Country Fair: Nostalgic Blue Ribbon Recipes From America’s Small Towns

        There was a time when I would visit several county fairs each summer, taking in the delights of fair food, visiting the Home Economics buildings where pies, cakes, cookies, and all manner of sweets were on display along with jars filled with pickled veggies, fruits, and even meats, and freshly picked fruits and vegetables. It was in short, entire rooms filled with the cooking and farming traditions that date back centuries.

The county fair tradition is woven into the fabric of nearly every American community across every small town. However, the all-American state and county fair tradition is not all carnies, corn dogs, cotton candy, and apple pie. The fair is a place for communities to come together and share some of the most meaningful moments in life that can evoke affection and nostalgia.

Best-selling author and winner of the Gourmand Cookbook Award (2018), Liza Gershman captures this long held tradition in her newest book — County Fair: Nostalgic Blue Ribbon Recipes from America’s Small Towns  Listed as one of the Top Ten Best Books About Food in 2021 by Smithsonian Magazine, Gershman’s book is a visual feast that is jam-packed with the images, stories, and voices of the folks in the tightly knit communities who celebrate this unique slice of Americana each year.

In partnership with Images Publishing, Gershman beautifully illustrates the county fairs throughout the book with stunning color photographs of food, vintage, and retro ephemera. Highlighted here are close to 80 Blue Ribbon–winning recipes from across America’s heartland as well as interviews, from tastemakers behind each region.

From homemade pies and cakes to jams, jellies, pickles, preserves, sweets, to the classic apple pie, chip chocolate chipper, lemon meringue to unique snickerdoodles and chokecherry jelly, Gershman brings us prize-winning regional specialties from all 50 states, as well as ample 4H and FFA livestock events — secret tips for stocking your pantry, and recipes that embodies the legacy of an American institution.

“Fairs have always been a passion, and imagery of carnival games and Americana decorate my mind,” says Gershman. “The cacophony of the Big Top and the midway –packed full with myriad colorfully themed games, amusement rides, and food booths–entice visitors; the scents from the farm overwhelm; the sweetest pink cotton candy aromas wafting through the air. Certainly, I’ve fallen in love at the fair, been amazed and awestruck by crafts, and delicacies, and community coming together as one.

 “This book was made with love during the pandemic. It took a village, as best projects do, and I was so fortunate to have the help of many friends and family lending a hand to this book. Pages include my mother’s watercolors, award-winning recipes from loved ones, and portraits of many of my wonderful growing fairy-godchildren.”

Let County Fair be your travel guide, state by state, sharing the most-loved recipe from each region. This book is not only recipes though; the photographs capture the energy of the carnival games and rides we all know and love.

About the author

Best-selling author and Winner of the Gourmand Cookbook Award (2018), with a master’s degree in English & American Literature and a photography degree, Liza has nearly two decades of industry experience working in all facets of commercial and editorial photography and writing. Liza’s 19 published books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine stories have enhanced her storytelling abilities in her extensive professional background, which includes Creative Direction, Art Direction, Producing, Event Production, Wardrobe, Prop and Set Styling. 

A storyteller in all mediums, Liza specializes in Lifestyle, Food, and Travel. Her passion for people, culture, and cuisine has taken her to more than 55 countries and 47 U.S. states during her career. Liza’s 12th book, Cuban Flavor, garnered numerous accolades, and has been touted on CBS and in National Geographic, Travel & Leisure, Budget Travel, NPR, and many additional local and national publications and radio shows. Liza was honored to speak for Talks At Google, and on the prestigious campuses of Twitter, Oracle, and Disney, among others.

As a photographer and art director, Liza teaches, writes, and presents for such celebrated companies as Creative Live and Canon USA. She was honored to be selected to nationally launch the 6D for Canon, and the T6. Prior to that, she worked as the in-house Senior Digital Photographer for Williams-Sonoma and continues to freelance for clients such as Goldman Sachs, Hyatt Hotels, Restoration Hardware, Safeway, Party City, Getty Images, Airbnb, and Visa. In 2010, Liza was Governor Jerry Brown’s campaign photographer, and in 2014 was a photographer for the RedBull Youth America’s Cup.

Lisa was a regular contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle Travel Section, writing tips on top destinations for a monthly column called “5 Places” She continues to write about travel, food, and culture in articles and book form. Many of Liza’s notable clients include celebrity chefs, restaurants, wineries, beverage brands, fashion brands, spas, and hotels.


The following recipes are courtesy of Liza Gershman’s County Fair.

Whiskey Sour Cocktail Jelly

Terry Sennett, Blue Ribbon Prize

Duchess County Fair, New York State

  • 6 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons bottled lime juice
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 4 to 6 ounce package boiled liquid fruit pectin
  • 5 five maraschino cherries with stems
  • 5 fresh orange slices

In a heavy pot stir together the juices, sugar, and bourbon. Cook over high heat until the mixture comes to full rolling boil, stirring constantly.

Quickly stir in the pectin. Return to a full rolling boil and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon. Place one cherry and one orange slice into each hot sterilized jar.

 Ladle hot jelly into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe jars and rims, adjust lids, and screw bands. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for five minutes.

Buttery Peach Toffee Pie

Inspired by Emily Sibthorpe-Trittschler, Blue Ribbon Pie

Michigan State Fair

  • Graham cracker crust see recipe below
  • 5 cups sliced Peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
  • 1tablespoon butter flavor
  • 16 toffee candies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling combine peaches, sugar, flour, tapioca, and butter flavor.

Grind the candies thoroughly in a food processor until crumbs. Stir crumbed crumbled candy into peach mixture.

Line the bottom pie crust with mixture. Add top pie crust and seal. Cut vents and top crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Graham cracker crust

Simply double this recipe for a double pie crust

  • 1 3/4 cup Graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup on salted butter, melted

Mix ingredients together until mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Press into a 9 inch pie dish or tart pan, using the back of a flat measuring cup or drinking glass to ensure a flat and even bottom. Bake at 375 degrees for seven minutes before filling.

Zucchini Cream Pie

From Suzanne Heiser’s mother’s recipe box via Norma Malaby, a favorite cousin from Kokomo Indiana.

Indiana State Fair Indiana

  • Graham cracker crust (see recipe above)
  • 1 cup cooked zucchinis
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter  
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon or nutmeg to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Puree zucchini and continue with other ingredients except sprinkle spices. Poor in an unbaked pie shell and sprinkle top with cinnamon or nutmeg. Bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees then reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake until done and the filling is set.

Apple Cake

inspired by Kathy McInnis, Blackwood New Jersey.

