Crab cakes with a winning twist

— At 83 years old, Mary Ann Lee of Clifton Park has no intention of slowing down.

“The way I look at it, I might be 83, but it’s only a number,” said Lee. “I’m in great health and I feel great.”

On an endless quest to stay busy, Lee has an unusual hobby to keep herself occupied: entering cooking contests.

“There’s a website on the computer and it lists all these contests out there. I pick out which one I want, which one I’m suited for,” said Lee.

Lee’s latest culinary creation, Potato Crusted Crab Cakes, stood out from almost 400 recipes and won her $250 in the Phillips Foods’ Ultimate Crab Challenge Recipe Contest.

“I was surprised,” said Lee. “I didn’t make the grand prize but I was very happy and I checked out the recipe for the grand prize, a pumpkin soup with crab, and I can’t wait to make it.”

There were four $250 prizes awarded, each attached to a different grocery store (Lee submitted her recipe with Price Chopper, her supermarket of choice), and contestants were challenged to create a dish using Phillips crabmeat.

Lee happened to be on a crabmeat kick when she entered, having just returned from a family trip to Baltimore where Phillips Foods, Inc. originates.

“I ate nothing but Phillips crab cakes the whole weekend,” said Lee. “I just had a feast and when I came home I found this on the website and said ‘I’ll enter and see what happens.’”

With crab on the mind, she set out to make her crab cakes shine. The secret ingredient? Instant potato flakes.

“I thought to make it a little bit different and yet retain the basic crab cake. I thought, why not put in potato flakes and get a crisp on the outside? And it worked,” said Lee.

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