Kalona Cooks: From head to toe, Kalona Days was a great time!!!

By Mary Marek
Posted 6/24/99

Getting one’s face pushed into a cream pie is not as much fun as one might think. And, yes, that is the voice of experience speaking.

For one thing, when one receives a shock of any kind, …

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Kalona Cooks: From head to toe, Kalona Days was a great time!!!


Getting one’s face pushed into a cream pie is not as much fun as one might think. And, yes, that is the voice of experience speaking.

For one thing, when one receives a shock of any kind, (emotional, physical, electrical, whatever) one has a tendency to gasp, or rapidly and sharply inhale. If one is rapidly inhaling because someone just pushed one’s face into a cream pie, one breathes in whipped cream and pudding. Whipped cream and pudding are not the same as oxygen and are not meant to be inhaled. At least not up one’s nose.

Cream pies also do not make good hair gel. Although I’ve seen some people use so much hair gel, they might as well have been using a cream pie, it really does not work well in this capacity. As whipped cream and pudding dry in one’s hair, they become quite sticky and stiff. Maybe some people look good with sticky, stiff, whipped cream hair, but I don’t. As you would know if you were at the Kalona City Park Friday evening.

Yes, somehow, and I still haven’t figured out how, I ended up in the pie eating contest during the Variety Show Friday evening. I thought I was going to make it through the evening without being forced to make a fool of myself (at least no more than usual), but it wasn’t meant to be.

Hula hoops and chicken jokes

At the beginning of the Variety Show, Tina Swartzendruber, who chaired this year’s Kalona Days Committee (and did a great job, I might add), called all the committee members up on stage so they could be recognized for their contribution to the event. She had told us earlier that she had something planned for us, but I was excused from participating because she wanted me to take pictures (Thank goodness I have a camera!).

When I saw her bring out the hula hoops, I breathed a small prayer of thanks that I wasn’t going to have to stand up in front of all those people in the audience and gyrate with a hula hoop. Especially with Denise Ropp up there. She can really keep that hoop spinning. Maybe Doug Morgan and Ron Slechta should call her for hula hoop lessons.

I never dreamed that fate had something much worse in store for me. If I’d had any idea of what was to come, you can bet I’d have been at home in front of the TV faster than you can say “whipped cream”. Thinking I was safe, however, I stayed around to watch the show.

It was a great show, by the way. We’ve got some very talented people in Kalona. If you missed it, you missed a lot. Although, if you weren’t there, you didn’t have to listen to Mark Schneider, the principal of Wellman and Washington Township Elementary Schools, tell jokes he learned from some of his pupils. Sample: Why did the turkey cross the road? To show he wasn’t a chicken. Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road? He didn’t have the guts.

Seriously, folks, Mark, I mean Mr. Schneider (I just can’t make myself call a principal by his first name) made a great Master of Ceremonies and I think he should do it every year. But I still think we should have duct-taped him to the stage. He let his students tape him to a wall, once. Why should they have all the fun?

Anyway, in the middle of the Variety Show, Chester Miller and Bart Yotty auctioned off the six pies for the pie-eating contest that was scheduled for the end of the show. They did a great job of dragging bids out of the crowd. Thanks, guys. I really mean that. If you hadn’t been there, Tina would have had to play auctioneer and she really stinks at being an auctioneer.

Who bought the pies?

George Hansen bought one for Larry Miller to eat. Bart Yotty bought one of the pies and designated Victor “Teddy Bear” Malichky Jr. as the person who would eat it during the contest. To get even, Teddy Bear turned around and bought one for Bart to eat.

Chet Miller bought a pie and named John Snyder as his pie’s recipient. The Kalona Days Committee chipped in on a pie for Tina Swartzendruber to eat (after the hula hoop fiasco, they were looking for revenge), and Jan Peterseim made the mistake of telling Darwin Swartzendruber that, if someone paid $50 for a pie, she’d eat it. Someone did.

Well, I guess Chet wasn’t too sure John would get up on stage and eat his pie, so he designated me as his second choice. (I’m not sure what I ever did to Mr. Miller to deserve this, but whatever it was, I’m really, really sorry!) I experienced a few minutes of panic, until I saw Gilbert Peers taking John’s place. I was just relaxing, when it was discovered that Bart Yotty had made his escape and a sixth contestant was needed.

Guess who got chosen.

It wasn’t bad enough that I had sit up on stage and try to eat a cream pie with no hands (me, not the pie), but at the end, Tina decided I didn’t have enough pudding and whipped cream on my face and shoved it into what was left of my chocolate cream pie. And evidently Gil Peers didn’t think that was funny enough, so he picked up what was left of someone else’s pie and dumped it on my head.

In fact, Gil was a pretty busy guy all during the contest. Not only was he slurping up his pudding and whipped cream as fast as he could, he was alternately pushing Larry and I, who happened to be unlucky enough to be sitting on either side of Gil, down into our pies as often as he could. Gosh, he’s a fun guy!

