Alice Zagar loves cooking for others

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12-year-old offers recipe for brownie-style cookies

By Becca Owsley

Alice Zagar is a 12-year-old who loves to cook. Her classmates at St. James Middle School appreciate her interest in cooking.


“I like to cook because I think it’s fun to make stuff and see if my friends like it or not,” Alice said.

She’s been cooking for about a year and likes to make spaghetti for her family. She’ll spice up the sauce a bit by adding onions and other things.

Her pumpkin praline cookies she brought for an academic team bake sale were the first to sell out.

Baking also relieves stress for Alice. She bakes cookies when she’s mad and, when her friends are mad at her, she bakes them cookies.

She likes to stick with the recipe but other times she’ll put her own spin on the recipe.

That’s what she did with one of her classmates’ favorite recipes.

Alice used a recipe from The News-Enterprise food columnist Nora Sweat, a family friend, and found she didn’t have one of the ingredients.

It was a death by chocolate chip cookie recipe. She didn’t have the cake mix it called for and needed to improvise so she called Sweat to see if a brownie mix would work. Now she often makes the cookies with brownie mix, her own twist on the recipe.

After Sweat mentioned her in her column, Alice got a little famous.

“I had kids in my class asking me to make this recipe for them because they saw it when it was in the newspaper,” Alice said.  

Alice caught the cooking bug while making sausage and meatballs at Sweat’s home. She was hooked.

Along with her brother Will, Alice also made strawberry jam with the Sweats, using fresh picked strawberries.

“There’s a lot of sugar involved in that,” Alice said.

When she started cooking, she prepared a basic box of Mac and Cheese. Then she branched out to make spaghetti for her family. Sometimes, when the family gets home from her mom’s ballet studio, she notices her mom is tired and hungry and Alice decides to help out.

“I cook because I like my mom to have a break from cooking for us and make sure she doesn’t feel like she’s the only one who has to do it,” Alice said.

For other teens who want to learn how to cook, Alice recommends to start like she did, with the basic, simple things and then build up to more complicated recipes.

There are a couple other girls in her class who cook but not many. She wonders if they might be embarrassed or might be nervous they'll mess up if they try.

But Alice doesn’t think that should stop them from trying.

“Don’t act like if you don’t get it once you’ll never be able to do it again, just keep on trying,” Alice said. “If you watch ‘Cake Boss’ and stuff like that, they mess up but they just restart and do it again.”.

She likes watching the Food Network and learned how to know when brownies are done from Rachel Ray. Her favorite cooking show is “America’s Next Top Chef.”

On snow days she loves hot chocolate. She mixes syrup and milk and after microwaving the mixture she tops it with whipped cream and mini marshmallows.

“If they made liquid peanut butter I’d use that,” she said.

She loves peanut butter.

Although she really likes to cook, she hopes to be a lawyer someday.

“Make I’ll cook for my clients,” she joked.

When she’s not cooking, she plays basketball, reads and enjoys music. She plays guitar and hopes to pick up the piano or drums soon.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Death by chocolate chip cookies (brownie style)
1 box of brownie mix
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
¼ cup of water
Chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the brownie mix, oil, eggs and water. Add chocolate chips, as much as you want depending on how chocolaty you want them.
Spoon onto a greased cookies sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in the oven.
To cheek and see if they are done, poke them with a toothpick. If there’s chocolate on the end, they are not done. If the toothpick comes out clean they are ready.