By Ann Cipperly

Pat Dakin and her husband, Matt, moved to Opelika in 1992 when she accepted the position of director of the Auburn Opelika Tourism Bureau, the second person to hold that position.

Since retiring in 2004, the Dakins have been involved with the Silver Sneakers at the Sportsplex and enjoy living in the area. Pat has a love for cooking, especially baking. She is sharing favorite recipes she has collected from her family.

Growing up near Leland, Mississippi, Pat learned the basics of cooking from both her grandmothers, who lived on farms and were good cooks. Pat would visit one of her grandmothers, who lived next door, every afternoon after school. Her grandmother would make a rich custard pie using milk with a thick topping of cream. She also made her own butter.

Since her maternal grandfather hunted, her other grandmother prepared venison and rabbit dishes. While Pat learned how to cook wild game, she was more interested in watching her grandmother make biscuits and cornbread. She had a special bowl for making the biscuits without a recipe.

After high school, Pat attended Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. Pat met Matt while visiting grandparents near Skene/Cleveland, Mississippi. After they married, the Dakins lived in Auburn from 1958 until 1963 for Matt to attend graduate school at Auburn University where he received both a masters degree and a doctorate degree in Entomology.

Their two sons were born while they lived in Auburn. When Pat was 40 years old, she returned to college at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in English. While working as an editorial assistant at the Center for Louisiana Studies at ULL, the Center published a series of historically related publications and the journal Louisiana History for the state historical association.

In the summer of 1980, Pat saw an ad for a visitor marketing manager for the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau. Since she had knowledge of the area’s history, she applied and was hired.

Pat traveled often in the job, marketing Lafayette and the area as a destination to the public and professional travel groups. While working for the CVB, she obtained several professional certifications in the field of tourism marketing.

Pat worked for the Lafayette tourism bureau until 1992. When their younger son and grandchildren moved to Huntsville, Alabama, Pat and Matt decided they wanted to be nearer to them. Matt retired after 30 years of teaching.

Pat applied for the position of director for the Auburn Opelika Tourism Bureau, which was vacant at the time. When Pat became the director of tourism in 1992, Grand National had just opened. It was the number one attraction with a huge draw.

The Victorian Front Porch Tour opened the following year, which also became popular for visitors to the area. People were interested in Christmas events. Pat feels she had a great tourism board of directors. She retired in October 2004.

Since retiring, the Dakins have had more time to visit their two sons and two granddaughters. Their son Matt lives in Sacramento, California and is single. Son Richard and his wife Diane live at Bodega Bay, California, and have two daughters, Jewelia Dakin and Deborah Szilagyi, who live near the San Francisco area.

Pat and Matt’s grandson Johnathon Dakin died in 2005 at the age of 19 from leukemia. At the time, the family lived in Birmingham, and Johnathon was in Children’s Hospital at UAB.

The Dakins are a close-knit family. Pat is the oldest of six children. She has four sisters. They lost their brother two years ago. Along with cooking and baking, Pat’s hobbies are reading, travel and conducting genealogy research . She has built several family trees on

The Dakins have taken a few trips with the Silver Sneakers group at Sportsplex. While Pat likes to cook, she has a love for baking. She bakes the Buttermilk Pound Cake in loaf pans, which gives her one to freeze. Her Aunt Nell would bake the pound cake at Christmas and serve it with maraschino cherries and whipped cream.

Her Aunt Reba was the family cook. She would make the Lasagna for family get togethers. Pat also enjoys making her Aunt Reba’s Peach Cobbler and is looking forward to peach season.

For years Pat enjoyed making homemade breads, but it has been more difficult in recent years since Matt is gluten intolerant. She enjoys experimenting with recipes.

These days she has been working on crustless pies and quiche recipes. If she makes a pie crust, it has to be gluten free. Pat prefers Pillsbury Gluten Free flour, which is used cup for cup for all-purpose flour. When it is difficult to find, she uses Krusteaz.

