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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Last week, we gave you a sneak peek online at the three finalists in our Taste of Summer contest. Well, now, here's our first contestant with the story behind her recipe.

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SIEGEL: Meet Susan Jones. She hales from New Carlisle, Indiana, where she's the editor and publisher of the New Carlisle News. And here's what she is not.

SUSAN JONES: I'm not a good cook. So whenever someone says everybody bring a dish, I'm not happy. Susan Jones is also a longtime board member of her town's historical society. And her Taste of Summer story has to do with her bring-a-dish anxiety.

The biggest fundraiser we do is a bimonthly tea. We fill our dining room table with wonderful treats that everyone makes - savory finger sandwiches, gorgeous, little, to-die-for cookies. And for years, I would show up with this plate of little hard cookies or dry brownies - something that would always be left over at the end of the tea. It was humiliating.

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JONES: Then there was the day when everything changed.

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JONES: About 15 years ago, my little dog Wally and I were taking our morning walk on our country road. It was very windy, and it was recycling day. I realized all of a sudden that there were papers all over the road flying in the air, and I started picking them up and looking at them. They were recipes. Somebody had cleaned out their kitchen and maybe put them on their computer and dumped them in the recycling. And the strawberry trifle recipe caught my eye. And it looked like it would be fancy, and it would be delicious, and that I could actually do it.

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JONES: We make it in a clear glass bowl, a trifle bowl, and you layer angel fruitcake squares and then strawberries, which had been mixed in with a little bit of sugar and are nice and juicy, then a whipped cream mixture on top of the strawberries, whipped cream, powdered sugar and cream cheese, then another layer, cake, berries, whipped cream, another layer of cake, berries, whipped cream. And on top, you'd put three beautiful strawberries and some perfect mint leaves, and you have a gorgeous dessert.

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JONES: My dream after every tea was to walk to my car with an empty dish. And I made my first trifle, I took it to the tea. It was a hit. And this recipe, it's so easy to make, and it has brought me the credibility I longed for among the best cooks in New Carlisle.

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SIEGEL: That's listener Susan Jones, our first finalist in the Taste of Summer contest with her entry, strawberry trifle. We'll hear from another finalist tomorrow. In the meantime, if you can't wait, you can read all their stories at our Found Recipes page at npr.org. And while you're there, you be the judge. Let us know which story you think should be the winner and why.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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