County 4H Fair New Jersey

  • 3 cups flour, unsifted
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup orange or pineapple juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 to 4 apples, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon divided in half
  • 8 teaspoons sugar divided in half

Place flour sugar oil eggs juice vanilla and baking powder into a bowl in order given, beat until smooth.

Place half the batter into a well-greased pan. Arrange some apple slices on top of batter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and additional sugar. Pour in the rest of the batter and repeat apple slices and cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for about 90 minutes. Cool in pan.

Choose Chicago Announces a Relaunch of the Chicago Greeter Program

Just in time for the  summer 2021 season, the Chicago Greeter program will now showcase the city’s diverse neighborhoods through four different initiatives

Chicago, IL – June 17, 2021 – Choose Chicago announces a relaunch of the popular and world renowned Chicago Greeter program. The program now includes four different initiatives bringing the knowledge and passion of this network of 200 volunteer guides to locals and visitors alike in new ways, while remaining free to the public: the original In-Person Greeter experiences, Welcome to Our Neighborhood walks, InstaGreeter Downtown meetups and Self-Guided Greeter tours presented by Bank of America.

From Chinatown to Pilsen and Greektown to Little Italy, Chicago’s neighborhoods tell the stories of the people who made the city their home throughout history. Since 2001, Chicago Greeter has shown how these neighborhoods have remained just as vibrant today, with bustling cafes, restaurants, museums, public art and more.

“Choose Chicago is proud to relaunch and expand the renowned Chicago Greeter program this summer and share authentic Chicago neighborhoods with locals and visitors alike,” said Jason Lesniewicz, Director of Cultural Tourism for Choose Chicago.  “We now have four great ways to experience fascinating histories, diverse cultural traditions, iconic landmarks and off-the-beaten-path gems.”

Chicago Greeter Experiences

A recipient of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for over ten years, the original In-Person Chicago Greeter experiences offer deep dives of 2-to-4 hours of the Chicago neighborhood of your choice. Guests are paired with a friendly, local volunteer based on their neighborhood and subject of interest for a personalized experience. Tours are available in over a dozen languages and are available to book now.

Welcome to Our Neighborhood Walks

Explore Chicago’s neighborhoods with these new, free walks led by diverse community groups and neighborhood organizations. Walks will dive deep into the highlights of each community’s unique stories, top attractions and under-the-radar finds, all through the eyes of people deeply embedded in the community. The first of these tours to launch will be through Chinatown in collaboration with the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute on June 19 and July 17.   

InstaGreeter Downtown Meetups

The InstaGreeter downtown meetups, returning July 2nd, were designed with those who are pressed for time or looking for a more flexible option in mind. These free, hour-long tours of Chicago’s downtown Loop neighborhood operate Friday, Saturday and Sundays departing at 11:30 am. No reservation is required and InstaGreeters depart from the Chicago Cultural Center’s Welcome Center located at 77 E. Randolph Street.

Self-Guided Greeter Tours

The new Self-Guided Greeter Tours, presented by Bank of America, provide visitors and locals alike curated, virtual tours designed by local experts to showcase each neighborhood’s unique history, culture and hidden gems. 

Through the power of video, blog and social content, this series will shine a spotlight on six Chicago neighborhoods by leveraging the knowledge and expertise of the Chicago Greeter volunteers. Each part will feature a different neighborhood, including a unique Chicago Greeter itinerary and logistical instructions on how to best explore the neighborhood in person.

The digital content will launch this month, with a blog post highlighting a self-guided walking tour of Chicago’s South Loop. Additional content will follow on a monthly basis, with Kenwood, Bronzeville, Bridgeport, Pullman and West Ridge to follow. 

“Chicago’s neighborhoods are teeming with history and culture, and that deserves to be celebrated,” said Paul Lambert, President of Bank of America Chicago. “We’re honored to partner with Choose Chicago to spotlight communities across the city’s South and West sides, to encourage people to visit these local landmarks, and to drive economic activity where it is needed most.”

This self-guided program is an extension of the successful 2020 International Greeter Day “do-it-yourself” tours, which was created during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual series highlighted Ukrainian VillageUptownPilsenHyde ParkChinatown and the Chicago Riverwalk.

For additional information about the newly updated Chicago Greeter program, visit

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About Choose Chicago

Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. For more information, visit Follow @choosechicago on Twitter and on Instagram. Like us on Facebook.

Angela Medearis: The Ultimate Kitchen Diva

Photograph by Penny De Los Santos-Diabetic cookbook, Author Amgela Medearis

“People are eating African American food every day, but they don’t know it,” Angela Shelf Medearis says to me when we chat on the phone. In part, she’s talking about James Hemings who, in the complicated way of slavery, trained in the culinary arts in Paris and became a noted chef de cuisine and yet lived most of his life enslaved. Hemings either created or introduced a variety of the foods we eat now such as macaroni and cheese, ice cream, French fries, meringues, crème brulée, and French-style whipped cream.  Another dish he created that we don’t eat regularly if at all is his handwritten recipe for snow eggs–soft, poached meringue, set in puddles of crème anglaise.

          Hemings was the son of Elizabeth Hemings, an enslaved woman and  John Wayles, the man who “owned” her. The two had six children together.  Wayles also had a more traditional family and his daughter Martha married a plantation owner named Thomas Jefferson. Thus, James was the half-brother of  Martha Jefferson who “inherited” James  (that’s so creepy I even hate writing it) when Wayles died. James was eight when they all came to live at Monticello. His youngest sister, Sally was just an infant. To make matters even more complex, after Martha died and Sally reached some type of maturity—she was probably in her mid-teens, she became Jefferson’s mistress and had six children by him, four of whom lived to adulthood.

          So, Sally Hemmings was Martha Jefferson’s half-sister, and her children were half-siblings to Martha and Thomas’s children. I only mention all this to show how intertwined Black and White families were and also how the foodways of both merged.

          But while Hemings introduced the Frenchified cookery to America,  

Medearis, the founder of Diva Productions, Inc., the organization that produces her multicultural children’s books, cookbooks, videos, and audiocassettes, points out that people weren’t eating black-eyed peas before Africans arrive in this country.

          “Back then they even thought tomatoes were poisonous,” she says. “But when they shipped slaves, they also shipped  the foods they ate with them  because that was a cheap way to feed them,” she says. “The recipes for those foods traveled from one place to the other. If they stopped in the Caribbean or South America before coming here, then the recipes changed with the foods and spices available and the types of cooking techniques.”

          Medearis, a television chef known as the Kitchen Diva, has written 107 books. Many are children’s books, but she also is a cookbook author focusing on both the historic roots of African American cookery and healthy eating like The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook: 150 Healthy, Delicious Recipes for Diabetics and Those Who Dine with Them.

