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“One of Hardin County’s Finest Cooks” for March is a fairly new member of the Hardin County community.
She is a member of the Woman’s Club of Elizabethtown and at our February meeting, she suggested to me a column topic: Warm Blessings Soup Kitchen, a charity in which she is actively involved. The more I talked to her, and especially after visiting her at the site, I realized she is one outstanding cook.
She is the Rev. Ellen Morell, priest at Christ Episcopal Church in Elizabethtown.
You will hear more about Warm Blessings next week.
Ellen said, “I hate to admit this, but when I got married, the extent of my cooking experience was cookies and cakes,” Ellen said. “Fortunately, my mother-in-law gave me a copy of ‘The Joy of Cooking’ for a wedding present. I followed the recipes and gradually became a competent cook.”
It was when her husband was in the military and they spent two years in Okinawa, Japan, that Ellen became a more adventurous cook.
“Back in the mid-’60s, the only ethnic cuisine I was familiar with was Chop Suey or Chow Mein. While overseas in a community with people from all over the world, I learned to appreciate and to cook many ethnic dishes.”
Seeking out new recipes became her habit.
“I approach cooking with a sense of adventure. I am always searching the Web and my cookbooks for unusual and interesting recipes,” she said.
Since she started cooking at Warm Blessings, she’s returned to basic comfort foods, working with the ingredients the kitchen has on hand.
“It is very satisfying to prepare a meal that people enjoy,” she said.
Cooking has held a special place in Ellen’s family.
“Cooking for me is a way to connect the generations of my family. My father and I were born on the same day and my mother always made this cake for our birthday. It remains my very favorite cake,” she said.
Her daughter has become a vegan cook, something Ellen could never do because she couldn’t give up eggs and dairy products. But her daughter does have some good recipes, and they cook a lot when they get together.
“Now that my children are all living in different states, my cooking at Warm Blessings has taken the place of the large family meals I used to prepare,” Ellen noted.
Congratulations Ellen, and welcome to Hardin County.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.
Easy Vegan Coconut Treats
1/2 c. steel cut oats
1/2 c. peanut butter (can substitute other nut butters such as almond)
1/2 c. dates
1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
Process the coconut in the food processor until it is finely shredded then spread on a large plate. Place the oats and peanut butter in the food processor and process until blended. Add the dates one at a time until the mixture will stick together. Roll the mixture into balls then roll the balls in the shredded coconut.
Mother’s Applesauce Cake (Birthday Cake)
1/2 c. shortening or butter
2 c. sugar
1 large egg
1-1/2 c. thick applesauce
2-1/2 c. sifted all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t allspice
1 c. raisins
1/2 c. broken walnuts
2 T. baking soda
1/2 c. boiling water
Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat egg in a small bowl with a fork and add to sugar-butter mixture. Then add the applesauce. Sift together the flour, salt and spices. Add baking soda to boiling water. To the creamed mixture, add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with water-soda mixture. Fold in the raisins and nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Cake should not be dry. Frost the cake with a cream cheese frosting.
Chicken and Dumplings
1 chicken breast
2 c. water
1/4 c. diced carrots
1/4 c. diced celery
Garlic and salt to taste
1 c. biscuit mix
1/3 c. water
Boil chicken until tender. Remove chicken from broth, allow to cool enough to handle and dice the chicken. Add the chicken, carrots, celery, garlic and salt to broth. Bring broth to a boil. Mix the dumplings. They should be just moist enough to make into balls but not too wet. Drop the dumplings by spoonfuls on the boiling broth. Let boil for 10-15 minutes.
Serve immediately. Serves 2
Note: It is critical that the broth is boiling before you add the dumplings; otherwise the dumplings will be soggy.
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 email@example.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.