York County baker winning blue ribbons across the country
Rhubarb is a herbaceous perennial growing from short, thick rhizomes. It produces large leaves that are somewhat triangular, with long fleshy edible stalks and small flowers. In culinary use, fresh raw leaf stalks are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong, tart taste. Although rhubarb is not a true fruit, in the kitchen it is usually prepared as if it were. From Wikipedia
Belinda Myers isn’t one to brag. In fact, she downplays the fact that she’s so good as what she does. She uses words like ‘a lot’, ‘ a few’, ‘a couple’. Nothing exact.
But it’s hard for her to deny that her baking skills have landed her plenty of blue ribbons, best of shows and grand prizes. Of course, to get that information, you might have to hear it from someone else.
While the 2017 Annual Rhubarb Festival at the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse is over, mark your calendar for next year. The village buildings are all open with the usual items, but last weekend featured rhubarb in all its different looks. For sale was jam, bread, fudge, cakes, drinks, desserts (the rhubarb cheesecake burrito was an obvious winner) and of course, loads of rhubarb and recipe books.
She lived in York County for most of her life, moving to Osceola, Iowa, just three years ago to be closer to some of her family. Now, the 62-year old baker extraordinaire splits her time traveling back and forth over 1,000 miles of interstates to visit grandchildren.
Last weekend, she won the Grand Prize at the Rhubarb Festival. And a first place, second place…
While living in York County, Myers won so many ribbons (mostly blue, we’re thinking) that the York County Fair board suggested she become a judge and give the other bakers a shot. Before her triumphant return to the Kitchen Kettle contest last weekend, she begged permission– and got it– to return as a contestant. Yes, she had been asked to become a judge there as well, to give other bakers a shot.
Surprised? She has won at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, the Clark County Fair in Iowa, York, Lancaster County. And a handful of other places. All those ribbons fade together after a while.
She’s especially looking forward to this year’s Clark County Fair, where two sisters have reputations as sweet as Myers. Rhubarb is a big deal in Clark County, Myers says. And, in a surprising tone, says she’s looking forward to the competition.
Some family competition might be looming as well. A grandson is already continuing the family’s baking traditions, having one a blue ribbon with his chocolate chip cookies.
Surprisingly, Myers isn’t a big fan of rhubarb, the tart vegetable that many local people have never tasted. It’s a challenge baking with rhubarb because of its tartness, she says, and uses a lot of sugar and mixes in other fruits to offset it.
So with that challenge gone for now, she’s off to the next recipe.