But she didn’t start out to be a cook.

          “I only cooked enough that social services wouldn’t come and take away my children,” she says with a laugh. But her mother, after she retired, decided she wanted to market her raisin pie for some extra income.

While her mother and sister did the cooking, Medearis who often wears feather boas during her TV appearances and on her PBS cooking show and isn’t shy about being in the limelight, did the marketing.

But when her mother and sister decided to quit, Medearis knew she had to learn to cook if she wanted to keep her food business going.

Now she’s so full force that celebrity chef and restauranteur Bobby Flay arrived for a Jerk Chicken Throwdown while she was marinating jerk chicken for a family get. It was for his Food Network show Throwdown with Bobby Flay. 

          Who won I ask?

Medearis’s Jerk Chicken

          “My chicken had been marinating for hours,” Medearis replies. “He just arrived from Manhattan and threw some spices on his chicken. It burned. I beat Bobby.”

Watch it here.

Though she originally didn’t cook Medearis had written several loved historic research. Did I know that George Washington Carver drove a food wagon around to introduce people to healthy foods?

No. I knew that Carver, who famously said, “There is probably no subject more important than the study of food,” was born a slave and became a botanist, author, educator and agriculturalist. He also collaborated with auto magnate Henry Ford on growing peanuts and soybeans.

And don’t even get her started on Carver and black-eyed peas.

“Black-eyed peas, okra, peanuts and sesame seeds, and the oil they produce, are documented contributions from Africa via the slave trade to our American cuisine,” she writes in her syndicated column. “I prepared black-eyed peas any number of ways while doing research for my first cookbook.”

That would be The African-American Kitchen: Cooking from Our Heritage, a best seller that even now 30 years later is considered a standard on the foodways African Americans bought to this country.  The problem though was getting it published. Her award winning children’s books were published by Dutton and when she brought the idea for her cookbook, she found an editor there who loved the book. But the editor at the next level turned it down, saying he’d published an African American cookbook almost 30 years earlier and no one bought it. He didn’t think the country was ready for another.

What’s a Kitchen Diva to do? Make a peach pie, of course, as it’s representative of both Black and Southern food history.

“You could hardly get a peach pie anywhere back then in Manhattan,” says Medearis. Wrapping up both the peach pie and the manuscript, separately we presume, she sent both off to the publishing company.

She got the contract.

“That book sold so many copies it was crazy,”

Overall, she’s written 107 books seven of which seven are cookbooks. Published in seven languages, she’s sold a total of 14 million books. But despite that, she’s not ready to stop.

“People ask me when I’m going to retire,” says Medearis who lives in Austin, Texas. “Why should I? I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’m doing what I want to do.”

Creole Chicken Stew

Makes 8 Servings

“This is a quick and healthy version of New Orleans-style gumbo,” writes Medearis about this recipe, which was published in her book, the . “Using frozen vegetables is a real time-saver when making this tasty stew; it’s also the perfect way to use kohlrabi when in season. Select small, tender okra pods for this recipe, and don’t slice them until right before you add them to the stew.”

1½ tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onions

1 cup coarsely chopped carrots

¼ cup chopped celery

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons diced seeded jalapeño chile

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch-wide strips

1 cup peeled cubed Yukon Gold potatoes or kohlrabi, or a combination

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup halved okra or frozen cut okra

4 cups cooked brown rice

2 green onions, chopped, including green parts

In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the yellow onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, jalapeño, salt, pepper, and thyme and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a plate, leaving as much oil in the pot as possible. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil. Stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until the flour begins to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Gradually whisk in the broth and cook for another 5 minutes, whisking until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the chicken, potatoes or kohlrabi, and zucchini. Return the sautéed vegetables to the pan. Partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the okra and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Serve over ½ cup of rice per person and sprinkle with the green onions.

Kitchen Diva: Tap Your Inner Chef With DIY Recipes

Angea Medearis, the Kitchen Diva, wrote one of her syndicated columns on creating Do-It-Yourself recipes.

“Basically, a DIY dinner recipe is about finding a way to retain the flavors of the recipes you love while using the ingredients that you have on hand,” Medearis writes. “If you have always wanted to free yourself from the restraints of a recipe, now is the time to do it! Think of the current lack of ingredients as permission to tap into your inner chef.”

To ease into creating your own DIY dinner recipes, Medearis suggests starting by making a pot of chowder.

“No one really knows the origin of the term chowder,” she writes, “but whether it came from French, Caribbean, Portuguese or Brazilian cooks, the basic meaning is connected to the large pot that the meal is cooked in.”

Medearis is a history buff paritcularly when it comes to food.

“Chowders were introduced to North America by immigrants from France and England more than 250 years ago. Native Americans called the dish ‘chawder’.” she says noting the word interpreted as “chowder” by early settlers and fishermen in New England.

“The original versions of the dish consisted of a pot filled with a mixture of fresh fish, salt pork, leftover hardened biscuits (which were used as a thickener), onions, water and whatever spices were available, writes Medearis. “A chowder is a delicious way to use the ingredients you have on hand to create a meal that does not require extensive prep or simmering for hours. My recipe for Seafood and Sweet Corn Chowder uses the basic techniques.”

My recipe for Seafood and Sweet Corn Chowder uses the basic techniques for making a chowder, but is designed to accommodate the need to vary ingredients based upon what you have on hand or what you can purchase at the store.

Whether you decide to make a seafood or vegetarian chowder, feel free to create your own version of this DIY dinner.


If you don’t have all the vegetables, seafood or spices on hand, omit or substitute the ingredient with what you do have. This chowder will still be delicious without it!

3 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil

1/2 cup (about l large stalk) chopped celery

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or 1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon dried dill or tarragon, or 1 tablespoon dill pickle juice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes

2 cups chicken broth, seafood stock, clam juice, bouillon fish base or water

1 to 2 large Russet potatoes, or 3 red skin or Yukon Gold potatoes cut into 2-inch cubes, about 2 to 3 cups

2 large carrots, chopped

2 cups frozen corn, thawed, or 1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel or cream-style corn, or 6 ears sweet corn, husk and silk removed, or frozen corn on the cob, thawed with kernels cut from the cobb

2 cups heavy cream, half and half

Whole milk or 2 (14-ounce) cans evaporated milk

1 3/4 to 2 cups fully cooked, skinless salmon chunks, or 1 can (14 3/4 ounces) salmon, drained, flaked, bones and skin removed, or 1 to 2 cups fresh or frozen peeled and deveined shrimp, cooked peeled and deveined shrimp, or cooked crab meat (checked for pieces of shell) or a combination of the seafood equaling 1 3/4 to 2 cups.

