The snow is still piled up outside. A good inch thick layer of ice covers most of the walkway to my house, oblivious to the amount of salt and chipping and shoveling I have been throwing at it. Winter is being a real stubborn brat this year at the Little Lake House. It makes me frustrated! I have garden plans to get going on!
Besides wondering what I am going to plant in the garden, I'm also already planning in my head- what am I going to enter in the County Fair this year? It's not easy to decide! Obviously, the goal is winning a ribbon, so......... do I go for the usual and hope to stand out among the usual dill pickles and grape jelly........ or do I go big and submit unusual chutneys, preserves, salsas made with super hot peppers and hope that originality will grab the judges' attention? Ugh! A girl can go nuts at this stage of the game.
I am an adventurous canner. No plain jane jams and jellies for me! Don't get me wrong, I make plenty of things like apple butter and applesauce and canned fruit that are simple and basic. I like to make combinations that are interesting and flavorful. Jams with a little kick of boozy goodness too- those are fun, and relax! You cook the alcohol off so it's perfectly fine to eat and feed to kids. Besides the amount added to any batch is so small anyway- it's more like an extract for flavor. I have discovered how easy it is to make your own gourmet mustards too- so those are always added to the items taken to the fair. Last year I added a jar of wax beans just to make it an even ten submissions- and they won a blue ribbon!
Last year was my first ever year for entering in a fair. I entered 10 jars and won 7 ribbons. My blue ribbon winners were: wax beans; old fashioned vinegar cole slaw; bread and butter pickles; radish relish; mixed sweet and hot peppers; sliced mushrooms; and cherry, peach,pear conserve. My second place ribbons went to Newcastle Brown Ale mustard; pear, blueberry and lavender preserves and boozy strawberry peach schnapps jam. I also entered cranberry ghost chili jelly; spicy tomato jam and apple ghost pepper jelly and they didn't win. I'm planning a NEW batch of tomato jam and some other interesting entries for this year too!
This year I have been busy with lots of new recipes, new ideas, setting aside some of my favorites as I went along canning, playing with flavors and combinations and my goal this year is 15 jars entered and 10 winners- so I'm crossing my fingers!
|I won!I won! I won!|
|2013 was a GREAT year for this first timer!|