The Cinnamon Roll Casserole is easy to assemble for a sweet treat at breakfast or for brunch. Pat and Matt’s granddaughter Jewelia enjoys cooking and experimenting with recipes like her grandmother. She also enjoys traveling. When Pat had surgery, Jewelia lived with them for several months and did all the cooking.

“My family is very important to me,” Pat said. “I have been with Matt since I was about 16 years old. He has taken good care of me. He is the ‘wind beneath my wings’ all these years. “God has blessed us,” she added. “I feel we have had a wonderful life.”

Ann Cipperly can be reached at

Pound Cake

My Aunt Nell Tate Livingston’s recipe

Aunt Nell served this at Christmas with real whipped cream and maraschino cherries. We like it with diced strawberries and ice cream or whipped cream. It is also good sliced and toasted. It goes well with coffee and hot tea.

1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter

3 cups sugar, divided

5 eggs, separated

3 cups plain all-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal)

½ tsp. soda

1 cup whole buttermilk, not low-fat

1 Tbsp. Mexican vanilla or vanilla extract Cream butter and 2 2/3 cups sugar. Add egg yolks, one at a time. Beat well after each addition.

Sift dry ingredients. (I hardly ever do, just level off cup. I blend soda into flour.) Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Add vanilla.

Beat egg white, slowly adding 1/3 cup of reserved sugar. Beat until stiff. Fold into batter. Pour into greased tube pan. Bake at 300 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes. Increase temperature to 325 degrees and bake 15 minutes more. Ovens vary, so check for doneness before removing from oven. May be baked in 2 loaf pans. Cake freezes well.

Cinnamon Roll Casserole

Recipe from Hugs and Cookies

2 cans Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 cup milk

4 eggs

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup pure maple syrup

Grease a 9 x 13 pan with Pam.

Cut up rolls into small pieces and lay in the pan.

In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk and cinnamon.

Pour over rolls, making sure they are well coated. Drizzle on the maple syrup. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes or until puffed up and golden.

Microwave the icing that came with the roll packs in a microwave safe bowl. Pour on top of dish and serve warm.

Gluten Free Chicken and Dumplings

This recipe uses a large deep saucepan.

Chicken mixture:

2 ½ cups chicken broth

1½ cups cut-up cooked chicken (I prefer the white meat)

1 cup Frozen Steamfresh Mixed Vegetables

1 tsp. seasoned salt

¼ tsp. pepper (I use white pepper)

1 cup whole milk

3 Tbsp. cornstarch


¾ cup Gluten Free Bisquick mix

1/3 cup milk

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 egg

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, optional

In 3 quart saucepan, heat chicken broth, chicken, vegetables, salt and pepper to boiling.

In small bowl, mix 1 cup milk and cornstarch with wire whisk until smooth, stir into chicken mixture. Heat to just boiling.

In small bowl, stir dumpling ingredients with fork until blended.

Gently drop dough by rounded spoonful onto boiling chicken mixture. Cook uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes.

Cover and cook 15 minutes longer. Makes approximately 4 servings (I usually double the recipe).

Lemon Pie

This is an old recipe of my mother Lorena Livingston, who lived during the depression. I have a granddaughter who is lactose and gluten intolerant, so the pie is easily adaptable for her to eat.

1 pie crust (I like Marie Callender’s frozen deep dish pie crust. If needed, gluten free can be found in most grocery stores.

1 cup boiling water

1/3 cup flour (or use cornstarch per equivalent measurements)

1 ¼ cups sugar (reserve about 1/8 cup sugar for meringue)

1 Tbsp. butter (or vegan free butter)

Grated rind of 2 lemons

Juice of 2 lemons

3 egg yolks

3 egg whites

Pinch of salt

Bake a pie crust according to directions.

Mix all ingredients and cook in double boiler until thick. Pour into cooked pie shell. Cool.

While cooling, beat egg whites, slowly adding 1/8 cup sugar until stiff and forms peaks. Place on cooled pie filling. Brown in 350 degree oven.