1. Place the butter or oil into a large saucepan or Dutch oven placed over medium heat. Add in the celery, onion, green bell pepper, garlic or garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper, dill, tarragon or dill pickle juice, and the cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Saute, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the broth, stock, juice or water, potatoes, carrots and the remaining teaspoon of he salt and pepper. Cover and bring the chowder to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to low; stir the mixture, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are nearly tender. Stir in the corn, cream or milk, and the salmon, shrimp or cooked crab meat (or a combination of seafood). Simmer on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through.

4. Garnish with lemon wedges, chopped parsley or green onions. Serve with toasted French bread or crackers. Serves 6

Here’s the Jerk Chicken recipe that won the Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup lime juice

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped

4 green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Scotch bonnet chili, serrano, or Thai bird

chiles, seeded and minced

3 bay leaves

3 peppercorns

1-inch piece cinnamon, crushed

2 tablespoons ground sage

1 tablespoon ground thyme

1 tablespoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

5 pounds chicken pieces

Combine the oil and vinegar in a medium glass bowl. Stir in the orange and lime juice, molasses, soy sauce, cilantro, green onions, garlic, chili, bay leaves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, sage,thyme, allspice, pepper, and nutmeg.

Place the chicken pieces in a large baking pan and pour the spice mixture over them, coating each piece well. Cover with plastic wrap and place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate 12 hours or overnight, turning once.

Allow the chicken pieces to come to room temperature before grilling. Heat the grill until the coals are somewhat white with ash; the flame should be low. Place the chicken on the grill and cover with the lid. Grill for 30 to 35 minutes, turning pieces to cook evenly. Baste pieces with remaining marinade.

For more information including recipes,

The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook: From Delicious Dole Whip to taste Mickey Pretzels, 100 Magical Disney-Inspired Recipes

Love the food served at the Disney Parks? While we can’t take home the rides or just the feeling of being there, we can cook some of the dishes that make eating there so enjoyable. For that we have Ashley Craft, author of The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook: From Delicious Dole Whip to taste Mickey Pretzels, 100 Magical Disney-Inspired Recipes to thank.

From the book: “The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook offers one hundred easy recipes for the best of Disney’s magical cuisine. Whether you’ve been to the parks a hundred times and are craving your favorite Disney dishes, or you’re just looking for something Disney-inspired to make you feel like you’re on vacation, each recipe has been thoroughly tested to ensure a taste worthy of a certain mouse. The recipes are also organized based on the Disney Park where each one is featured, beginning with the first park to open, Disneyland, and ending with the newest park, Disney California Adventure.

Ashley Craft from Ashleycrafted.

Craft grew up so close to Disney World that she fell asleep each night listening to the music coming from the park. She later worked there and about three years ago started her blog

Organized by parks, Craft’s recipes include dishes from Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney California Adventure. She opens each of her chapters with the park intro, the types of dishes you’ll find and a map so that you can actually located them.

A bestseller on both The Wall Street Journal Bestseller​ and USA TODAY Bestseller lists, the book is published by Adams Media ($14.99 Amazon price).

The following recipes are excerpted from The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook by Ashley Craft. Copyright © 2020 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.

Photography by Harper Point Photography.

Mickey Pretzels

Serves 4

1.5 cups warm water (110°F)

1 (1⁄4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons salt, divided

4 cups all-purpose flour

4 cups plus 1 tablespoon room-temperature water, divided

1⁄4 cup baking soda

1 large egg

4 teaspoons Kosher salt

‌In the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit 10 minutes.

‌Add brown sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Using the flat beater attachment, beat on low speed to combine. Mix in flour. Switch to dough hook attachment and knead 5 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic.

‌Remove dough and spray bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Return dough to bowl. Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large ungreased baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large pot over high heat, bring 4 cups water to a boil.

‌Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into eight equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll dough into a rough heart shape. Using a sharp knife, lightly score or scrape the Mickey shape into the dough. Once you’ve achieved your desired shape, cut all the way through the dough.

‌Add baking soda to pot of boiling water. Working with one Mickey at a time, use a big, flat spatula to carefully lift a dough Mickey into baking-soda bath, and poach 15 seconds. Remove to prepared baking sheet.

‌In a small bowl, mix together egg and remaining 1 tablespoon water. Brush onto Mickeys. Sprinkle remaining salt over pretzels.

‌Bake until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Photography by Harper Point Photography.

Gaston’s Giant Cinnamon Rolls

Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom

Disney Parks have sold cinnamon rolls for a long time—regular, boring-sized cinnamon rolls. But in 2012, they upped their cinnamon roll game when they introduced the Warm Cinnamon Roll to their line-up. It is about 8″ square in size and is smothered in frosting and butterscotch topping. It is perfectly made for the man who eats five dozen eggs each day—or your whole family!


For Dough

3⁄4 cup salted butter, melted, divided

1 1⁄2 cups whole milk

6 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 (1⁄4-ounce) packets active dry yeast

1⁄2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup room-temperature water

2 large eggs

‌Grease a 9″×13″ pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.To make the Dough: In a medium bowl, combine 1⁄2 cup melted butter and milk.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 2 1⁄2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add water, eggs, and butter mixture. Using the flat beater attachment, mix until well combined. Add remaining flour 1⁄2 cup at a time while mixing until Dough starts to form a ball.

‌Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead Dough on low speed 5 minutes.

‌Remove Dough from bowl, sprinkle some flour in bowl, and place Dough back in the same bowl. Let rise 10 minutes in a warm place.

For Filling

2 cups light brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 cup salted butter, softened

To make Filling: In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter together. Set aside.‌

Roll out Dough into a long rectangle, about 3′ × 2′. Spread Filling evenly across the whole surface of the Dough. Starting at short end, roll Dough like a jelly roll. Make a cut in the center of the roll, and then cut about 6″ from the center on either side to make 2 giant rolls.

Place both rolls swirl-edge down in prepared pan.

Drizzle remaining 1⁄4 cup melted butter over rolls. Allow rolls to rise at room temperature 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Bake rolls 20 minutes, then cover loosely with foil and bake another 10 minutes.

For Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese

1⁄4 cup salted butter, softened

2 cups confectioners’sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons heavy cream

‌To make Cream Cheese Frosting: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add cream cheese and butter. Combine and heat until melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in confectioners’ sugar. Add vanilla, cream, and salt. Stir, then set aside.

For Butterscotch Topping

1⁄2 cup light brown sugar

4 tablespoons salted butter, softened

1⁄2 cup heavy cream

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make Butterscotch Topping: In a separate medium saucepan over medium heat, add brown sugar, butter, and cream. Bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add salt and vanilla. Set aside.

