Fort Wayne – As far back as she can remember, Karen Hoffman, 14, has been involved with the 4-H fair.
Referring to the number of times she’s entered a contest for the Allen County 4-H Fair, she says, Every since I was a little kid. I don’t remember.
I’ve done geology and entomology (the study of insects). I stop doing that, she says. Arts and crafts too. I entered a zebra mask.
She’s entered every year since ’06, at least, says her father, Jeff from their home in east Allen County.
So far, Hoffman has earned two pink ribbons for reserve champion. She won in 2008 for a lattice four-fruit pie and last year in the single-crust pie category of the pie baking contest, sponsored by the Allen County Extension Homemakers.
Asked if she was the pie baker in the family, Hoffman says that her mom, Sharon, is.
We usually make them for the fair, Hoffman notes.
Her mother also is the one who determines which fruit will be used in the pies for the contests.
She’ll sometimes use the fruit on the property, she says.
We’ll use strawberries, blackberries or rhubarb, her father says.
Until she starts school this fall at Bishop Dwenger High School, Hoffman spends time working in the family’s quarter-acre garden with her 10-year-old sister Anne.
Hoffman also enjoys reading, watching movies and cooking.
I breed chickens, she adds.
Q. What’s your favorite cookbook?
A. There’s one I use when I use (cookbooks), Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, but it’s not new. It was published in 1953.
Jeff: Did you tell her that you prefer to use lard rather than Crisco? A lot of times for taste and texture.
Karen: It makes the crust more flakey.
Q. What vegetable do you eat most often?
A. Spinach. My mom makes me eat it or those dandelion things in the spring mix. I like raw celery with peanut butter. I love tomatoes, and I hate sweet potatoes.
Q. Who would you consider as your cooking idol?
A. Joe (her 18-year-old brother). He’s a good cook. He plans out his meals. He usually makes noodle dishes unless we were having a party and then he would grill something. He smokes the chicken. The only thing he grills is hamburgers, hot dogs and bratwursts.
Q. What’s your favorite cooking utensil?
A. Big spoons.
Anne: KitchenAid mixer.
Jeff: Got that from the (KitchenAid) outlet store in Greenville, Ohio.
Q. What advice would give to beginner cooks?
A. Follow the recipe. Don’t try to experiment unless you know what you’re doing.
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cups flour (may use a mixture of 1 cup white flour and 1/3 wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup blueberries, pineapple or bananas
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped nuts
Soak oats in buttermilk for 30 minutes. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Mix together oil and brown sugar; add egg and beat together. Add the oil mixture to buttermilk and oats. Mix well; add flour mixture, folding flour mixture in slowly. Next add fruit. Spray muffin cups with cooking oil. Divide batter between muffin cups. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 22 minutes. Makes 1 dozen.
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound (2 cups) lard
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water
2 tablespoons vinegar
Combine flour and salt. Cut in lard until course cookie crumbs form. Mix vinegar and water and sprinkle over flour mixture. Divide dough in half. Roll each section of dough out to 1/4 –inch thick. Place one crust to fit bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Save other half for top crust. Recipe makes 2 (9-inch) crusts.
3 cups blueberries
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
In a sauce pan, combine cornstarch, sugar and water. Bring to a boil; stir constantly until mixture is thick and clear. Add blueberries; remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer into bottom crust. Add top crust and crimp edges. Make glaze and brush top crust with glaze. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon sugar
Mix together and brush top crust when finished building pie.