Tag Archives: Cooking

Letter From the Editor | June/July 2018

By Angie Fenton   

The Extol Team is thrilled to have Lydia Sprigler as the subject of our featured cover story. The winner of MESA’s Kid Baking Contest, Lydia wowed the judges with her sweet skills and will be the guest of honor at our launch party, which is 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. June 21 at MESA, 216 Pearl St. in New Albany. Attendees of the free, family-friendly event will get a chance to enjoy Lydia’s baking and other appetizers at this edition of our signature event. We hope you’ll join us. By the way, if you have a budding young baker in your family, Food Network contacted MESA KIDS (coming soon to New Albany) and asked for help finding talented kids ages 8 to 13 to cast for season 5 of the network’s Kids Baking Championship show. You can find more information at www. mesakidscookingschool.com.

Talented baker Lydia Sprigler.

Talented baker
Lydia Sprigler.

In this issue, we remember and celebrate the life of Bekki Jo Schneider, who made Derby Dinner Playhouse a must-visit Southern Indiana institution. We are grateful to Jon Huffman and Arts-Louisville.com for allowing us to share his tribute to Bekki Jo.

It has been enjoyable watching basketball standout Romeo Langford mature into a young man who is preparing to head to Indiana University. We caught up with the Hoosier for a quick Q&A and photo shoot at The Pepin Mansion, where he, once again, displayed why he’s a fan favorite on and off the court.

Romeo Langford with fans Elliott Baker, 7, and his sister Eve Baker, 5.

Romeo Langford with fans Elliott
Baker, 7, and his sister Eve Baker, 5.

Amid the articles and columns about summer fun, food, exploring Southern Indiana (and beyond), sports, fitness, fashion, home renovation and philanthropy, you’ll also find several though-provoking first-person pieces. Zach McCrite shares an honest account of his recent 80-pound weight loss. Ray Lucas imparts the wisdom he learned from his father. Guest contributor Amy Gesenhues gives a glimpse of her family’s 100-year garden. And Miranda McDonald details a recent trip that includes coming to terms with what it means to be divorced.

Many thanks to our advertising partners for their support, which allows us to remain a free publication. And, all of us at Extol greatly appreciate you, our readers.



screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-11-44-10-amPhoto by Christian Watson

     Fans of Preferred Meats in Sellersburg swear by the shop’s fresh, hand-cut selection – but they also know the local establishment carries far more. In addition to meats for every taste, this family-owned business also has everything from vegetables to spices, sides, sauces, craft beer ’n‘ wine and charcoal, too. It’s become one of the Extol Team’s go-to places for deli meat and anything you’d want to throw on the grill. Preferred Meats is located at 7617 Old Hwy 60 #3 in Sellersburg. The one-stop-shop is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Follow @preferredmeatsinc on Facebook.




By Angie Fenton

Photos by Danny Alexander


Lydia Sprigler rushed into MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen in downtown New Albany, her face flushed, hair pulled back into a tight ponytail, carrying the now-cold sweet bread she’d baked to audition for the venue’s inaugural Kids Baking Competition.

The Highland Hills Middle School student had just come from volleyball practice, recalled her mother Adrienne Sprigler, and was surrounded by budding chefs 8- to 13 years old carrying their own freshly-baked versions of delectable breads, eager to impress the judges.

Then, the auditions began – and Lydia was selected to go first.

Despite serving up a cold version of her sweet bread and arriving straight from her athletic practice, the judges were impressed with her knowledge and passion. When they whittled down the group of 30 hopefuls, Lydia soon learned she had been selected to compete in the first round along with five other competitors.

In the initial round, the 13-year-old and her peers created cookies by scratch in front of a live audience. Judges, attendees and online voters picked Lydia and three others the best bakers of the evening.

In round two, the four creative cooks each baked 24 donuts from their favorite recipe in 1.5 hours. At the end of the night, Lydia – along with her peers Jayla and Sierra – advanced to the finale.

