43rd Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest

Madison’s Kramer to compete
for $1 million in national bake-off

She qualified with a unique breakfast recipe

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(April 2008) – Each year, tens of thousands of amateur cooks submit creative recipes to the Pillsbury Corp hoping to earn one of the coveted finalist spots in the competition. This year, Madison, Ind., resident Lisa Kramer was one of those talented cooks who made the top 100.

Lisa Kramer

Photo by Konnie McCollum

Lisa Kramer created her recipe
during a visit with a friend.

On April 14, Kramer will compete in Dallas for the $1 million grand prize in the 43rd Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest. The contest has been recognizing and rewarding creative home cooks for nearly 60 years and has become the premier cooking contest in the country.
The annual Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest is sponsored by General Mills, General Electric, Old El Paso, The J.M. Smucker Co., Eggland’s Best, Land O’Lakes Inc., Fisher Nuts and Domino Foods Inc. The 100 recipes were chosen from among best original entires in five recipe categories: Breakfast and Brunches, Pizza Creations, Entertaining Appetizers, Old El Paso Mexican Favorites and Sweet Treats. Finalists had to use at least two different eligible products in their recipes.
Each of the 100 finalists received a General Electric microwave with enhanced cooking performance, $100 and a trip to Dallas for the bakeoff. In addition to the million-dollar prize, the grand prize winner will receive a General Electric Profile Double Wall Oven with PreciseAir Convection and will choose $7,000 in additional kitchen appliances. Each of the four remaining division winners will receive $5,000 plus a General Electric Profile Double Oven Freestanding Range with PreciseAir Convection and two self-clean ovens.
Kramer, 47, will compete in the “Breakfast and Brunch” category in the contest. Her recipe, “Cranberry-Pecan Crescent Sausage Wraps,” is a combination of both sweet and savory flavors rolled into one dish. If she wins her division, she will then compete against the other division winners for the grand prize.
“I just simply can’t believe I am one of the finalists,” said Kramer. “I didn’t think I had a chance because there are so many great cooks out there.”
Her adventure with the cooking contest actually began about three years ago when her friend Donna Thomas came to visit. At the time, Kramer was living in California and owned a bed and breakfast. Thomas was helping Kramer with some remodeling.
“We were taking a break, and Lisa cooked us breakfast,” said Thomas in a phone interview from her Mississippi home. “I thought the breakfast she cooked was awesome; I didn’t realize at the time that she had made up the recipe.”
Kramer said she simply “threw some things together” like she normally does when cooking and was surprised when Thomas raved over how good the dish was. “Cooking is simply a necessity for me,” she said. “I really didn’t think it was a big deal.”
Later, when Thomas realized Kramer’s dish was an original recipe, she convinced her to enter the recipe into the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest, which she had seen on television. “I told Lisa she definitely had a winning recipe; I knew the odds were great, but I believed she could win, “said Thomas. “Even if she doesn’t win the grand prize, it is such an honor to be a finalist out of so many other cooks.”
Kramer said it took some time to write the actual recipe before she sent it to the competition because she had to “tweak it by trial and error.”
Kramer has invited Thomas to travel to the competition with her. “This is so exciting,” she said. “We will have such a fun time.” They plan to take some time and tour the area after the competition.
In addition to cooking, Kramer takes care of her 81-year-old mother Ruth and manages their 33-acre farm in Jefferson County, Ind. She is also writes detective stories and is working to finish one of her 11 novels currently under way.
But her talent doesn’t end there; she built the table top in her kitchen and the bookshelves in her great room that house her more than 3,000 books. Plus, she is a talented musician who has played her bass violin with big band professionals.

• For more information about the 43rd Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest, visit www.bakeoff.com.

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