Saturday, November 21, 2009

Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over and Not Involving Jello, Cream of (Blank) Soup And/Or Velveeta

Every year, our local paper holds a recipe contest for their Annual Holiday Cookbook. Every year, I pour through my recipes - my personal-original-I created-them-from-scratch-because-I-am-a-serious-cook recipes - and I submit a few.

There are 4 categories to submit to and you are allowed to submit one recipe per category:

Desserts
Fruits and Vegetables
Main Dishes
Breads

My first year in town, I submitted 2 recipes: Brussels Slaw and Orange-Scented Mini Pumpkin Loaves with Golden Raisins and Cherries. I can't believe I have yet to write about my Brussels Slaw or share the recipe with you but in short this recipe will 1) dramatically change how you feel about Brussels sprouts 2) Convert even the most avowed Brussels sprout detester and 3) CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER. You will seriously wonder: how did I ever survive before Country Girl's Brussels Slaw while you shovel it by the bucketload into your gaping maw. It is literally the most requested dish when friends and loved ones come to dinner. It's also a bitch to make which is why if I make it for you, you know I really love you. (Of course, I love all of YOU dear readers).

Anyways, my Brussels slaw was 1 of 5 finalist recipes in the Fruits and Veggies category. It ultimately lost to Spinach Souffle Madeleine which was a mild sting seeing as that recipe involved evaporated milk and Ritz crackers.

Side note: most vegetables around these parts arrive in casserole form and are essentially frozen and/or canned vegetables mixed together with copious amounts of dairy (cream of blank soup, mayo, Velveeta) and then bound together with bread crumbs or crumbled Ritz/Saltine crackers. Seriously y'all. As a chef and vegetable lover this offends me in ways I can not describe. File in Twitter under #unfoundedlevelsofapoplexy

Other finalists in this category involved Sugar Pea Casserole (involving canned peas, cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese, saltines), baked beans, and a squash and cheese pie. Actually - the last 2 I can hardly bitch about since they both appear to be "real recipes."

My pumpkin loaves were submitted as a Bread but somehow wound up in the Dessert category which is weird because the Bread category and Overall Grand Prize winner was a recipe for Cream Cheese Stuffed Apple Bread. Go figure. Also, there was a Layered Pumpkin Loaf as a finalist in the Bread category. Whatevs.

My biggest issue with the desserts was that someone submitted a recipe for Red Velvet Cheesecake which I am pretty sure was ripped from the pages of Food and Wine but then again, maybe not.

So that was Year 1.

Year 2 I submitted 4 recipes, 1 in each category. I was a finalist in ONE.

My Spiced Cranberry Conserve - which is essentially fresh cranberries cooked down with dried fruits and berries and lots of spices and which is OMG so flipping good - didn't even make the finals. You know what did? TWO-CAN CASSEROLE. No - I am not bitter. I am fucking beyond bitter. The category winner: Zesty Hot Holiday Broccoli Dip which is the delectable combination of Miracle Whip LIGHT, frozen broccoli, pimentos, and cheese. SERIOUSLY?

My Chicken Meatballs Stroganoff didn't make the finals either. And I've said it before: I have a knack for meatballs people. Veggie Lasagna using sauce FROM A JAR was the Main Dish category winner. Finalists included Apple Chicken (WTF?) and Eggplant Parmesan that includes (pauses for deep breath) MEAT. Excuse me while I step outside and hurl myself into oncoming traffic.

You know what else wasn't good enough to make the finals? My Apple Caramel Crunch Tart. You know what did make the finals? A Holiday Rum cake involving cake mix, instant pudding and rum. I can't find fault with the winner - Southern Brownie Tiramisu - so I'll shut up for a second.

The only one of my four recipes to even make the finals, were my Blue Corn Ricotta Muffins with Bacon. I lost out to Chocolate Bread with Hazelnut Spread and one of the other finalists was White Chocolate Blueberry Loaf. Seriously - my Pumpkin Loaves from the year before get treated as Dessert but these breads with Chocolate don't?

After last year's careful planning and epic failure, I flew by the seat of my pants this year. I submitted my Rise and Shine bars in the Dessert Category and my Four Seasons Stuffing in the bread category. The bars made it to the Finals, the stuffing didn't.

You know what won this year? The big Grand Prize? Jalapeno Jelly. Yes. This is what I am up against. Also? Somebody actually submitted a recipe for Green Bean Casserole (you know - the one on cans of French's Fried Onions EVERYWHERE) and there's one (although it didn't make the finals) for Doritos Casserole which seems so horrifying I won't even list the ingredients.

