Henrico County VA
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Henrico woman competing for ‘Mrs. Holiday’ title

Emma Bindas

When Emma Bindas met her husband, Jozef Bindas, head baker and owner of Jean Jacques Bakery in Cary Town, she didn’t know how to bake a loaf of bread, let alone a cake. Now they sell her version of a French Christmas cake, buche de noule, in the shop.

“I learned to cook starting at the age of three,” she said. “My grandmother and my mom taught me everything about cooking. I can cook anything from every country, however they never taught me anything about baking at all. I met my husband, and he owns a bakery in Richmond, and I’m very competitive so I was like, ‘Ok I’m going to show him.’ Now I have to learn.”

Emma Bindas is competing in Taste of Home’s Mrs. Holiday contest with the Buche De Noule recipe she learned from her mother-in-law last January while visiting on a trip celebrating her recent nuptials to Jozef.

“She’s the one who kind of gave me the real recipe,” she said. “He does it like off of his head because he knows, but she gave me the golden paper.”

To make the cake Bindas first cooks thin layers of vanilla cake on sheet trays. She lets that cool and then makes an orange liqueur whipped cream using Grand Marnier, orange juice and pieces of orange peel. After applying the cream, she roles the sheet into a log shape and ices it with a Madagascar vanilla bean butter cream. She uses a fork to scrape a bark texture into the butter cream and then adorns the log with sugar mushrooms and leaves.

Buche De Noule translates to a log of Christmas, and is a log you’d find in the forest, Bindas explained.

“It’s a very European thing,” she said. “He [Jozef] made it with chocolate cake, with raspberry and then iced it in chocolate. So I said, ‘Wait a minute, I got to do my own thing,’ which is why I said, ‘Oy Grand Marnier, let’s do that.’ So I made my own version. So now I make it for him and he sells both of them at the store.”

Both Emma and Jozef Bindas are European and from culinary families. Emma was born in Piedmont, Italy and immigrated to New York when she was 13 years old. Her family ran several restaurants in Italy.

“My dad, my mom, my brother, we’re all chefs without papers,” she said. “Food is always the center of our family and we love the kitchen, we love food and we love passion.”

Jozef Bindas is one of eleven children of Regins and Dymitri Bindas, who were stolen from Russia by the Nazis and imprisoned at Auschwitz concentration camp, where they met.

After liberation, the Polish government sent the Bindas family a letter with the amount they would receive every month in reparation. The amount went to pay for housing and to fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant where they could prepare traditional Russian and Polish dishes, including hearty stews. Buche de Noule was on the menu.

Emma Bindas took the letter to the Richmond Holocaust Museum for validation. A copy now hangs in the museum.

If Emma Bindas wins the title of Mrs. Holiday, she would become the official holiday spokeswoman for Taste of Home and be awarded $50,000. She would appear at Taste of Home events and cooking schools, participate in interviews and cooking segments, and contribute regularly to the magazine.

She said she didn’t know about the award money when she submitted her recipe, but that if she won she would give the money to her husband to put back into the bakery to hire additional help.

“He has so many ideas, but with the economy and everything it’s hard to find people who graduate from culinary institutes because they require obviously a good salary,” she said. “He’s already spread pretty thin with trying to do everything and everything he does is awesome, but I know he could do so much more.”

The winner of the Mrs. Holiday contest will be selected from the top 100 entries that receive the most votes from the public through the Mrs. Holiday Search mobile app on Taste of Home’s Facebook page. Voting ends Sept. 7. A panel of experts will select the grand-prize winner.


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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