Tag Archives: cooking

Hazel’s Cooking Challenges

“Mistaken Promises” is written. Now I’m finishing all the fact checking. Then there is Hazel’s cooking.

Broken Promises

Back in “Broken Promises” Hazel learned to cook. Then it was a way to cope with her grief and anger. She discovered she liked to cook.

Old Promises

In “Old Promises” Hazel chooses a 4-H Cooking Project. Her cooking becomes more adventurous. The recipe sections at the back of each book get bigger. This continues in this third book in the series.

I grew up in a time when fast food was getting going. People cooked at home. Cookbooks were kept on a kitchen shelf for easy access. My shelf has about twenty different cookbooks.

pepper for Hazel's cooking

Recipes usually call for green peppers. My problem is the bitterness of these. Instead I’ve discovered colored bell peppers with an array of flavors and no bitterness. This gold bell pepper has a mildly spicy taste.

Hazel’s recipes are based on recipes in my cookbooks. This is when Hazel’s cooking and my cooking clash.

My milk comes from the goat barn. some of my milk becomes cheese. My eggs come from the hen house. My tomato sauce with its garlic, onions and bell peppers comes from my garden.

milk for Hazel's cooking

Refer to milk and Americans think of cow’s milk. I raise Nubian dairy goats and have goat milk in my refrigerator. It is unpasteurized. Goat’s milk and cow’s milk cooks much the same. The real difference is between using raw milk and pasteurized milk. Raw milk must be scalded (heated to 150 degrees and cooled) for many recipes such as breads and custards. Otherwise the milk will sour during cooking and sour the food.

Hazel gets milk, eggs, cheese, tomato sauce and other vegetables from the market.

I use lots of whole wheat flour, carob, little sugar, little salt and no black pepper in my cooking. Hazel uses white flour, sugar, salt and pepper in her cooking.

tomatoes for Hazel's cooking

Comparing store and garden tomatoes leaves the store variety in the chicken yard. chickens have no taste buds. Garden tomatoes come in hundreds of varieties suited to a cook’s purposes. These are paste or plum tomatoes with thick flesh and small seed cavities inside for making sauces.

Some of Hazel’s cooking is entered in the county fair in “Mistaken Promises.” One recipe is for a frosted chocolate cake.

I am in trouble.

I do bake cake. I do have an excellent recipe for chocolate cake. Except I cut the sugar in half and substitute carob for chocolate. I haven’t frosted a cake or made frosting in a very long time.

Meat loaf, cornbread, beef stew, zucchini bread and crepes don’t concern me very much. I do variations on the recipes, true. But my variations don’t change the recipes enough to be

eggs for Hazel's cooking

Chickens are great homestead livestock. The brown one is a salmon Favorelle. The white one is a white rock. There are so many breeds and colors. Fresh eggs are different too. People think about having brown or white eggs. The shell color is not as important (unless you eat them) as what is inside. Fresh eggs from my chickens have rich orange yolks from all the greens the chickens eat. This makes them a disaster in white cake (the cake becomes yellow cake). The whites are thick. The size varies, not all extra large or jumbo or whatever. Two small eggs are roughly a jumbo egg.

worrisome.

That frosted chocolate cake scares me.

Hazel’s cooking is an important part of her books. It’s not part of the plot, but it is her way of coping with stress. It is part of what makes her Hazel.

And preparing the recipes as they appear in Hazel’s cooking section in the books is important.

Where are those chocolate cake and frosting recipes?

Hazel’s White Sauce

Growing up I saw my mother cooking almost everyday. When I got my first apartment, she gave me my first cookbook which I still have and use often.

Writing about Hazel in Broken Promises she needed to do something to help ease her frustration and stress but also give an outlet for her anger. Cooking fit this with the added benefit of being engrossing so Hazel could leave her worries and cares for the time she was in the kitchen.

Broken Promises

Since the release of Broken Promises, I’ve found many people no longer know much about cooking. That is why I included a section of recipes Hazel used in the second editions of the two books.

Winter is a slow season in the country. Lots does go on but much of it is repairs and making plans for when winter finally starts departing.

Finding commentary topics is hard in the winter. So I’ll do several of Hazel’s recipes beginning with one very basic but important one: white sauce.

There are two basic sauces in much of cooking. One is cornstarch based, common in Chinese cooking. The other is flour based, white sauce.

Once white sauce is mastered, the variations begin. These include gravy, cheese sauce,Mornay and Hollandaise etc.

Basic white sauce is made of flour, oil and milk. The usual amounts are 3 Tablespoons each flour and oil, 1 cup milk.

All purpose flour is the usual one to use. Whole wheat takes more oil. I haven’t tried other flours.

Olive oil works. Other regular oils do well too. It may be necessary to vary the amount of oil to get a flour slurry.

The main problem making white sauce is ending up with lumps. My solution is to use a coil whisk which looks somewhat like the hoops under dresses long ago.

coil whisk

Called a spring or coil whisk this kitchen utensil is great for mixing smooth sauces.

Making basic white sauce

Put a pan on over medium heat.

Add 3 Tbsp oil to heat.

Use the whisk to stir in 3 Tbsp flour. This should look like a slurry. If it doesn’t, add oil.

Stir the slurry so it doesn’t burn but does heat.

Heating the flour removes the pasty taste. If the flour is heated longer, it will brown and the resulting sauce will be a brown sauce.

Start adding the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly.

The flour will form lumps as the milk is instantly absorbed. These lumps need to be stirred, crushed, mixed and broken up as more milk is added.

Continue adding milk and stirring until all the milk is stirred in.

At this point the sauce will seem thin. Continue heating and stirring.

The sauce will gradually thicken. It seems to take a long time but really takes only a few minutes.

When the sauce thickens as much as you want, it’s ready to add to whatever you want.

If left sitting, the sauce will continue to thicken. You can add more milk to thin it.

Variations:

Hazel grated cheese, half to a full cup, and added this to the finished sauce for cheese sauce to add to macaroni.

Various herbs and spices can be added too. Paprika is good in macaroni. Parsley is good in lots of things. Tarragon is good for chicken dishes.

For gravy substitute meat broth for the milk.

Adding broth to flour makes a roué to thicken stews or soups. It’s best to put the flour in a dish and add hot broth stirring to get the lumps out before stirring the roué into the stew or soup. Little flour lumps never dissolve on their own but must be hunted down and crushed which is difficult once the lumps are in the stew.

 

There are so many ways this sauce can be adapted and used. Try seasoning it and pouring it over crepes. Add sautéed onions, peppers etc. for varying macaroni and cheese. Use sour cream with nutmeg for Beef Stroganoff or gravy with Swedish meatballs.

Best of all, this simple sauce makes a simple meal look much fancier.

Recipes are included in both Broken Promises and Old Promises for the dishes Hazel cooks in the book. Check the books out on their book page and in the Shop.