Round three, the final leg of the competition, required each baker to produce 24 cupcakes and once again wow the judges, those voting online and the live audience at MESA, 216 Pearl St., where the contest had been hosted. Hundreds of people watched the finale via Facebook Live, many sending comments of support for their favorite competitor. (This writer observed the girls in person and was impressed by all three.)

When the finale was finished, each baker received comments from the judges, including constructive criticism and helpful advice. “Lydia, you’ve been smashing it every single week – I’ve ever had.”


“This entire competition, you’ve just been consistently in the top,” added Adrienne Holland of Adrienne & Co. Bakery and Café at the finale. “You’ve really been knocking it out of the park. I love your no-nonsense approach.”

Lydia listened intently, her face serious, as the judges then suggested she slightly lessen her use of bold flavors with a whipped cream filling to stave off overpowering tastes and use the most of her time since she was first to finish.

Anxiously, the three girls lined up against the counter as Liz and Adrienne prepared to announce the champion: “And the winner of MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen’s first annual Kids Baking Competition is Lydia!” said Adrienne, as guests applauded.screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-4-44-17-pm

“Waiting for the results, that was nerve-wracking,” admitted Lydia, though there was another moment during the contest that was a bit stressful, too. “In the donut round and my oven wasn’t working. But then (the judges) decided to give everyone an extra 20 minutes. That was probably real nerve-wracking.”

In addition to winning a feature in these pages of Extol, a $100 gift card to MESA KIDS and a tote with baking goodies, Lydia will be the guest of honor at the Extol Magazine launch party hosted by MESA 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 21. She’ll debut her winning cupcake at the free, family-friendly event, which will also include appetizers by a local chef and plenty of giveaways.

The best part, said Lydia, was “having my friends and family there and also practicing it and letting the judges taste what I was making.” But, she added, “winning the competition was fun too.”

Photo courtesy Jose Morones Vergara

Photo courtesy Jose Morones Vergara

For mom, though, it was more than fun. “I ways knew she’s had a creative outlet in her,” said Adrienne Sprigler. “Along the way, she always wanted to help in the kitchen. She’s always wanted to bake and decorate cupcakes and cookies. So, what (this competition) has done is its fueled a fire. It’s highlighted something she has a knack for. Who knows what’s coming next because she’s just started.”



• The 13-year-old Floyds Knobs resident is the daughter of Adrienne and Chris Sprigler, has a brother, Harrison, 16, a black lab named Mae, a mini schnauzer named Junie and a dwarf hamster named pipsqueak. • Lydia will enter the 8th grade when school starts and is an all A student. She enjoys art classes but could “do without health and PE.”

• When it comes to eating out, Lydia enjoys Bella Roma, Israel’s Delicias De Mexico Gourmet, Come Back Inn, Olive Garden and Berry Twist and Adrienne & Co. Bakery and Café for desserts.

• Lydia is a gifted athlete who enjoys volleyball. But her other interests include all things craft. “I’m pretty crafty. I have a craft room. I’m pretty much crafty, sporty and I like to bake. I like snuggling with my dogs. And I have a trampoline too. That’s what I like to do.”

• Lydia’s love of baking began with her grandma, Terri Sprigler. “I bake with her all the time. It was kind of like ‘Karate Kid’ where she was training me.”

• “Go out and try it. If I didn’t win this competition, I would probably keep baking. If you like (some thing), try it. Keep practicing and go after your dreams. Just do what makes you happy. You have one life and just live it to the fullest.”

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-4-50-10-pmMESA KIDS COMING SOON

MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen will soon have a kid-friendly counterpart. MESA KIDS, 154 E. Main St. in New Albany, opens this summer and is specifically designed just for kids who want to learn how to bake and cook (or better their current skills). Features include classes and summer camps taught by culinary experts, as well as birthday parties and a unique Black Coat Program geared toward young chefs who are super serious about developing their culinary techniques and talents. Learn more about MESA KIDS at mesakidscookingschool. com and @mesakidscookingschool on Facebook.

