Family recipes should never be taken lightly, or at least that is the policy of Cindy Zaker, a long-time concessionaire at the Wood County Fair.
While she won't be unlocking the family vault for Cook's Corner readers this week, she is willing to part with her some of her ingredients.
"It's just something that we make sure that nobody else knows how to make and we don't want anyone else to be able to duplicate it," Zaker said of the recipe.
She has been making waffles ever since she was 10 years old and has followed the path of her grandfather, Lee Entsminger who began the family business which has now passed through five generations and dates back to 1934.
Although the first waffles did not come along until later in the 1940s the sweet treat was still a pioneer of its time.
"There were no elephant ears, there were no funnel cakes if you would have said I am going to have an elephant ear back in 1940s they probably would have thought you were crazy.
"Waffles were the dessert thing to have at the fair back then."
The recipe has remained fairly similar to the original recipe designed by her grandfather years ago, with only a few modifications to make the waffles a little healthier.
Eggs, flour, brown sugar, soda, salt, vanilla, and water are among the ingredients she uses to make the fair favorite, which she fries in corn oil.
"It just has that light flavor and not that heavy, greasy flavor," she said of the corn oil.
Despite increasing costs from suppliers, she is uncompromising in continuing to use the best of the best with Gold Medal Flour and Domino brown sugar for her waffles.
On top of her waffles, Zaker now has seven stands which compose her business, Cindy's Concessions, four of which are fry stands.
Elephant ears, fries, corn dogs, cheese on a stick and funnel cakes are among other offerings at the stands.
Interestingly enough, the family business began as a single stand at the fair years ago, as her father Frank Isch opened up the well-known Frank's fries, which is still in operation having been carried own by her mother, Mary Isch from the early 1950s up until a couple years ago.
Frank's fries has been at the Wood County Fair even before the fairgrounds themselves were constructed, according to her.
The funnel cakes are also a personal recipe of hers, which she came up with after trying out a pre-made bagged variety and tasting a lack in flavor.
"I said, 'if I can make a homemade waffle, I can make a homemade funnel cake.'"
After turning out so many waffles and funnel cakes over the years, she doesn't even need a recipe anymore, it has just become second nature to her.
Although she is noted for her treats at the fair, Zaker is also hotly demanded on the home front.
Lasagna is the family favorite and for desserts it's her strawberry rhubarb pie, a recipe she does not guard as closely as the waffles.
"People just drool when they hear I am making strawberry rhubarb pie."
For any bakers who'd like to follow her lead, Zaker offers the following tips:
¥ "Don't ever skimp on your Crisco, because you want to make it fluffy.
¥ "Dot the top of the pie with margarine to create a richer flavor
¥ "After rolling and pinching the pie crust, glaze milk over the crust before placing in the oven
¥ "Make cuts in the pie using a knife to allow for breathing
¥ "Sprinkle sugar on top of the pie, which sticks to the milk."
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
(makes a 9-inch pie)
3 cups of small rhubarb pieces
1 cup sugar
1 small package strawberry Jell-O
2 Tablespoons flour
Never Fail Pie Crust:
(Makes 3 crusts)
3 cups flour, sifted
1 1/4 cup Crisco
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten
1 Tablespoon vinegar
5 Tablespoons water
For the filling mix sugar, Jell-O and flour, then pour over top of rhubarb. Let set 20 minutes.
Sift salt and flour for pie crust together and then cut in Crisco. Separately blend egg, vinegar and water then pan into flour mix. Roll out crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.
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