Baking contest a tasty test of culinary treats

WAKARUSA — When we think of fall we picture colorful leaves, families gathering together and children dashing about in costume. We also think pumpkins and that’s just what Miller’s Senior Living Community of Wakarusa’s Community Relations Director Cindy Hill was thinking when she invited area bakers to present their best recipe’s results for some friendly competition.
She asked lucky members of the community to act as judges and the willing taste-testers attended Tuesday, Oct. 23 with an audience of jealous Miller’s and Wakarusa area residents.
“I was thinking of doing something fun for the season, offering something different,” Hill said of the contest.
Nine entrants brought unique delicacies based on the ingredient pumpkin — that were anonymously marked and individually offered to the panel of Linda Hartman, audiovisual /historical librarian of the Wakarusa Public Library; Lois Meissner Yoder, Miller’s and community volunteer; Jeff Troxel, Wakarusa Town Manager; and Scott Mattern, Key Bank manager.
Recipes included creative concoctions such as pudding, whoopie pies, cupcakes, soup, and pies, as well as pumpkin mousse, pumpkin bars, and a pumpkin roll. One creative cook even presented warm, smooth, pumpkin soup.
Each judge gave great consideration to each dish, tasting (often more than a couple times) and judging on the appearance, flavor, texture, and creative use of the pumpkin and rated them in each category on a points grading system from one to five.
Record sheets were tabulated by other volunteers and winners in first through third places got to select from prizes that included a Pyrex measuring bowl, a six-piece set of Pyrex bowls, and a 10-piece kitchen storage set.
If the results had ended up in a tie, the contenders would’ve been retested and re-rated but the precaution was deemed unnecessary as judges agreed their taste buds claimed the winners stood out from the rest. Consolation prizes were awarded to all the participating bakers for their culinary efforts.
Winners of the event were: first place, Lorna Castillo for her cupcakes; second, Renita Flickinger for her mousse; and third place, Jennifer Pulliam for her pumpkin roll.
But the ones that really won were the judges and the audience members of the event who got to enjoy taste-testing for themselves at the contest’s conclusion.