‌To serve, place each giant roll on a large plate. Drizzle cream cheese frosting in one direction along each roll’s swirl, then drizzle with butterscotch in the other direction.


The dough leftover on either end of the giant rolls need not be wasted! Make cuts about 1–2 inches along the extra roll. Lay swirl-side down in a glass 9x 13baking dish greased with cooking spray and bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Photography by Harper Point Photography.

Mangonada Smoothies

Hollywood Land, Disney California Adventure

This delicious and refreshing Mexican treat sure helps beat the heat on a California summer day. The mix of salty, spicy, and sweet is so satisfying. Actually, a recent study found that adding salt to a sweet treat helps release the sugar flavors and brings out even more of the sweetness!


1⁄2 cup pineapple juice

1⁄2 cup guava juice

1 cup frozen mango chunks

1⁄2 cup frozen peach chunks

1 whole fresh banana, peeled

4 teaspoons chamoy sauce, divided

1⁄2 cup fresh chopped mango

1⁄2 teaspoon chili-lime seasoning

‌Combine pineapple juice, guava juice, frozen mango chunks, frozen peach chunks, and banana in a blender and blend until smooth.

‌Drizzle 1 teaspoon chamoy sauce each inside walls of 2 drinking glasses. Divide smoothie mixture into glasses, add 1⁄4 cup fresh mango to each cup, drizzle another 1 teaspoon chamoy sauce in each glass, and sprinkle 1⁄4 teaspoon chili-lime seasoning on each.

The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook is s one of nine in a series of unofficial cookbooks that includes The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook and The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, all published by Adams Media.


Wisconsin Cherry Pie. Photo by Jon Jarosh.

Summer in Door County means cool breezes, mild temperatures, quaint harbor towns, farm-to-table
restaurants, cheeseries, wineries, mead makers and distillers and sun-soaked waterfront vistas as well as
300 miles of shoreline paralleling Lake Michigan and Green Bay.

This delightful coastal Wisconsin getaway is now open for travel and committed to providing visitors with a safe vacation experience. To achieve this, Door County communities and lodgers have developed health and safety procedures and are committed to following operating guidelines from state and local authorities. Many have signed on to the Commitment to Cleanliness and Safety Initiative, a joint endeavor from Door County Medical Center and Door County Public Health to ensure the safety of both visitors and residents.

Hillside Waterfront Hotel. Photo by Trail Genius.

Visitors to Door County can choose family owned, vintage hotels and inns, historic B&Bs, luxury
waterfront suites and cottages for their stay. Starting in June through July many accommodations in
Door County are offering Re-Open and Re-Discover promotion packages for those who want to explore
the peninsula’s 11 lighthouses, five state parks, cherry orchards, maritime history, wildlife preserves and
myriad of outdoor recreation activities knowing that safety precautions are of utmost importance to
the community.
Take advantage of packages that include accommodations for one to three nights; a meal for two
(offerings may include a gift certificate to a local restaurant, complimentary on-property breakfast, a
picnic basket filled with Door County specialties); an activity or attraction offering (state park pass,
maps, tours, tastings); and a $25 Door County gift certificate available to use at a variety of shops,
restaurants and attractions.

Kayaking by Cana Lighthouse. Photo by Jon Jarosh.

Explore the Lake Michigan side, a little more quiet, in Baileys Harbor with Maxwelton Braes Lodge’s
Stay, Play & Dine Package featuring a two night stay, two rounds of golf, $50 gift certificate to Thyme
Cuisine, two complimentary old fashioned cocktails, and breakfast or express lunch for two at Thyme
Cuisine. Ephraim’s ideal spot for a romantic getaway is Eagle Harbor Inn, offering “Suite Escape: Contact
Free Stay.” Enjoy a one-bedroom Whirlpool Suite welcomed with chilled prosecco and chocolate truffles
and grab a picnic lunch from Door County Creamery using a Door County gift certificate.
To view complete package details and a list of participating accommodations, visit and link directly to accommodations for booking

Sunset Over Eagle Harbor. Photo by Jon Jarosh.

Old Fashioned Fairs and Food

            I love going to food festivals and state and county fairs and seeing what great home cooks both young and adult are doing. One such favorite that I never miss is the Berrien County Youth Fair in Southwest Michigan which always hosts an annual Baked Fruit Pie Contest, an event highlighting the lush and lovely fruit of the region.  The competition JulyAugust 2018 246features JulyAugust 2018 246threecategories—the Adult Division, the Youth Division and Most Eye Appealing which went to   Brianna Anthony for her Peach Blueberry Pie. The winners in the Adult Division were  1st Place:  Sandy Vorrath – Pineapple-Mango Crumb Pie, 2nd Place:  Chris Dohm – Baked Fresh Cherry Pie, 3rd Place:  Michelle Foxworthy – Blueberry Apple Pie, 4th Place:  Ruth Vorrath – Fresh Red Raspberry Crumb Pie and 5th Place:  Joyel Timmreck – Blueberry-Cherry Streusel Pie.

            In the Youth Division  1st Place:  Elise Barber – Strawberry Crumb Pie, 2nd Place:  Brianna Anthony – Peach Blueberry Pie, 3rd Place:  Clara Berry – Blueberry Pie, 4th Place:  Brianna Anthony – Cherry Almond Pie and 5th Place: Adrianne Barber – Cherry Pie.IMG_20180818_221234

            Sponsors were Kilwin’s, Lemon Creek Winery and the Eau Claire Fruit Exchange for donating the prizes for the baked fruit pie contest.IMG_20180818_221234

Sandy Vorrath’s Pineapple-Mango Crumb Pie

Filling Ingredients:

2 cored pineapples, chopped

1 cup chopped mango

1 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup pineapple juice

½ teaspoon lemon juice

3 drops coconut extract

½ cup flaked coconut

Crust Ingredients:

1¼  cups all-purpose flour

½ cup butter flavored shortening

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon. powdered sugar

1 egg yolk

¼ cup iced pineapple juice

Topping Ingredients:

½ cup butter cut into pieces

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup chopped macadamia nuts

¼ cup flaked coconut


Mix together all of the crust dry ingredients.  Cut in the shortening to make little crumbs.  Mix together the egg and pineapple juice.  Add to crust ingredients a  little at a time until the dough holds together.  Roll dough out onto a floured counter top to about 1/8 inch thick and fit into a pie plate.  Trim and flute the crust edges, put pie crust in the freezer until ready to use.IMG_20180818_214707


Mix together the sugar and corn starch in a large cooking pot.  Add the pineapple juice and lemon juice.  Over medium heat bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the pineapple and mango chunks and bring mixture back to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add the coconut extract and coconut.  Mix well.  Let the mixture cool.