Madeleine Dakin’s Pineapple Pie

Matt’s mother’s recipe.

3 eggs, separated, with whites in separate bowl

1 1/8 cups sugar

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 cup whole milk

Small can crushed pineapple

Juice of 1 lemon

Pinch of salt

1 baked pie shell

Beat egg yolks. Mix sugar and cornstarch; add to egg yolks. Then add milk. Mix well. Put mixture into saucepan and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add pineapple, lemon juice and a pinch of salt: cook a few extra minutes.

Pour into baked pie shell. Beat egg whites, adding about 1/8 cup sugar to egg whites, beating to form stiff peaks. Spread meringue over pie. Brown meringue in 350 degree oven (It doesn’t take long).

Peach Cobbler

My Aunt Reba Maugh’s recipe.

I have also used this with blueberries and blackberries. Can be doubled for large crowd.

Peach Filling:

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup cold water

2 cups sugared, sliced fresh peaches (I use about ¼ cup sugar over fresh peaches; depends

on sweetness of peaches.)

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. Mexican vanilla (or vanilla)

Mix first 3 ingredients for cobbler; add peaches. Cook and stir until mixture thickens.

Add butter, lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into buttered baking dish ( 8 x 8 or 9 x 11)

Cobbler Crust:

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

½ cup whole milk

¼ cup oil or melted unsalted butter


1 Tbsp. sugar

¼ tsp. nutmeg

For crust, sift together dry ingredients. Add milk and oil or butter (I use melted butter).

Beat until smooth. Pour over fruit. Mix sugar and nutmeg for topping. Sprinkle over cobbler.

Bake at 350 degrees about 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Note: I have also made this gluten free by using the peach mixture, and the gluten topping from the chicken dumpling recipe. Just drop the dumpling dough mixture over the top.


My Aunt Reba Livingston Maugh’s recipe

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 cup celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste

6 cans water (from tomato paste cans)

2 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. garlic salt

4 tsp. salt

1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated

2 cups small curd cottage cheese

2 eggs

1 box lasagna noodles

Grated Parmesan cheese

Remove sausage from skins, cook sausage and ground beef until crumbly. Pour off crease.

Add onion and celery, cook until tender. Add tomato paste, and seasonings. Simmer 50 minutes.

Combine cottage cheese with 2 beaten eggs.

Cook lasagna noodles per instructions on box. Butter a large rectangular pan.

Stack layers of noodle, sauce, cottage cheese-egg mixture and grated mozzarella cheese.

Repeat ending with sauce and cheese on top. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly. Can be made a day ahead. Store in refrigerator. Can make sauce ahead and freeze.

Note: ground turkey can be substituted for ground meat. Also, I like lots of cheese, so I usually use more than one pound of mozzarella cheese. Can double recipe.

GLUTEN FREE—Save enough sauce for a small 8 x 8 pan of gluten free lasagna noodles, and 2 different dishes can be made from the sauce. This makes a large amount of sauce.

Pink Angel Strawberry Cake

This was a favorite birthday cake of my older son Matt and my great niece Lora. They shared the same birthday, even though many years apart! I have used both an angel food cake and baked the strawberry cake mix. My family prefers the cake mix cake.

1 box strawberry cake mix of choice (or a precooked angel food cake can be used)

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen strawberries

1 pkg. (1 Tbsp.) unflavored gelatin

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Bake cake mix by box directions into 2 layers.

Thaw strawberries, drain off juice and save. In small dish, sprinkle gelatin over juice; let stand until gelatin is softened. Set dish in hot water until gelatin dissolves. Combine gelatin mixture with berries. Do not allow to congeal.

Whip cream until stiff and sweeten to taste (usually about ¼ cup). If berries are not sweet enough, add more sugar. Fold strawberry mixture into whipped cream.

(Note: if using angel food cake, cut in half.)

Spread half of whipped cream over bottom layer, put top layer on, and finish spreading whipped cream mixture over cake.

