Ribbons keep Loomis baking up a storm
She’s proudest of her bridal cake that she crocheted in 1998 and took ‘Best in Show.’ That same year she also got ‘Best in Show’ for a crocheted doll’s wedding dress that had 1,000 beads and pearls.
She claimed that both projects took two months each but were well worth the investment.
But, Loomis was always modest about her baking, even though her late husband, Robert Loomis, used to tell her she had the best apple pie around and she ought to enter it in the county fair.
He died in 2004, and as a tribute to him, she entered a caramel apple crunch pie in the Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair contest the following summer, and even surprised herself that it took not only the blue ribbon, but was judged fine enough to be entered in a state competition.
A snowstorm actually prevented her from seeing how well her pie would do against other county winners, but Loomis said not to worry as there’s always another day.
This year, in addition to entering crafts in a number of different categories, she has designs on a few baking contests (apple pie, chocolate cake, angel food cake, and cupcakes, all from scratch) which made her home just across the county line in Springville Township smell like a small bakery on Sunday.
It was not an unfamiliar aroma for a foster grandmother at ElkLakeElementary School who loves volunteering with her 128 kids.
The 72-year-old Loomis said she would run her entries up to the fair after school Monday and then would hope for the best.
She said her mother, the late Elmira Dennis Jayne, hailed from Noxen and cooked in the old Pennsylvania Dutch style. When Reba turned 12, her mother insisted she learn how to bake, and she’s been doing it ever since with no regrets.
The Forty-Fort native admits to becoming a more ‘sophisticated’ baker after taking home ec classes at Forty Fort High School and can’t imagine ever using a cake mix.
“Pies are my favorite,” she said with a twinkle in her eye, adding that this year’s apple pie has a little apple cider and a little apple jelly in addition to fresh Macintosh apples.
The secret to a prize-winning pie or other baked item, Loomis said, is “ambition. After a while you just know what to put in to make it delicious.”
She said her three grandchildren and five great great grandchildren like to watch grandma cook “because they like to lick the bowls” and her foster kids love the holidays when she brings in all sorts of treats to school.
Her own kids have also taken to her baked goods, including her son who works for Community Bank & Trust, and her daughter Panda Loomis of Montrose, who has emerged as her mother’s fiercest competitor on the baked goods fair circuit.
At last month’s Harford fair, Panda’s apple walnut pie took the Judge’s Delight Award, but mom also came home with a blue ribbon for her cherry crumb cake which she said was really a nontraditional cherry pie.
She wanted to try something different for the Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair and thinks her peanutbutter and jelly cupcakes will be a hit as well as the pie and other goodies.
Are they good enough for a blue ribbon?
“You bet,” she smiled, “but that’s for others to judge. We’ve got a lot of great bakers out there, and others who are quite good with their hands.”
“May the best person win.”