Mix together the flour, sugars and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter until crumbs form.  Add the macadamia nuts and coconut.  After filling has cooled, pour it in the frozen crust and top pie with crumb topping.  Bake pie at 350⁰ for 40 minutes, or until pie is brown and filling bubbles.

Brianna Anthony’s Peach Blueberry Pie

Crust Ingredients:

¾ cup cake flour

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons salted butter

5 tablespoons shortening

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoon white vinegar

3 ice cubes

½ cup cold water

Filling Ingredients:

¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca pearls

4 medium-sized peaches, pitted and thinly sliced

1½  cups fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Lemon zest

1 egg white

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon white sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375⁰

To prepare crust:

Measure butter and shortening on a plate, put in freezer for 20 minutes.

While butter and shortening are in the freezer, measure both flours, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl.  Mix until combined.  Put ½ cold butter and ½ cold shortening in bowl with dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Take remainder of the cold butter and shortening and cut into bowl very briefly, leaving visible pea-sized chunks.  Do not over mix!

In measuring cup, mix egg yolk and vinegar and add ice cubes and water.  Let chill 3- 4 minutes.

Sprinkle approximately 4-5 tablespoons of the egg/water mixture a little at a time and mix gently with fork.  Do not over wet the dough or over mix.  Place dough in plastic bag and chill in refrigerator for a few minutes.  Remove and roll out for pie.


Brush the egg white mixture on the inside of the crust.  Finely grind the tapioca in a food processor for about 1 minute.  Combine the blueberries, peaches, brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest, and tapioca in a large bowl.  Add the mixed ingredients to the bottom crust.  Place a lattice crust on top of the pie.  Brush the top with egg yolk.  Stir together 1 Tbsp. of white sugar and ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and sprinkle over the pie.  Bake in a 375⁰preheated oven for 55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

Elise Barber’s Strawberry Crumb Pie

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon shortening

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 – 8 tablespoon ice cold water

2 pounds (about 4-4½ cups) strawberries, sliced

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup finely ground instant tapioca or tapioca flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

For Crumb Topping:

½ cup rolled oats

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon fine salt

5½ – 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled


Cut shortening into flour and salt, using pastry blender, until particles are size of coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon. at a time, until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl.  Gather pastry into a ball.  Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Brown Sugar Crumb Topping:

Put oats in food processor and pulse until oats are texture of coarse cornmeal.  Pour in a bowl and add flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir to combine.  Add melted butter and blend with fork until butter is incorporated and mixture gathers into small clumps (you may not need to add all of the butter).  Place bowl in the refrigerator and chill crumbs before topping pie.


Preheat oven to 375⁰.

In a large bowl, stir strawberries with lemon juice, orange zest and vanilla extract.  Stir well.  Whisk sugar, ground tapioca, and cornstarch together in small bowl.  Combine sugar mixture with strawberries.

Roll out pastry according to size of pie plate.  Pour filling into pastry.  Top pie with , spreading in even layer and covering all fruit.

Place on baking sheet and put in oven.  Bake 25 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350⁰ and baked 25 to 30 minutes longer, or until juice bubbles up through crumb.  Top with foil if overbrowning.

Place baking sheet on wire rack and let pie cool overnight, uncovered at room temperature.

Celebrating the Season of Peaches in Southwest Michigan

311561_148527408604764_1616722435_nI owe a big thank you to Nancy Perry, chairperson for the 2018 Coloma Glad Peach Festival who sent in the winning recipes from the annual Glad Peach Bake Fest Winners. The three-day festival, held the first weekend in August, celebrated its 51st year.  There were four categories with Mallory Spaulding winning both first place in the Breads/Muffins/Coffee as well as Best of Show, Sherry Bachman who too first in Cookies/Bars, Kendall Bachman for Pies/Pasties and Sherri Ulleg for Cakes/Cupcakes.

First Place: Breads/Muffins/Coffee Cakes & Best of Show

Mallory Spaulding’s Peach Streusel Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients for muffins:

½ cup softened/salted butter

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon all spice

2 large eggs – room temp

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup yogurt (any kind)

3 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cup chopped peaches (approximately 3 peaches)

1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Crumb Topping:

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup all-purpose flour


1 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Crumb topping:

Mix sugars, cinnamon, melted butter with a spatula, mix in flour.  Topping will be crumbly.  Set aside.

For the muffins, beat butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.  Add brown sugar, granulated sugar and beat until creamed.  Add eggs, yogurt and vanilla extract.  Beat for 1 minute then increase speed to high.  In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, all spice and salt.  Pour wet ingredients into dry and slowly mix.  Add milk until combined and little lumps remain.  Fold in peaches with a wooden spoon.

Next, pour batter into 12 muffin tins.  Press a handful of crumble topping into each muffin.  Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes, then decrease to 350 degrees and bake for 15 to 19 minutes.

For glaze, whisk all ingredients together and drizzle over warm muffins.

First Place: Cookies/Bars

Sherry Bachman’s Peach Cream Cheese Cookies

Makes 4 ½ Dozen Cookies

5 cups pecans

4 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1-1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Peach jam

Coarsely chop 1-1/2 cup of pecans and spread on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Whisk together flour and salt in large bowl

Beat butter and cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla and beat for another minute

Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in the flour/salt until just combined.  Do not over mix.  Fold in toasted pecans.

Transfer dough to work surface and divide the dough in half.  Shape each half into an 8 inch log about 2 inches in diameter.

Wrap each log in plastic wrap and put in freezer for about 4 hours…or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Finely chop remaining 1-1/2 cups of pecans.  Unwrap one of the logs of dough and rolls in the pecans.  Cut into ¼ inch thick rounds.  Space 1 inch apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.  Rotate the cookies halfway thru to ensure even baking.

Let cool on the sheets for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining cookie dough.

Dip cookies in peach jam and remaining 2 cups chopped peaches.

First Place: Cakes/Cupcakes

Sherri Ulleg’s Peach Pound Cake With Maples Cream Sauce And Candied Pecans

Cake Ingredients:

1-1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp

6 large eggs

3 cups white sugar

3 cups flour

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 medium peaches (peeled, pitted, diced)

Sauce Ingredients:

5 tablespoons maple syrup

1-1/2 cup heavy whipped cream

4 tablespoons light corn syrup

Pecan Ingredients:

16 ounces pecan chips

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons water

1 egg white

To make cake:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease Bundt pan well and sprinkle with 3 tbsp of flour.  Shake pan to coat, then tap out excess.  Cream together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add in eggs one at a time until yolk disappears. Add in vanilla extract.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix on low until light and fluffy (about 4 mins).  In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt and baking soda.  Add the dry mix to the butter mixture in batches, alternating with the sour cream.  Mix on low until just blended.  Add 1/4 flour to peaches and toss until coated.  Fold peach mixture into batter gently, making sure peaches are mixed evenly throughout.  Add batter to Bundt pan, filling about ¾ full.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool pan for 15 minutes, then invest cake onto a dish.  Cool completely before adding sauce or other coating.

