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Last updated: Wed. Jul. 23, 2014 - 03:07 am EDT

Self-taught 'simple cook' works in vegetables

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Macy Augustus of South Whitley says one of her favorite hobbies is reading. She also enjoys cooking for her husband, Brent, and their four children, Vivian, 9, Sophie, 7, Nathan, 5, and Matthew, 2.

But then, Augustus confesses, there is that rare occasion when she becomes so engrossed in reading that a simple dinner is in store for everyone.

“I do enjoy reading quite a bit. I pick up a good book and it’s hard to put it down,” she says.

With a laugh, she adds, “I tell the kids we’re having pancakes for supper. I do enjoy cooking. I enjoy it quite a bit.”

Augustus, 34, says she was a young girl when she began cooking and baking.

“My mom let me in the kitchen when I was 9. I tried to make a cake, but I messed it up. It wasn’t good. We didn’t keep snacks in the house, so if you wanted cookies, you had to make them. When mom went back to work, I made dinner a couple nights a week. So at 17, I learned to cook dinner for a family of seven,” she says.

Augustus, a self-described simple cook, found cooking wasn’t difficult to learn.

“Cooking is not difficult. If you can read, you can cook. It’s not very hard. I would also say, nobody is born a good cook,” she says.

Augustus has 10 to 15 cookbooks, but she considers her Betty Crocker cookbook as the go-to book for cooking and baking questions.

For recipes, she enjoys the website BudgetBytes.com, created by Beth Moncel.

“I don’t usually turn to (Betty Crocker) for recipes but for the basics – making frosting, cooking meats and cooking various types of meats. Online, I like Budget Bytes.com. It’s excellent. I probably have seven or eight recipes in my rotation from her. She breaks it down per meal. She’s health-conscious – a lot of whole foods,” she says.

Q. What do you do to keep meals healthy?

A. We try to have a lot of vegetables. I try to have more vegetables on the plate than anything else. Since I’m trying to have more vegetables, we’re not as concerned in having them be super-nutritious.

With Brussels sprouts, we have bacon, butter, olive oil and a little salt. It makes it easier for the kids to eat. We try to keep vegetables fresh.

Q. What’s your favorite vegetable?

A. Broccoli. I like it any way, but I actually don’t like it raw. I like to cook it, but it’s still crisp. I don’t like any vegetable mushy. I don’t like ranch dip or anything like that. When you steam (broccoli), it gets a bright color. I like that.

Q. What’s your favorite cooking utensil?

A. My microplane. Zesting, I rarely mince my garlic. I run it over the microplane and it’s the right consistency. I use it a lot for hard cheese, too.

Q. Who’s your cooking idol?

A. Ina Garten. The preparations of her food are straightforward. She uses ingredients that I can use easily. She put ingredients together that I wouldn’t have thought of and it always taste good.

Q. What’s something people would not find in your refrigerator?

A. The jars of minced garlic. That’s something I used to keep on hand but after I bought fresh garlic, I haven’t gone back.

Q. If you were stuck on an island, what’s one food you would have to have?

A. Bun cha. It’s a Vietnamese dish. Probably because I’ve been wanting it since we left Vietnam. It’s been three years since we went. It’s a dish only in Hanoi. It’s a rice/noodle dish with pork and pickled carrot and green papaya. It comes in a bowl, and then they bring you a plate with piles of cilantro, basil, mint, lemon balm. It’s served in a spicy sauce.

Peanut Stir Fry

14 ounces chicken broth

5 tablespoons natural peanut butter

1/4 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Combine the above ingredients in small saucepan and stir over low heat until peanut butter melts and sauce is smooth. Set aside.

1 pound chicken breast, cut into thin strips

Marinade:

1/4 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

Juice of 1 lime

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Vegetables

3 large carrots, julienne

2 crowns of broccoli, broken up into bite-size pieces

1 small head cabbage, sliced thinly

1/2 cucumber, julienne

Combine marinade ingredients, Sriracha sauce, lime juice, minced garlic, grated ginger and soy sauce, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Heat a wok or large skillet and add sesame oil. Stir fry chicken until no longer pink, but not browned. Remove the chicken from the wok and set aside. Add enough fresh vegetables to nearly fill the skillet and cook slightly. Add chicken back to the wok along with peanut sauce and cook until heated through. Serve with glass noodles, top with additional lime juice and cilantro, as desired. Makes 8 servings.

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

1/3 cup honey

Juice and zest of 1 large lime

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, divided

12 flour tortillas

1 (12 ounces) can green enchilada sauce

1/2 cup whipping cream or half-and-half

Combine honey, chili powder and lime with garlic and stir with a fork; add chicken and 1 cup cheese. Let mixture sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Place filling in tortillas. Lay each one seam-side down in sprayed 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Combine enchilada sauce and cream. Pour over prepared enchiladas and top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Makes 8 servings.

Grape Nut Pudding

2 eggs

3 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup Grape Nuts cereal

Mix eggs, milk and vanilla thoroughly. Pour into an ungreased 8-by-8-inch baking dish and sprinkle with Grape Nuts cereal. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until set. Serve warm or cold with sauce. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sauce:

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups hot water

2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine sugar and flour in small saucepan. Add water and vanilla. Cook over medium-low heat until sauce thickens.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN46801; fax 461-8648 or email dparker@jg.net.

 

Tidbits

Q. I still want to learn ...

A. How to build furniture, but I’m scared of power tools.

Q. I can’t wait to ...

A. Go on my 15-year anniversary trip. I think we’re going to Budapest (Hungary). I’ve read a few books and they’ve taken place in Budapest, and it sounded fantastic.


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