Instant Cooking: A Blessing for Our Busy Kitchen

By Adam & Kristin Kleinert

Pork Carnitas Lettuce Wrap

Pork Carnitas Lettuce Wrap

If you’ve read our column before in the now-tabled Extol Sports (Extol Magazine’s sister publication), you’ve probably heard about our enthusiasm for our Instant Cooker. It’s worked its way into our dynamic and is quickly becoming a dear family member. This month, we wanted to share a handful of our go- to recipes.

    While handy in a multitude of ways, the Instant Pot is a game-changer for our household due to the sheer amount of time it saves us. In the past, crockpot meals have been a staple, but the Instant Cooker allows for almost zero advanced planning. We can throw something in at 4 or 5 p.m. and enjoy a dish that would previously have needed to cook all day long. Even frozen foods can be ready (and delicious) in less than half an hour. Overall, this handy gadget is one more way to save precious amounts of time and, for our crew, that’s always a blessing.


We do two of these loins at once and store the leftovers in the fridge for a day or two to eat in tons of ways: lettuce wraps, tacos, sandwiches, over salads. It’s lean, flavorful protein that our whole family loves…and it’s FAST.


(again, we just double this and do two):


    2 lbs boneless pork loin, cubed

    1 1/2 T Olive Oil

    1 t salt

    1 t ground chipotle chili pepper

    1/2 t black pepper

Cooking Juice:

    1 cup orange juice

    1/3 cup lime juice

    2 t dried oregano

    1 1/2 t cinnamon

    4 garlic cloves, minced

    1 onion, peeled and quartered

   Mix rub ingredients and rub cubed meat into it. If you have time and want let this sit, it’s extra yummy, but not a must. Turn Instant Pot to the saute mode and drizzle a bit of olive oil into pot. Add the rubbed meat, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add the juice to the pot and secure the lid. Cook on high pressure: 17 minutes for one loin, 23 for two loins. Quick release the pressure and shred the meat. (Use a whisk or a potato masher for this). Enjoy!

Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes

Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes

Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes

So it’s more of a splurge than a healthy, family recipe, but it’s a favorite comfort food at our house and we’ve found it soothes the soul after a busy week. Besides, who can resist trying it out when it cooks together, in one pot, in just 25 minutes.


    1 lb ground beef

    1 lb ground sausage

    1 small onion, chopped small

    1 egg, beaten

    3/4 cup bread crumbs

    Splash of worcestershire sauce

    1/2 tsp salt

    1/2 tsp pepper

    1/4 tsp cajun spice, old bay, or italian seasoning

    (your preference!)

    *3 or 4 strips of microwavable bacon, if desired

For Topping

    1 cup ketchup

    1 1/2 tsp brown sugar

    1 tsp hot sauce

For Potatoes

    3 1/2 to 4 lbs of potatoes, washed, peeled and quartered

    1 1/4 cups of chicken broth (butter, milk, broth…

    whatever you like to add to mashed potatoes)

Layer the cut potatoes in the bottom of the instant pot and pour the broth over top. Lay the rack that came with the cooker on top of the potatoes so that it lays pretty flat. Combine meatloaf ingredients (minus topping ingredients) and shape into a rounded loaf. Place on a piece of tinfoil, large enough to shape the sides up as if meatloaf is in a pocket. *If you are using bacon, lay strips over top of loaf. Place on top of rack and secure lid. With the steam release closed, use manual mode on high pressure and set for 23 minutes. When finished, quick release steam.

Lift meatloaf out of cooker and place on a baking sheet. Mix topping ingredients, spread over top and place under broiler for 3-4 minutes, until topping is caramelized.

Meanwhile, add your desired ingredients to the potatoes (we use a heaping spoonful of butter, a little chicken broth and some salt and pepper) and mash until smooth.

Serve sliced meatloaf together with potatoes. Enjoy!

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas

Weeknight Chicken

    Like the pork, this chicken is so versatile that it’s an invaluable staple in our meal cycle. Here’s the kicker (and thus, the beauty of an Instant Cooker): It’s a bag of frozen chicken. And it’s ready to serve or add to another recipe in less than half an hour!


