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:
Fruits and Vegetables
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.
5 hours ago