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Two Minnesotans among finalists for national wild rice recipe contest

By Carol Stender
cstender@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 10/03/2013 4:33 PM

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Cooking, especially with Minnesota ingredients, is a family affair for Anne Lauer and Katie Schlick.

Anne, of Hugo, encouraged her niece, Katie, of St. Cloud, to enter the national "Get Wild with Wild Rice" recipe contest. Now the two Minnesotans are among 10 finalists vying for the People's Choice Award.

Aunt Anne won the contest last year and is excited to have Katie involved. The annual contest, which celebrates National Rice Month in September, is a fun way to find new recipes for wild rice, she said.

"I'm always amazed at the creative ideas and I enjoy trying other finalists' entries," Anne said.

Both women are known to tweak a recipe or two themselves.

"I'm definitely an experimenter," Anne said. "In this case, the idea started with the breakfast burritos I make for my family when they're hunting. I started thinking about using wild rice instead of eggs and then looked at the other contest sponsor to see what flavors I could combine. My family has fallen victim to a few of my bad ideas, and they're usually quick to offer suggestions or improvements. They're good sports about being testers."

Katie is single and, considering her nostalgia for family meals, said the competition gave her an opportunity to cook with Aunt Anne from afar.

"The Zesty Wild Rice Skillet" combines hearty wild rice flavors with fresh peppers and a vibrant sauce," she said.

Katie adds to her own recipes, but says prior to this contest, she's never written the changes down. When Anne suggested she enter the contest, they discussed options and ideas about her skillet recipe.

"I did write it down," she said. "However, in may own kitchen, I'm always trying new things as I prepare daily meals. These variations are never put on paper."

They learned cooking basics while growing up on the St. Martin dairy farm that's been in the family for more than 100 years.

Anne, the only daughter, was assigned to help her mom in the garden and kitchen.

"She encouraged me to try recipes and was always making notes in the margins of cookbooks," Anne said. "We were active in 4-H and I enjoyed exhibiting at the Stearns County Fair. That's probably where the love of entering contests began."

Katie's cooking interests started in high school home life classes.

"As I recall, it was mostly meal planning and nutrition with a rare cooking day," she said of the courses. "Oddly, I remember learning of the science behind leavening agents. Perhaps most importantly, the classes encouraged my cooking creativity. They taught me that although my mom had great recipes, her way did not have to be the only way. Also, I learned of many new foods I had not experienced with the traditional meat and potatoes spread presented at my childhood dinner table."

The two Paynesville High School grads chose different career paths. Anne received a textiles and journalism degree form the University of Minnesota and a masters of business from the University of St. Thomas. Anne received a bachelors of science degree in nursing from the College of St. Benedict and is within weeks of completing her masters of science in nursing degree from the University of Phoenix.

Cooking is an outlet for them. They enjoy having friends and family gather around the table for a good visit.

"And food seems to draw them in," Anne said.

They're excited to use wild rice.

"It's a Minnesota product and allows me to support the local economy," Katie said. "I like it because it has more texture and flavor than white rice. From a nutrition standpoint, it also has a bit more protein and fiber. It's easy to prepare and cooks like other rices."

When people think of wild rice, they think of wild rice soup, she said. But it works in many dishes.

"Be creative!" she said.

Anne agrees.

"I like to give Minnesota products as gifts, but many people look blank when they receive wild rice," she said. "I started experimenting with it so I could have a few recipes to suggest. I like to cook a big kettle of it and then freeze it in one-cup portions for adding to recipes —everything from breads to soups to casseroles."

Their families are excited that the two are both finalists in the competition, but they need your vote.

Check out mnwildrice.org to cast a vote for either "Hit the Road" Wild Rice Burritos or Zesty Wild Rice Skillet. Voting ends Sept. 30.