All is fair in love and foodThe key to any good pie is the crust, and the secret to Jeffrey Doyle-Horney's crust is using half butter, half lard and a bit of booze.
By: By Gena Kittner, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram
STOUGHTON - The key to any good pie is the crust, and the secret to Jeffrey Doyle-Horney's crust is using half butter, half lard and a bit of booze.
Doyle-Horney, 55, of Stoughton has reason to brag: His tightly woven lattice-topped black raspberry pie was awarded grand champion status two weeks ago in the first time entry category at the Wisconsin State Fair. He's one of hundreds of people who have entered everything from pies to preserves, breads to bars, sponges to salads to be judged at the fair, which runs through Aug. 12.
"I was really happy with this pie," said Doyle-Horney. He made it with black raspberries he picked in Lake Kegonsa State Park. Plus, there were no gaps or shrinkage to his crust, to which he adds a 1/4 cup of cold vodka to make it nice and flaky. "I thought it was a technically perfect pie."
Fair judge Kristi Williams must have agreed.
The smell of success
Williams, who lives in the town of Cottage Grove, has judged various pie and food categories at the Wisconsin State Fair for the past three years. She has a degree in home economics and journalism from UW-Madison and has worked at UW-Extension in Iowa County and at Oscar Mayer in consumer relations. She calls judging food entries at the Wisconsin State Fair "one of her joys."
"I love food," she said. "I love eating food, I love how food is prepared and how it's displayed."
She enjoys judging the bread category, and evaluates each entry on how the bread is displayed, along with its character, texture, color, flavor and aroma.
"I'm big on aroma," she said.
All baking is an art, but especially bread baking, Williams said. "I worry sometimes that it's an art that's going to disappear."
Although seeing the entries at the state fair -- especially those among the young people who enter -- is encouraging.
"Everybody that's participating is doing it because they love doing it," Williams said. "They're also very good at it. I let them know how much I appreciate their skill."
Cheese and beyond
Participants can enter about 100 different categories in the culinary division of the state fair competition, submitting dishes that highlight everything from lima beans to Wisconsin maple syrup.
Kristin Chuckel, spokeswoman for the state fair, said organizers tweak some categories each year to keep up with the latest food trends.
"This year our 'fresh fruits and versatile vegetables' division has eight new classes, and our 'rooted in Wisconsin' division has three new classes," Chuckel said. "We have also added several cupcake categories based on recent trends."
Not surprisingly, the fair has a Wisconsin Dairy division, with categories including the best cheesecake, creamiest dip using sour cream and yummy yogurt.
"We have a lot more cheese in the foods that we judge," Williams said of what sets the Wisconsin fair apart from those in other states.
There's also a honey category, an apple category, a cranberry category and a maple syrup category to highlight other products from Wisconsin, and companies such as Usinger's also sponsored a category this year.
"The diversity of the Wisconsin product has gotten much stronger," Williams said. "Frequently now I see bison in recipes. It's very lean, very healthy. I love it."
Doyle-Horney, a music teacher in the Madison School District, also has entered pies in the Stoughton Fair and said watching the judging is never easy.
"Once the pie's made it speaks for itself, there's nothing more that you can do," he said. "But when the judges (are) actually eating your pie and about to make a decision, that's when my palms get a little sweaty. You watch their every move trying to figure out what they're doing, what they're looking at."
Williams, 66, says she doesn't diet before each contest, but "I do make sure that I get plenty of exercise," she said.
And she has, on rare occasions, tasted something horrible during her years of judging state and county food competitions.
"I do sample everything, but I also have lot of napkins," she said. "Sometimes it's just very convenient to move (the bite of food) into my napkin."
She still does a lot of cooking and baking -- especially with her grandchildren.
"I am constantly changing things that I make because it makes life more interesting," she said.
(c)2012 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)
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