Aw, rhubarb!

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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013 12:00 am

Broadcaster Red Barber made it a euphemism for flared tempers on the ballfield.

Stan Moninger of Ralston made it into a pie.

That’s rhubarb. And last Wednesday night at the annual Ralston Independence Day Pie-Baking Contest, Moninger’s strawberry rhubarb pie rode the red-stalked fruit — or is it a vegetable? — to a championship in the Fruit Division of the contest. His was one of at least nine rhubarb-themed offerings in this year’s competition.

“I don’t know what the deal with rhubarb was,” said Kelsey Kummer, a first-year contest judge and a family and consumer sciences teacher at Ralston High School.

“But all the pies with rhubarb in them were very, very good. Some interesting combinations. Maybe it’s the antioxidants in rhubarb, the nutritional value. Maybe there’s just a lot of rhubarb out there this year.”

Look out, Red Barber.

All three of the top finishers in the fruit category at this year’s contest integrated rhubarb into their entries. In addition to Moninger’s pie, second-place finisher Sandi Sandquist went with a strawberry/raspberry/rhubarb combination and third-place medalist Don Johnson’s offering was a rhubarb/apricot/peach concoction.

“I didn’t think too much about it,” Moninger said after claiming his victory. “I had some around and I like it and thought it might make a good pie with the strawberry.”

Moninger said outside of the contest, he doesn’t bake. He’s been entering the contest for a few years now and ended up with a consolation prize two years ago.

Leaving the rhubarb to the fruit artists, entrants in the contests “Other” Division got creative in, well, other ways.

Mike Schilmoeller and wife Diane of La Vista took top honors with their raspberry glazed truffle brownie pie, a delectable-looking treat that was gone inside of two minutes after the contest’s conclusion — bought up by hungry speculators who had already eyed a winner.

“Lots of chocolate,” Diane said of the secret to the win.

She also grated truffles into the chocolate mix the team created and made her own raspberry sauce infused with chocolate.

“She’s an experimentor and tries it out on old Dad,” Mike said. “This was an experiment that paid off.”

The Schilmoellers have entered the contest before but never come away with a prize but the family has some pedigree. Diane’s mother, Esther DeGeorge, once took home a title.

Mike also had something of an ulterior motive in his entry.

“He’s a dentist,” Diane explained.

“Yes,” Mike said. “I’ll be standing at the end of the line asking if anyone lost any dental caps. I can help.”

Other placers in the Other Division included Brenda Jershin’s pumpkin pie in second place and Lisa Bolinger’s fudge brownie pie with caramel sauce.

The pie contest was sponsored by Lacey and Associates CPAs in Ralston and proceeds from the sale of the pies goes to benefit the Frank and Velma Johnson Ralston Archives Museum.

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