Decorate with fresh berries, if available. Refrigerate for several hours.

Cranberry Frozen Salad

My Aunt Nell Tate Livingston’s recipe

1 can jellied cranberry sauce

1 cup cottage cheese

¼ cup mayonnaise

½ cup pitted dates

¼ cup slivered almonds

½ cup maraschino cherries, drained

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup whipping cream (add 1 Tbsp. sugar and ½-1 tsp. vanilla when whipping cream)

Put cranberry sauce, cottage cheese, and mayonnaise in blender, run on high speed until smooth. Add dates, almonds and cherries. Run on low until chopped. Pour in bowl and add drained pineapple and marshmallows. Fold in whipped cream. Freeze in muffin tins. I usually freeze in paper muffin cups in muffin pan. When frozen, I remove them from the muffin pan and store in a Ziplock bag.

You could use Cool Whip, but I prefer real whipping cream. I sometimes double the recipe!

Pecan Pie

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

½ tsp. salt

1/3 cup unsalted butter melted

1 cup dark Karo

1 Tbsp. vanilla, or bourbon (I prefer Mexican vanilla)

1 ½ cups pecan halves (or pieces can be used. I like the small pecans)

Mix eggs, sugar, salt, melted butter and Karo. Add vanilla (or other flavoring, if desired). I mix on a medium mixer speed. Add pecans. Pour into pie crust.

Pastry for a 9-inch pie ( I prefer Marie Callender’s frozen deep dish pie crust or sometimes I use a gluten free crust if I can find one.)

Heat oven to 370-375 degrees (depending on oven). Bake for about 40 minutes until set.

Note: it is better to bake at a lower temperature than to have the edges of the crust burn or get too dark.

Bacon and Spinach Quiche

This can be cooked in a pie crust; however, I make it crustless, using a deep dish buttered pie pan. If a crust is used, use a 9 inch pie crust.

6 large beaten eggs

1 ½ cups heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped sweet onion to taste

2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach

1 lb. cooked and crumbled bacon

1 ½ cups shredded Swiss cheese or other cheese you have on hand Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine eggs, cream, salt and pepper in food processor or blender or beat well.

Layer the sweet onion, spinach, bacon and cheese in the bottom of pie crust or pan, if crustless. Pour the egg mixture on top.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until egg mixture is set.

Spinach Madeleine

My sister Barbara Elder’s recipe

2 pkg. frozen chopped spinach or one large bag

4 Tbsp. flour (or cornstarch equivalent)

½ cup evaporated milk

½ cup vegetable liquor (juice from spinach)

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

4 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. or small onion or sweet onion, chopped

½ tsp. black pepper

¾ tsp. garlic salt or powder

8 oz. roll hot Velveeta cheese, cut into pieces

Box of Cheese Nips

Cook spinach by directions on package; drain, reserving liquid.

Over low heat, melt butter; add onion, stirring until onion is soft. Add flour (or cornstarch) and stir until smooth.

Add vegetable liquid and milk, stirring slowly to prevent lumping. (A wire whisk can be used.) Stir until smooth and thick.

Add seasonings and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Combine with drained spinach.

Pour into buttered casserole or use an 8 x 8 baking dish. Cover with crumbled Cheese Nips. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes until bubbly.

Note: Can be made and frozen or kept in refrigerator until needed (only day or so prior), but leave off Cheese Nips until just prior to placing in oven. For a large crowd, double recipe and bake in 9 x 13 baking dish. Use cornstarch for gluten intolerant individuals.

Seven Layer Salad

4 cups chopped iceberg lettuce

16 oz. pkg. frozen peas, cooked, drained and cooled

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup bacon crumbles

6 hardboiled eggs, chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. white sugar

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Spread chopped lettuce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass dish or trifle bowl. Top with peas, onion, celery, bacon and eggs.

Spread mayonnaise over the top of vegetables. Sprinkle with sugar. Spread cheddar cheese over the top.

Place cover on glass dish or seal with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.

Toss before serving.