WHITE SAUCE (Béchamel, to be fancy) - cooking basics

As I was texting the instructions on how to boil an egg to my panicked guy friend, I had a sort of mini epiphany.  And by mini epiphany, I mean like the one I had when I learned that most people separate lights from darks in the wash.  So I guess I really mean more of a how-have-I-made-it-this-far-in-life-without-this-knowledge-oh-gosh-I-hope-no-one-noticed realization.

I digress.

Béchamel, or white sauce, as we called it growing up, is really versatile and a good basic recipe to have memorized. 

I blame our unorthodox upbringing and former-hippie parents for my distaste for the structure of recipes (although I know it's just because I'm too bull-headed to follow them to a T: "who is this person, telling me I must put exactly 1 teaspoon of salt in my salsa!?").  I'm also a firm believer in the idea that if you have the basics down, you can create almost anything. 

My husband is a firm believer in me using recipes and timers.  So, in between the experiments and inevitably burnt cookies, we compromise.  And sometimes I leave a cookbook out on the table and pretend like I'm using a recipe.

So, without further ado, here is number one:

Once you've made this once or twice, you won't need measurements, but I'll give you some in case you're a nervous nelly.

Makes: about 1 cup
1 T. Flour
1 T. Butter (margarine, get outta town!)
1 c. Milk

-Put 1 Tablespoon butter into a saucepan and melt it.

-Put 1 Tablespoon of flour in once it is melted. 
(This doesn't have to be exact, just put flour in until it is pasty like mashed potatoes.)

-Stir this around for a little bit on low heat.  (This will get rid of the  raw flour taste)

-Slowly add the cup of milk while stirring.

-Keep stirring until there are no more lumps (whisk it if you have one - it easily gets the lumps out).

-It will start to thicken.  Make sure you scrape along the bottom of the pan, as that is where it starts to thicken first.  Don't let it boil.  Turn down the heat if you see bubbles!

-Take it off the heat when it's thick and enjoy!  (sometimes it doesn't really thicken up good until it cools a bit)

-Add whatever seasonings or additions that you would like.

You can use this as a base for all of these things:

Creamed Peas
Steak Au Poivre
Fettucini Alfredo
Creamed Corn
Chipped Beef on Toast
Biscuits and Gravy
Cream Puffs (Choux Pastries)
Mornay Sauce
Beef Stroganoff
Wine Sauce
So. Many. Delicious. Things!