For Kim Witt, having her family together in the kitchen is the icing on life’s cake.
The third generation is a charm for Witt as daughter Blair Cobbett and 3-month-old granddaughter Susanna Cobbett are already mixing it up together in her kitchen.
Kim has been married to WDAF-TV anchorman Phil Witt for nearly 40 years. The couple has two more grown children — Laurel and Andrew — who are living in Portland, Ore.
Kim says all of her children know their way around the kitchen, but it was Blair who chose a creative culinary career. Recently, Blair — a trained pastry chef — moved back to the Kansas City area with her husband, Christopher, and baby, Susanna.
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Blair bakes old family recipes and looks forward to someday passing them along to a new generation.
“I grew up cooking with my mom and want the same thing for my own family,” Blair says. “You’re never too young to learn about the importance of eating good food around a table with those you love.”
Residence: Weatherby Lake
Occupation: Exercise instructor
Special cooking interest: Bringing family recipes to life
Kim, is cooking “a piece of cake” for you? I feel very fortunate to come from a long line of good Midwestern cooks. Growing up in Sioux City, Iowa, my 87-year-old mother, Mary Johnson, still lives there and continues to plant a beautiful vegetable garden with fresh produce that is savored throughout the summer.
I have five siblings, and my mother was the original Stone Soup cook. She could make something wonderful to eat from the garden or by using the most common of ingredients.
When the entire extended family gets together, food is one of the most important parts of our gathering. While we are eating lunch, we are already planning what’s for dinner that night.
To look at you, you would never know that you are so easily wooed by food. I am a teacher by profession, so it was a natural fit for me to become an exercise instructor. I think it’s important to be a good example to your children and show them that a healthy lifestyle includes consistent exercise and eating real, wholesome foods.
That is not to say I don’t indulge in cake, but I try to heed Michael Pollan’s advice when it comes to food: Eat real food made with wholesome, unprocessed ingredients; eat mostly plants; and don’t eat too much. Our family prefers to make almost everything from scratch and use local ingredients as much as possible. I also try to walk every day with Blair and Susanna. Being a grandma is just great.
Was this cake recipe passed down to you from your own grandmother? This is mostly my paternal grandmother Florence Johnson’s recipe, and also what I pieced together from family members. We still use a lot of the old family recipes, but since Blair is a trained savory and pastry chef, she definitely tweaks recipes. Her addition of instant espresso powder really gives the chocolate more depth.
I am proud of all of my children and their accomplishments, but it is wonderful to be able to connect with them on such a basic level, as when we are making something together in the kitchen.
How do you cultivate a real love of food in children? Make dinnertime an important part of your day as a family. Even when the children were little and Phil was doing the 6 and 10 o’clock news, eating together was important. Sometimes, I would bring food to the station and we would eat in the conference room as a family.
When I would shop with the children in the grocery store, I would allow them to choose any fruit or vegetable they wanted to try. That’s when we discovered the deliciousness of artichokes, pomegranates and ugli fruit.
I look forward to the day when I can have Grandma Camp at my home and swim, sew and cook with Susanna and any future grandchildren — just like my mother and grandmother did with me.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a cook.
Chocolate Ice Cream Roll Cake
Makes 15 servings
1 tablespoon butter, softened for greasing pan
6 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa, divided
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules (optional)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar (optional garnish)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules (optional)
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 15-inch by 10-inch sheet pan with parchment paper and grease it with softened butter. Set aside.
To make the cake: In a large mixing bowl, whip egg whites until frothy using an electric stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Add cream of tartar to egg whites, and continue to whip until they form stiff peaks, but do not overbeat.
With mixer set on medium, slowly add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until entire amount is whipped into egg whites and mixture is glossy. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat egg yolks, slowly adding remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup baking cocoa, optional instant coffee granules, flour and salt. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into yolk mixture. Add vanilla and stir until just combined.
Using a rubber scraper, carefully fold about 1/3 of the whipped egg white mixture into the chocolate batter. Continue carefully folding remaining egg whites into batter until just barely combined, taking care not to deflate whipped egg whites.
Pour cake batter into prepared pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cake surface springs back when lightly touched.
While cake is baking, place a clean tea towel, measuring at least 17 inches by 12 inches, on the countertop, with the long side nearest you. Sift 1/4 cup baking cocoa evenly over surface of tea towel.
When cake is done, immediately invert it onto prepared tea towel and remove parchment paper. Sift 1/4 cup baking cocoa over the surface of cake. With the 15-inch side of cake nearest you, carefully roll up the cake in the towel and allow it to cool completely.
Carefully unroll cake on countertop. Spread softened ice cream over entire surface of cake. Gently roll cake back up to yield a jelly roll shape that is 15 inches long. Wrap rolled cake in foil and place in freezer.
To make the chocolate sauce: Into a large sauce pot, bring sugar, cocoa, water, optional salt and instant coffee granules to rolling boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Slowly pour in evaporated milk, and continue to boil for another 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Sauce will thicken slightly. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Allow mixture to cool.
To serve, remove cake roll from freezer and unwrap from foil. Dust with optional confectioners’ sugar. Using a serrated knife, cut 15, 1-inch pieces. Place on individual plates and ladle chocolate sauce over all.
Per serving: 244 calories (40 percent from fat), 11 grams total fat (6 grams saturated), 115 milligrams cholesterol, 32 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 113 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.