Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cinnamon Struesel Scones

Cinnamon Streusel Scones (slightly over baked)
My family and I moved to a new house a few weeks ago, and for some reason I had signed up to take a baked breakfast treat to a friend's end-of-cancer-treatment party the Sunday of our moving weekend. Not sure what I was thinking but it actually worked out because it gave me a great reason to try out my new oven--a GAS oven, no less! I was stoked (no pun intended) to see how my new oven worked. 
Well, I tried it on the convection setting, which ended up being a mistake, because as I'd already read (and apparently not believed), convection settings generally bake things faster than a regular setting. So the scones you see are overbaked probably by 4 to 5 minutes on the convection setting. I keep meaning to try them again, but I need an event for making scones because these are so good I will definitely eat too many.
These scones are pretty sweet, but in an absolutely delightful way. They're kind of a biscuity rather than cakey version of something like a Hostess crumb cake. Mmm.
My husband even ate several of these and declared, "I don't normally like eating the scones you make, but these I want to keep eating!" I'll take that as a huge compliment and look for an opportunity to make these again as soon as possible. Maybe for a housewarming party...

Cinnamon Streusel Scones

Streusel Ingredients:
Scone Ingredients:
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (rounded)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup half & half
 Instructions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (Parchment isn’t necessary, but it helps.) 

Make the streusel first: Place sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the butter and then with your fingers, kneed the butter into the dry ingredients until it is evenly distributed and streusel starts to form small clumps. Set aside.
  Now make the scone dough:Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into large bowl. (By "sift" I mean put the ingredients in a large bowl and stir well with a whisk.) Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. It's fine to still have some visible chunks of butter about the size of a used pencil eraser Add half & half, tossing with fork until moist clumps form. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead briefly to bind dough, about 4 turns.  Cut ball of dough in half.   

Form dough into two 1/2-inch-thick circles. Spread about half of the streusel onto the surface of one of the circles. Press down lightly. Top with the other circle and press lightly to smoosh them together. Don't press too much though. 

Cut the stacked circle into 6 wedges. Then cut each wedge into four somewhat equal triangles by cutting off the tip and then cutting the back side into three triangles, like so...
 http://i.stack.imgur.com/wjzGW.jpg
Carefully transfer wedges to prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each with some streusel. Bake at 375°F until scones are golden brown, about 12-16 minutes. (If you're baking one pan at a time, place the waiting pan in the fridge while the first bakes. If you're baking both pans at the same time, swap oven rack levels about 10 minutes into baking. ) Let baked scones stand on baking sheet 10 minutes. Then with a spatula, transfer to a wire rack to cool more. Serve scones warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 dozen little scones

I like my new quartz countertops.

The streusel gets a little messy, but it's all delicious.
 

Chicken Stew


Chicken Stew -- needing a better pic in some natural light

This recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated Special Collector's Edition Cook It Right magazine. I bought it during an extra long planning period I had while subbing at a high school. If you've ever substitute taught high school, you may know the boredom that often accompanies the job. High school teachers very rarely leave actual teaching to the substitute since they never know what subject the sub's teaching license is in, if any. And although I respect each teacher's choice to give me a minimal amount of work to do, I have to say, it's hard to keep awake sometimes--especially if the book I've brought to read requires too much thought.
At any rate, I knew that a Cook's Illustrated magazine would be super interesting, but also allow me to pay attention to the students under my care.
Now onto the stew... I've never had a Cook's Illustrated recipe let me down, and this one didn't either. I must admit, my family enjoyed this stew much more than I did, so I will be tweaking it next time to get it just right. My husband is all for that because he really wants me to make this again.
It's a very rich stew with very meaty, savory, umami flavor. It's not too thick, and it's not soupy either. It hits the spot on a cold autumn evening, and it tasted perfect with some warm homemade French bread
So if you're looking for a stick-to-your-ribs chicken dish that is warm and comforting, this is it.

