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Published: Sunday, 11/20/2005

Couples aim to build winning gingerbread houses

Gingerbread season is here.

Patty and Mike Lankey of Sylvania Township entered the National Gingerbread House Competition on Nov. 7 at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, N.C. The couple made a gingerbread barn with gingerbread silos surrounded by a pretzel-stick fence. The animal-cracker sheep were piped with royal icing stars to indicate wool.

They were inspired by the experiences of Jim and Leslie Rhegness of Toledo, who entered the competition in 2003 and 2004. Mrs. Rhegness and Mrs. Lankey are co-workers in information services for Lucas County.

Two hundred and five contestants from 16 states were judged. We didn t make it in the top 10, says Mr. Lankey, who is a cabinet maker. Next year we hope to be even more competitive. We have a blast doing it. They also entered the competition in 2004. We added more detail to our piece this year.

The Lankeys also took the gingerbread house of Penta Career Center student Kara Moreno as an entry in the Teen 13 to 17 age category.

The Rhegnesses did not make the trip to the competition in November, but have been invited to participate in the Food Network Challenge Series at the Grove Park Inn. They are one of six teams who will assemble and decorate a gingerbread entry in eight hours (four hours on Dec. 12 and four hours on Dec. 13). This event will be filmed by the Food Network.

In addition, the 2004 competition was filmed by the Food Network, which included scenes of Chef Rhegness and his students at Penta Career Center and scenes at the Rhegness home and their entry. It will air Dec. 6 at 9 p.m., Dec. 8 at 11 p.m., and Dec. 11 at 3 p.m.

Winner of the 2005 National Gingerbread House Competition was Bobbie Jinright of Troy, Ala. The entries are on display at the Grove Park Inn through Jan. 8. The display is free and open to the public.

TV food shows

Also appearing on television food shows is former Toledoan Cindy Smithy, now of Boston, who made a Savory Italian Pie on a segment of Martha Stewart s new show, Martha, which aired Nov. 8. She was selected as one of the Best Bakers in America. Her parents are Fred and Mary Hibbert of Toledo.

Josh Bailey, 10, son of restaurateurs Aaron and Donna Bailey, owner of Bailey s Pizza Co. at 805 North Reynolds Rd., has been twirling pizza for the TV cameras. He s been making the rounds of national television shows, including ABC s Good Morning America on Nov. 4. He was also on MSNBC Situation with Tucker Carlson Nov. 10; it was taped the day before at the Toledo restaurant. The family lives in Lambertville. Josh is a 5th grade student.

Book signing

Cookbook author Dawn Hall will have a book signing and food demonstration at 10 a.m. Nov. 26 at Books A Million in Levis Commons in Perrysburg. Ms. Hall has three new books published in the last six months, including Fun, Fast, Festive Christmas Cookbook (Rutledge Hill Press, $16.99).

At the event, she will prepare Snowman Cheese Bread, Edible Centerpiece, Pumpkin Trifle, Five-Minute Fudge, and Cranberry Cocktail.

Contest winner

Kathy Berkey of Whitehouse is a runner-up winner in the Prize Tested Recipes Contest sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Mrs. Berkey s recipe, Kahlua and Hazelnut Sundae Sauce, will be featured in the section entitled Prize Tested Recipes in the December issue. She received a cash prize of $200 and a framed certificate for her achievement.

Home brewer

Home brewer Bob Hall of Napoleon (no relation to Dawn Hall) won grand prize for best beer at Titgemeier s annual contest in October. There were seven classes of beer with 65 entries.

As part of the grand prize, Mr. Hall submitted his recipe to Maumee Bay Brewing Co. at the Oliver House and he ll be going to the brewery in December to assist the pros in brewing his beer. It will then be sold commercially there later in the winter.

It is a lager so it needs time to ferment and age and condition in cold temperature, says Mr. Hall. An ale ferments at room temperature for about one month.

Sustainable cuisine

About 100 people attended the Local Food Works conference held Nov. 12 at the McMaster Center at the Main Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. The event was funded by a grant from Partnerships for Community Action at Bowling Green State University. Keynote speaker was Will Allen, a professional basketball player turned organic farmer, entrepreneur, and community activist.

At a reception concluding the day s events, Diva s executive chef, Erika Rapp, provided a sustainable reception menu: MacQueen s Apple Cider and Butternut Squash Soup; Roasted Pumpkin Hummus Toasted Seeds and Pita; Autumn Vegetable Antipasto and Amish Cheeses; Sun-Dried Michigan Blueberry and Cherry Compote; Lake Erie Walleye, Soft Shell Taco, and Chipotle Aioli; Applebutter and Walnut Stuffed Pork Roast with Sweet Potato Biscuits, and Free Range Beer Can Chicken, Pork Bratwurst with Red Cabbage-/Cranberry Slaw.

Michael Szuberla, Toledo Grows Coordinator, who coordinated the day s events, says that a follow-up meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Toledo-Northwestern Ohio Food Bank at 24 East Woodruff St.. Anyone interested sustainable cuisine is welcome to attend. For information, call 419-936-2975.

New cookbook

Well-known author Helen Corey has a new cookbook, Healthy Syrian and Lebanese Cooking (Charlyn Publishing House, $18.95). Ms. Corey won the National Federation of Press Women s Communications Contest for her cookbook. It includes squash with yogurt sauce, easy-to-make yogurt in the microwave, and a complete vegetarian section. She continues to give cooking classes in her travels as well as at St. George Orthodox Church in Terre Haute, Ind., her home church. She conducted a cooking class at Gourmet Curiosities in Sylvania in the 1990s.


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