Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Cooking with Chef Jo: Special Tools for Cooking... PFFT!

The Pampered Chef has ruined the art of culinary arts!!! Nowadays, cooks think think they have to run out and buy special tools to do this or that. As a fairly frugal homesteader I ask, "Where's the creativity and learning potential in that? There wasn't and won't always be a store that you can run out to to grab this out that gadget.

I used to say (before my strokes), "Have knives will travel and cook." That's all I ever needed and even though I had a complete set of twenty knives (the best money could buy), I main used three items in that set to create gorgeous and delicious meals: my chef's knife, my paring knife, and my steel. With my paring knife I could intricately cut and carve vegetables and fruits worthy for a king. This is the art of cooking.

When our youngest daughter wanted to be a pastry chef and was entering competitions in high school, I could have spent a fortune on specialty supplies and gadgets. Did I? Nope. We thought outside the "go buy it" box. We used tin foil, plastic wrap, and every day things we had around the house to achieve the look of what she wanted to create. Do you know what? She always took first place and excelled. Whether it was her tiered wedding cake with intricate Asian lilies and roses with lace all made from frosting to her 3' high sculpted tree made out of chocolate with delicate filigree butterflies and flowers made from chocolate covered strawberries.

Is it any wonder that two days after graduating high school she beat out 700 competitors globally for a 4-year apprenticeship at a 5 star resort. She also had full ride scholarships to Johnson & Wales for her four years. Jenn ended up taking the resort apprenticeship because it was close to home and she would get paid too. That experience has served her well over the years. Can't you tell I'm a proud momma? πŸ˜„

I had commented on Kristina's "Pioneer Woman at Heart" blog about fair foods about making funnel cakes. It was missing from her list. She responded that she loved French waffles and she'd have to get a tool for that when she went shopping. Screech! My mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother didn't have a tool for making them. I don't even have a tool for that nor want one. It's like my hand crank food mill (a necessary evil), it's a royal pain to clean and has limited uses. If I buy a gadget, it has to have a multitude number of uses to impressed me enough to buy it.

For me, I grab my funnel and a wooden spoon. It does the job, it's easy to clean, and individually has unlimited uses. I use the handle end as a stoper to stop the flow of batter. Simple but effective. If I didn't have it in my odds and ends drawer already, my cost would be about $2 and tax if I went to the Dollar Tree. Now I'm not knocking Kristina. (Love ya, gal 😘) I see it's rampant behavior among home cooks around the world. KISS- Keep it simple & save.

Now, to hold the funnel while you tend to the one cooking, place the funnel in a heavy mug or glass.  Make sure it has a wide base so it won't tip. Or, I simply cut a piece of heavy cardboard a little bit bigger than the bowl I mixed the batter in. I cut a hole in the center of this board so half of the funnel will slide into. If any batter drips no problem, it goes back in the bowl with the rest of the batter. I cover the piece of cardboard with parchment paper or foil.

Having said all of that, on to a fairly standard recipe for funnel cakes.

Funnel Cakes
Makes 8- 6" cakes

What you'll need
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
                                                            Oil for deep-fat frying
                                                            Confectioners' sugar

Putting it all together
  • In large bowl, sift flour, sugar,baking powder, and salt together. Make a well in the center of the flour.
  • Heat oil to 375 degrees over medium heat.
  • In another bowl, beat well- eggs, milk, water, and vanilla.
  • Pour milk into the flour and mix until smooth.
  • Put the end of a wooden spoon into the funnel and ladle mixture into it.
  • Over the hot oil, move the spoon slightly so the batter drops in a steady stream into the oil.
  • Move the funnel in a circular fashion so the frying batter looks like a funnel cake. About a 1/3 cup of batter per funnel cake.
  • In about 90 seconds, the funnel cake is golden and ready to be flipped. Flip it and cook another 90 seconds.
  • Put the funnel cake on a rack or several layers of absorbent material.
  • Dust with powdered sugar while hot. 
  • Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  • Before serving, dust again with powdered sugar.
Eat while warm! These do not keep. They will get soggy. Think of reheated French fries. 😬They do not freeze or reheat well. So only make enough for one sitting. The uncooked batter can be stored in the refrigerator in an air tight container for 48 hours.

Serving suggestions- Mix up a fruit (berry) puree, drizzle chocolate syrup, a dollop of whipped cream and sliced fruit, or ice cream. The possibilities are endless and as varied as taste buds.

Y'all have a blessed day! 
Chef Jo


  1. Thank you for the recipe! I haven't had a good funnel cake since I left Iowa! LOL! I agree with you about "special equipment" which the best cooks I knew growing up had none of! They peeled things with a paring knife and there were no fancy electrical items either. I have to admit I fell into the trap for awhile and I must admit I wouldn't give up my Kitchenaid for anything. But the rest of it is unnecessary. I have even gone back to some "antique" tools such as the old fashioned potato masher which does a much better job than my Kitchenaid. Also, the crank type hand beater that I use instead of an electric hand mixer and it works great instead of a "boat motor" for pureeing hot soups. I still prefer a teaspoon and a knife for dropping cookie dough onto a cookie sheet. I could go on and on and let us not forget the hand can opener! LOL!
    Congratulations to your daughter and to you for raising her! Stay safe and stay well!

  2. Sam! I wondered if you were reading me.
    Well, my recipe hails from NE so it should be close to what you want. I absolutely love my Kitchenaid! But I also love mt immersion blender. All the rest are hand cranked or knife skills.After my strokes I found I needed more gadgets again because I'm one-handed now like my slap chopper and my mandolin. It saves me time when processing vegetables from the garden faster. If I did not preserve my own food then a knife would do. My "antiques" were my mother's and grandmother's. They'll always have a place in my kitchen.

    All my girls are my pride and joy. My grandchildren too!

  3. Fantastic post. I am with you, use what you have at home. I am not a gadget type girl either. Congratulations to your daughter for her great achievements, and to your for teaching her.


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