Chicken Stew
    --Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Special Collector's Edition Cook It Right

Ingredients:
  • 2 large chicken breasts (or 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound chicken wings, halved at the joint
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons garlic chili paste/sauce
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour (I used Better Batter Gluten Free All Purpose Flour)
  • 1 pound red potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into half-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place chicken breasts (or thighs) on a plate and lightly salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is somewhat browned. With a slotted spoon, scoop out the bacon and place in a heat-proof bowl. 
Add the chicken wings to the hot bacon fat in the Dutch oven and cook wings on both sides until well browned. When brown, move wings to the bowl to sit with the bacon.
Add onion, celery, garlic, and thyme to the Dutch oven. Stir until veggies are browned. 
Turn heat up to high and stir in 1 cup of broth, wine, soy sauce, and garlic chili paste. Stir and scrape bottom of pan to get up the browned veggies sticking to the bottom. Cook until liquid evaporates and the veggies begin to sizzle. 
Add butter and melt it. Sprinkle flour over the butter and veggies and stir to combine and cook the flour. 
Gradually whisk in 4 more cups of broth and whisk until smooth. 
Stir in the potatoes, carrots, wings, and bacon. Bring to a simmer. Transfer Dutch oven to preheated oven and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring once, halfway through cooking.
Remove the pot from the oven and stir, using the liquid to wet and scrape down the browned sides of the Dutch oven. 
Place Dutch oven over high heat.  Cut the chicken breasts/thighs into large chunks (about 4 chunks each for breasts and two chunks each for thighs). Stir and then return to oven to cook another 45 minutes or so, until the chicken breast/thigh meat is tender and easily shredded.
Remove the chicken wings and discard. Shred the chicken breasts/thighs into bite-size pieces. 
Taste and decide if you need to add any salt or pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Makes about 6 servings




Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
Two things have driven me to make these cookies today: 1. I don't have a real job (I'm a substitute teacher for this year--hopefully just this year) and 2. We are moving to a new house in 9 days. This here is probably stress baking.
I've packed up most of my kitchen, but of course I've left out many of my baking ingredients. I had everything I needed for these except for my rolling pin. Guess that's in a box somewhere. So I had to use parchment paper and a quarter sheet pan to press the dough out, and I have to say, I think it was a winning technique.
These cookies are winners too: crisp, light, buttery, just sweet enough, and with a shadow of coconut flavor. If you want more of a punch you in the face coconut experience, perhaps you could add a dash of coconut extract.
For me, these are just what I was shooting for. Simple and delicious coconut shortbread.

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
     --adapted from Simple Family Finance

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup toasted coconut
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons butter (salted), cold and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil *
  • about 2 tablespoons flour + 2 tablespoons sugar mixed together for dusting
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix the toasted coconut, flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Add the cut up butter and coconut oil, and cut it in with a pastry blender. Keep cutting the butter in until the butter and dry ingredients become a dough and the pastry blender seems to be cutting it into slices.
  • Dust a clean work surface with half the sugar and flour mixture. Turn dough out onto work surface and flatten roughly into a rectangle shape. Sprinkle with more flour/sugar mixture. Roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness, trying to maintain a rectangular shape as much as possible. 
  • Cut with a pizza or fluted rotary cutter into about 1 1/2 inch square pieces (or smaller, if you'd like). You'll have scraps left at the end that you will want to bake as well.
  • Place on prepared baking sheet about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. (*At this point, you can also place unbaked cut dough on a wax paper lined sheet and freeze. Place frozen dough pieces in a zip top freezer bag and store in freezer until ready to bake.)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until browned on the edges.
  • Allow to cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container.
*If you don't have coconut oil, you can just use all butter (1 cup). I was hoping for more coconut flavor from the coconut oil, but I didn't want to alter the texture of the shortbread by adding too much coconut oil.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies












Friday, September 2, 2016

Sourdough English Muffins

 
Toasted and buttered homemade Sourdough English Muffin


What do you do when you don't have a job but you do have live sourdough starter in your refrigerator? You look up sourdough recipes on the internet and try them out--that's what you do. This is another English Muffin recipe from my favorite: King Arthur Flour.
I can tell you that these are easy and tasty. I made them square because I think it's a pain having to cut things in circles and then deal with the scraps. Square things taste just as delicious as round ones do. These turned out light and fluffy, with a slight chew when toasted, and just barely tasting of sourdough. I'd still like to figure out how to make English muffins with the Thomas' nooks and crannies, but for now, these will do. Yep. These will do.

