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Cook's Corner

I still want to learn…
A. How to tango. I don’t know how to do that.
I can’t wait to…
A. Go to a foreign country like Egypt or Ireland. My family’s predominately Irish. Not sure how I’m going to get into the pyramids.
Diana Parker | The Journal Gazette
Beth Moak bakes for a church fundraiser.

Baker credits God for talent in kitchen


– In the last few weeks, the Fort Wayne kitchen of Beth Moak has been filled with the smell of cookies baking.

Moak, 46, has been baking her chocolate peanut butter cookies and sugar cookies, too, using her late Grandma Phillips’ recipe. She’s also making cheesecakes. Lots of cheesecakes.

“So far, I’ve made 28 and I’ve got 20 to go. I’m used to it. I make cheesecakes on a regular basis,” she says.

The efforts are for a cookie walk and craft bazaar her church, Lifeway Wesleyan Church, 7722 Moeller Road, this Saturday.

Moak was one of six children. Both her parents worked full-time outside the home, but she remembers the homemade meals her mother would prepare in the evenings.

Even though Moak’s children, Jessica, 23, and Christopher, 20, no longer live at home, she cooks meals from scratch for herself and her husband, Steve, using the same cooking traditions.

Her advice to beginner cooks is simple.

“I would say find a seasoned cook that’s passionate about cooking. Books are good, but you learn more from a person. You’ll learn the tricks,” she says.

“Most of what I know is from my mom and grandma. My mom, Virginia Jennings, is a cross between June Cleaver and Mary Poppins. She’s an amazing woman.”

The cookie walk, Moak believes, was started years ago by the Wesleyan women’s group when the teens would bake cookies to sell during the craft bazaar. She has been participating at the church for about 10 years.

“I’ve helped in one area or another with them,” she says. “I feel like that’s what the Lord wants of me. He’s given me a gift, and I do the best with the talents I’ve got.”

This year, there will be about 20 people from the congregation, which has a Sunday attendance of 225 to 250, who are helping with the baking.

According to assistant pastor Andy Jellison, money from the bazaar will benefit youth missionary trips. A weeklong trip is planned for July, where volunteers will go to homeless shelters and serve food in Philadelphia.

When she’s not baking cookies or cheesecakes, Moak works for Wine and Canvas, in at Covington Plaza. She also runs her company, Raven Designs (, which creates wooden toys, handmade journals and revamped cigar boxes.

“That’s something everyone needs to know how to do,” she says with a laugh.

Q. What’s your favorite cooking item?

A. I love my panini maker. I love making paninis. You can throw anything on bread. I use my panini maker a lot.

Q. What’s your favorite vegetable?

A. Probably tomatoes because they’re so versatile. I do salsa all the time. Our son loves the salsa. When Chris comes home, he asks for salsa. We make an Indian salad. It’s really good. The cilantro and peanuts are the real kicker.

Q. What one word describes your cooking style?

A. Eclectic. I think that would be the best word.

Q. If you were stuck on an island, what’s one type of food you would have to have?

A. I’d probably go with Mexican food. They’ve really got it going on.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup peanut butter

3/4 cup cane sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

1 (10-ounce) bag peanut butter chips

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Mix butter, peanut butter, sugars, cocoa, vanilla and eggs. Mix in baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add flour, mixing dough thoroughly. Mix in peanut butter chips. For each cookie, roll dough into a ball about the size of a walnut and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and dust with powdered sugar. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix in cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add flour and stir thoroughly. Refrigerate dough for 2 to 3 hours or until firm. Roll dough onto a floured surface to a 1/4 -inch thickness. Cut out cookies with cookie cutter and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes or until lightly golden. Decorate with icing. Makes 4 dozen.


2 sticks butter, softened

16 ounces powdered sugar

Milk, as needed

Using a mixer, blend butter and powdered sugar; add milk to desired consistency.

Chicken Dip

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

2 cups cooked, finely chopped chicken breast

1/4 cup sliced green onions

In a bowl, mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, ginger and pepper. Stir in chicken and green onions. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 to 3 hours. Serve with crackers. Makes 3 cups.

Moak’s Indiana Salad

2 finely chopped tomatoes

2 finely chopped cucumbers

1 bunch finely chopped green onions


3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 to 4 tablespoons cilantro

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Mix vegetables together in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together olive oil, black pepper, kosher salt and cilantro. Pour over vegetables. Add peanuts before serving. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-88; fax 461-8648 or email