi sweet chocolate chips
1) Mix butter with one cup of sugar until blended, then beat in eggs one at a time.
2) Stir flour with baking powder, soda and cinnamon. Blend withcreamed butter and sugar mixture. Mix in sour cream.
3) Pour batter into a greased and flour dusted 9 x 13 inch pan. Scatter chocolate chips. over the top of the batter, then sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.
4) Bake at 350ºF degrees for about 35 minutes.

Sunset Magazine, 1969

Megan does not have a blog, but for more posts by Mary join her at Southern Plenty

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