By the way, Gil won the pie-eating contest. His prize was a chocolate cream pie donated by the Kalona Bakery.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Patsy King for making the cream pies for the contest. They were delicious. I think. You really don’t get the full benefit of a pie’s flavor when you’re trying to eat it without any utensils. I’d especially like to thank Patsy for making the pies crustless. It was hard enough getting the pudding and whipped cream out of my hair, without having to fight with a crust, too.

From top to bottom

During an earlier break in the Variety Show, the Ugly Legs Contest was held. You may remember the picture of ugly legs we used in the publicity for this contest. Those legs were so ugly, no one wanted to enter the contest ‘cause they figured there was no way to beat them.

Luckily, those legs went fishing last weekend, so we were able to cajole, beg and/or threaten nine other pairs of legs (attached to nine really good sports ñ thanks, guys) into entering the competition. The stage was arranged so contestants entered from the rear of the stage and stood behind a curtain for the judging, so nothing but their legs were visible.

Not only was this the only fair way to conduct the contest, guaranteeing no one would know who they were was the only way to get these guys on stage.

It was a stiff (and hairy) competition; we’ve got some really ugly legs in Kalona. Audience reaction was used to pick the winner (or loser, depending on how you look at it). The legs that got the most applause and were, therefore, declared the winners, belonged to none other than Ellis Swartzendruber.

Congratulations, Ellis. Winning this award is something your grandchildren can be proud of you for. Maybe you can make it a family tradition or something. Maybe your son, Darwin, can be talked into entering the contest next year, although I’ve heard from a pretty reliable source (that would be his wife) that Darwin’s legs aren’t all that ugly. Oh well, he’s got a year to work on them.

Second and third place went to Mike Ferguson and Doug Morgan, not necessarily in that order. Actually, they sorta tied.

Prizes for the Ugly Leg Contest were provided by Peggy’s Place, Carol’s Creations and Amy’s Hair Shoppe, although I don’t think there’s a beauty parlor in town who could do much for some of those legs.

Whose legs were those, anyway?

Now, for all of you who have been wondering whose legs we used in our publicity, the suspense is about to end. But before I tell you who that was, I just want to say that taking that picture was one of the hardest (and strangest) jobs I’ve ever had to do. I had nightmares for weeks after that experience. And not just because they were such ugly legs.

I’m going to stretch my authority just a little bit here and declare those legs officially The Ugliest Legs in Kalona, in Iowa, in The United States of America, in The Western Hemisphere and, Perhaps, in The Whole Entire World. Congratulations, Short Peterseim, for having the ugliest legs I ever hope to see (Meg should be glad she took after her mother!).

Saturday’s festivities

After Friday night, Saturday was pretty anticlimactic. Lots of fun, but very few surprises.

The pie-baking contest went pretty smoothly. Joe Winters from KCRG and Mary Sharpe from The Cedar Rapids Gazette were our celebrity judges (Renee Chou had to work). I also dragged Chet Miller (I owed him one after Friday evening) and Dave Hochstetler, vice-president of Hills Bank Kalona, in as judges. I needed one more in case of a tie, so Nicholas TeBockhorst, son of Dave and Lori TeBockhorst, bravely volunteered to help out.

Cookie judges were Kevin Cortum (son of Bill and Colette), Cody Marek (you know whose son he is), Aaron TeBockhorst (Dave and Lori again), Shelly Merck (daughter of Lynn and Donna), Kayla Swartzendruber and Hannah Swartzendruber (Tina and Darwin’s girls).

We had a tie in the cookie judging so I roped Lynn Merck, who was hanging around doing nothing, into being our tie-breaker. He did a fine job, I must say.

There was only one entry in the Ugly Cake Contest. Evidently, we have only good cake decorators in Kalona. Oh well, our one entry was REALLY ugly. It was decorated to look like a very full kitty litter box, complete with Tootsie Rolls bent and twisted to look like…..well, you know what I mean.

So, who won what?

Before I tell you that, I want to thank a few people. The Kalona News, Farmers Savings Bank and Hills Bank Kalona furnished the prize money for the baking contests; Hills Bank Kalona allowed us to hold it in their conference room, and I couldn’t have handled it without the most able assistance of Colette Cortum and Rosemary Fisher, both of whom knew more about what we were doing than I did. Thank you, one and all.

And the winners are…..

First place in each category won $15 in Kalona Kash, second place won $10 in Kalona Kash and third place received a ribbon.

Cherry Pie: first place, Rosella Schrock; second place, Ruby Miller; third place, Mary Bender.

Berry Pie: first place, Mary Bender; second place, Ruby Miller; third place, Mary Yoder.

Peach Pie: first place, Ruby Miller; second place, Mary Yoder; third place, Mary Bender.

Apple Pie: first place, Mary Yoder; second place, Mary Bender; third place, Rosella Schrock.

Cookies: first place, Tyson Schrock; second place, Kayla Swartzendruber; third place, Chris Passmore.

