Home | Blog | Columns | Photos | Books | Biography | Links

Barry Schrader


I wrote a column for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle for 8 years starting in December 2007 and running until November 2015. Then I returned to column writing in August 2016, all of them archived here.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

She baked the best of 150 muffin batches
entered in the Sandwich Fair

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist.............................September 16, 2017

It could be said that Jayne Higgins is “pleased as punch” with the Best of Show ribbon she earned at the Sandwich Fair last week.

The Sycamore baker came away with the top prize in all classes of muffins entered into the fair’s culinary competition last week—that means judges tasted 150 muffins, chose the top one in each of 15 categories, then selected the best one of all.

Jayne’s recipe is unique and one she hasn’t entered before, containing fresh basil, tomato, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar all mixed into the batter. She named it Caprese. That would certainly tickle your taste buds.

Known affectionately as the “muffin lady” at St. Mary’s Church in Sycamore, Jayne has provided the congregation with hundreds of her creations over the years. It all began 15 years ago when she found a book of muffin recipes at a garage sale. She has been entering the fair ever since then, generally competing in 50 or so categories from garden produce and flowers to hobby collections, but slowed down by hip surgery this year she said she only managed to enter 30 different classes—such as whole wheat breads, caramel pecan rolls, and snickerdoodles. She also won a blue ribbon this year for her Divinity.

If you think competition isn’t tough at the fair, consider that there are 2,204 entries in the open food categories alone, plus another 713 in the junior division. When I collected this data from fair historian Joan Hardekopf I forget to ask where I sign up to be a judge next year….

Jayne is just as proud of her granddaughter ElleAnna who recently turned eight so could enter baked goods in the junior division.

Jayne Higgins proudly displays her Best of Show ribbon from the Sandwich Fair for her Caprese muffins. (Photo by Barry Schrader for ShawMedia)

In second photo her granddaughter ElleAnna shows one of her winning entries.(Provided photo)

Well prepped in the culinary arts by grandma the girl captured ribbons for her zucchini bread, apple pie, snickerdoodles, and fudge.

A longtime member of the Sycamore History Museum board, Jayne is probably best known for organizing and the chairing the historic homes tours during Pumpkin Fest over the years. By the way, it is Saturday, Oct. 28. She is always seeking docents to help guide visitors in each home that day.

Another tidbit from the fair: I saw Mary Simons in the Republican tent and we chatted about hobbies. I learned that her daughter Lynne Kunde collects DeKalb and Sycamore area memorabilia. Right now she is looking for old matchbooks from DeKalb businesses, past and present, to create a design spelling out the word “DeKalb” in matchbooks. If you happen to have one, you can drop it off at the county elections office where she works. Too bad “Dirty” Ralph’s Newsstand isn’t still open. I bet he had boxes of them along with his multitude of tobacco products.

For those inquiring about the condition of Barry's wife Kay who suffered a major stroke last April: she is improving slowly in regaining her ability to speak with the help of Aphasia and Apraxia therapists from NIU.

Home | Blog | Columns | Photos | Books | Biography | Links

The columnist can be reached via email at :


or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115