The following feature is reprinted from Sunday's Courier-Times. Congratulations go out to Blaise on the publication of his second cookbook, Blaise the Baker Celebrates! With his talent for recipe development, enthusiasm, and charm, I think The Food Network is missing the boat in not signing him for a cooking show.
By DONNA CRONK
If you’re familiar with Chew This! Columnist Blaise Doubman’s work, you’ll know that his mother, Darla, and two grandmothers, Deloris and Barbra, serve as his muses.
So it won’t be a surprise to learn that Blaise’s earliest cooking memory is helping Grandma Barbra in the kitchen while standing on an old, wooden chair.
“I also have an early memory of helping my Mom, Darla, in the kitchen baking a heart-shaped chocolate cake,” he recalls. “I was amazed at the process.”
Amazed is a constant state of being for Blaise. His writing brims with enthusiasm and unbridled joy about baking, cooking – and all-things food. Right now, he’s as busy with the business side of his spatula as he is with developing, testing, and tasting recipes.
His second cookbook, Blaise the Baker Celebrates! is newly released. It follows his 2016 debut, Blaise the Baker Dessert First.
“I guess in the back of my mind I always knew there would be a second cookbook,” the author says. “Once the first cookbook was published it wasn’t long after that I started gathering up recipes for a second and creating a vision for that one.”
The first volume outperformed expectations. “People just seemed to go crazy over it! I remember crying about how grateful I was that people seemed to enjoy it so much. I have had people email me and tell me that they have literally made every single recipe in the book and love them all.”
RECIPES THAT WORK
Blaise thinks people gravitate toward his recipes for one simple reason: the recipes work.
“So many cookbooks seem to throw recipes together without any form of testing. You have to make sure a recipe works.”
To that end, he explains his methods. First he considers recipes that he enjoys, then family recipes followed by foods he and his family often make, and then recipes that are popular which he wants to share. “I am not big into food trends or recipes that seem to be of the moment. I am more about sharing recipes that are timeless, that have been around 50, 60, 70 years and that people still enjoy today as much as they did years ago.
While he updates them, the recipe and processes remain about the same. But he also plays around with food, measurements, tastes and flavors “and luckily sometimes a delicious new recipe joins the others.”
Desserts were the focus of the first book (although lots of other recipes were included) but the second contains “some really, really strong main dishes and side dishes ...” The new cookbook is organized as is a typical cookbook in appropriate order of food courses.
Gratitude for readers pours from Blaise. “My second cookbook is also dedicated more to my fans and followers. It is because of them that I get the opportunity to do this again. It is a celebration in all definitions of the word. I am celebrating that I get to do this again, celebrating my thankfulness and just celebrating life.”
When asked to select a favorite recipe from the new book, Blaise finds the task difficult. One he mentions, however, is a quick chicken stir fry that is fried in Miracle Whip. Another fave features his new method of oven-roasting chicken that makes clean-up a breeze.
“One of my testers said it was ‘revolutionary!’”
As for mishaps while getting the book ready, Blaise wanted to develop a recipe for a pie baked into a cake. It didn’t go so well.
A Kennard native and resident, the Henry County town is near and dear to the author. One set of grandparents lived one block away from Blaise’s family in one direction, and the other set lived a block away in the other. And, his folks, Jamie and Darla Doubman, grew up as next-door neighbors.
“I tease them that they must have had a crush on each other in kindergarten,” says Blaise. “Whatever it was, it must have worked because they just recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.”
Blaise is in no hurry to leave his hometown. “I love Kennard and I love that I am surrounded by those that I love, so I guess if I do leave, it will not be very far away.”
A graduate of both Knightstown High School and Indiana University East, the author has written Chew This! for almost four years. Some of his other platforms include his blog, blaisethebaker.com where he writes extensively about various aspects of food. He recently partnered with White Cloud World Teas as a brand ambassador. Also check out his online Facebook group, Tasty Recipe Box and a cookbook-sharing group, Cookbooks, etc.
And, keep looking for the author / columnist every first and third Sunday in The Courier-Times Neighbors sections.
“Even to this day I get so excited to see my column and recipe in print – that feeling has never gotten old to me!” he says. “I am still just as excited today about it (as) I was on the first printing.”
He hopes readers enjoy the same things the did with the new cookbook as they did with the first: “That the recipes work, that they love the recipes and that they also enjoy the stories and family memories that I share with each recipe,” says Blaise.
“I really hope that they will feel a part of my family and feel like they were a part in the cookbook’s creation.”
For ordering information or connecting with Blaise, contact him at email@example.com.
You know what they say about true friends; how it doesn't matter how long it's been since you've seen each other because it always feels as though it were just yesterday, and you can pick up where you left off with no awkwardness between you.
That truth applies whenever we spend time with John and Debby Williams. We had the chance to do just that Saturday. And speaking for myself, we had a blast.
We have a history. In fact, we spent the 1980s with them! Brian and John came on board as assistant principal and principal, respectively, at Fountain Central Junior-Senior High School in 1981. Debby had been a principal but took time to be home with the couple's four children. Their twins were babies when the family arrived in Fountain County and they would have two more while living in Veedersburg.
About the time their final baby was born, I was expecting our first and Debby loaned me all her maternity clothes! Ah, the 1980s! So many things happened while we lived in Fountain County. The chart topper was baby Sam's arrival, but there are so many other memories: finishing my journalism degree at Indiana State; getting my first job at the Attica newspaper where my childhood friend Sue Barnhizer (now Anderson) just happened to be the editor! Then becoming the editor.
