In New Castle, as everywhere else, there are four seasons. But here they are named a bit differently. They are: spring, summer, basketball and recipe. The two latter overlap into what others know as winter.
In fact, the 40th annual recipe season is under way now as The Courier-Times, the county’s only daily newspaper, celebrates The Hoosier Cabinet Cooking Contest. Readers of all ages submit their best dishes in six categories and all ages can and do enter. There are prizes of things like cookbooks and cake pans, money, goody bags containing pencils, notepads and coupons. Best of all, the finalists get to taste each other’s dishes. It’s a big deal.
The event is a bit old-fashioned, maybe something like Cordelia Wright, a Quaker artist who raises llamas. She’s entered almost every year. She’s only in her 90s so many more seasons of great cooking are likely. Then there are newcomers like Joel Sledd, a young boy who was excited to see his Mile High Apple Crisp Pie make the finals last year.
The contest name honors the collectible Hoosier Kitchen Cabinets that are prized additions — if you can find them — to kitchens all over the country. They came from our town, where they were made by the thousands from roughly 1900 to World War II at the Hoosier Manufacturing Co. factory.
The winning recipes often become celebrities in their own rites. One previous winner, a hot chicken casserole, is the starring dish at the First Friends Meeting fundraiser luncheons. Lisa Pfenninger submitted the recipe and even donated her grand-champion winnings to her church. That dish is money: Literally.
Another other-worldly top recipe, Angel Crockpot Chicken, made by Joel’s mother, Tisha, was the main dish at a wedding dinner in town last month. Untold others have no doubt become staples in kitchens throughout Henry County. My personal go-to favorite is Tammy Ankrom’s To Die For Pot Roast. With mashed potatoes as the side, thank you.
Happy 40th anniversary to the great cooks and bakers of Henry County and to a contest that is more than an event: It’s a season.
Guest-written by Donna Cronk. You can contact her for more information about the contest at email@example.com . We’re always interested in guest-bloggers to contribute content about interesting Indiana events, programs and traditions. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.