The season is done. Quite honestly I'm relieved it's over. I'm ready to move on and be, well, healthy again. I've been too busy to exercise in almost two months and I've been eating like crap. I feel like I'm literally bursting out of my clothes and it's just not a good feeling. My new diet starts tomorrow. So here's how the last few days went...
Friday August 19th
Today was the Indiana Grown Contest. As I wrote earlier, the requirements of the contest were to use at least two items off the list of Indiana Grown products provided and make any dish. Judging criteria were: 40% Taste and Flavor, 25% Creativity and Originality, 25% Texture and Consistency, and 10% Appearance and Presentation. I decided I would try to use as many of the products as possible to make a palatable dish. I settled on making an appetizer.
Here was the vision... use Indiana Kitchen Bacon, Risin' Creek Creamery goat cheese, and Charlie's Premium Pita chips to make a mini-tart size crust. I'd throw everything in a food processor and grind it up. Surely there would be enough moisture and fat in the bacon and goat cheese to hold the crumbled pita chips together to form a "dough" that I could press into a mini muffin pan to make a "crust." Problem was, I couldn't find the pita chips. I finally ended up contacting the company and found that they didn't make them anymore. Well phooey! I spent several days on a wild goose chase looking all over central Indiana for those pita chips. At least I wasn't crazy. They didn't exist. Needless to say I was a bit irked at the contest sponsors for listing something that no longer existed. Charlie's Premium wasn't even aware their product was featured in a State Fair contest.
Back to the drawing board. I ended up substituting corn meal for the pita chips. Next I made a baked chicken breast, diced it in little pieces, and covered it in Jen's Original BBQ sauce. I bought the BBQ sauce out at the fairgrounds and didn't have a chance to taste it before I bought it. I'm glad I bought the Original instead of the Sassy cause the Original had quite a spicy kick to it. I really liked it.
I couldn't find the Risin' Creek Creamery goat cheese at the fairgrounds or at the grocery store either so I went to their website to find that it was only sold at a couple local farmer's markets on Saturday mornings and at a grocery store in Bloomington, IN. I ended up sending a friend to the Franklin Farmer's Market to pick up the goat cheese for me since I was at the fairground for Pie Day on Saturday before the contest.
I mixed some Eisele's Honey that I had purchased at the fairgrounds with the goat cheese, then I cooked more Indiana Kitchen bacon. I put 2 pieces of arugula (yes, it was back in the stores this week), a dollop of honey goat cheese, a dollop of BBQ chicken, a couple kernels of sweet corn, a couple pieces of bacon, and a couple pieces of chopped red onion into the cornmeal bacon shell and called my little appetizer "A Taste of Indiana."
I presented it on an Indiana state shaped cutting board surrounded by a blue background (it was a cut down disposable tablecloth) and gold stars scattered about, reminiscent of the Indiana flag.
We had three judges - a food specialist from Ivy Tech, a nutritionist with a food science degree from Purdue University, and the current Indiana State Fair queen. The "open judging" wasn't really what I'd call an open judging. Each judge filled out score sheets as they tried the food. However, none of the judges made any comments and the food items weren't even introduced. Instead, while the judges were sampling food on stage a spokesperson from Indiana Grown first talked about the companies that were represented in the contest and then had each of the contestants come up on stage and answer some questions about themselves - their background, fair experience, why they were doing the contest, etc. By the time this was over the judges had tried all the food. The judges never left the stage or even talked to each other. They just each filled out their individual scorecard on each item. When they were done, someone tabulated all the scorecards and the winners were announced.
My name was the first one announced. I got Honorable Mention. Another woman got the other Honorable Mention but I don't know what she made. Christine Reinecker got Third for, I think, a cheese cake. Phyllis Hine got Second for an Apple Yogurt Tart. I don't know the person that got First but she made a pound cake.
I got my judging sheets back and saw that I got scores of 75, 85, and 98... so at least one of those judges liked my dish. Personally, I wasn't crazy about how the little crust turned out but it is what it is. It was creative and it was pretty... and that finished out my contests.
I went back on Saturday night with my daughters and my older daughter's boyfriend. We literally ate our way around the Fair - fried pickles, ribbon fries with cheese, strawberry shortcake, kebabs, um... G insisted on having a fruit cup..., then deep fried s'mores (totally over rated - it was a deep fried marshmallow sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs and a squirt of chocolate syrup), a deep fried Snickers, cinnamon roasted pecans, and to finish it off, milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches. Amazing how much food teenagers can eat. Admittedly, I ate a bite of everything too.
Like I said - diet starts tomorrow!
And then it was over. We got home at 11 pm and the kids passed out in the car, presumably from a food coma.
Yesterday I picked up my ribbons.