Third Place Winner at the Orange County Fair!
I apologize for my tardiness in bringing you this award-winning preserve. Life has been out-of-control busy since this blog (that’s me!) won the “Best of Show” prize at the 2012 Orange County Fair last summer. My genre-busting, step-by-step treatise on Mussels and Chorizo scored a big win with the judges — my life has not been the same since. I thought I knew “busy” but nothing can ever really prepare one for the schedule it takes to compete for and then win such an award.
It takes years of training just to get your blogging skills to level required to get yourself noticed at the neighborhood and city food blog competitions. A win there doesn’t buy you any rest as the pressure to keep on winning pushes you forward with more writing, cooking, and photography so you can win the sectionals and then regional blogging competitions. Talk about stamina! But then, for the lucky few, its on to “The Counties.”
Once there excitement begins with an invitation to the OC Fair Culinary Competition Nominee Luncheon. There I saw 2011 winner Marilyn Johnson of Pink Martinis and Pearls for the first time. Her 2011 Best of Show triumph certainly made her the one to beat in 2012. We are now fast friends , but at this luncheon I couldn’t even get near her due to her security detail and the oh-so-clingy press who hung on her every cookie-decorating word.
Following the Nominees Luncheon there were the numerous fittings with top designers. Ultimately my stylist Brad Goreski and I decided on a pair of simple pair of blue denim jeans and a grey polo shirt which was sent over at the last minute by the fine people at Hugo Boss. The shirt was a great choice as even the mavens over at Fashion Police could find no fault with it.
After the actual ceremony there was the winners press stand-up before we partied all night at the Governor’s Ball. The only low point of the evening was being turned away at the door of the Saveur Magazine after-party at the Livestock Pavilion. I’m used to not getting any love from Saveur so instead I took my big blue ribbon and my entourage and crashed the Everyday With Rachel Ray after-party. (They’ll let anybody in.)
My post-Best-of-Show life now includes the high-stress demands of producing my own Reality Show and captaining a social media empire that includes a staggering 81 “likes” on Facebook and a full 313 “followers” on Twitter. Not bad for only blogging three years! So much to do and now I need staff to do it. How on earth do other food blog superstars manage their lives and function without personal assistants to take care of life’s details? (Note to self, have my people call Deb , Joy , and Ree and ask them this.)
Being très busy before Fair season even started made it necessary for me to choose a simple to make Preserved Food: Jams, Conserves, Preserves & Marmalade submission item. Food blogging is fun but nothing connects you more to the excitement of the fair than actual entering a food item into competition.
Orange County really takes its jams and jellies seriously as hundreds of jars get entered each year. There are seven categories: stone fruit, strawberry (so popular they they had to give it its own category!), other berries, mixed fruit, conserves and preserves, marmalades, and finally, other. Jars for days and each one must get tasted by the judges and somehow ordered according to ‘best’.
And as exiting as my win for Mussels and Chorizo was and as life-changing as the aftermath became, I am more proud of the Third Place ribbon this confiture took home the “Other” category. The Counties had spoken and I made the third best Other in all of Orange County!
Lemon Carrot Confiture
Lemon Carrot Confiture requires no special skills to make and the “stuff you already have in your fridge” ingredient list made it an ideal choice for busy me to submit for competition. And lest you think there is no forethought to my delay in sharing it with you let me just say that while strawberries and peaches are not exactly flavorful and abundant this time of year, you can always find decent carrots.
The earthy carrot flavors brightened with lemon and made sophisticated with a whisper of cognac will delight all you serve it to. Best with a hunk of tasty bread and a pat of cold butter. Carrot Confiture made its first appearance at Sis Boom Blog back in July when it was used as a topping for Dorie Greenspan’s Corn Pancake appetizers. Again, sorry for the delay in sharing. I hope you find it was worth the wait.
Adapted from Laura Calder
This is what you will need:
- 1 lb carrots, trimmed and peeled.
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- zest of one lemon
- Juice of 2 lemons, to taste
- 10 whole almonds, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons cognac
This is how you make it:
- Slice the carrots into 1 to 2 inch pieces and put in a medium saucepan.
- Cover the carrots with water and bring to a boil.
- Continue cooking until carrots are very soft.
- Strain carrots from water and then put into a food mill and puree.
- Return the puree to the saucepan and add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until the mixture is “glassy and jammy”.
- Add zest and quickly stir to mix well.
- Remove from heat and stir in the chopped almonds and then the cognac.
- Either let cool and refrigerate until using or add to hot sterilized jars and process in a water bath for 5 minutes.