A Palat­able Pas­time

Stanstead Town­ship, Vic­to­ria Vanier

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

Last week at the Ayer’s Cliff Fair, Stanstead Town­ship’s Shirley Roy was the win­ner of the top tro­phy for Bak­ing for the tenth year in a row. “My mom taught us how to bake. She was a ‘no mea­sure­ments’ kind of baker; just a lit­tle of this and a lit­tle of that,”

said Shirley who grew up in Water­ville be­fore mov­ing to her hus­band Philippe Roy’s farm on the Boyn­ton Road forty-four years ago. She then per­fected her bak­ing skills in her own kitchen over the years, mak­ing home-cooked meals and desserts for her hus­band and her nine chil­dren.

“I also got lots of recipes from my mother-in­law and my hus­band’s aunts who are nuns, like the marsh­mal­low roll that peo­ple go crazy over at the mar­ket,” added Shirley who, be­sides be­ing the ‘baker to beat’ at the Fair, also sells her home-baked goods at the Ayer’s Cliff Farmer’s Mar­ket ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing.

Shirley first be­gan en­ter­ing her ‘family favourite’ recipes in the fair about fif­teen years ago. “Ev­ery year when I get my Fair Book I start look­ing at all the cat­e­gories and I de­cide what I want to do. I’m al­ways re­ally anx­ious to get my book.”

I asked Mrs. Roy what she en­tered at this year’s fair and I think I gained a pound just lis­ten­ing to her an­swer. “I en­tered some pies: su­gar; rasp­berry; raisin; lemon; straw­berry; peach and pump­kin, bak­ing pow­der bis­cuits, donuts, both raised and sweet – I won first place for those! I also made date squares, cherry squares, cook­ies, jelly rolls, zuc­chini bread, pump­kin bread, lemon bread, ba­nana bread, din­ner rolls, whole wheat bread, milk bread and cin­na­mon buns. I couldn’t make my cherry bread – I ran out of time!”

Shirley’s fair bak­ing sched­ule is a rig­or­ous one; she wants her bak­ing to be as fresh as pos­si­ble when it touches the lips of the fair judge. “I start cook­ing on Wed­nes­day and I cook all day un­til 10 or 11 at night. I start again Thurs­day morn­ing and I cook un­til seven when I go to Derby to play bingo. I’ve got to play my bingo! Then I come home and fin­ish my lemon meringue pies.” A lit­tle last minute cook­ing Fri­day morn­ing, Shirley’s hus­band Philippe packs ev­ery­thing up into her van, and Shirley heads to the fair, ar­riv­ing with lit­tle time to spare be­fore the 10 am dead­line. “It’s a very tough com­pe­ti­tion. Last year it was a very close race and I won by just a few points.”

It must be like Christ­mas in the Roy house­hold on Sunday when the fair winds down and Shirley brings home her bak­ing along with all her red and blue cards, handed out to first and sec­ond place en­tries. “I just put all the bak­ing on my din­ing room ta­ble and called the kids and my sis­ter-in-law over. I made ev­ery­one happy,” Shirley said with a smile.

I asked Mrs. Roy, who is also known for cre­at­ing gor­geous wed­ding cakes, what she likes about bak­ing. “I like ev­ery­thing re­ally about bak­ing. It’s a pas­time that I en­joy. Peo­ple don’t bake as much as they used to but if they got into it, they might en­joy it too. If I’m tense, I get cook­ing.”

Prac­tis­ing a pas­time that she en­joys so much has been even more important lately for Shirley who is bat­tling bone can­cer. “Peo­ple in my family some­times tell me that I should rest, but I’ve got to con­tinue to do what I love do­ing. Once I get into my kitchen and start bak­ing, it takes my mind off ev­ery­thing. And I love bring­ing my desserts to the Farmer’s Mar­ket; it’s like an­other big family there!”

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Photo pro­vided by Deb­bie Smith

Shirley Roy, on right, re­ceiv­ing the Bak­ing Tro­phy of the Stanstead Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety (from the Ayer’s Cliff Fair) from So­ci­ety mem­ber Vye Dan­forth. It was the tenth year in a row that Shirley was awarded the tro­phy.

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