Sourdough English Muffins
    --adapted from KingArthurFlour.com


Ingredients:
Instructions:
In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients (using only 3 cups of the flour at first) except the cornmeal. Turn the mixed dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until springy, soft, and smooth, using only as much of the additional 1/2 cup of flour to keep the dough from sticking.
Place the kneaded dough back into the bowl and cover. Allow to rise for about 1 1/2 hours or until puffed and nearly doubled.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle with a light coating of cornmeal. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Stretch, push, roll it to a rough rectangle shape about 1/2 inch thick. Trim about 1/2 inch off each side and cut into 12 pieces. Place the square pieces of dough onto the prepared baking sheet and cover with a clean dish towel. Allow to rise for about 1 hour. (You can also let the scraps rise and bake them off or cook them in the pan.)
Line another baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. When muffins have risen, place as many as you can comfortably fit with some space between on the skillet. (If they touch, they will stick.)
When muffins are browned on one side (about 4-5 minutes), carefully turn each one over with a metal spatula. Cook for about 4-5 more minutes. When muffins are browned to your liking on each side, place on the other parchment lined baking sheet and put in the oven for about 6-10 minutes, or until you are sure the inside is cooked through. When done, remove with a spatula to a cooling rack.
Repeat with remaining muffins.
When muffins are completely cool, you can slice or split with a fork, toast, butter, and enjoy.

Makes 12 English muffins




















Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Crisp Cheese Crackers



Homemade Crispy Cheesy Cheese Crackers

It's one of those days where I could say a lot of different things to introduce these tasty little treats, but none of them strikes me as interesting enough to put into words. Therefore, I'll just tell you a little bit about the crackers and be done. I'm sure you won't mind.
These crackers are very cheesy, so I suggest using a cheese that you really enjoy eating--I used the Target Archer Farms Sharp White Cheddar and Tillamook Medium Cheddar cheeses and wow, their awesome flavors really came out. At first I didn't bake the first pan long enough and the crackers were soft--still delicious, but not crisp like I wanted. 
Once I put them back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so, they were perfectly puffy, salty and crispy. I'd say they were "light" but there was too much butter for that. 
Next time I think I'll use half the butter and see if they turn out a little less greasy--not that I minded so much with this batch, but, well, you know there's too much butter when you have little droplets of grease on your parchment after you've removed the crackers. Just saying.
These are dangerously easy, so be forewarned--you're going to want to make them again. Be sure to have a plan about sharing or storing so you don't end up making yourself sick. I am just this side of that and I'm hoping that I can show restraint until I take these little treasures to my friends this afternoon.
So...cheese crackers. They're fabulous. Go try them.

Crisp Cheese Crackers
     --Adapted from homegrownandhealthy.com

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (I used 4 oz. Archer Farms Sharp White Cheddar & 4 oz. Tillamook Medium Cheddar)
  • 1 tablespoon sourdough starter (optional, but use 1 more tablespoon water if omitting)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes and frozen
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Salt to taste, if desired
Instructions:
  • Add flour, cheese, and sourdough starter to the bowl of a food processor. Process ingredients until sandy in appearance.
  • Add the frozen butter and process until butter is incorporated. Then pulse in the water and pulse more until the dough forms a somewhat cohesive mass.
  • Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a square/rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two pans with parchment paper.
  • When dough is chilled, cut in half and work with one half of the dough at a time. Roll out half the dough on a lightly floured surface (I also rolled between two sheets of wax paper.)
  • Roll dough to about 1/16 inch thickness (very thin). Then cut into 1 1/2 to 2 square inches and carefully transfer to one of the parchment lined baking sheets.
  • Spray crackers with a fine mist of water from a water bottle and sprinkle with salt, if desired.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-14 minutes, or until nicely browned. (If they don't bake long enough they'll be soft, not crisp.)
  • Remove from oven and to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with other half of dough.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 100 crackers
















Sunday, August 28, 2016

Coconut Pecan Cookies

Sweet chewy Coconut Pecan Cookies

I don't think words can do justice to how tasty these cookies are. Just imagine a perfect party of butter, brown sugar, coconut, and pecans nestled all cozy inside a cookie. It's the sweet taste of toffee with the chew of a soft cookie and the perfect texture of toasted pecans and coconut. Mmm...
These awesome cookies are a slight modification of the Coconutty Cookies with Toffee Bits that I already love. I didn't feel like going out and spending money on macadamia nuts and almonds today, though; plus I am out of Crisco. So this is what I did, and they're so good that they deserve their own post.

If these sound good to you, you'll love them for sure. And if you share them with others, I'm pretty sure that they will love them too. It's just one of those cookies, you know?

