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.

Recipes

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.

Back to the Islands: The 14th Annual Savor the San Juans

For those who have never been, the San Juans, an archipelago of islands off the coast of Washington State and easily accessible by ferry, are a magical combo of natural beauty, nature’s bounty found in farms, orchards, wineries, a cultural dedication to sustainability, land stewardship, and small food producers as well as delightfully charming small towns and villages set against the backdrop of Puget Sound.

Now, after a year of pandemic and social distancing, it’s time to celebrate to return to the island and experience in real time the food and farm culture of Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan islands, the largest of archipelago’s 170 islands.

And what better time to do so than during the 14th Annual Savor the San Juans? It’s a fine time to taste and tour with so many special events going on such as harvest dinners, film festivals, farm tours, wine tastings, demonstrations, and more. And of course, there’s plenty to explore on your own as well.

Upcoming tours and events

October 14-17 Friday Harbor Film Festival

October 16-17: Lopez Island Farm Tour

October 16: San Juan Island Farmers Market

October 29: Alchemy Art Center: October Sip ‘N’ Sculpt with Maria Michaelson!

November 12-14: Hops on the Rock Orcas Island Beer Fest

Information on Local Flavor Specials can be found here.

Getting there, visit here.

Where to stay And what to do.

Can’t make it this year, then bring a little of the island into your kitchen with the following recipe.

 Cook Like a Coho Restaurant Chef: Roasted Garlic, Pear, and Goat Cheese Flatbread

Ingredients for Flatbread Dough

1 tsp active dry or instant yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
3/4 c warm water
2 c (250g) all-purpose flour or bread flour
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp for brushing the dough
1 tsp salt

How to Make Flatbread Dough

Mix the ingredients together by hand or use the dough hook of a stand mixer.

If making by hand, place dry ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in the middle, and add wet ingredients. Incorporate the wet with the dry and knead for ten minutes. If using an electric mixer, place all ingredients in the bowl and beat for five minutes, until all the ingredients come together into a smooth ball.

Place dough in a greased mixing bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough and separate in half. Form each half of the dough into rounds.
Sprinkle the countertop with flour.

Take your rounds and roll them out to a football shape and length. Press your fingers lightly into the dough and dimple. This helps prevent any large air bubbles. Brush with olive oil to keep the crust crisp.

For best results, especially if this is your first time making flatbread, bake the flatbread before topping it. Transfer dough to a baking sheet. There is no need for parchment paper with this dough.

Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Top with goat cheese, garlic, and pear. Bake for another 5 minutes.

Top with arugula and balsamic reduction.


Balsamic Reduction

1 cup balsamic vinegar

How to Reduce Vinegar

Pour balsamic vinegar in a shallow pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Let reduce until your balsamic is a thick consistency and coats the back of your spoon.

Roasted Garlic

4 cloves of garlic

How to Roast Garlic

Peel four cloves of garlic and place in oil until submerged, cover with aluminum foil and roast at 450°F for fifteen minutes or until golden brown. You will be able to smell the garlic when it’s ready.

Whipped Goat Cheese

1/3 cup goat cheese
2 tsp water

How to Whip Goat Cheese

Place goat cheese and water in a blender or food processor. Blend for two minutes until it is smooth and easy to spread.

32 Years of Celebrating Cherries in Southwest Michigan

The results—and the recipes are in—from this year’s 32nd Cherry Baking Contest at the Eau Claire Cherry Festival held in Eau Claire, Michigan.  Contestants could enter one or more of the six categories: Cake, Bread, Pie, Dessert, Miscellaneous and Quick and Easy 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. After three place winners are chosen by the judges for each category, a Grand Prize and Most Eye Appealing winner are then selected from the first place winners in each categories.

This year, Debra Lollar’s Cherry Pastry Puffs took both First Place in the Miscellaneous Category and won the Grand Prize. Celena Cantrell’s won First Place and Most Eye-Appealing for her Dark Sweet Cherry Cheesecake Pie.

            Here are the results and first place winning recipes:

In the Cake category, Barb Adams took First Place for her 4th of July Cherry Cake; Debra Lollar took Second Place for her Luscious Cherry Cake and Stephenie Kuhl for her Fresh Cherry Cake.

First Place in the Pie category went to Celena Cantrell for her Dark Sweet Cherry Cheesecake Pie; Second went to Sara Disterhelf for her Sweet Cherry Pie and Third Place to Barb Adams for her Cherry Pie.

In the Bread Category, Celena Cantrell, First Place for her Sweet Cherry Pizza; Stephenie Kuhl, Second Place for her Cherry Bread and Jessica Ratter, Third Place for her Cherry Sweet Rolls.

Winners in the Desserts Category are Kelly Blankenship in First Place for her Chocolate Cherry Tart; Joyel Timmreck in Second Place for her Cherry White Chocolate Mousse Tart and Carol Skibbe in Third Place for her Cherry Brownie Delight.

Debra Lollar’s Cherry Pastry Puffs took First Place in the Miscellaneous Category; Aiye Akhiab’s Cherub Jam took Second Place and Stephenie Kuhl took Third for her Cherry Almond Cinnamon Rolls.

Joyel Timmreck’s Cherry Chewables took First Place in the Quick and Easy Mixes; Debra Lollar’s Easy Pineapple Cherry Crisp took Second Place and Stephenie Kuhl’s Chocolate Cherry Cake took Third Place.

