Occupation: Gardener/Substitute Teacher
Residence: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 29, 2014
Primary Language: English
The informant (D) is a married father of two now adult children. D grew up in various parts of southern California, but spent his high school years in Chino, California, in the same house that his mother now lives. He and his wife shared the cooking responsibility about 50/50 while their children were still in the house but now that they have both gone off to college, he has taken over more of the responsibility. D’s father came from Oklahoma many decades ago, before my father was born, and claimed to be “part Cherokee,” though that was never formally proven. I asked D about the so-called “Cherokee yam cakes” that he makes every Thanksgiving. Cherokee yam cakes are best described as yam stir-n-roll (non-flaky) biscuits. He emailed me the recipe when I asked about the cakes.
The recipe is (copied from email):
“2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 T. sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup mashed yams
Mix oil, milk, & yams.
Add to sifted dry ingredients.
Mix lightly until it holds together.
Knead gently (about 12 times) until smooth
Roll out 1/2″ thick.
Cut into circles.
Bake on greased sheet, 425 F, 10-12 min.
I have always used whole wheat flour, my mom used all purpose flour.
I usually make a double batch.”
I also asked him several questions about the yam cakes. The interview below is verbatim via email.
D: Thanksgiving, though I made some also around Christmas last year, for the first time ever. I think we missed Thanksgiving actually too for the first time but made some later, [my son] asked for them. I like to make a large batch so I can keep eating them for a few days.
D: I don’t know of anything else like them- they’re so mellow and satisfying. They seem to settle your stomach if you overindulge in rich foods. Will and I used to credit them with making it possible to eat more after you thought you were full.