Coconut Pecan Cookies

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour 
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups chopped lightly toasted pecans
  • 1 cup toffee bits (use Heath Toffee bits or recipe below)
Instructions
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Cream butter, coconut oil and sugars.  Beat in baking soda and salt.  Beat in vanilla extract and eggs.  
3.  Mix in flour just until blended. Then stir in coconut, nuts and toffee bits.
4.  Scoop by tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving two inches between cookies. 
5.  Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes, or until cookies are puffed and start to brown around the edges.
6.  Allow to cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: I like to keep my cookie dough in the fridge, or make and freeze dough balls. This dough does great with refrigeration or freezing. If you're not going to bake it all of within about three days, I recommend freezing the dough in pre-portioned dough balls.

Makes about 4 dozen 3-inch diameter cookies


I just happened to have some homemade vanilla ice cream on hand...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Monster Cookies

Monster Cookies: Peanut Buttery Oaty goodness

You know, every time I've eaten a monster cookie, I've loved it. Just loved it. But I've never ever thought to make them myself. I can't say why. Just haven't.

I saw a pin of these cookies on Pinterest. Center Cut Cook made them jumbo sized and they looked so attractive. I pinned the pic realizing I'd likely never make them--as I will never attempt even a fraction of the recipes I've pinned.
Lucky for me, though, my husband asked me to bake something as a little thank you for the custodians at his school where he's a VP. I'm hoping they like these.
The cookies are soft and chewy, full of peanut butter flavor and nice oatmeal cookie chew. The chocolate chips and M&Ms add sweetness as well as fabulous chocolate flavor. A very satisfying cookie for sure.
Note: I used two types of peanut butter, but you can just use chunky or smooth--whatever you have on hand. Plus, I had various sizes of M&Ms after my son's birthday, so I mixed it up with the different sizes--totally unnecessary, but fun.

Monster Cookies   
--Adapted from CenterCutCook.com

Ingredients:
  • 4 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural Super Chunk)
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural Creamy)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini M&M candies
  • 1/4 cup regular M&M candies
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels)
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Measure out the oats and baking soda and place in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine/cream together the peanut butters, butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine.
Add the oats & baking soda mixture and stir to completely incorporate the oats. Add the M&Ms and the chocolate chips and stir by hand to evenly distribute the M&Ms and chocolate chips.
Using a medium size cookie scoop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons), scoop balls of cookie dough onto one of the parchment lined cookie sheets, spacing cookies about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. Gently smoosh each dough ball to about 1/2 inch thickness.
Bake one pan at a time for 8-10 minutes. While one pan bakes, fill the next cookie sheet with dough balls.
When cookies are puffed and start to brown a little on the edges, they are done. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes before removing with a spatula to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store cookies in an airtight container.

Makes about 6 dozen 3- inch cookies









Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Iowa State Fair Food Competition is Dead to Me

The actual French batard, a couple weeks later with the addition of googly eyes, of course. I have named him Francois.

