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January 14, 2015
Home Cooks Converge to Celebrate Blue Ribbon Food
By Janet Tharpe
Home cooks can easily lose sight of how very special their everyday recipes truly are. In the rush of planning a meal, many a mom has forgotten that their daily dish is a veritable art form, the nuances of which are known only to those other brave cooks who face the daily challenge of clamoring kids and picky husbands. Such was nearly the case with Just A Pinch Rise 'n' Shine Breakfast Challenge winner, Leah Stacey. "I almost didn't enter [the recipe contest]," she admits. "I was wondering what breakfast recipe I had that would be special enough." Well, her family's favorite Green Onion and Bacon Breakfast Tart recipe is special indeed, winning the contest's top prize!
As part of her Grand Prize, Leah was flown from her home in Montgomery, AL for a Blue Ribbon weekend in Nashville, TN. In addition to VIP treatment, sightseeing, dinner with the Crew, and tickets to the legendary Grand Ol' Opry, Leah got to star in her very own Blue Ribbon Showcase! These Showcases have become a real joy for the Crew and I as we get to welcome members from all corners of the country for an afternoon of cooking and laughs. The audience is treated to a full menu of Blue Ribbon dishes as they watch the live cooking demonstration. In addition to the winning Tart recipe, this time we enjoyed a menu of other brunch standouts:
Morning Kisses - Nadine Mesch (Mount Healthy, OH)
Cappuccino Blocks - Shirlie Ingram (Beloit, WI)
Habanero Honey Country Ham Biscuits - Sherrie Logan Williams (Crestview, FL)
Potato Cakes - Helene Mulvihill (Magnolia, TX)
Leah was a delight as she joined previous contest winner Missy Wimpelberg and me in the showcase kitchen to prepare her winning recipe in front of the standing-room only crowd. "I'm very excited, to teach everybody today how to make it," said Leah just moments before taking the stage. "But of course I'm REALLY excited about my shopping spree!" And shop she did! Following the Showcase, Leah embarked on a $1,000 shopping spree at the Viking Kitchen store, also part of her Just A Pinch Grand Prize. Guided by one of Viking's personal shoppers, Leah took home oodles of new, top-quality kitchen gear to make her culinary experimenting even more fun.
And speaking of fun, joining Leah on her Grand Prize trip was fellow Club member, Debbie Wright of Sulphur, LA! After meeting at a previous Just A Pinch event, they made a pact that if one should ever win a Just A Pinch contest they would take the other one along as her guest. Well, who knew that a Grand Prize was so soon in the making?!
Well, we sure knew that Leah's tart recipe was special from the moment it first came out of our Test Kitchen oven. The aroma of bacon, egg and green onion filled the air as we sliced into the golden pie. The flaky crust was perfectly buttery and the addition of Gruyere and mascarpone cheeses added the perfect hint of salty sweetness. Leah's mastery of blending flavors and creating her own recipes comes straight from her heart... and with a good bit of practice! "I just really love cooking," Leah explains. "I grew up cooking with my mom, but didn't really get a passion for it until I could stay at home with my kids and just cook all the time and try out new recipes. I made a goal for myself to try 2 to 3 recipes each week... and I just haven't stopped since. [Because of that practice] I'm able to create my own recipes now!"
And with nine Blue Ribbons to her name, Leah's original recipes are quickly becoming staples on family tables across the country. It's cooks like her that remind us that food is more than a necessity or a chore, it's an extension of who we are. Every meal has meaning, a tangible way to express just how much we care.
"I love the reaction of people when they eat the things I cook, it just makes me happy. But of course,” says Leah, “the greatest reward I've ever received for my cooking - next to winning this contest - was when my husband told me I was every bit, if not a better cook, than his grandmother." And with that, the Showcase audience burst into applause. Congratulations, Leah!