By DAWN HANKINS – [email protected]
While some moms might dread making weeknight dinners for their family, that is, meals made fresh from scratch, Hazel George Matthews says she considers the job a blessing. Hazel’s family agrees.
She catorgorizes her menu-one which she’s sharing today—as comfort food. When Hazel cooks, it’s not just a meat and side, but a meat and a lovely and hearty servings of vegetables— fresh slices of tomato or other summer produce—cornbread, rolls or biscuits.
Her homemade hamburger casserole tops any commercial, pre-packaged brands, she says. It just takes a little more preparation time, which in the end, is well-worth it.
Need-less-to-say, she cooks enough for any incoming family members, or friends for that matter, who might want to sit down to a home-cooked meal. Her husband, Robert, rarely, if ever, complains about the full course meals.
Looking at the full course meals served, who would?
Hazel grew up in Bedford County and graduated from Community High School. Having reared her own family, she works at the local Head Start—something she’s done for 14 years.
In her “spare time,” Hazel is studying to be a teacher. In addition, she and a friend recently began at Facebook page of inspiration. “We are trying to be an uplifting group,” she advises.
Hazel attends church regularly and believes in putting God first in her life.
Actually, it was her strong faith, she says, which helped her to decide to follow her calling of being an educator. “What impressed me . . . was a calling from God.”
Enjoy some of Hazel’s favorite weeknight meals below. These are dishes also good for Sunday lunch, Hazel notes, because they can be prepared ahead of time and re-warmed.
The dog days of summer are upon us, so she’s using as much local produce as possible in her meal planning. She learned that growing up on her family’s farm—one which was doing sustainable farming long before it became popular.
Hazel says her country-style cooking is simple and hearty. This suits her hard-working family well.
She always tries to make the plates look pleasing too. A blue and white simple plate is the perfect backdrop for her family favorite meatloaf. Her recipe is standard with the exception of the 2 tsp. of cumin, which is original.
By now you’ve likely figured out that’s a favorite spice in Hazel’s kitchen. Cumin accentuates the flavor of vegetables, which plays perfect in Hazel’s home cooking.
Her family calls her food “yummy.” That’s compliment enough for this Bedford Countian.
Hazel’s Spicy Tacos
1 to 2 lb. lean ground beef, cooked and drained
2 medium, minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
ground coriander to taste
3/4 tsp. salt
chills or jalapeños
tortillas or shells, toasted
optional: sharp cheddar cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and green onions
Brown ground beef, drain. Add garlic to meat. Add spices, salt, tomatoes, chilies. Serve with toasted tortillas or taco shells. Top with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and onions.
Hazel’s Hamburger Casserole
1 (16 oz.) box bow tie noodles (prepare according to directions)
Dale’s Seasoning (I use 3 caps full)
3 lb. lean hamburger
pepper or favorite seasonings to taste
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) block Velveeta cheese
1 C. milk
2 Tbsp. butter
Cook and drain noodles. Add 3 caps full of Dale’s seasoning to cooked, drained ground beef and pepper. Add noodles, cheese, milk and butter to meat mixture. Serve immediately when cheese is melted.