Holiday baking contest winners, Empty Bowls filled for Capital Area Food Bank, and helping hands for the holidays

I had a great time judging the Holiday Baking Contest out at Faraday's Kitchen Store (1501 RR 620 N. Ste. A, 266-5666, with store manager Sharon O'Quinn and Hudson's on the Bend pastry chef Kelly Casey. The quality and diversity of the entries was amazing, and the donated prizes were well-deserved. Check out the winning recipes on the store website. Congratulations to the winners: Katy Fran­ces­chini for her Bobby's Buttermilk Pie (Pies, Grand Prize), Carrie Harris for Great's Fruitcake (Cakes & Cupcakes), Claudia Aechternacht for buttery baked chipotle toffee (Miscella­ne­ous), Sherry Horan for an elegant ginger­bread house (Decorated Specialties), and Linda Bishop for chocolate panna cotta with port and balsamic glazed cherries (People's Choice). As impressed as I was with the winning entries, my favorite discovery was a cherry pie by Lakeway Elementary fifth-grader Kendall Car­lisle. The talented 10-year-old prepared an exemplary rendition of a classic with a tender, buttery crust and a sweet-tart filling. If it had been completely done in the middle, the pie category I judged would have ended in a straight-up tie! That young lady is already quite a baker... The Sustainable Food Cen­ter, manager of the Austin Farmers' Mar­ket Downtown and at the Triangle, is soliciting recipes for an Austin Farmers' Market Cookbook. It's encouraging all growers, vendors, and shoppers to contribute recipes based on fresh, local ingredients available in the market, along with the story behind the recipe – the possibilities are endless. I'm thinking I'll give them an old chocolate coffee pie recipe with a new crust now made with caramelized cacao beans from Kakawa Chocolates or the instructions for Top of Texas apples dipped in caramel and chocolate. For info on submitting recipes, see, or e-mail with questions or comments... The inaugural Empty Bowl Project preview party on Saturday night was well-attended, and I coveted more than a few of the lovely pottery items on the silent auction tables. My two favorite soups were a hearty posole blanco from Corazon at Castle Hill and an elegant Thai carrot soup with coconut milk from STREAT. The Mexican American Cultural Cen­ter overlooking Lady Bird Lake is a pleasant and accessible new home for the event. Official word from the Capital Area Food Bank is that 3,611 bowls were donated and nearly 2,000 people showed up on Sunday to eat soup and buy bowls to benefit CAFB's Kids Cafes... In that same spirit of giving, plenty of local restaurants and businesses are finding ways to lend a helping hand this holiday season, whether it's gathering Coats for Kids (Lavaca Street Bar), canned goods for CAFB (Primrose Schools, Pei Wei, Chipotle), cash and food contributions for Operation Turkey (Greenling), or feeding troops and their families at Fort Hood (Z'Tejas Grill). Katz's (618 W. Sixth, 472-2037, will donate 100% of the profits from its ever-popular Thanksgiving and Christmas Day feasts to Austin's Center for Child Protection. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Holiday Baking Contest winners, Faraday's Kitchen Store, Hudson's on the Bend, Kelly Casey, Sustainable Food Cen­ter, Austin Farmers' Market Cookbook, Empty Bowl Project, Capital Area Food Bank, Kids Cafes, Coats for Kids, Operation Turkey, Katz's Deli & Bar, Center for Child Protection

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