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Kitchen therapy

By Staff | May 22, 2015

Kelly Scharf


FORT DODGE – Being legally blind for the last 14 years and unable to work outside of the home, or even drive herself to the store, has been a tough road for Kelly Scharf, of Fort Dodge. But fortunately she has discovered an outlet to help her keep busy and happy rather than letting her disability take over.

Baking for friends, family and sometimes for hire, Scharf said making creations in the kitchen allows her to keep her mind from a state of depression.

Scharf said she has always loved baking and credits a lot of what she knows to her great-aunt, Marie Swanson, from Spencer.

“We would make a lot of sugar cookies,” said Scharf. “She was known for them and her potato salad, which were our favorites to make together.

-Farm News photo by Kriss Nelson KELLY SCHARF, who is legally blind, uses baking as an outlet to keep her busy.

“But we made all sorts of things together. She was like a grandma to me.”

Scharf said since being unable to work, she has the chance to bake again. She especially baking cinnamon rolls, sugar cookies, pumpkin bars and just about anything what others suggest.

“I always like to try new things,” she said. “If you want it, I am open for suggestions.”

Recently, she had a request to prepare a buttery rum sauce for bread pudding.

“Someone made the suggestion, I tried it, and now she has had me make it for her again,” said Scharf.

Scharf said she will prepare baked goods for benefits, but otherwise bakes for friends and family, for graduations, birthday parties and other small gatherings.

“I like helping people out,” she said. “People just don’t have the time to bake anymore.”

When it comes to baking, Scharf suggests always setting a timer.

“I set a timer for everything. I will set one for every batch of cookies I bake,” she said.

The one ingredient she insists on using is real pure vanilla and goes to Mexico each year and brings some back to use.

“I swear by it,” Scharf said. “There is more flavor. It’s not an extract, it is pure.”

In addition to her busy life in the kitchen, Scharf said she enjoys babysitting for her grandchildren and a great-great niece.

Butter sugar cookies

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup butter

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon almond extract

4 cups plus 4 tablespoons of flour

Mix in order and form into balls.

Flatten with sugar-coated glass and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Wacky cake

3 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 cups cold water

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons soda

2/3 cups oil

Mix together and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


1 stick of butter

4 tablespoons cocoa

4 tablespoons milk

Powdered sugar (enough for desired consistency)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix ingredients and frost cooled cake.

Banana bread

3/4 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 cup of nuts (optional)

Mix all ingredients. Grease bread pans and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Pumpkin bars

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

1 15-ounce can of pumpkin

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups flour

4 eggs

Combine sugar, oil and eggs.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl then combine all and mix well.

Pour into greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30-minutes.


3 ounces cream cheese

2 cups powdered sugar

3/4 stick of butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon milk

Mix and frost on cooled pumpkin bars.

Very moist coffee cake


1 package yellow cake mix

4 eggs

1 small box of vanilla instant pudding

3/4 cups oil

3/4 cups water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat all together.


1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

Pour half of the batter in to the pan and sprinkle with half of the topping. Repeat for a second layer.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.


1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix and spread over cooled cake.

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