In last week's column, I saluted the winners from the annual pie baking contest at Bizarre Bazaar, a decade-old tradition in Hammond.
This week, I get to devote my column space to sharing with readers information about two new culinary events happening this week to kick off the start of October.
On Thursday, Oct. 1, the Porter County Expo Center in Valparaiso will be transformed into a culinary competitive dining landscape for a good cause. There will be 100 men from around Porter County participating in the first-of-its-kind Chefs Around the Table event.
The men, including business leaders, elected officials, school superintendents, fire and police officers, as well as other community members throughout Porter County, will be competing to win a "Top Chef" award in a variety of categories. I've been asked to attend to serve as a celebrity judge.
Chefs get awards based on the amount of tips they garner in support of their dish. Tips and all other proceeds will be donated to Empower Porter County, the wonderful program fighting to reduce substance abuse in Porter County.
The event begins at 6 p.m. In addition to a sampling dinner, guests will receive a commemorative cookbook with all of the chefs' recipes.
A live auction is also planned. The event is open to the public and tickets are on sale now. Individual tickets are $50, but attendees can purchase a reserved seat table of eight for $500. Tickets can be purchased by visiting: ChefsAroundTheTable.Eventbrite.com.
On Saturday, Oct. 3, a Pumpkin Patch Market with crafts and baked goods is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Paul Episcopal Church, located at Park Street and Columbia Avenue in Munster.
The featured wares include whole cakes, slices, and mini-versions of full homemade pies and cakes. The outdoor market will also include homemade jams, preserves and other harvest treats from Gary's St. Barnabas, Crown Point's St. Christopher, St. Paul and Griffith's St. Timothy Episcopal churches. Pumpkins, hardy mums and cornstalks will also be sold. A "café" will feature pulled-pork sandwiches, and vendors with locally harvested honey, homemade soaps and pet toys will have booths. Curb-side Pet Blessings will be offered by Rev. Michael Dwyer and Rev. Michelle Walker. FYI: (219) 838-3803.
Today's showcased recipe for Forbidden Apple Cake is courtesy of my newsroom desk neighbor Patricia Kincaid, who serves as the Times archivist and research librarian and is a member of St. Paul Episcopal Church.
"The idea for this cake came from a conversation I had with fellow church member Pat Huizenga when we were just looking for something a bit unique for St. Paul's offerings for this Pumpkin Patch Market. We wanted to use what fruit we had available from the fruit trees on the church grounds," Patricia said.
"Our inspiration was right at the front door of our church with this wonderful apple tree in the church yard. It was the late parishioner Margaret Hutton who was instrumental in selecting the apple tree for St. Paul's in 2000. And as a long-time Sunday school teacher, she would have been delighted that several Wilbur Wright Middle School students have also discovered its fruit as a handy after school snack for their walk home."
These special Forbidden Apple Cakes will sell for $12 for a whole cake or $1 a slice and Patricia said they will also take orders for this featured cake. And for any readers who don't want to wait until the weekend, the recipe is included here for all to enjoy.
Forbidden Apple Cake
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 sticks Imperial margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups unpeeled apples, cored and diced (a firm, slightly tart baking apple is best)
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
1 cup golden raisins (can be soaked in 1/2 cup good rum for one week for a "sinful" addition)
Powdered sugar for dusting.
Note: Seal rum-soaked raisins in a glass container at room temperature for one week, ahead of time. If using the rum version, omit cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 10-inch bundt or tube pan with non-stick cooking spray. Beat oil with margarine. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add apples to flour mixture and stir a few times to coat. Add raisins and nuts, if using, to egg/oil mixture. Stir flour/apple mixture into egg/oil mixture until well blended. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 75 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes, invert onto cake plate. When completely cooled, dust with powdered sugar. Makes 10 slices.