To make sauce:

In a medium sauce pan, combine heavy whipping cream, maple syrup and corn syrup.  Heat on medium heat, stirring regularly.  Allow sauce to simmer and reduce for 10 minutes.  Cool the sauce in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before drizzling over cake.

To candy pecans:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  In medium bowl, mix egg white, vanilla and water.  Whisk until frothy.  Add pecans and coat completely with the egg mixture.  In a Ziploc bag, combine sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Add pecans and shake.  Bake mixture on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 1 hour, stirring the pecans every 15 minutes.  Cool completely, then sprinkle over cream sauce on cake top.

First Place: Pies/Pastry

Kendall Bachman’s Peach Cream Cheese Pie

Serves 10

Ingredients For Pie Crust:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

¾ cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened

3 tablespoon heavy cream

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Place cream cheese and butter in food processor and pulse for 10 seconds, then pour in cream and pulse for 20 to 30 seconds or until fluffy.

Scrape down sides and add in flour and salt, then pulse again until mixture comes together and starts pulling away from the food processor.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth, then divide dough in half.

Shape halves into discs and wrap both tightly in plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 1 hour and transfer to pie plate.

To bake:  preheat oven to 375 degrees for 11 minutes or golden brown.

Ingredients for Peach Bavarian Cream Filling:

1 5.1 ounce package instant vanilla pudding

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2-5 tablespoons milk

1 cup chopped peaches

Beat whipping cream on high until stiff peaks form.  Run the mixer on low while slowly sprinkling in the pudding powder.  Mix until fully mixed.  Add milk 1 tbsp at a time to reach spreading consistency.  Add more milk for a thinner filling.  Add peaches.


Bridgeton Mill: Grinding Away for Almost Two Centuries

bridgeton mill 2The wheels of Bridgeton Mill, a three story building next to a 268-foot covered bridge, both painted a matching red and rising above a large waterfall, are always working overtime.

“We sell about 40,000 pounds of flour, pancake mix and cornmeal every year,” says owner Mike Roe who was grinding away for the Indiana State Fair. After that he planned on starting up production for Parke County’s Annual Covered Bridge Festival, this year starting on October 12.Bridgeton Bridge and Waterfall

Roe, who says he was always fascinated by the old mill though he knew nothing about milling, bought what was then a ramshackle building in 1995 after  seeing a for sale sign on its door.  “I came home and my wife asked me how my day was and I told her I just spent a quarter-of-a-million dollars for an old mill.

Bridgeton Mill’s history dates back to the 1820s (it was rebuilt in 1870), making it the oldest continuously operating mill in Indiana and possibly the Midwest. The backdrop here is picture perfect and is one of the most photographed spots in the Midwest. It can be found along the  backroads and byways of Parke County, a place so rural that the 31 covered bridges built between 1860 and 1920 still remain.

But no matter what time of the year you go, stock up on the freshly ground products produced by Roe and his family.

Karen Jean Stone Ground Cornbread

1¼ cup cornmeal

Bridgeton village

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoon coconut oil

Preheat oven 425° F.

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together. Add the milk, egg, honey and coconut oil.

Pour into a hot greased cast iron skillet. (Or pour into a greased 8 x 8 baking pan.)

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Karen Jean’s Bridgeton Mill Bread Buns

1-1/2 cups warm water, about 112 degrees F

4 teaspoons original dry yeast

1/3 cup honey

4 teaspoons olive oil

1-1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups Bridgeton Mill Bread Flour

Place warm water in medium sized bowl; sprinkle yeast over water; stir until

dissolved; mix in honey and oil; set aside for 20 minutes and mixture

becomes frothy.

Place yeast mixture in mixing bowl; add salt and 1 cup flour; gradually beat

in remaining flour until dough forms. Mix or knead for about 6 to 10

minutes and forms into soft dough.

Place dough into a large greased bowl; turn over once to coat dough with

oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or soft towel. Set aside in warm place

to rise for about 45 to 60 minutes.

Remove dough to lightly floured surface. Roll to fit 13×9-inch pan. Foil line

and grease 13×9-inch baking pan; press dough evenly into pan. Cover

loosely; set aside in warm place to rise for about 30 to 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated 350° degree oven for about 30 minutes or golden brown.

Remove bread to cooling rack. When cool; cut into squares for sandwich


Yield: 12 square sandwich breads

Karen Jean Stone Ground Cornbread

1¼ cup cornmeal

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoon coconut oil

Preheat oven 425° F.

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together. Add the milk, egg, honey and coconut oil.

Pour into a hot greased cast iron skillet. (Or pour into a greased 8 x 8 baking pan.)

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Karen Jean’s Bridgeton Mill Bread Buns

1-1/2 cups warm water, about 112 degrees F

4 teaspoons original dry yeast

1/3 cup honey

4 teaspoons olive oil

1-1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups Bridgeton Mill Bread Flour

Place warm water in medium sized bowl; sprinkle yeast over water; stir until

dissolved; mix in honey and oil; set aside for 20 minutes and mixture

becomes frothy.

Place yeast mixture in mixing bowl; add salt and 1 cup flour; gradually beat

in remaining flour until dough forms. Mix or knead for about 6 to 10

minutes and forms into soft dough.

Place dough into a large greased bowl; turn over once to coat dough with

oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or soft towel. Set aside in warm place

to rise for about 45 to 60 minutes.

Remove dough to lightly floured surface. Roll to fit 13×9-inch pan. Foil line

and grease 13×9-inch baking pan; press dough evenly into pan. Cover

loosely; set aside in warm place to rise for about 30 to 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated 350° degree oven for about 30 minutes or golden brown.

Remove bread to cooling rack. When cool; cut into squares for sandwich


Yield: 12 square sandwich breads

It’s All About the Cherries: The Annual Eau Claire, MI Cherry Baking Festival

It was all about the cherries, as it is every year at the Eau Claire Cherry Festival, held each July 4th in downtown Eau Claire. Michigan. This year, I was asked, along with Sara and Hanns Heil, to judge the festival’s 31st annual Cherry Baking Contest. Of course, loving small town food events, I had to say yes.

From left to right: Jane Simon Ammeson, Hanns Heil & Sara Heil.

