Musician finds harmony in the kitchen

November 12, 2003|EMILY TOADVINE

Many people know Jamie Hamblin as an accomplished flutist and pianist, but her reputation as a cook is growing. For the past two years, she has won the baking contest at the Forkland Heritage Festival and Revue. She entered for the first time three years ago and took third place.

Last year, she won with a Lemon Blueberry Cake with White Chocolate Icing. This year, she excelled with Carrot Cake with Deluxe Cream Cheese Icing.

The cakes in the contest are sliced and sold in a booth to raise money for the festival. Hamblin made another one of her blue ribbon Carrot Cakes for the community center's Halloween festival. It brought in $25 when it was auctioned.

Hamblin, whose grandmother, Doris Purdom, was a co-chairman of the festival, says she is willing to go to a little extra trouble to support the center.


"Anything I can do to get money in there, I'll gladly go ahead and do it," says Hamblin, who also has written the festival's play for the past two years.

She thinks it's important to support the community center, which was formed in 1972 at the site that once was the Forkland school, because it unites the long-time families in the area.

"Those people have been there since before Kentucky was a state in that one little area."

Hamblin clarifies that she is not the best cook at the festival events.

"I'm not worthy of Lois Ellis," she says of a woman who is known for her jam cakes and wedding cakes.

Hamblin credits her grandmother with instilling her with baking talent.

"I guess it was having Sunday lunch with her and seeing all the things she would make," says Hamblin. She can always count on the annual Southern Living cookbook as a Christmas gift from her grandmother.

Hamblin's mother, Dianna Hamblin, doesn't crowd her daughter in the kitchen.

"We swear up and down it skipped a generation," Jamie Hamblin says. "She's kind of amazed that I like all this domestic stuff."

Her mother does support her interest. One of her Christmas gifts last year was a Williams Sonoma ice cream maker that allows two flavors to be made at once. She likes gadgets from this company.

"I love all the weird stuff like that," she says, noting that she is a huge fan of Martha Stewart.

"I love Martha. I'm obsessed with that woman," says Hamblin, who subscribes to Stewart's magazine.

The main thing she likes about Stewart is the way she presents food.

"I love to cook and I love to be artistic. I try to make it look better than the picture," she says.

She loves all types of food and is trying to learn about Asian cooking. When it's time to cut up vegetables for dishes, Hamblin doesn't mind.

"I love anytime I get the opportunity to chop vegetables. It's very therapeutic."

When she's not in the kitchen, the 24-year-old Hamblin often is substitute teaching or giving private flute lessons. She earned her degree in music education and is working on a master's degree in music performance. She became interested in playing the flute when she watched a film as a 6-year-old. She joined the Boyle County High School band at age 11, but was in the percussion section. Her musical leaning comes from the Hamblin side of the family.

"My whole family has been in Danville's band forever," she says.

At age 16, she gave in to her dream to play flute.

"I picked up a flute at The Castle (a pawn shop) for $100 and taught myself to play," she says.

After finding a private tutor, she began entering several contests and wound up with several college scholarship offers. She's not sure what her next step will be after she completes her master's degree.

"I feel like I'm just floating around trying to figure out what I want to do," she says.

On the days when she's experimenting as a chef, she more liable to be bouncing in the kitchen than floating.

"Every time I cook, I wear tennis shoes. I do so much running back and forth," she says.

And just because she has shared her recipe for Carrot Cake, don't think it will taste just like hers.

"There are certain things I put in there that I would never tell anybody."

Carrot Cake Supreme

Buttermilk Glaze adds extra moistness to this cake and makes it incredibly rich. Cover and chill the cake, and serve it the second day; it'll slice neater.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 large eggs

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups grated carrots

8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

3 1/2-ounce can flaked coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

Buttermilk Glaze

Deluxe Cream Cheese Frosting

Grease three 9-inch round cake pans; line with wax paper. Lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set aside.

Stir together first four ingredients. Beat eggs and next four ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Fold in carrots and next three ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

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