Tree Top (where I work) is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year with all kinds of events, including a catered lunch earlier this spring, on the date of the actual anniversary, and a Skewered Apple BBQ Contest with a large amount of prize money, next month.
Another event is a recipe contest open to the public, with the Grand Prizes (one per recipe category) a 3-day/2-night trip for 2 to New York City to attend the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, with the chance to meet a Food Network Star and the opportunity for the winning recipes to be showcased at the Festival.
Well, the contest deadline for submissions is past, and it’s now time to pick the winners. My understanding is that Tree Top has been working with an outside, independent firm to assist in the recipe contest. They received the submissions, and reviewed them to pick the top 15 recipes in both sweet and savory categories. Then Tree Top asked for employees who felt comfortable baking and/ or cooking to volunteer to prepare the recipes for judging by a different group of employees. Fool that I am, I volunteered to help. It sounded like something I could do and perhaps even have some fun doing.
I met with the other volunteers last Friday and chose two recipes to prepare. One sweet (maple glazed apple slices) and the other savory (a turkey salad with apples and a dressing with apple juice as an ingredient). Sounds fine. But here’s the catch. MUST FOLLOW RECIPES EXACTLY! Yes, this judging of our prepared recipes determines who the grand prize winners are, and to be totally fair to their chances, the recipe must be made as directed. I thought that sounded both reasonable and easy enough.
HA HA. I started shopping for the ingredients (to be reimbursed by Tree Top for anything I spend). Hmm. Can’t find the Pink Lady apples called for in the apple slices recipe. Pumpkin seeds? Not at our local market either. So I tried another market and was surprised to find a fellow Tree Top volunteer entering the store with a long list of ingredients needed. Her mood wasn’t quite as cheery either as when we signed up to help. But, I found everything.
Now, ready to cook! This is even the harder part. It made me realize just how often I take a recipe and readily make minor (and sometimes major) adjustments depending on my personal tastes, what’s available, and just whether it seems right or not. So I focused hard this morning on FOLLOWING THE RECIPE. If it said 3 minutes on high, that’s what I did. If it called for ¼ tsp of freshly ground nutmeg, I actually measured out that amount. Normally I would just hold my microplane grater over the dish and grate until it looked like the right amount.
But here’s what I did alter. The glazed sliced apples were ready just before I left for work. Dave looked at me and asked “can I try a little?” Yes, why not. So I spooned out a small dish and let him be the first (unofficial) judge. He said they were good. But probably not a grand winner. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
PS. Just went over to retrieve my skillet used for preparation of “my” dish. It was all empty and cleaned up. I noticed other recipe dishes still on the table to people to taste. Must say something about how well liked it was if it was all eaten!