My bars lost out to a Golden Yam Cake but their picture did make it into the paper. Mine did not.

Anyways, every year it's the same cycle of excitement, anticipation, disappointment and then apoplexy. I am either throwing in the apron next year. Or busting out the cream of mushroom soup.

What do you think I should do? Dumb it down, stay true to form or just say fuck it and instead, cook YOU, my dear, lovely readers, a true Country Girl dinner.

PS - if you're interested in any recipes just leave me a comment and make sure to include your email. I have them all - I am just to damn lazy to hyperlink them. Oh -except the Brussels Slaw because that will make it into an upcoming round of Feed Me Fridays. If I am ever home long enough to cook a meal (says the girl who just had cold, Chinese leftovers for breakfast). Sigh.

6 comments:

Ciel said...

Hoeny, you are competing against "Southerm Girl Food" all made with one the aforementioned ingredients and learned at Mama's knee as you prepared to go to the church supper. All other entries are deubutante cocktail party recipes leaned at Tri-Delt or Kappa Kappa Gamma.

AndreAnna said...

No, YOU don't need to dumb down. You need to find better contests.

George Washington McClintock said...

It is unfortunate to see your advanced epicurean efforts wasted on an unappreciative and apparently biased group of judges. I would recommend that you do as you've done so many times before during this social experiment that you call moving to the South - acclimate and beat them at their own game.
First, pick a recipe that you know will play to the target demographic. I would recommend that you opt away from words like sat'e, semifreddo and spoom and stick to the basics. GWM is here to help - during my days of blessed bachorhood I was quite the culinary artist. I have a recipe involving macaroni and cheese, tuna and beer that not only provides a staggering 40% of the daily FDA recommended vitamins and nutrients, but it's also made completely of processed materials, which is perfect for your contest! I'll provide recipe details upon request. Second - and probably most imnportant - is the presentation. Not the dish itself, but the creator. My guess is that you, being the dazzling urbanite that you claim to be, have presented your recipe well coifed in some designer outfit with ample accessories. WRONG! These are people of the land. Hardened, rustic, simple folk - you know, morons (with full acknowledgment to Mel Brooks). Take a note from the Chinese when they invaded North Vietnam - in order to be accepted you must assume - however begrudgingly - the local culture and accepted practices. GWM is once again a willing consigliore. Dress: keep it simple. Worn, denim capris (yes, in November) - Get a temporary tattoo involving some sort of reptile and an ivy covered pole for the exposed ankle - Only one ankle please as we want to convey some degree of class and refinement. You can choose to wear white tube socks if you must, but make sure said tattoo is prominantly displayed. To complete the ensemble I would recommend a form fitting print tee that indicates your prefence for a highly regarded professional athelete - you can never go wrong with an "I love John Cena" shirt. Hair is important - Pile it as high as possible and apply copious amount of hairspray as a support mechanism - try remember to stay away from open flames. Accessories: The ladies in your region are generally minimalists when it comes to such matters. I would recommend either a Marlboro or Winston hung from the right side of the mouth at a slightly down angle. With this winning combo you can select the shoes of your choice - I promise they won't look down.

Question me if you will, but follow these simple guidelines and one year from now your dedicated followers will be reading of your triumph. I'll expect ample credit upon award. Godspeed, Country Girl!

AliCat said...

I don't know how they're doing it this year, but I can give you lots of insight on the judging process from when I was a reporter there. I even served as one of the judges -- aka "morons," lol!

Needless to say, it's far from an official process. You should ask SMG how they did it this time. :)

kyooty said...

OK I've got the answer... Banana Split, Ice Cream from the freezer section, Syrup form the syrup aisle, fruit from the "Canned" section,(dented is fine), and whippy cream from the spray can... see recipe, and DONE! :P

Another winner? meatballs store bought in a box, sauce form the bottle. done! :P

For the veggie in your? Frozen fries.

Fiona Picklebottom said...

I am FROM the South and am ashamed FOR you. Geez, if southerners want to escape the stereotypes, they need to stop BEING the stereotypes. So here's what I propose for next year. Since I am a bona fide southerner, you should come cook all of your recipes for me and I will tell you how fabulous they are. In the meantime, I would LOVE the recipes - fionapicklebottom@gmail.com

Thanks!