This past fall, I learned how to make a perfect French bread batard at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vermont. So, although I didn't really express it out loud to anyone, I was pretty psyched to enter the King Arthur Flour Yeast Bread competition this year at the Iowa State Fair.
I mean, I have spent the last two months making lots and lots of loaves of French bread, trying out different methods, baker's lames and sourdough starter to get it just right in flavor, texture, and appearance. I've made French bread at least twice a week for the last couple of months. Seriously. Lots of bread. I keep finding more demi-baguettes tucked away into my two freezers.
So, when I got to the fair after only 2 1/2 hours of sleep and saw that there were only three entries in the French Bread class at the fair, I thought, "Well, I'll at least get a third place ribbon." To tell the truth, though, I thought I had the blue ribbon in the bag and was really hoping to place for the overall bread, which would have given me a King Arthur Flour gift card to spend. I really thought I was a contender.
I'm going to cut to the chase here: my French bread batard didn't even get a 3rd place ribbon. "How is that even possible, Kelly? I thought you said that there were only three entries." I did say that.
Here's the thing with the judging of breads at the Iowa State Fair: If the judge believes that none of the entries deserves first place, they won't award it. Even if there's just one entry in a class, a judge might give it second place, or third place, or NO place at all. I am telling you the truth. Those "seasoned" judges are tough
This seasoned toughness has frustrated and even angered me in the past (see White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cinnamon Roll post). But nothing, and I mean NOTHING could have prepared me for what happened this year. 
When you go to the Iowa State Fair Food Competition in the Elwell Family Food Center, you'll see the judging rooms set up with tables in the front where the judges and their scribes sit, and then there are the chairs, facing the judges' table, for the audience consisting of the entrants, their supporters, and other interested folks.
I was sitting in the front row, and watched intently as the third judge from the left started cutting into the French breads. I saw her taste the first one, make some comments that her scribe wrote down, and then I saw her cut into the next loaf. She made more comments, and then she cut into my loaf last, scrunched up her nose, made some comments, scrunched her nose some more as she examined the interior and exterior of my loaf, made more comments, and then the scribe started the wrap-up procedures and the judge asked for the microphone.
My mind was whirring, and my heart was thumping, as I listened to her judgment. Did I look away when she tasted the other breads? Is she really finished? "There were three entries in the French bread class, and I'm only awarding first place to ____."
What the...?
She didn't even TASTE the other two loaves! She awarded a blue ribbon to a loaf she didn't even taste, and she didn't place my loaf that she didn't taste either. Oh. My. Gosh.
What just happened?
I am so DONE with this competition. I decided then and there. Completely. DONE. 
With my heart pumping hard, I walked across the front, over to my loaf on the reject table at the side, and I picked up the two pieces of my loaf to confirm that the judge had not tasted any of it (a huge no-no in food competition--you're supposed to wait to pick up your entry in the back after the tags have been processed). 
Then I walked straight back to the food competition superintendent and lodged my complaint/accusation. 
All of the details at this point just don't matter. We looked at the loaf, I pointed out the judge to the superintendent, we looked at the score card to confirm that my entry was actually judged (as opposed to disqualified for some reason)--and what do you know! I got 40 out of 50 points for flavor! Amazing. 
At this point I was completely disillusioned and disgusted. I went home without really knowing if they were going to do anything about it, but only partially caring because I had already decided that I was done with that farcical food competition. Forever.
Did I mention that I'd only gotten 2 1/2 hours of sleep the night before?
Of course, my curiosity got the better of me, and after a long nap at home, and a yummy dinner with my family at Zombie Burger, I had my husband drop me off at the fair so I could see how my other four entries did that day. 
All four of those entries placed: 2 first place and 2 second place. 
Armed with this satisfaction, I found the assistant to the superintendent, and chatted with her about what had gone down earlier in the day.
I had a chance to explain my frustration some more, as well as my realization that a bread competition is really not that big of a deal in the light of real life. First-world problem. I get that. 
I also reiterated, though, that I cannot compete any longer because each time I do, I risk this frustration and disappointment. I take the competition too seriously. I just do.
Now, you may be wondering, as I had been, if someone actually confronted the judge with my accusation. The assistant superintendent said that the judge had been spoken to, and the judge said that she did taste the entries. I maintain that she is lying through her teeth. Whatever. She'll still be a judge, and I will not be competing.
Many people I've talked to have said that I need to write the Des Moines Register about this, or dust myself off and continue competing. I will do neither. Despite that ridiculous judge (and some other ridiculous judges, by the way), the superintendent of the Food Competition and her team really do an amazing job at organizing and pulling off what is purportedly the largest food competition anywhere. It truly is a well-oiled machine, and lots of folks really do enjoy competing in that environment.
It really is a shame, though, that judges like the one I got are allowed to degrade the integrity and legitimacy of the competition. Other home bakers may have the emotional maturity and strength to not get all wrapped up in the drama and are able to take the injustice and disappointment in stride, but I recognize my own limitations, and am choosing to stay away.
Thanks for listening.



My five entries for the day
I got a ride from the parking lot at the VFW in this awesome truck because I brought the guys some rolls.
The three French bread entries. Mine is top left. The top right got first place.
The judge said she tasted a little bit of this bread. Can you tell where she took a piece? I can't either.


Notice that 50% of the points are for "Flavor."

First place in the Cinnamon Raisin class (Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Bread)

First place in the Cinnamon Roll (with nuts) class (Croissant Caramel Sticky Buns)

Second place in the Cinnamon Roll class (Croissant Cinnamon Rolls)

Second place in the Non-Sweet Yeast Roll Other Than Named class (Pretzel Rolls)

First place in the Friends class. Kara and Christie brought me flowers and adult beverages to cheer me up.

01 09