Heart of the Home

| May 2006

A Letter From Kate

Dear Readers,

Well, another Pillsbury Bake-Off contest has come and gone. This year's was the fourth one I've attended, and it was just as enjoyable as the first. And the location, at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Fla., was perfect this year. It was hard to believe I was basking in sunshine and 80-degree weather while my family at home in Kansas was dealing with an early spring blizzard.

It was nice to see all the familiar faces of my fellow food journalists. Being with them feels like being part of a group of friends from all over the country who get together every two years. We share a special camaraderie, and I especially enjoy seeing Alison from New York City, Janice from St. Louis, and Valerie from Salt Lake City.

But my favorite part of the Bake-Off has always been meeting the 100 finalists. They also come from all over the country, and each one has a fascinating story to tell. I met finalist Rebecca Nurse, of Waterford, Pa., in the hotel check-in line. She was there with her husband and two young daughters. She was enthusiastic and friendly, and I looked forward to visiting with her on the contest floor and trying her Cinnamon-Fruit Snack Mix.

I also enjoyed meeting Mary Iovinelli Buescher, of Bloomington, Minn., whose Pineapple-Black Bean Enchiladas won two prizes - one for America's Favorite Recipe and one of the Three-A-Day of Dairy awards. She had created her recipe to serve at a bridal shower, and she entered it on a whim.

Although I've never been one of the finalists competing to win the $1 million grand prize, I'm just as excited to be there. Tasting all the delicious food and sharing the excitement of the finalists are thrills for me. I'm already looking forward to the next Bake-Off!

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