Ugly Cake: first, second and third place, Hannah Swartzendruber.

Other winners

There were lots of other contests and, therefore, lots of other winners last weekend, but, as usual, I’m allowed only so much space every week, so I can’t list them all here. They are listed somewhere in the paper, though, so if you’re really interested, look for them (I’d start looking on the front page, ‘cause I bet that’s where they are. Some of them may be in the Sports section.).

Thank You!!!

I am going to take the time and space to thank a few more people who helped make Kalona Days special. In addition to the contest sponsors mentioned above, Ellen’s Sewing Center and The Bird’s Nest sponsored the Bed Races, Shear Image sponsored the Little Miss and Mr. Contest and JW’s Foods sponsored the Grocery Cart Race. Thanks, guys.

Next year

So, Kalona Days is all over for another year. Now it’s time to start planning next year’s events. On second thought, maybe we’ll wait a couple of months. I think we’ve all had just about as much fun as we can stand for one summer. I know I have. I also know I won’t be able to look at a chocolate cream pie without shuddering for a very long time. And if Gil Peers sees me coming with a cream pie in my hands, he might be wise to head a different direction.


Guess what kind of recipes I’m sharing this week.


Old Fashioned Cream Pie

1 cup sugar (1/3 brown - 2/3 white)

1 T. flour

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

2 egg whites

Mix sugar, flour, salt and cream. Add beaten egg whites. Fill unbaked pie shell. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.

Kitty Litter Cake

1 spice or German chocolate cake mix

1 white cake mix

1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix

1 package white sandwich cookies

green food coloring

12 small Tootsie Rolls

1 new kitty litter box

1 new kitty litter box liner

1 new pooper scooper

Prepare cake mixes and bake according to box directions (any size pan). Prepare pudding; chill until ready to assemble. Crumble sandwich cookies in small batches in food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup of crumbs, add a few drops of green food coloring and mix using fork or shake in a jar.

When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble into a large bowl. Toss with half the remaining cookie crumbs and chilled pudding. You probably won’t need all the pudding, mix the cake and “feel” it, you don’t want it soggy, just moist; gently combine.

Line litter box. Put mixture into box. Put 3 unwrapped tootsie rolls in microwave safe dish and heat until softened. Shape ends so they are no longer blunt, curving slightly. Repeat with 3 more tootsie rolls and bury in cake mixture. Sprinkle the other half of cookie crumbs over top. Scatter green crumbles lightly over top (chlorophyll in cat litter).

Heat 3 tootsie rolls in microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Spread remaining tootsie rolls over top; take one and heat until pliable, hang over side of litter box, sprinkle with cookie crumbs.

Chocolate Fudge Pie


4 oz cold and firm unsalted butter

1 cup unsifted flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp granulated sugar

3 tbsp ice water

Cut the butter (1 stick) lengthwise into quarters. Cut the pieces ñ all together — into 1/4 inch slices. Refrigerate.

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal chopping blade. Add the cold butter and pulse 4-5 times — no more. With the motor running add the ice water all at once through the feed tube and process only for 7-8 seconds — no longer. The ingredients should not hold together now. Remove from the processor bowl and press together until they hold together and form a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a floured pastry cloth, with a floured rolling pin roll out the dough into a 13-inch circle. Roll it up loosely on the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie plate, centering it carefully. Carefully ease the dough down on the sides of the plate, making it a little thicker on the sides. Trim, fold and flute the edge as you wish. With a fork prick holes 1/4 inch apart in the bottom and sides of the pastry.

Place the shell in the freezer for 15 minutes or more until it is firm. About 20 minutes before baking. Adjust a rack 1/3 up from the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degree F. To keep the pastry from puffing up, cut a 12 inch square of aluminum foil and place it, shiny side down, in the frozen shell. Press it into place all over. Do not fold corners of foil over rim, let them stand up. Fill foil æ full with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 13 minutes until set and slightly colored on the edges. Remove plate from oven. Reduce heat to 400 degree F. Remove pie weights by lifting up corners of foil.

Return plate to oven and continue to bake for 8-10 minutes. If shell starts to puff up anywhere, reach into oven and poke with cake tester to released rapped air. Bake till edges are golden and bottom is dry. Cool on a rack.


4 oz unsalted butter

4 oz unsweetened chocolate

4 large eggs

3 tsp corn syrup

1.5 cups granulated sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup milk

Lower oven heat to 350 degree F. In top of small double boiler over warm water on moderate heat melt butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Set aside. In a bowl beat eggs to mix. Add corn syrup, sugar, salt, nutmeg, vanilla and milk. Stir to mix. Add chocolate mixture and beat well. Pour into prepared crust. Bake for about 33 minutes until a small sharp knife gently inserted near edge (all the way to the bottom) comes out barely — but not completely — clean. If knife is truly clean, the pie is over-baked.

Cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serve with whipped cream.