Like in years past, contestants could enter one or more of the  six categories: Cakes, Breads, Pies, Desserts, Miscellaneous and Quick Mixes, a category where entrants can use cake mixes, pie fillings and other store bought ingredients, none of which can be used in the other five categories. Besides that, both a Grand Prize and Most Eye Appealing winner is then selected from the first place winners of the six categories.

After the prizes were awarded, the baked goods were auctioned off by John Glassman, raising approximately $2245.00. P1060982

“We had a lot of great looking desserts,” said Chris Dohm, who with Betty Timmreck, organized the contest.

Celina Cantrell’s Cherry Celebration Cake won in three categories—taking first place for cakes, being selected as most Eye-Appealing and also was the Grand Prize winner. Coming in second for Cakes was Carole Skibbe’s Mrs. America Cherry Cake. Third place went to Denise Rogers for her Cherry Crumb Cake.

In the Quick & Easy category, Joyel Timmreck took first place for her Cherry Supreme Cake,  Barb Adams placed second for her Cherry Treat and Levi Lollas won third place for his Cherry Golden Muffins.P1060980

Celina Cantrell’s Red, White & Cherry Dessert took first in the Desserts category, Debra Lollar won second for Cherries on a Cloud and third went to Kortney Rodriguez for her Cherry Pie Bars.

Stephanie Glassman’s Cherry Mousse was the first place winner in the Miscellaneous category. Coming in second was Aiye Akhigbe for her Cherry Pie Jam and third went to Danielle Dilts for her Very Cherry Salad.P1060968

In the pie category, Sara Disterheft’s Sweet Cherry Pie won first place, Maxine Wagner took second for her Cherry Rhubarb Pie and Celina Cantrell third for her 3 Cherry Cherry Pie.


The following are the first place recipes.

First Place: Cakes

Grand Prize Winner & Most Eye Appealing

Celina Cantrell’s Cherry Celebration Cake

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ¾ cups sugar

2 teaspoons almond extract

6 egg whites

2 ¼ cups cake flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

21 ounces cherry pie filling

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water


12 ounces cream cheese, soft

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

4 cups powdered sugar

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Prepare three round cake pans with butter and flour.

In one bowl combine milk, egg whites, almond and vanilla extract.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix in butter. Add one-half of the wet mixture, mix and then add remaining wet mixture.

Divide batter into three round cake pans.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Let cake cool in pans.

Cherry Filling:

In a sauce pan, cook cherry filling until warm, add extract and cook on low for five minutes. Mix water and cornstarch, then stir into cherries. Remove for heat and let cool.


Cream together cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar.

Assemble the cake:

Spread a thin layer of frosting on the first layer of cake, then add cherries. Repeat with second layer. Top the two layers with the third cake, frost and top with cherries.

Optional: Add sliced almonds for looks and taste.

First Place: Quick & Easy Mixes

Joyel Timmreck’s Cherry Supreme Cake

One Cherry Chip cake mix

1 cup water

½ cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

½ cup chopped tart cherries

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease bottom only of two 8-inch cake pans. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients except cherries until blended then beat on medium speed for two minutes. Add cherries and mix until blended. Pour into prepared baking pans and bake for 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on cooling rack. Remove from pans and place cake on plate. Frost then place other on top and frost entire cake.


8 ounces cream cheese

½ cup unsalted butter, slightly softened

1 pound confectioner’s sugar

4 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice

¼ teaspoon vanilla

Mix all together until fluffy.


One jar stemmed maraschino cherries; desired amount to decorate cake.

First Place: Pies

Sara Disterheft’s Sweet Cherry Pie

2 ½ cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

One cup unsweetened butter, very and cool cut into teeny cubes

½ cup ice water (you might not use it all)

Mix flour sugar and salt. Add butter until mixture becomes coarse. Slowly blend in just enough ice water form moist clumps. Gather the dough into a ball and divide in half. Form dough into 2 balls and gently flatten into disks. Wrap each in the plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours.

For the filling:

5 cups sweet cherries, pitted

¼ cup cornstarch

½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a large bowl stir together all the ingredients. Let mixture sit while you make your crumble and roll out your crust.

For the crumble:

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix sugar and flour together in a medium-sized bowl, then stir in melted butter. Put the topping in the freezer.

Assembly and Baking:

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Roll out half of the chilled dough on a well-floured work surface, rolling into a 12-inch round. Gently place the dough in 9-inch pie pan. Trim the edges of crimp them decoratively. Add cherry mixture into the pie crust, making sure the majority of its juices remain in the bowl. Add half of the frozen crumble on top of the pie filling and then place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes.

Rotate pie and add the remaining crumble. Bake for another 25 minutes or until crust and crumble are golden.

First Place: Breads

Celina Cantrell’s Red, Yellow, Cherry Bread with Cherry Blossom Butter

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon lemon rind, grated

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 2/3 cup flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup sour cream

1 cup chopped and pitted yellow cherries


¾ cup powdered sugar

1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Grease and flour loaf pan.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add extract, lemon juice and rind. Add eggs one at a time. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Alternate with sour cream. With a spoon, fold in cherries.

Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Let cool before drizzling with glaze.

To make glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice.

Cherry Blossom Butter

Cream together 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature) with ½ cup powdered sugar, ½ cup chopped maraschino cherries and ½ teaspoon almond extract.

First Place: Miscellaneous

Stephanie Glassman’s Cherry Mousse

1 package cherry Jell-O (4 serving size)

½ cup boiling water

1 cup fresh cherries, chopped

½ cup cream cheese, softened

½ cup cold water

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup Cool Whip

Cool Whip and/or maraschino cherries

Add Jell-O into a small bowl and pour in boiling water. Stir until dissolved.

Add cherries, cream cheese, cold water and vanilla extract. Blend for one minute or until smooth.

Pour mixture into a large bowl and whisk in Cool Whip

Spoon mixture into dessert dishes and place in refrigerator to set, about 2 hours.

To serve, top with Cool Whip and maraschino cherries, if desired.

First Place: Desserts

Celina Cantrell’s Red, White & Cherry Dessert


1 cup crushed almond sugar cookies

¼ cup melted butter


8 ounce package Cherry Jell-O

1 cup boiling water

½ cup

1 cup fresh chopped and pitted xx cherries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 ounces of cream cheese

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1 cup heavy cream

In a small bowl combine cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press on to bottom of an ungreased pie plate.

Bake at 350° F. for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water, add the partially set, about 1 ½ hours.

In a mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Add vanilla and salt.

In another mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream. When stiff peaks form, then fold in the cream cheese mixture.

Layer the dessert, starting at the bottom with some of the cream cheese/whipped cream mixture then add a layer of the cherries. Repeat layers. Top with whipping cream.

Refrigerate overnight.