Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cooking Contest Déjà Vu

Back when I was in junior high, one of the biggest events of the summer was on-site 4-H cooking contests at the county fair. The premise of the contest was to show a judge that you could safely and sucessfully produce an appetizing dish for your guest (the judge) in a set amount of time. So much preparation went into those contests! The menu had to be chosen and the recipe written out on a poster. The dish had to be prepared several times at home to make sure you knew all the steps and how to accomplish them. The timer had to be set to make sure you were done chopping and assembling in time to get your food cooked. The equipment - every last piece you would need - had to be packed up and taken down to the fairground. In reality, it was an ordeal; but mastering it, along with many "tricks" judges loved (like a paper bag for scraps taped to the edge of the counter) netted both blue ribbons and meals my mom felt comfortable letting us make unattended in the kitchen. Was there anything else learned in these events? Maybe so.

This last weekend, our church group committed to baking a meal for 20 for our local Ronald McDonald House, and I took on the planning. Suddenly, I found myself in a very familiar place: considering oven space, plotting out timelines, listing ingredients and equipment. Never did I realize what I learned doing those contests!

On the menu was baked manicotti, sauteed broccolini, garlic bread, and chocolate chip cookies. Of course, the big difference between making this meal and those contests was that this time, there were many hands working together.

Rolling cookies!

Soaking noodles!

Chopping herbs!

And the meal comes together! Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures at the Ronald McDonald House, but we made twice as much as necessary so that we could eat dinner together as well.


Axon L. Parker said...

Way to go Mel! Fun and delicious!

Janelle Rispler said...

Nice Mel! Sounds like a lot of fun, yummy work.

Melanie said...

Axon - This event gave me a new appreciation for you. I can't believe you cooked for 20 of us every night by yourself - and did it all in 3 hours!

Sarah said...

I have not yet found that 4-H prepared me for anything in my adult life, but I never got to do anything nearly as interesting as a cooking show. Good job on all this!

Aly sun said...

My amazing husband did the 4H cooking shows too. Great way to equip young people. I'm so glad you were able to cook such a fabulous looking meal for a good cause.

deanna said...

Awesome. Good for you! You made it all sound fun, which would not be the first word in my head if asked to do it.