ANNA — Growing up, Shennon Boyer, of Anna, wanted nothing to do with the kitchen.
“My mom was convinced I’d live the rest of my life on frozen pizza and Kraft macaroni and cheese,” Boyer says.
But all that changed when Boyer was attending the Art Institute of Ohio in Cincinnati, where she had great instructors who inspired her. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Culinary Management.
“My whole family is full of women who are good in the kitchen, so I imagine I inherited their talents,” she shares.
So with that natural talent, along with the influence from her teachers, Boyer started baking. She baked and baked and then baked some more. Pretty soon people were hiring her to bake. She started doing baking jobs about four years ago and then became more serious about baking as a career the next year.
“I was working in a job that I really didn’t like. I didn’t mind the work itself, but it was a job where we were all unappreciated. I did not want to spend the rest of my life each morning standing at a time clock getting angry that I was still there. I soon realized that I enjoyed being in the kitchen cooking and baking for others. I also learned that it’s important to just do what you enjoy in life. Sometimes you don’t figure it out right away, and sometimes what you enjoy doing changes.”
Boyer sets up booths locally at the Great Sidney Farmer’s Market, the Angels in the Attic Craft Show and the Charity League Craft Show each fall. Known as “Shennon’s Everyday Shenanigans” her cookies, cakes, brownies and other goodies can be found at local restaurants and stores such as The Alcove, Karoc Gas Station and the Anna Market and she is happy to take orders and will sell her baked delights right from her home.
“I enjoy hearing how much people enjoy the food I make, especially when it’s at holiday gatherings with family and friends. My favorite things to bake are the ones my nephews help me with.”
Most recently, the boys have helped Aunt Shennon with cinnamon rolls and Boyer has fond memories of baking and decorating gingerbread houses with the youngsters. Like many families, when Boyer’s family gets together for holiday meals, each contribute to the feast, but for the last four or five years, Boyer has been in charge of the turkey.
“I like to make a roasted garlic butter that I spread on and underneath the skin of the turkey. Then to get it evenly baked, I start out baking it breast side down. Halfway through roasting, I flip the turkey. This way the whole turkey is golden brown.”
Baking can also be a great way to remember someone. Her Grandma Boyer passed on a few years ago and everyone missed her Christmas cookies, so Boyer started making them for the family, using Grandma’s recipe of course.
“I usually make extra sugar cookies for the family to decorate.”
Another fun family memory for her family is the year she made the family’s tradition Christmas morning breakfast.
“Every year on Christmas morning we always have cinnamon rolls before opening presents. It’s always Pillsbury cinnamon rolls (even after I learned to make them we stayed with Pillsbury. I didn’t want to change anything about our tradition.) There was one Christmas morning when I accidentally burnt them. I was in sixth- or seventh-grade. At that time we had a switch on the oven door that you flipped when cleaning the oven. I was playing around with it while waiting for the rolls, and turned it too far locking the oven door shut. It wouldn’t unlock until the oven cooled down. Luckily we had more rolls in the fridge, and my family didn’t get too mad at me.”
Holidays for the Boyers means spending time together.
“I love the holidays,” Boyer says. “We get to see family we don’t see often. We gorge ourselves on all the delicious food. I like that we get to just sit around and talk — spending time together before returning to our busy lives.”
Boyer’s family includes her mom and dad, two younger brothers, a sister-in-law, three nephews and her four legged fur baby. She also has two horses. She lived outside Ohio for short periods of time when she was interning at the Rocky Mountain National Park and when she worked in Lexington, Kentucky, taking care of thoroughbred weanlings and yearlings which were bred for racing.
“After that, I returned home,” Boyer shares. “It is only place I have ever felt that I truly belonged.”
When not busy at one of her jobs (she has several) Boyer enjoys working out with friends at The Barn. “The Barn is a group of friends who get together to do HIIT (high intensity interval training) type workouts. We have similar fitness goals and enjoy a positive environment where we support each other. We are like one big family.”
Another thing Boyer enjoys is reading and working with her goldendoodle dog Griffin. She plans to get Griffin certified as a therapy dog and hopes to take him to nursing homes, VA hospitals and schools.
“People who meet him love him and I think he can provide so much happiness for others.” And that’s really what it’s all about. Whether you are hanging out with friends, having a meaningful conversation with your mom and dad, decorating cookies with your nephew, roasting a turkey or baking up a batch of cookies, it’s all about the happiness that those things bring to those we love – during the holidays and every day.
Garlic Butter Recipe (can be used for anything, not just turkey)
3 large heads of garlic
3 teaspoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 sticks of softened butter
Cut off the top of each head of garlic, drizzle it with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Wrap in parchment paper and foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
Once done cool until easy to handle without burning yourself. Squeeze out cloves of garlic. Add more salt and pepper then mash with a fork. Fold into softened butter, then use as desired.
Strawberry Streusel (This is one my youngest brother has requested often)
1 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2-3 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup sour cream
½ cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons for the strawberries
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
Streusel: in a large bowl whisk together the brown sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add melted butter, and stir with fork until completely mixed.
Reserve 1 ½ cups streusel for topping. Pour remaining streusel into pan, and firmly pat down. Add in 1-2 tablespoons sugar to strawberries. Let sit at room temperature.
With mixer combine sour cream, ½ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, eggs, and vanilla. Pour over streusel in pan. Evenly sprinkle strawberries over sour cream mixture. Top with remaining streusel. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
Christmas Punch (I serve this every year on Christmas Day)
5 cups tropical punch
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup pineapple juice
½ cup lemon juice
4-5 cups ginger ale
1 pint raspberry sherbet
Make sure all ingredients are cold. Combine all juices in a large punch bowl. Add ginger slowly to keep from fizzing over. Add scoops of sherbet, and then let sit for a few minutes before serving.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.