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Somewhere along the parsley-strewn path to the kitchen, we've lost the map, taken a wrong turn and landed, stranded, in the "Land of Canned."

The signs are clear when we approach the cupboard, humming, "I feel like Chicken Tonight . . . like Chicken Tonight. . . ."Pretty grim when our choices for dinner are determined by what store-bought mixture dwells on our shelves!

(Let's see . . . what mystery additives can we dump over what meat? Or which box to open to make hubby gesticulate, "Now THAT'S Italian!")

In the event that there are still a few purists out there, clutching tattered copies of "Fannie Farmer," not understanding how ANYONE could consume ANY prepackaged sauce (with the exception of catsup, mustard, etc.), bear with us.

For we are products of our environment, assembled on the conveyer belt of a changing world. A great many of us have boomed out of babyhood; over 50 percent couldn't stand the heat . . . and, for various reasons, left the kitchen.

After slaving over a hot computer all day at the office, the "hot stove" routine has evolved into "pop the lids and feed the kids." The general consensus is . . . give us floppy disks . . . not apple crisps!

No wonder so many french-fried consumers have succumbed to the advertising jingles drummed into their subconscious, opting for bottled and canned versions of easy-to-make sauces and gravies.

Hey, it wasn't easy "digesting" all those "Leave it to Beaver" episodes, wondering how the taffeta-aproned, not-a-hair-out-of-place June Cleaver did it all! And her husband, Ward - that Brylcremed-to-the-max master of the house, sat down every single night to a home-cooked meal of pot roast, potatoes and pan gravy.

The insidious seeds were planted. How could we ever perfect a pot roast, let alone make gravy? So right then and there we began the silently building inner-chant - Give us Kraft Macaroni and Cheese! Give us Campbell's Soup. Give us Gravy in a Drum!

But that's OK, kids. Life has changed since "Leave It To Beaver."

Perhaps if we look at some basics about sauces, we can escape the familiar "spin-the-bottle" drama we act out daily to determine what gunk will grace that pound of hamburger.

It's like being held prisoner by legions of food manufacturers.

Another fear of making sauces from scratch was caused by basic home ec lessons now etched in our psyches as THE WHITE SAUCE ENCOUNTER.

Oh, those lumpy gray globs of pea-studded wallpaper paste, clinging to soda cracker rafts . . . shingle something?

Throw that one out to sea. Sorry, Charlie, even the tuna couldn't save that shipwreck.

But there is a life preserver in the vast sea of '90s innovations aptly named the microWAVE. It's true! Once-tedious scratch saucemaking is simple.

"No more lumpy white sauce," says Kari Morandi, one of the Deseret News' staff recipe testers. "I use my microwave for everything . . . white sauce only takes a few minutes," she says.

An excellent source for microwave-made sauces is the "Microwave Cook's Complete Companion." Authors Rosemary Dunn Stancil and Lorela Nichols Wilkins note that "sauces that are thickened with flour, arrowroot or cornstarch adapt easily to microwaving."

They recommend whisking with a wire whisk to smooth sauces after cooking; and, they say, "a food processor or blender can usually salvage a sauce, even when it has been totally neglected during cooking."

Sauces from scratch? Give it a try. Our loyal readers out there have sent in some quick-to-fix and delicious samples of their favorite sauces.

Start with the chocolate sauce.

But leave out the hamburger.




Submitted by: James B. Ellis,


Approximate cost: 25 cents

Yield: 2 servings

Evaluation: Quick and simple Oriental sauce. The Oyster sauce gives it a unique flavor. This is delicious over cooked pasta.

1/2 cup water

5 drops soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons Oyster sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Mix all ingredients together and simmer until well-mixed and thickened. Meat or vegetables may be added. Serve over noodles.

- Each seving contains 74 calories calories, 0 g fat, 16 g carb, 2234 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol.


Submitted by: Stanley Tang,


Approximate cost: (without pork) $1

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Evaluation: If you've been looking for a great sweet 'n' sour sauce recipe, here's a clipper! Try this on grilled chicken, also. If you'd like, add a touch of red food coloring.

3 tablespoons oil

1 onion, chopped or sliced

1 green pepper, sliced

1/2 can pineapple chunks

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons vinegar

6 tablespoons water or pineapple juice (reserved from pineapple chunks)

4 tablespoons catsup

Saute chopped onion and green pepper in oil (vegetables should still be crisp). Remove from oil and set aside, adding pineapple chunks. In a saucepan, mix remaining ingredients, and bring to boil. Reduce heat, and gently stir until thickened. Add peppers, onions and pineapple, mixing thoroughly.

For Sweet and Sour Pork: Boil pork until done, then rinse in cold water and drain. Cut in pieces. Dip pieces in cornstarch, then in beaten egg. Fry till crisp. Add to sauce and heat through. Serve with white rice.

