Bonnie Williams

When Bonnie Williams was little, she preferred her mother, Nell Aston’s, butter roll from scratch over birthday cake. A few years ago Bonnie, now of Vardaman, did some improvising on the recipe and started using frozen biscuits.

Now the butter roll is one of three desserts she usually takes to meals at Friendship Baptist Church. The other two are coconut cake and hummingbird cake. Bonnie learned to cook “at her mother’s elbows” and at around 10 she made her first cornbread and biscuits while her mother was in the garden. She said that her mother made sure the girls in the family could cook and quilt.
Bonnie learned about the sweet potato business sometime after she and Joel married and gradually got into cooking them. Since that time, while reading through new recipes, she always keeps an eye out for one that might be tweaked for the annual Sweet Potato Cooking Contest. She enjoys experimenting with these, and loves to cook, but not clean it up.This year she entered the Double Sweet Potato Cake, which she said didn’t place, but was a good cake.  Her son, Chad, is also a former cooking contest winner. Bonnie says he and brother, Jeremy are both good cooks. Chad’s favorite dish of Bonnie’s is the Sweet-Sour Chicken, Jeremy’s is the Hamburger Casserole, and Brian’s was the Pepper Steak.
Her family gets together for the  traditional meals of Thanksgiving and Christmas and everyone pitches in and brings a dish. She always makes a coconut cake or caramel pie, and they usually have a sweet potato pie or candied sweet potatoes. Her family likes the pie, but candied is her favorite. Her mother-in-law, Alma Ann Williams, made great ones, but Bonnie says can’t make them like her mother or Mrs. Williams.

Butter Roll
For a 9x13 pan I use seven Pillsbury biscuits that have been thawed. Roll biscuits out on floured wax paper, like pie crust, dot with butter or margarine, then sprinkle with sugar. Roll biscuit up jelly roll style and place in a sprayed dish. Continue the same for all biscuits. Pour approximately three cups of milk into a boiler, and add 1 1/2 cups sugar. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour over biscuits in the dish. Cook until biscuits are golden in a 300° oven.

Sweet-Sour Chicken
1 (2 1/2-3 lb.) broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) butter
2 (8 1/4 oz.) cans pineapple chunks in syrup
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 c. green pepper, cut in strips
1/4 c. thinly sliced onion
Hot, buttered, cooked rice
Brown chicken in butter in large skillet. Cover; simmer 35-40 minutes. Remove chicken; set aside. Drain pineapple, reserving syrup. Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in skillet. Gradually stir in vinegar, soy sauce and reserved syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add pineapple, green pepper, onion and reserved chicken. Cover and simmer 5-10 minutes. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Hamburger Casserole
2 pounds of hamburger
1 can cream of mushroom soup, diluted
Salt and pepper
Boil hamburger in 1” of water until no red shows. Place 1/2 of the hamburger in the bottom of a 2-qt. casserole dish. Next, add a layer of peeled, sliced potatoes; then a layer of sliced onion. Salt and pepper this layer before doing each layer again. After salting and peppering the top layer, pour the diluted soup over the casserole. Cook in the oven at 350° until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.

Pepper Steak
1 1/2 lb. beef round steak, 1/2” thick
1 Tbsp. shortening
1 16 oz. can tomato wedges
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. beef-flavored gravy base
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
2 medium green peppers, cut in 1/2” strips
Trim excess fat from steak; cut meat into 2x1/4” strips. In medium skillet, brown meat strips in hot shortening; drain off excess fat. Drain tomatoes, reserving liquid. Add reserved tomato liquid, onion slices, garlic clove, beef-flavored gravy base, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and dash pepper to browned meat strips. Cover tightly and simmer mixture over low heat 50 minutes. Stir in green pepper strips and tomato wedges. Cook meat mixture, covered, until green pepper is tender, about 6-8 minutes. Remove meat and vegetables to serving bowl with slotted spoon. Reserve cooking liquid to pass, adding additional hot water to make 1/2 cup, if necessary. Makes  servings.

Double Sweet Potato Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup grated sweet potatoes
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cup chopped nuts, divided
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/4 cups sweet potato, pureed
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9” round baking pans. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Combine milk and lemon juice in liquid measuring cup. Beat eggs, sweet potato, granulated sugar, pineapple, brown sugar, oil and milk mixture in large mixer bowl; mix well. Gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Stir in one cup nuts and coconut. Pour into prepared baking pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pans 15 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Frost between layers, on side and top of cake with cream cheese frosting. Garnish with remaining nuts.
Cream Cheese Frosting
11 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar in large mixer bowl until fluffy. Add vanilla; beat until combined.

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