    1 bag of frozen chicken breasts

    (about 3 lbs)

    1 can of salsa verde, OR 1 jar of

    any Asian sauce or chicken broth

    and spices of your choice

   Mix rub ingredients and rub cubed meat into it. If you have time and want let this sit, it’s extra yummy, but not a must. Turn Instant Pot to the saute mode and drizzle a bit of olive oil into pot. Add the rubbed meat, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add the juice to the pot and secure the lid. Cook on high pressure: 17 minutes for one loin, 23 for two loins. Quick release the pressure and shred the meat. (Use a whisk or a potato masher for this). Enjoy!

Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard Boiled Eggs

FAST Hard-Boiled Eggs

Quick, wholesome sources of protein are key for our busy tribe and the Instant Pot delivers perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs with amazing efficiency. It’s so easy our kids can do it themselves. We cook a batch in record time and have go-to snacks on hand for several days. Bonus: this method causes the shells to slide off so easily!

5-5-5 Recipe:

    8 to 12 fresh eggs (a friend swears she

    does 18 at a time but we’ve never tried

    more than a dozen at once)

    1 cup water

   Using the rack that came with the Instant Pot, sit the eggs gently inside on the rack. Pour in one cup water and slide lid into place. Set to high pressure for just 5 minutes. Natural pressure release (which just means to leave them alone) for 5 minutes, then release rest of steam and put eggs into an ice bath for 5 minutes. Enjoy!(Use a whisk or a potato masher for this). Enjoy!

Mesa Means Table. Table Means Eat.

A new concept coming to New Albany will pair hungry diners with local chefs eager to experiment and to explain.

Story by Steve Kaufman & Photo by Danny Alexander

Just imagine you sit down to a dinner prepared by Scott Dickinson, executive chef at The Exchange Pub + Kitchen. And you have a question about something – preparation, or ingredients, or seasoning.

So, you ask.

And Dickinson leans over the table and answers. That’s the concept envisioned for MESA, a new way of dining coming soon to downtown New Albany.

“We call it a collaborative kitchen,” said Bobby Bass – who co-owns MESA with wife Ysha Bass, of Bass Group Real Estate. “Our tag line is, ‘Bridging the gap between the kitchen and the table.’ ”

Table = Mesa. Get it? (“Mesa” means “table” in Spanish. Ysha is from Mexico City.) But it is in no way meant to suggest that this is a Mexican restaurant. In fact, the cuisine on any given night will depend on who’s doing the cooking.

Rather, the “table” in question refers to the idea of a chef’s table, popular in many higher-end restaurants, where the chef sets up a small service in the kitchen for a few preferred customers to chat, watch the prep and eat a specially-prepared meal.

Except, in the case of MESA, you don’t have to go to the chef. The chef will come to you.

“We wanted to have a place where the consumer gets a fabulous three-to-five-course meal, paired with wine or beer, and the chefs get to do what they rarely get to do: engage in conversation with the public,” explained Bobby. “We feel we’re an advocate for both parties: The consumer gets more than a great dinner and the chefs get to experiment or show off their stuff.”

MESA will be moving into 216 Pearl St., between Market and Main in downtown New Albany, the old Peterey-Hedden Building.

Bobby said he’s looking for a late May/early June move-in, purposely avoiding Derby. “It’s hard for a new concept to compete with all that’s going on at that time,” he said. “Too much noise, too many distractions. I don’t want to waste our marketing dollars.”

Also, he said, it will give them a chance to get everything running properly, do a couple of private runs and work the kinks out. “Never a good idea to rush something and risk anyone having a bad experience.”

When it is up and running, the concept seems so straightforward and logical you wonder how it could possibly fail. A visiting chef from one of the area’s many excellent restaurants comes in for a night, using MESA’s kitchen. Bass said he already has commitments from both Ian Hall properties, The Exchange and Brooklyn and the Butcher, as well as from Habana Blues and SuperChef’s Darnell Ferguson. Bass said he has also been in talks with Vincenzo and Agostino Gabriele of Vincenzo’s and Josh Moore of Volare.

