Cook’s Corner: Sisters bake fair goodies from the family


WAYNE — There’s nothing like hearing firsthand from a stranger about how good your baking is.

Both Lyla and Autumn Shank had award-winning recipes — Lyla’s Peanut Butter Fudge and Autumn’s Chocolate Chip Cookies — at the Pemberville Free Fair. And both were bid on and purchased.

“Our uncle bought Autumn’s cookies,” Lyla said. “I don’t know who bought (mine) but I got this phone call from the guy and he ate all five big pieces in one night. He loved them.”

Lyla, who is 13 and in the eighth grade, found her recipe in an old recipe box from her great-grandmother.

“Your great-grandmother used to make peanut butter fudge and all kinds of fudge for Christmas every year,” mom Jackie said.

“I didn’t change anything,” Lyla said. “Well, I might have put some more peanut butter in there. … I just really love peanut butter.”

When making the bars, pay attention to stovetop.

Lyla’s Peanut Butter Fudge. (Photo by Debbie Rogers/Sentinel-Tribune)

“You definitely have to keep stirring it because otherwise it will scorch and it won’t taste very good,” Lyla said.

When ready to pour and set the the bars, use parchment paper so they’re easy to cut and serve, she said.

Autumn, who is 11 and in the sixth grade, took her aunt’s recipe and tinkered with it a bit. She swapped out butter for shortening and added a half bag more of chocolate chips and another teaspoon of vanilla.

“They’re really soft and have a lot of chocolate chips in them,” Autumn said.

Take the time to carefully mix, she said.

“When you’re stirring in the chocolate chips, don’t use a beater, just mix by hand, otherwise you might crush the chocolate chips,” Autumn said.

Watch the time in the oven, she added.

“Don’t bake them for too long, and preferably use an air bake pan so they don’t burn on the bottom,” Autumn said.

The girls said they like the fair because their friends are there and it’s a lot of fun. Their parents have a booth there for the business, Shank’s Farm Service LLC, so they are there most of the week.

Jackie said she’s always had the girls help with cooking and baking, since they were toddlers.

“That’s just how I was raised, so I just carried that on. I think that’s an important quality to have, to know how to cook and bake,” Jackie said. “It’s a life skill they’re going to need.”

“I help with dinner almost every night,” Autumn said. “I like cooking and baking. I just don’t like the cleaning-up part. It’s not very fun.”

She has baked a cake for a 4-H project, along with frosting it.

“But that’s even worse to clean up,” Autumn said.

Lyla would rather not be in the kitchen for meal prep.

“I don’t like cooking. I just like baking. I did the cake decorating for 4-H, and I like baking pies,” she said. “Pumpkin is my favorite.”

Lyla said she made a very good mistake while baking a pumpkin pie — adding sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk.

“It made it even sweeter. It’s really good,” she said.

“It was sinfully sweet,” Jackie said. “That’s the way she makes it every year now.”

When Jackie cooks, she does it up big.

Autumn’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. (Photo by Debbie Rogers/Sentinel-Tribune)

“I like to make big meals for people: homemade noodles with beef and gravy over it or chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles,” she said. “I like a good home-cooked meal.”

She is the bookkeeper for her husband Steve’s business, which is on their property.

Jackie also homeschools the girls and teaches part time at the new LifeWise Academy at Elmwood Local Schools.

In addition to 4-H, the girls dance for Black Swamp Fine Arts School in Bowling Green. Their favorite school subject is science.

Lyla’s First Place Peanut Butter Fudge


2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup 2% milk

1- 1/3 cups creamy peanut butter

7-ounce jar marshmallow creme


In a heavy saucepan, bring sugar and milk to a boil; boil for 3 minutes. Add peanut butter and marshmallow creme; mix well. Quickly pour into a parchment paper butter lined 8×8 pan, chill until set. Pull the parchment paper out of the pan to cut bars easiest.

Autumn’s Fair-Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 cup shortening

3/4 cup both brown and white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla


Beat the above items well.

Stir in:

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 1/4 cups flour

12-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bake on a parchment lined pan at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Do not over bake, cookies should just be golden around the edges. Leave cookies on the pan for 5 minutes to set up.

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