State Fair

State Fair
State Fair Ribbons

Monday, August 29, 2011

State Fair Ribbon Winner's Pictures

I just couldn't help myself so I went back to the Minnesota State fair today in order to take pictures of the winners in the baking categories I entered. I wanted to see what blue ribbon winners (or even fifth-place winners) looked like.   Were they perfectly round, perfectly square, tall, short, fat, skinny, big, little, etc.  This first picture is the chocolate brownies with frosting, nuts and or chips category.  A funny thing happened to my brownies. You will see my lonely brownie with a capital M on it. All other ribbon winners had three of their brownies displayed.  Last Friday when I went to take pictures of my fourth place winner there were three brownies lined up behind my pink ribbon that didn't belong to me.  Since mine were decorated, it was easy to tell.  I was disappointed. I thought maybe I didn't really win the ribbon and someone else's brownies did, but they gave me credit. After checking with the state fair competition office they confirmed my brownies really won.  I told them only one of my brownies was being displayed in the area where the non-winners went. Apparently the other three were thrown out. So that is the story of how I ended up with one lonely brownie to represent me!
Lonely pink ribbon winner :(

Plain brownies-I took no ribbons.

Ghirardelli competition-I entered, but no ribbon.
This fantastic-looking dessert came with four champagne glasses filled with an orange sauce to go over the slices the judges tasted. I saw this dessert sitting on the entry table when I was standing in line to enter my brownie tart. I knew right then that everyone's chances were slim!  I was hoping it would taste terrible (it is a competition you know!)
What more can I say?

I won fourth place for strawberry bread-it looks so tiny and alone!  I forgot to take a picture of the first and second place winner.  I think maybe I need a larger pan?
So tiny
Banana bread...ribbons still elude me.
No ribbons for me
Bars with fruit, nuts, or chips.  I entered apricot almond shortbread bars. I didn't win any ribbons.  I thought these would be my sleeper-it turns out they must've been sleeping when the ribbons were handed out!   (Sleeper: : someone or something unpromising or unnoticed that suddenly attains prominence or value)
No ribbon for me
And last but not least, chocolate chip cookies. The winners looked good, but not that good!   I suppose those people didn't change their recipe at the last minute and then bake the cookies too long.
I am craving one of these now

I was going to enter cookies into the ethnic category, but I ran out of energy.
I took a picture of the winners anyways just in case next year I want to enter.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

State Fair Results

The anticipation is over! I won two fourth-place ribbons this year.  Thousands of people enter these  baked goods competitions and few get ribbons so I am pleased. I was a little surprised the apricot almond shortbread bars didn't get anything because I had people calling me on the phone telling me how wonderful they were.  Judging at the state fair starts out a bit shallow-they pick the top 25 attractive entries in each category.  Even though you can't judge a book by its cover, with hundreds of entries in one category they can't taste them all.   I am hoping my apricot almond shortbread bars wound up in the top 25 so at least I will get a score card mailed to me from the judges showing me where I can improve next time.  One thing I have vowed to do this year: Practice baking during the winter so my recipes are nailed down before it hits 90°!!!
Here are the pictures of my fourth-place winners:
Strawberry Pecan bread
Banana Pecan brownies-need to brush up on my decorating!

Monday, August 22, 2011

State Fair Anticipation

I stood in a block-long line Sunday morning waiting to enter my tasty treats (tasty to me anyways!) into the Minnesota State Fair baking competition.  Part of the fun for me is talking to other competitors to find out what they are entering and look at their fantastic entries. Oh how I wish I could sample a little bit of every ribbon-winner's goodies! That would be about as close to heaven as anything for me!  I won't know the ribbon-fate of my entries until Thursday when they are posted online.  I don't want to wait for the results before I "post" this post because my blog is getting dusty!  I entered Strawberry Pecan Bread, Banana Bread, Brownies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars.   I didn't take pictures of everything because I was just too tired after baking. My kitchen looked like a flour, nut, and chocolate studded bomb had been set off in it.   I have rejects in the freezer whose photo opportunity time may come later after the flour dust has settled!  New food at the state fair this year I want to try: Sweetcorn ice cream with caramel bacon topping, deep-fried apple pie with vanilla ice cream, pretzel dogs, Yankee apple pie with chocolate on grilled brioche, and crab fritters.     
Okay, back to some "normal" food.   Here are pictures of some of the items  I entered.

Apricot-almond shortbread bars (Epicurious by way of Sue at Basically Baked)

Cut and ready to go to "the show"

Trunk full of goodies

Banana pecan brownie decorated rejects

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Non-human food post today

Monarch drinking swamp milkweed nectar in my back yard
I am currently experimenting with chocolate chip cookies for my state fair entries so I am not going to bore anyone with my not perfect experiments. Since I don't have any good food items to post, I thought I would post some pictures of my other hobbies which are butterfly and Hummingbird gardening and saving and raising monarch butterflies.  I find the eggs on the leaves of my swamp milkweeds and take a few-especially from the leaves     attached to broken stems or plants that have fallen over. The survival rate of eggs is low-the survival rate of the caterpillars is lower because they are eaten by birds and they are hosts to other bug's eggs-I found out that yucky fact this year firsthand and all I can say is ish!!  I hope you enjoy the nature pics below.
Tiger swallowtail drinking Joe Pye weed nectar.

Chocolate scented cosmos-who knew there was a chocolate flower?

 Tree frog teasing my cat from the other side of the window.

My cat Margo taking the bait 

Monarch caterpillar eating Swamp milkweed

Bumblebee in mid flight above swamp milkweed flower
No, you don't need new glasses-my autofocus was out of focus!

Enjoy the day!