Strawberry dessert contest winners

Julie Kirby, left, of Pikeville, won first place for her strawberry cream cheese icebox cake and second place for a strawberry pie, while Tammy Freeman, right, of Seven Springs, won third place for her strawberry cobbler Friday during a strawberry dessert contest. The contest was part of the Strawberry Day celebration at the Farm Credit Farmers Market.

Thursday night the strawberries were still in the field.

By Friday morning, they were in a strawberry cream cheese icebox cake and a freshly baked strawberry pie that won first and second place respectively in a strawberry dessert contest at the Farm Credit Farmers Market.

The sweet competition was part of Strawberry Day at the market. It was the first of several being planned to showcase what local produce and fruits are in season.

Fresh, local strawberries, along with other produce, were available to purchase, and food demonstrations using strawberries, including recipe and nutritional information, were held.

Master Gardeners were on hand to answer garden questions.

“We were kind of testing this out for the first time, trying to promote what is local,” Extension Agent Jessica Strickland said of the contest. “So, with strawberries being in season, we decided to have a strawberry dessert contest. Our next one is coming up in June when we have Blueberry Day.

“We will try to have something similar. We will get the kinks worked out where we can have a few more contests like this.”

Julie Kirby of Pikeville took the top two ribbons, and Tammy Freeman of Seven Springs won third place for her strawberry cobbler.

Kirby said she has been baking the pies, a family favorite, for years, but that it was only the second time she had made the strawberry cream cheese icebox cake.

“It (the pie) is a family favorite,” she said. “But it is about to be replaced with the cream cheese. Even my niece had gotten into it. She said, ‘I want that recipe, Aunt Julie.’ She’s making it now. I did it early this morning so it would be set and ready to eat this afternoon. We picked the strawberries last night. They are strawberries that we grew.

“The pie is a recipe that was handed down to me by my aunt, my mamma’s sister. The strawberry cream cheese icebox cake, we found in a magazine. We tried it, and our family likes it. I thought, well, might as well try it. Give it a shot. I think it (contest) is a great idea, especially to involve local people and homegrown stuff.”

Kirby works at her son’s, Barney Kirby’s, Barnyard Produce booth at the farmers market.

“We are vendors here, and I just wanted to show my support for what they are trying to do here,” she said. “I am going to pin one (ribbon) to each side of my shirt and go back to work.”

It was the first time Kirby and Freeman had participated in a cooking contest.

“I bake desserts for our Sunday get-togethers with friends, and they suggested that I enter this,” Freeman said. “It is only the second time I have ever made a strawberry cobbler. I thought strawberry cobbler was a little strange, but why not — you make it with everything else.”

She found the recipe online.

“I am always looking for quick, easy, limited-ingredient desserts,” she said. “The longest is the baking time on this one. It takes 60 minutes.”

Freeman bought the strawberries from Cottle Farms Thursday night.

Her daughter, Leah, told her she should have brought ice cream as well.

The farmers market is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The last day of the market is Nov. 27.

For more information, contact Joyce McLamb, market manager, at joyce.mclamb@waynegov.com, or Strickland at jessica.strickland@waynegov.com, or call 919-731-1520.