Sampling the chef’s efforts will be 20 to 25 diners, sitting at a table around the cooking area, who have paid somewhere between $85 and $150 for the evening. (Bobby pointed out that not all the details – like prices, hours, schedule – have been entirely worked out.) There may also be breakfast events, probably at weekend brunch, which would be less-formal and less-expensive, and could also include children.

Off to one side will be what Ysha called “a kitchen-essential boutique pantry” – a spice bar, salt bar, chocolate bar, oil bar, sugar bar, cookbooks, aprons, knife sets, supplies, kids’ cooking paraphernalia, “a lot of unique things” – where diners can pick up something while they’re there. The items will be supplied largely by local vendors.

Bobby has arranged with local businesses – like Dine Company, Chefs Supply and Bonnycastle Appliances – for the cooking equipment. “It will all be high-end residential equipment, so people can see it and relate to it. Perhaps they’ll want to contact one of the vendors and buy something after they’ve been in here.”

On the nights when a restaurant chef might not be performing, there will be what the Basses call one of their “in-house chefs.” They’ll rotate in and out, taking a turn at a regular dinner and also for special events, like a reception or a corporate party.

“We’ve been talking to a lady who was a finalist on the Food Network’s ‘Cutthroat Kitchen,’ ” Bobby said. “But she doesn’t have her own restaurant. I’ll work a schedule with her to perform here on a monthly basis and can rotate other chefs who also aren’t attached to restaurants.”

Private events are also part of the endless possibilities. “I’ve already had a request for a 20-person wedding reception,” Bobby said. And, he anticipates local companies wanting to have office parties at MESA, or to entertain clients there.

Among the other opportunities for the space are chefs’ lessons and special events, like pairings and tastings hosted by local suppliers – wine, bourbon, cheese, oils. More endless possibilities.

The restaurant business can be a tough one for anyone, especially those who – like the Basses – are new to it. They’ve already been through the Kafka-designed world of licenses and permits for food, wine, beer, liquor. Plus, the building is in a historic district, so what they can and cannot change might limit them as they build and design the space.

“We’re in the real estate business,” said Bobby. “But we work in Jeffersonville, live in Floyd County and eat in downtown New Albany about 12 times a week.” He chuckled. He was exaggerating – but only slightly.

What about the challenges of balancing food supply, having enough of what he needs but not so much that the spinach wilts and the bread turns green on the edges?

He seems prepared for that, as well. His manager is a Sullivan University culinary arts graduate.

“We’re only going to do these events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, one sitting per night,” Bobby said. “We’ll request that people order tickets online six to eight weeks in advance, so we always have a good idea of who’s coming in the door. This won’t be a place for last-minute walk-ins.”

Though the website currently in place – www. MESAchefs.com – is just a one-page “teaser site” at the moment, it nonetheless has a reservations form.

The grand vision, for both Ysha and Bobby, is a concept that benefits all corners of the local community.

“Chefs will benefit from getting the chance to experiment, and to get feedback directly from consumers,” said Bobby. “Restaurants will benefit by exposing what they do to a wider group of people.

“We’ll give local food and produce vendors a market for their goods, plus the retail opportunities we’ll offer. And the equipment and appliance dealers will be able to sell directly to people whose interests are tweaked by coming to our events.”

They feel downtown New Albany merchants can benefit from more potential consumers coming to the area, particularly those who are drawn from Louisville and are perhaps not yet familiar with what downtown New Albany has to offer.

And, said Ysha, the plan is to have special events that will support food banks, soup kitchens, churches, shelter homes and charities, in collaboration with various non-profit organizations.

Oh yeah, and foodies will benefit, too. “We’ll be giving people an opportunity to try new things, watch the chefs at work, ask questions and learn.” It all adds up to the three E’s at one table: entertainment, education and epicure.