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Fare fit for the Clay County Fair

By Staff | Mar 6, 2009

Forty six years of cooking together, the Andersons, in retirement, have found time to enter the culinary contest in their local county fair, volunteer at their church, Bethany Lutheran in Spencer, and pursue other interests together.

SPENCER – Ever thought about competing in a culinary contest at a county fair? Jim and Sharon Anderson would most assuredly advise you to do it.

Natives of the Spencer area, the Andersons have been faithful attendees of the Clay County Fair for almost every year of their lives excluding the four he was in the service.

But it wasn’t until four years ago that they began entering the culinary contests. It was the cinnamon roll contest that sparked their interest. Jim thought it sounded like fun. Although he was a bit bashful about competing against all those women who make and bake cinnamon rolls often, he still entered his cinnamon rolls.

He has done well, finishing in the top 10 three of the four years he has competed. Competition is stiff with close to, or more than, 100 entries each year. In 2008, he finished third.

The Andersons have two special cinnamon roll recipes. Sharon’s recipe came from her mom. Jim’s recipe came from their son-in-law’s grandmother, who dictated the recipe from her deathbed. That recipe he isn’t quite ready to share.

Good cooking from the Jim and Sharon Anderson home in Spencer.

Jim and Sharon have been cooking together for 46 years, but their time in the kitchen became more intense after their mothers died, both in the same year – there was no one to carry on the Christmas baking using favorite family recipes.

“Of course, each of our two daughters, their husbands and four grandchildren, all have a different recipe that says Christmas,” laughed Jim.

In a way, they are carrying on Jim’s Danish family tradition. At Christmas it was the custom in Denmark to give a special plate filled with food to neighbors. Employers also gave a plate of food to their employees. The plates were of the nicest kind, not your normal everyday plate. These Danish plates were soon more valuable than the food they carried, said Sharon. A sampling of these beautiful plates now adorn the walls of their home in Spencer.

Not all the recipes the Andersons enter are family favorites. While they have the goal of looking throughout the year for new recipes, more often than not the recipe isn’t found until the last minute. The first time it is prepared is for the fair.

“The judges will decide if it is good,” smiled Jim.

Cranberry sauce makes these turkey tortilla spirals an extraordinary appetizer.

“I have a vegetable bread that won a blue ribbon, that I have never tasted,” laughs Sharon.

Not all their recipes wind up as winners. The Anderson each had a favorite oatmeal cookie recipe from their mothers. They decided to resolve their friendly discourse by each entering their respective cookie in the oatmeal category. There were seven entries, five prizes were awarded, you guessed, it – their two cookies were the ones that didn’t win.

It is just another fun memory for the Andersons. Entering a county fair contest on a regular basis has been a source of much pleasure for the couple. But what they cherish the most is the numerous friendships they have made with the many other competitors at the fair.

The Anderson share the recipes for their food entries that won blue ribbons during the 2008 Clay County Fair.

Turkey tortilla spirals

Prize winning cinnamon rolls ready for afternoon tea.

3/4 pound thinly sliced deli turkey

6 8-inch flour tortillas

1 8-ounce package of fat-free cream cheese

6 tablespoons finely chopped pecans

1 16-ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce, divided

Sharon Anderson serves up a slice of Almond Lavender Cake while husband Jim looks on.

1/4 cup chopped celery

2 green onions, thinly sliced

Place turkey on tortillas to within 1/4-inch of edge. Spread cream cheese over turkey; sprinkle with pecans. Spread each with 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce. Roll as a jelly-roll; wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour or until firm. Just before serving, cut each roll into six pieces. In a small bowl, combine the celery, onion and remaining cranberry sauce. Serve with tortilla spirals.

Serving: 3 spirals with 1 1/2 teaspoon sauce

Yield: 3 dozen spirals

No-knead sticky

cinnamon rolls

(Sharon Anderson’s recipe)

For sticky rolls: 1 cup melted margarine

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

Heat in saucepan until sugar is melted. Pour into greased pans and sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups pecan halves. Set aside until rolls are assembled.

For rolls, blend together:

1 1/2 cups scalded milk

9 tablespoons shortening

9 tablespoons sugar or light corn syrup

4 teaspoons salt

Cool to lukewarm by adding 1 1/2 cups water

Add 3 packages fast-acting dry granular yeast

Mix well

Blend in 3 eggs

Add gradually 9 cups sifted flour

Mix until dough is well blended.

Roll out on well-floured board. Spread with soft butter, brown sugar, cinnamon.

Roll as for jelly roll and cut into 1-inch slices.

Place cut side down in previously prepared pans.

Let rise in a warm place (80-85 degrees) for about 1 hour

Bake in a moderate oven, 375 degrees, for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from pans while still hot.

Makes approximately 2 dozen rolls.

Almond lavender cake

2 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers, divided

1 cup butter softened

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup half and half cream

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons boiling water

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Additional dried lavender flowers, optional

Grease a 10-inch fluted tube pan and sprinkle with sugar; set aside. Place 1/2 cup sugar, the almonds and 1 tablespoon lavender in food processor; cover and process until finely ground.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy; beat in almond mixture until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream and half and half. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beating well after each addition.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For drizzle, in a small bowl, combine water and remaining lavender. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain, discarding lavender. In another small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and enough infused water to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over cake. Garnish with additional lavender if desired. Yield: 12 servings.

Contact Renae Vander schaaf by e-mail at suncrest@netllcwb.net.

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