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THE COMMUNITY NEWS

Life&Community

November 12, 2010

Cook of the Week

‘I love recipes’ By Dominic Genetti The Community News

As she stands at the stove stirring the pale red pot, her kitchen drapes flutter in the cool afternoon breeze while birds chirp in the backyard. A dash of flour here, a guestimated measurement of cream there. Soon the sauteed celery, bacon and corn becomes a soup with the addition of chopped potatoes. “When I started cooking, the first meal I ever made, I was in college,” Becky Stokes of Willow Park said. “I had potatoes and onions and everything and I put that in (an electric skillet) one Sunday and some of us had lunch.” She spends a lot of time at home these days after being laid off by the City of Willow Park because of budget cuts, but that negative is quickly turned into a positive when she throws together a few ingredients that eventually turn into a delightful meal. “I love recipes,” Becky said, leaning back in her kitchen table chair. The cookbook collector and Henderson County Junior College grad didn’t get an interest in cooking from family members or just out of the blue. It actually came in high school during semesters of home economics. “I was always brought up in Home Ec. in school,” Becky said. “I always loved Home Ec.” Her memories are dim from her childhood days of watching her mother cook. Growing up in

what she called a “dysfunctional household,” Becky blocked out those days of her youth that soon led to her parents’ divorce when she was 9-years-old. Yet memories of her grandmother preparing meals are still strong. She can still recall her grandma, an authentic southerner, cooking homemade fried chicken the old fashioned way in heavy cast iron skillets. It’s the Home Economics classes, though, that really sparked her interest of having a hobby in the kitchen. Those interests really sparked when she married her husband, Dick. “He enjoys eating,” Beck said with a chuckle. “If I‘m going to cook, I’m going to cook for somebody who likes to eat.” And Dick keeps Becky busy. He’s a huge fan of breakfast. Some might say it’s the most important meal of the day, but for Dick it’s certainly a favorite. The United States Air Force veteran, now insurance claims adjuster, is very particular about his eggs. However, Becky is able to make them just right even if breakfast isn’t her favorite meal to make. “He gets mad when they’re not done right,” the laughing grandmother said. As it turns out, baking desserts is her niche. “Baking is number one,” she said. Cheesecakes are particularly her specialty and just like every cook, she adds a little bit of personal touch. Her secret, she said,

BECKY STOKES

Stokes establishes some tasty meals

Chicken and Rice

3 cups instant rice 1 stick butter 6 chicken breasts (or any chicken pieces) 1-2 cans mushroom soup seasoning of your choice Preheat oven to 370 degrees. Spray 9” x 13” oven proof dish with spray. Melt butter in a saucepan, add rice and fry until golden brown. Pour rice into dish and place chicken pieces on top. Puor the soup over the chicken pieces (coating each piece well). Season to taste. Bake uncovered for one hour or until done.

Corn Chowder

DOMINIC GENETTI/THE COMMUNITY NEWS

Becky Stokes prepares one of her specialties, corn chowder, as cook of the week mascot, LePeep, watches closely.

is cinnamon and vanilla when it comes to making something that can calm a sweet tooth. But don’t think that those add-ins will be prominent when you have one of her signature creations. Becky may put more or less of her two favorite secret ingredients within her desserts. “It kind of depends on what it is,” she said. In some cases, the cinnamon may be prominent, but in other cases it’s the vanilla that enhances the flavor. Then again, it very well could be that she uses such a small pinch that it leaves the tasters guessing what makes her dish taste so good. Desserts aren’t Becky’s only specialty, though. Meat dishes she has developed on her own keep folks com-

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ing back for seconds. That secret ingredient is sage, something she just thought she’d use and leave to chance for success. When she was done cooking, the verdict was in. “I like it,” she said. “To me, a lot of meat dishes could use it.” And it doesn’t matter what specialty she may be putting together. What really matters is taking the chance on something new and seeing how things turn out. However, sage isn’t the only spice she’s toyed with. Just the other day, Becky made a chicken pot pie and added some thyme. “Man it was great,” she said. “I just like creating, doing something with my hands, creating something and seeing the end result.”

1 med. onion, chopped 1/2 cup celery, chopped 4 strips bacon, cut up 1 tablespoon flour 1-1/2 cups skim milk 1 cup heavy cream 2 cans corn 1 large potato, diced 2 tablespoons butter seasonings of choice Place bacon pieces in med. sauce pan and fry until almost done. Add celery and onion and sauté. Combine small amount of milk with flour for thickening. Pour the remaining milk and cream into sauce pan, heat slowly, then add the milk/flour mixture. Add remaining ingredients and season to taste. Simmer about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Brownie Swirl Cheesecake

1 Brownie mix 1/2 cup sugar 2 large eggs 16 oz. cream cheese, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup milk chocolate chips, melted Grease bottom of 9” spring form pan. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla, mix on medium speed until blended well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Pour mixture over brownie layer. Spoon the melted chocolate over the cream cheese. Cut through cheese and chocolate severat times to make a marble effect. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Loosen cake from rim of pan. Cool before removing rim. Chill. Garnish with whipped cream and grated chocolate.

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Cook of the Week