There was joining the Newtown Community Church, making friends for life, including John and Debby, as mentioned here, Rick and Gay Kirkton and Barb Clark, and so many others we spent time with while living in Fountain County. We've got to visit again with some of these folks as part of my book journey these past few years.
We rented two country farmhouses in our years in Fountain County -- for $200 a month each and no contract unless you count (and we do) the handshake agreement that went with both. Yes, our years in Fountain County were another place and time in many ways. Many good ways.
So that's the 1980s background. John and Debby and family and Brian, Sam and I left Veedersburg in 1989 for other pastures. It was bittersweet. There was much to miss about the life we had built in Fountain County.
But we met more friends and found new opportunities and blessings in the years to come. Chart toppers: our second son, Ben and our daughter-in-law, Allison.
Brian went on to become principal at Fishers Junior High and John went on to serve as schools superintendent at Rushville. Both are officially retired, but John remains busy in consulting work and Brian drives cars for an auction house. I know they would tell you they are having fun with both and when it's no longer fun, they will retire-retire.
Debby served as a principal at Connersville. That's the backyard of where I grew up, a farm kid between there and Liberty. It's still one of those "out-of-context" experiences to discuss with John and Debby the general area where I was born and raised, and the area where I work in Henry County. They have been in southeastern Indiana for quite a few years now!
So yesterday was a fun day of travels, food, fun and conversation. We piled into John's big, black pickup and off we went to Jungle Jim's at Cincinnati.
I've heard about Jungle Jim's for years. Here you can satisfy your foodie yearnings sourced from all over the world.
The choices are amazing, including more cheeses than you can possibly imagine. Same with ethnic breads and any number of other foods as well. You can even do your everyday shopping here, too. It was busy as this is as much a tourist attraction as a shopping experience.
Rest assured we left with an assortment of goodies. In my bags: some interesting chef-made crackers and a basil-tomato cheese that I'll serve with a fruit platter next weekend when we have company; a delicious watermelon, beautiful, tasty peaches, some peach bubble bath (there's a theme here) and some artisan dark-brown bread Brian selected.
The most unusual offering? Brian spotted some frozen python filets.
Onward to Milan, where we checked out the Milan '54 Hoosiers Museum, a charming little place packed with memorabilia from the Milan Miracle when this small school won the state in boys' basketball and went on to inspire one of the greatest sport movies of all time: "Hoosiers."
Museum Founder / Curator Roselyn McKittrick, can't get enough! In fact, she bought the vintage barber shop next door and held court discussing her favorite town and team with our foursome. In case you are wondering, the basketball museum has had visitors from 42 countries and has 2,000 people a year stream through the place. Next up: She's opening the barber shop as a museum.
On the wall is what Milan Coach's wife Mary Lou Wood said after the team won it all, in characteristic Hoosier humility: "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."
Love it. Don't you?
We tore ourselves away from Roselyn, who, in her 80s, could have gone on the rest of the day, I'm convinced (and she is charming, by the way), we headed off to Oldenburg where we enjoyed dinner at another iconic landmark in southeast Indiana:
We wound our way back to Rushville enjoying the lush mid-summer landscape, and even more, the company of dear friends.
Let's do it again soon, guys!
My Sunday column in The Courier-Times:
by Donna Cronk
Moments ago, I cleaned out the last pending email from my work in-box. Yep, I either deleted or dealt with every email cyberspace threw at me in this latest round. For one shining moment, I stare at the clean space in front of me where emails tend to collect like dust bunnies in a vacuum-cleaner bag.
The joy I get from a cleared in-box is why I know that I am not cut out to be president.
Never mind all the other reasons – that I’m totally unqualified, not rich, nor an attorney, nor did I attend Harvard or Yale. No, it’s fine to simply stop with the in-box vetting process and go no further.
I cannot imagine how many emails Donald Trump gets, not to mention those that his staff of gatekeepers intercept first.
At least at The Courier-Times, I can on occasion empty the in-box, placing items in the newspaper of community interest and deleting those with no relevance locally such as fashion week on the East Coast or a lovely notice from some prince’s estate notifying me that he had me precisely in mind to inherit his fortune. If only I would share my bank account numbers, I'd be wealthy.
Of course the in-box fills back up at a steady pace, but at least no one is asking me for a billion dollars or summoning me to an international meeting that will affect no less than the future of the world.
But even more than my concerns over never-ending emails, I could never be president because I don’t have that kind of energy. I mean, who does?
On this issue I have to hand it to President Trump and in equal measure, to Hillary Clinton. I’ll see the President on TV at a rally one night, still going full speed in front of the crowd as I doze off to sleep. Before I can get out of bed the next morning, there he is on TV, in a blue rather than red tie maybe, at his day job back in D.C. or in a different city or country, dealing with the new day’s latest crisis or critic.
Hillary kept that kind of schedule, too, during the campaign. Then she wrote a book about it all and hit the road again explaining why she lost.
Some nights after a day at the paper, I can’t make it to the laundry room to gather dry towels, let alone fold and put them away.
I don’t mind that I lack the right stuff to be leader of the free world. I suppose that’s yet another reason why I won’t be nominated for anything by a cheering throng of supporters. And if I were, I’d have to decline. Who can think with the volume in these people's in-boxes? Besides that, too many speeches and glad-handing are required well past my bedtime.
I think no matter their qualifications, education and timing, it takes a different kind of personal drive than I could ever muster to be president. I’m made, simply put, of the wrong stuff.
But that’s OK. If only for the moment, and only a moment will it remain, you should see my clean inbox.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. The summer issue comes out Sunday, July 22. She welcomes reader comments and story ideas. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.