- Each serving (without pork) contains 184 calories, 10 g fat, 24 g carb, 674 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol.


Submitted by: Georgia Dawn Clegg,


Approximate cost: $3

Yield: 2 cups

Evaluation: Talk about decadent! This is the one you'll reach for in times of searching for the absolutely richest sauce you can find to pour over your ice cream (or your Rice Krispies or your salad, or . . . .)

1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

4 teaspoons flour

2 teaspoons butter

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup pecans, chopped or whole

Combine syrup, brown sugar, flour, butter, water and salt in a saucepan. Boil for 15 minutes, until thickened. Add vanilla, cinnamon and pecans. Remove from heat; cool or serve warm over vanilla ice cream, cake or cream puffs with a vanilla custard center. Store in refrigerator. Sauce may be reheated.

- Each serving contains 56 calories, 2 g fat, 11 g carb, 32 mg sodium, 1 mg cholesterol.


Submitted by: July Jolley,


Approximate cost: $1.65

Yield: 2 cups

Evaluation: This is delicious over fresh fruit. Make sure the fruit is well-drained and the sauce is cooked thoroughly until thickened. Mix in fruit and freeze for a cool dessert salad.

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup pineapple juice

4 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons salad oil

1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

Combine sugar and flour, mixing well. Mix remaining ingredients, and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Cool. Fold in whipped cream. Serve on fruit.

- Each (1/4 cup) serving contains 189 calories, 10 g fat, 24 g carb, 22 mg sodium, 74 mg cholesterol.


Submitted by: Ellen Koucos,

Salt Lake City

Approximate cost: $1.35

Yield: 2 cups

Evaluation: The simplicity of this sauce will make you want to use this recipe again and again. Add garlic and tabasco to taste. For superior flavor, use homemade beef stock, although a bouillon cube is fine.

1/3 cup peanut oil

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

6 Italian plum tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 cup beef stock

1 garlic clove, chopped finely

3 drops tabasco

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and cook over low heat until transluscent but not browned. Add tomato, beef stock and seasonings; stir with a wooden spoon until tomato pulp is cooked to a fine puree. Serve with rice or grilled meats.

- Each serving contains 122 calories, 7 g fat, 14 g carb, 388 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol.


Submitted by: Allison Liechty,


Approximate cost: $2

Yield: 11/2 cups

Evaluation: Change of pace for ham. The tart and sweet combination are wonderful. Try this one for your next special cooking event.

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Dash powdered ginger

1 17-ounce can pitted, dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

1 orange, peeled and sliced thin

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Melt butter. Blend in cornstarch and ginger. Cook until sauce is thickened, stirring constantly. Add cherries, orange rind, orange slices and lemon juice. Cook just until heated through. Serve over ham slices.

- Each serving contains 120 calories, 3 g fat, 24 g carb, 37 mg sodium, 0 cholesterol.


Submitted by: April Booth,


Approximate cost: $4.50

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Evaluation: What's not to like about hot fudge sauce? Of all the sauces we tested, this was the winner. Try dipping fresh fruit slices in this sweet treat.

4 1-ounce squares Baker's semisweet chocolate

2 tablespoons butter

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Dash salt

In small, heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate squares and butter over low heat, stirring often. Add sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt, and stir constantly until thick and hot. Serve over ice cream or dip as for fondant.

- Each tablespoon contains 85 calories, 4 g fat, 12 g carb, 42 mg sodium, 8 mg cholesterol.


Submitted by: Tiffany Thomson,


Approximate cost: $4.25

Yield: 8 servings

Evaluation: Great version of classic clam sauce to serve over hot pasta.

1/2 pound butter

3 7-ounce cans minced clams

2 cups clam juice

4 cloves minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoon sour cream

Melt butter, saute garlic. Add clam juice. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook 1 minute. Pour over spaghetti and serve immediately.

- Each serving contains 276 calories, 27 g fat, 3 g carb, 529 mg sodium, 115 mg cholesterol.


Submitted by: Sidney N. Wallace,


Approximate cost: $1.50

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

Evaluation: This is a basic, rich custard sauce that goes well over pound cake, gingerbread, fruit cake or even apple pie.

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 tablespoon flour

3 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

2 teaspoons vanilla

In heavy saucepan, mix sugar, salt, cornstarch and flour with wire whisk. Add milk and stir until smooth. Put on heat and stir continuously until thickened. Add a little hot mixture to the beaten eggs and stir. Add mixture back into saucepan. Add the butter and vanilla and cook on low heat for 2 minutes.

- Each tablespoon contains 21 calories, 1 g fat, 3 g carb, 31 mg sodium, 9 mg cholesterol.