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Crab cakes with a winning twist

— The Paul Newman cook-off ranks high on her list of food experiences, said Lee.

“I put in a recipe for ‘Pops Macaroons’ [an homage to Newman’s nickname, ‘Pops’] and it was a macaroon recipe but rather than use flour, I used cooked popcorn and ground it up in a food processor and used that as a base,” said Lee.

Her innovation scored her an unforgettable experience, for many reasons.

“I really got to meet Paul Newman, which was quite a treat,” said Lee. “My husband and I had a lovely weekend in New York City. We stayed at the Plaza Hotel, all expenses paid.”

Pillsbury cook-offs also sent Lee on all-expense-paid trips, but those times, she was a little out of her comfort zone.

“Both contests were Quick and Easy. I’m a scratch cook and always have been so it was a pretty hard form to change and go into this with something edible and tasty and interesting, but I did it anyway,” said Lee. “It gave me a new tip on it and how to make it much easier to prepare.”

Lee prepared a pineapple tart the first time and a southwestern flatbread the second time.

She spends a lot of time dreaming up innovative recipes, but her day-to-day cooking is much easier.

“I live by myself so everything is kind of simple. There are times when I do like to go back and cook; I’ll make a roast beef, chicken soup … I entertain some of the family when they come visit,” said Lee. “I can cook but I can’t eat it all. I need someone here to help me eat it!”

Lee’s thirst for activity isn’t satiated by cooking contests alone.

“I enjoy other things like crocheting, jigsaw puzzles; I like to read and drive and visit stores,” said Lee. “I just keep tooling around.”

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