Contest Winners

Winner of Your Best Fair Food

August 24, 2011

Congratulations to hardlikearmour, whose State Fair Cream Puffs won this week's contest for Your Best Fair Food, earning her big prizes from VikingOXO and Tiny Prints, and a spot in the next Food52 cookbook!

fishing  State Fair Cream Puffs

Q&A with hardlikearmour

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Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
Once I thought the taste of the grilled cheese sandwiches would transfer through the side of the electric frying pan my mom was cooking them in so I licked it. In case you're wondering, the taste does not transfer, but the heat sure does!

What's your least favorite food?
Fishy fish. I have not been able to acquire a taste for it.

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
I've been seriously hooked on beverages this summer.  I've made numerous drinking vinegars including Blueberry-Tarragon, Pear, and Mango-Apricot.  I also love my Tea Thyme Soda -- it's really refreshing.

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
I've had the same experience as AntoniaJames. Years ago I somehow thought it would be okay to pour water into a very hot glass baking dish (it was Pyrex after all!)  It was obviously not a good idea, which I figured out the instant the water hit the pan and it shattered into a million tiny bits -- seriously at least a million.  Luckily the mess was contained in the oven, so it was relatively easy to deal with. 

What is your idea of comfort food?
Something cheesy, soft, and warm. A good baked mac & cheese or a bowl of cheesy polenta would do the trick!

Apron or no apron?
I almost always cook without an apron.  

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
I really like the scene in The Fantastic Mr. Fox when the Foxes are eating pancakes for breakfast.  

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
This is the hardest question. I would love to make a fabulous dinner for Temple Grandin. She is a major force in improving the conditions for food animals, and has tremendous insight into animal behavior.

You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
I'm definitely a do-it-yourself kinda gal, but have been more willing to accept help in the kitchen over the past year or so.

When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
I'd love to get pointers on how to clean as you cook. I really lack efficiency!

  • Cake decorating
  • Hardlikearmour's amazing cake-decorating skills. Yes, that's a cake!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • SKK
  • wssmom
  • Midge
  • nannydeb
  • Bevi
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.


SKK August 25, 2011
You are the best! Adore your recipes! I love to fish, but don't like cleaning them so usually throw them back in. Very lazy of me.
hardlikearmour August 25, 2011
Thanks, SKK! I only fish when my dad comes to visit. He's a very avid fly-fisher, and none of his kids really are. He's always very proud when I catch one, no matter how small it is :)
wssmom August 25, 2011
This is wonderful! Congrats on a well-deserved win and what a great Q&A!
hardlikearmour August 25, 2011
Thank you, wssmom!
Midge August 25, 2011
So thrilled for you hla! Big congrats on a much-deserved win!!
hardlikearmour August 25, 2011
Thanks, Midge! I'm still giddy about it this morning!
nannydeb August 25, 2011
Congratulations! I can't wait to make these cream puffs!
hardlikearmour August 25, 2011
Thank you, nannydeb! I hope you give them a try.
Bevi August 25, 2011
My sly old dad used to take me trout fishing for the extra allotment he could pack in my creel. But I caught a fish or two. Love your photos.
hardlikearmour August 25, 2011
That's funny, Bevi! My casting is pretty abominable, but I do manage to catch a fish on occasion. My dad is an excellent fly-fisher, but he hates to eat fish, too! He'd bring a few home when we were kids for my mom, but for the most part he just releases them.
EmilyC August 25, 2011
Many congrats HLA! I enjoyed reading your Q&A -- and I always love your recipes!
hardlikearmour August 25, 2011
Thanks much, EmilyC! I love your recipes, too!
TheWimpyVegetarian August 24, 2011
I'm a huge fan of Temple Grandin too. I was lucky enough to go to a talk she gave to local farmers and ranchers last fall when she was visiting the Bay Area and she was just amazing. Absolutely amazing. And I loved the movie about her! Congrats again on your win, and your cake is genuinely fabulous. Are you taking orders? Do you ship?
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thank you, CS! You're lucky to have seen Temple Grandin talk, she is amazing. I don't take orders, or ship, but if you visit Portland, I'd gladly make you a cake!
Fairmount_market August 24, 2011
Congratulations hardlikearmour. I love the botanical details on your cake: you're a real naturalist!
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thanks, FM! I used cornmeal to add texture to the center of the daisies.
Sagegreen August 24, 2011
Amazing cake! Congrats on the win.
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thanks, SG!
lorigoldsby August 24, 2011
HLA...I hope you get a chance to share one of your amazing recipes with Temple Grandin! If that ever works out, my daughter and i will do the dishes or mop the floors to get an invite to that dinner ( well really, probably ANY dinner at your place, But until then, we appreciate your contributions each week! Congrats on a well deserved win!
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thanks, lori! I doubt I'll ever get to make dinner for her, but I'll let you know if it happens ;)
healthierkitchen August 24, 2011
congrats! That is one gorgeous cake!
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thank you, hk!
gingerroot August 24, 2011
Really love your Q & A, hardlikearmour!! Cheers to a fabulous cook, baker and all around great person and friend. Your pics are wonderful - what an amazing cake!
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thanks, gingerroot! I made the cake for an engagement party.
dymnyno August 24, 2011
Ha Ha...I loved The Fantastic Mr Fox....they ate like animals!!
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
It was awesome! Sometimes I wish I could eat like that.
gingerroot August 24, 2011
That is a great food scene...I love the sound effects as they eat!
Dabblings August 24, 2011
Congratulations! And that cake looks amazing!
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thank you, Dabblings!
mrslarkin August 24, 2011
Hooray hla! So very happy for you! Stick me in the shattering-pyrex-in-the-oven club. Been there, done that!
boulangere August 24, 2011
Oh yeah, me too.
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
I'm glad I have such esteemed company in that maneuver!
boulangere August 24, 2011
If only I'd shattered mine in the oven . . . but noooooooooo.
TXExpatInBKK August 25, 2011
Me too! Only it was a ceramic plate and my brain said, "They use ceramic on the outside of the space shuttle... it'll be FINE..." Doh. Congrats on the win HLA. Love your recipes.
hardlikearmour August 25, 2011
Thanks, tex! It did not take long to realize it was a huge error!
TheWimpyVegetarian August 25, 2011
Yep-me too. But instead of doing it in my own kitchen, I did it in culinary school witnessed by half the class. During a cooking exam.
lapadia August 24, 2011
Love your Q&A and the fun fishing photo! Wondering about the daisies on your amazing cake; are they fondant, too? Oh, and was the cake chocolate, vanilla, carrot, banana ??? It's lovely. Congratulations!
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thanks, lapadia. The flowers are gumpaste. The cake was a yellow cake.
drbabs August 24, 2011
Major congrats, HLA! Love that photo, too!
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thanks, drbabs! It's a rather silly photo, but I like it.
boulangere August 24, 2011
I love the photo of you fishing for non-fishy fish! Your Q&A is fantastic - I'm related to Temple Grandin by marriage, and admire as well her work with food animals. You are a very talented cake designer.
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Catch and release, ladies! Temple Grandin is amazing. I love making cakes.
ChefJune August 24, 2011
Congratulations, HLA. Those Cream Puffs are on my "to do" list.
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thank you, ChefJune! I'd be honored if you made my cream puffs.
aargersi August 24, 2011
Hurrah for HLA! Baker and cook extraordinaire. PERSON extraordinaire. Licker of frying pans. Saver of animals. :-)
hardlikearmour August 24, 2011
Thanks, aargersi! Licking the frying pan was a pure genius move.