Thursday, May 22, 2008

On college graduations and white sauce

My oldest son graduated from the University of Texas at Austin this last week and for a couple of weeks prior to the big event I didn't do much but work and fret over miscellaneous things. The deed is done, though, and I'm much less stressed now. If I could explain just how proud I am of my son, I would. But I can't. In the last few years he's overcome personal hardships that would have flattened most of us. He persevered, though, and got his bachelor's degree in Philosophy. He plans to work for a year or so then pursue his Ph.D. What a guy! And he's getting married in August to a wonderful young woman I can't wait to call daughter in love! Anyway, that's the main reason I haven't posted in the last couple of weeks.

Now on to cooking thangs. A friend of mine recently complained about the high cost and high sodium content of canned cream of whatever soups. I suggested she try the ones at Dollar General as they're much cheaper than the name brand versions and just as tasty when mixed with other items, though I don't like the taste of them on their own. She's something of a food snob, though, and doesn't want to try that brand so I told her she could simply make her own. Oh my, you'd have thought I told her to kick her dog in the rear! She just couldn't imagine making her own and told me she wouldn't know where to begin.

Well, since I do know where to begin I sent her an email with the instructions. I also posted it to a Yahoo Group I'm in and thought I'd share it here, too. It really isn't difficult at all. The key is to keep the heat low and to stir, stir, stir!

This sauce is great for meat pies and the addition of cheese turns it into a very tasty sauce for macaroni and cheese. Add a few vegetables and you have a great creamed vegetable dish. You can increase or decrease the salt and other spices as you see fit. It's so versatile and easy and there's just no reason I can think of to not try it! So, in all it's glory(ehem)here it is.

In a small heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of flour and add salt to taste. I use about 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt. If I want the sauce to have pepper or garlic, I add these, too. Now and then I add a few drops of Louisiana hot sauce if the white sauce is to be used in a spicy dish.

Cook over low heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Cooking it this long helps eliminate the flour flavor that some white sauces have.

Keep stirring and slowly add 1 cup of milk. Continue cooking over low heat until the sauce is smooth and thickened. If you want to add cheese or sauteed vegetables, add them here and keep stirring for awhile until everything is smooth and well blended.

For thin white sauce I use 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour. I use the thin white sauce in cream soups that will be eaten individually.

For thick white sauce I use 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour. I use the thick sauce when making sauce to be used with pasta.

For heavy white sauce, I use 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour. I rarely use the heavy sauce but now and then it's great as a binder. A little leftover heavy sauce is also good to thicken a soupy dish.

If you try this recipe, please let me know how it turned out. It's just so easy to make and use and I'd love to know what you did with it!

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