Dash of Class: Betty Richardson is one of Hardin County's Finest Cooks

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Food column by Nora Sweat

By Nora Sweat

This month’s “One of Hardin County’s Finest Cooks” is a lady who goes way back in my life. She and my mom were band boosters at West Hardin High School while my sister, Carolyn, and her daughter, Diana, were in the Laker band. I also was in high school with her son, Michael, who is a year younger than me.

Congratulations to Betty Richardson, who once lived in Howevalley, west of Cecilia, on Ky. 84 and now lives comfortably off U.S. 62 in Elizabethtown.

She was nominated by her niece, Kelly Mooney. It was Kelly’s idea to feature Aunt Betty’s fudge, peanut butter balls, broccoli casserole and banana croquettes. Kelly’s mom and Betty’s sister-in-law, Brenda Bewley, echoed her daughter’s sentiments about Betty’s cooking and agreed the four recipes featured today are absolutely wonderful.

I always have had banana croquettes with mayonnaise only on the bananas and then rolled in crushed peanuts. Betty’s recipe has a type of custard on them and I know they must be labor-intense but well worth the effort.

Betty told an interesting story about learning to cook. She said she never really learned how to cook from her mother. Once she was married, she ordered a cookbook from Sears, Roebuck and Co. When she received it, she started cooking, following recipes line by line. Over time, she fine-tuned any recipe she had a problem with and improved recipe by recipe.

Congratulations, Betty, and thank you for sharing your excellent recipes. I have a feeling readers will tuck away a couple of these for Christmas celebrations.

Remember, you can nominate a man or woman whom you think is “One of Hardin County’s Finest Cooks.” I have the August nominee, but need nominations for the remaining months, so put on your thinking caps and let’s honor deserving cooks.

Pesto update: The recipe for pesto, published June 19, called for parsley flakes. The recipe is correct but a friend, who makes pesto in the summer and freezes it and then uses it all winter for flavorful additions to pasta, soups and salad dressings, told me her pesto uses basil. And, after I think about it, most pestos do. So, if you have basil in your garden, try making your pesto with it instead of dried parsley.

Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,”  is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Broccoli casserole

1 c. uncooked instant rice
1 c. cold water
½ c. margarine, melted
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. jar Cheez Whiz
½ c. chopped celery
½ c. chopped onion
16 ounce package of frozen chopped broccoli
1 sleeve buttery round crackers
¼ c. margarine, melted

Mix rice, water, 1/2 cup margarine, soup and Cheez Whiz together. Add celery, onion and broccoli. Mix well by hand. Crush crackers and mix with 1/4 cup margarine. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

Banana croquettes (Banana Peanut Salad)

1 t. flour
1 T. sugar
¼ t. ground mustard
1 T. butter
1 egg, well beaten
2 T. vinegar      
Crushed peanuts

Mix flour, sugar and mustard. Add butter, egg and vinegar. Cook over medium heat in a double boiler until mixture thickens. If using large bananas, cut each in about three pieces. Use a spoon to coat with dressing and then roll bananas in peanuts. You will need to double the dressing amounts if you are making more than a few.

Chocolate fudge

2/3 c. evaporated milk
1 2/3 c. sugar
¼ c. margarine
½ t. salt
2 c. marshmallows
1 ½ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 t. vanilla
½ c. chopped nuts

Heat milk, sugar, margarine and salt until boiling and boil for five minutes. Remove from heat; add marshmallows and chocolate chips, vanilla and nuts. Stir until chocolate and marshmallows melt and are well combined with other ingredients. Pour into a buttered dish. Cool and cut into squares.

Peanut Butter Balls (Buckeye Candy)

12 oz. jar peanut butter
1 stick butter
4 ¾ c. powered sugar
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt butter and peanut butter over low heat or in double boiler. Add sugar and allow to cool until it can be handled easily. Roll into shape of buckeyes. In double boiler, melt one cup chocolate chips. Dip the buckeye into chocolate. Place on waxed paper to cool. You can melt the chips in microwave also.

Nora’s Note: I believe you leave one end of the buckeyes uncoated.