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posted: 9/11/2013 3:00 PM

From the Food Editor: Bakers get their chance in the contest ring

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Right now our savory cooks are having their moment in the spotlight, but soon enough our sweet bakers will get their chance to shine.

The Daily Herald Media Group along with Thermador and Novak & Parker are seeking bakers to represent the suburbs at America's Baking and Sweet Show Nov. 15-17 at the Schaumburg Renaissance Convention Center.

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Between now and Oct. 9, we're looking for bakers to submit their best recipes in the following categories: bread pudding, butter tarts, carrot muffins, Christmas fruit cake, coconut macaroons, lemon pound cake, marble bundt cake, oatmeal cookies, peanut brittle and pecan pie. Entry details are at dailyherald.com/contest/baking.

Baking experts will review the recipes and invite the bakers of the top three recipes in each of the categories to present their treats to a panel of judges Nov. 7 during our Home Baking Event at the Mount Prospect appliance store. Recipes will be evaluated on taste, creativity, appearance and texture. The top recipe in each category will then compete for $1,200 at America's Baking and Sweets Show.

Stay tuned for details on how you can be at the Nov. 7 event to see the winners announced, watch holiday baking demonstrations and learn treat decorating tips from myself and other local experts.

Getting crafty: Beer connoisseur and writer John Holl will be in the suburbs and city this weekend promoting his new book, "The American Craft Beer Cookbook" (Storey, $19.95).

The book is a must-have for anyone who loves craft beers and enjoys the food that restaurants and brewpubs are creating to pair with artisan ales and lagers. The book profiles breweries from Alabama to Wyoming and shares beer-friendly recipes created by brewers and brewpub chefs.

Illinois represents with recipes from Warrenville's Two Brothers Brewing Company (the Croque Monsieur with Blackberry Onions has me drooling), Galena Brewing Company, Haymarket Pub and Brewery, Piece Brewery & Pizzeria and Half Acre Beer Company (those Braised Duck Legs with Cabbage and Fingerling Potatoes might be Sunday's dinner).

On Friday, Holl will be joined by Chicago's beer geek extraordinaire Randy Mosher for what's being billed as a "Beer and Cheese Smackdown." The two beer-and-food writers will take their best shot at a perfect pairing and you get to decide whose fermentable goes best with fromage. This fun little party takes place 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, at The Beer Temple, 3185 N. Elston Ave., Chicago. The duo will explain their pairings, sign books and maybe even help you find a perfect beer for your next gathering.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, Holl heads to Anderson's Two Doors East, 111 E. Jefferson Ave., Naperville, to talk about the book. He'll be at the Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, at 6 p.m. that evening.

Helping hands: Kids of all ages and their families are invited to join forces with Whole Foods Markets in Kildeer and Schaumburg and Citizens for Conservation on Saturday, Sept. 14, to prepare savannahs and prairie spaces in Barrington for the winter.

The effort is part of the Whole Foods Market's nationwide Kids Day of Service program. The volunteer project kicks off at 9 a.m. at 459 Highway 22, Barrington, and should run two hours. Afterward, the Whole Kids Foundation will provide a salad lunch for the volunteers. To sign up, visit wfmschcleanup.eventbrite.com.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at dpankey@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend on Facebook at Facebook.com/DebPankey.DailyHerald or follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter @PankeysPlate.

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