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Local baker 'takes the cake'

Jane Freed holds up a Rhubarb plant. Photo by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
June 30, 2010 - According to Jane Freed the main ingredient to any recipe is love.

"You never cook or bake for someone you don't like, she said. "If you're doing something out of love you take time with it, you have patience with it."

The Independence Township resident recently won the national Springtime Cake contest on for her Rhubarb Coffee Cake. As the winners as well as received four blue ribbons for other submitted recipes.

"The thing is they sent me an e-mail telling me I was a finalist for the cake contest. My husband was here and I was just running through the house saying 'I'm a finalist' and I was so happy," she said. "They asked if I could send my phone number in case they had a few questions about recipe. I immediately gave them my phone number, but less than 20 minutes they called me and said 'we must apologize to you. You weren't to receive that e-mail that you are a finalist.' My heart just sank and then she said 'No, you're the winner.' I was ecstatic."

Freed said she came across a link to the website for Just a Pinch, while home sick with pneumonia she was searching for recipes online. Freed said it was basically a networking site with e-mail, and chat rooms for anyone interested in cooking from beginner cooks to professional chefs.

"Those 10 days I was sick I was online everyday and submitted 50 recipes. When they ( get a recipe they put it on a page and then the next one goes on a new page, she said. "I actually stopped because I was embarrassed, there were pages of just all me, and nobody was on as much as me."

Freed is a collector of vintage cookbooks from the 1930's and 1940's, including an original copy of a recipe First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt published in a newspaper. Freed said she likes a lot of vintage recipes because they remind her of her grandmother who was a great cooks and baker.

"My grandmother unfortunately died when I was 11 years old, so she didn't have time to teach me how to cook, but she was the cook in the family," she said. "My mother couldn't give me any help because she just didn't get into cooking. She was more into sewing, which I couldn't do."

Freed said her mother's idea of dessert was going to the local bakery in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, where she grew up. She said she actually learned to cook from woman at her church.

"Church woman are excellent cooks," she said. "I would buy a church recipe cookbook from women for a fundraiser before I would buy these top gourmet books."

She noted Amish woman are also very good cooks. Freed said when her husband Bud and her got married she loved to entertain and have people over to cook for them, but always asked someone else to bring the dessert.

"Cooking was just a pinch of this and a pinch of that, "she said. "Baking required precise measurements and everything, it was a science and I didn't like science."

Freed also said in her early years she was busy in her career and didn't have the patience for baking, but around age 45 when life slowed down she decided to have a go at it and fell in love with it and enjoys making her own recipes.

"Using exact measurements and why things work as they do, she said. "Knowing those things you can make up a recipe yourself."

She said Bud is a wonderful gardener all of her fruits, raspberries, blackberries, peaches and rhubarb are grown in the backyard.

"That helps a lot," she said." The fresher the fruit, the better it taste."

Freed also has a lot of sugar free and low carb recipes on for those looking for healthier foods. Wanting to be healthier as well as look and feel better about herself, Freed set out on a diet to lose 150 pounds four years ago by using everyday food.

"I didn't want to give Jenny Craig anymore $20, I didn't want to join Weight Watchers again, I didn't want to drink Slim Fast," Freed said. "I wanted to know what I could live and do on a normal daily basis for the rest of my life that would help me lose weight and keep it off."

After doing some research, she found weight-loss programs all call for "no refined sugar and no white flour."

By eliminating those two things from her diet, she lost 150 pounds in a year and has kept it off now for four years.

"There is absolute no nutritional value in white flour," she said. "The body doesn't know what to do with it so it's just stored. If a woman is heavy in the hips or a heavy in the stomach, sugar and white flour has something to do with it."

She and Bud have lived in Independence Township for five years, where Bud has been the head pastor at First Missionary Church of Clarkston off Clintonville Road.

They have three sons: John, 29 who is a pastor in Indianapolis, James, 25 who is the city manager in Lakeview and youngest city manager in the history of the United States, and Joseph, 25 is the top salesman for Comcast also in Indianapolis.

Jane currently works at the Wingate Hotel in Auburn Hills as their breakfast cook and baker.

She and Bud will enjoy a limo ride from Clarkston to Nashville Tennessee in July where Jane will show how to make her cake on a TV show.

"I've been a teacher, in corporate banking and my 15 minutes of fame is for my rhubarb coffee cake," she said. "That's amazing to me.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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