A big thanks to Betty Timmreck, one of the organizers of the baking contest, who sent in the First Place winning recipes and the accompanying photos.

Debra Lollar’s Cherry Pastry Puffs

1 package pastry puffs

2 cups milk

1 box instant vanilla pudding

1 tub Cool Whip

Maraschino cherry juice

1 ½ cups cherries

1 ¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ cup water

Whisk together milk and pudding. Fold in Cool Whip. Unfold pastry puffs on lined baking sheet. Cut on lines into squares. Brush on cherry juice. Bake at 400° F for 10 to 15 minutes.

In a saucepan on low heat, cook pitted cherries, sugar, lemon juice and ¼ cup water. In small bowl, mix cornstarch and remaining ¼ cup water. Then add to cherry mixture. Cook until thick. Cut open pastry puffs, spread pudding mixture on bottom. Spoon on cherry mixture. Put top layer on.

Celina Cantrell’s Sweet Cherry Pizza

Dough

3 ½ to 4 cups flour                             

1 tablespoon sugar

1 envelope instant dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups hot water

2 tablespoons olive oil plus oil for rising bowl

Combine flour sugar, yeast and salt in stand mixer bowl. While mixer is running add water and the 2 tablespoons oil. Add more flour if dough is too sticky. Add spoon one at a time. Grease a large bowl with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size. about one hour

Sweet Cherry Pizza Filling

1 pound pitted sweet cherries

1/2 cup sugar

¼ cup water

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon almond extract

In a saucepan over medium heat stir cherries, sugar and extract until heated and sugars melted. In a separate bowl combine water and corn starch until smooth. Add to cherry mixture. Remove from heat.

Make crumble topping

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons soft butter

Pinch of salt

Mix together with a fork to make crumbles. Spread cherry mixture over pizza like the sauce. Top with the crumbles.

Baked 400° for 25 minutes.

Let cool completely.

Icing drizzle

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Mix together with a fork and drizzle over cold pizza.

4th of July Cherry Cake

1 cherry chip cake mix

1/2 box white cake mix

20 ounces cherry pie filling

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup fresh almond, chopped

24 ounces can cream cheese frosting

Toppings: Sweet cherries, blueberries and coconut

Grease 3 8-inch cake pans. Set aside. Mix first five ingredients.

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes.

Let cool and frost. Then top with sweet cherries, blueberries and coconut.

Celena Cantrell’s Dark Sweet Cherry Cheesecake Pie

2 cans dark sweet cherries

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat in saucepan and let cool.

Crumble 30 Golden Oreo Cookies in a food processor. Melt 1/3 cup butter. Stir into cookie crumbs and press into a pie pan. Place in freezer.

8-ounce package cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip together until smooth.

In separate bowl whip 2 cups heavy cream. Fold into the cream cheese. Fill cookie crumb pie crust. Top with the cooled cherries. Top with remaining cream cheese filling.

Kelly Blankenship’s Chocolate Cherry Tort

For the Shell:

3 large egg yolks

½ cup unsalted butter room temperature

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

For the Filling:

¾ cup milk

¾ cup heavy cream

4 egg yolks

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 ½ tablespoons flour

2 ounces dark chocolate, good quality

Cherries:

3 cups cherries cut in half and pitted

For the Pastry:

Whisk flour and salt in a small bowl.

Beat butter in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

Add sugar then egg yolks one at a time while the mixer is running.

Dump the flour in and run mixer just until dough forms a ball.

Shape into a disk and chill for about 30 minutes in the fridge.

Roll to a thickness of about ¼ inch and press into tort pan. Pierce bottom with fork to prevent puffing during the bake.

Bake at 400°F for about 5 minutes then reduce to 350° f and bake an additional 15. Allow to cool.

For the filling:

Melt chocolate and allow to cool. Scald the milk and cream in a small pot and set aside to cool to warm.

Whisk together the yolks, sugar, flour and vanilla then set on low heat and begin whisking.

Slowly pour in the warm milk mixture and continue whisking.

Whisk on low heat until mixture thickens.

Transfer to glass bowl and whisk in the melted chocolate.

Cover with plastic wrap pressing down onto the surface and allow to chill for a few hours in the fridge.

Fill tart shell with chocolate pastry cream and arrange cherries.

If not serving immediately, brush with a strained and diluted jam to preserve the surface.

Joyel Timmreck’s Cherry Chewables

Crust:

1 ¼ cups flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup shortening

¼ cup butter

1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup flaked coconut

Filling:

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

21 ounces cherry pie filling

In a bowl, combine flour and brown sugar; cut in shortening and butter until fine crumbs form. Stir ½ cup nuts and coconut. Reserve ½ cup crumb mixture for topping and press the remaining mixture into the bottom of a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, for filling, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and almond in mixing bowl until smooth. Spread over the hot crust. Bake 15 minutes. Spread cherries on top.

Combine remaining nuts and reserved crumbs and sprinkle over the cherries. Bake 15 minutes more. Cool.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. You may want to make more crumbs to put on top.

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at janeammeson@gmail.com

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.

P1060924
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.

P1060979

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

Frosting:

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.

Frosting:

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.

Frosting

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.

Variations:

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

Glaze:

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

Crust:

1 cup crushed almond sugar cookies

¼ cup melted butter

Filling:

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.