Monday, August 18, 2008

The Cornish Fair: or, how to make some pocket change

This past weekend was the Cornish Fair in Cornish, NH. A friend and I decided we'd enter some of our crafts in the fair, which had an extensive craft show. (well, more accurately, Lois, who owns White River Yarns in WRJ mentioned the Cornish Fair to us at a knit night in July, since she was to be one of the knitting category judges, and I jumped at this opportunity). D entered seven items: two jewelery sets, 3 single pieces of jewelery, a silver cast leaf, and a photograph. I entered 5 items: knitted socks (my recently-finished muscari socks), a quilt I finished in 2002, a necklace I made some time within the past year, my newly-perfected Lime-Peach Pie (inspired by peach margaritas) and my pride and joy, my duck sauce cookies.

D did very well, all of her jewelery and her silver leaf took ribbons (all first place but for one, which took second). My socks won third place,
my quilt won second place (picture to be added later...)
and my necklace won first.

My baked goods, however.... sigh.
Now, I'm bordering on being a sore loser. I am fully aware of that. I'm kind of mentally kicking myself in the rear for being a poor sport, but I think I'm allowed, a little bit. My duck sauce cookies, which are not your typical cookie, were judged as having "overwhelming citrus flavors". sigh! (Edit: sorry, the comment actually was, "the orange overwhelms the other flavors"; I checked the tag last night. They did, however, compliment me on the appearance of my cookies... so at least they're pretty!) There's the zest of half an orange in a batch of dough that makes 75 or so cookies, and no one has ever recognized orange flavor among the other flavors. The winning cookies were (in this order): chocolate chip, jam sandwich cookies, and oatmeal raisin. So maybe my duck sauce cookies are too "out there" for Cornish.

But the pie! The pie is awesome. They're idiots.

1 batch Martha Stewart's pate brisee (aka never-fail pie crust of awesomeness)
a lot of peaches, enough to fill the pie dish (I used 18 and got two pies)
2T vanilla
1 lime: zested and juiced
3T cornstarch
3T sugar

Blanch the peaches to remove the skins. Dice, and strain, strain, strain to get as much liquid removed as possible (I saved the peach "nectar" and tonight will try it in a smoothie). Zest the lime, juice the lime, add that all to the peaches. Add the vanilla and the cornstarch and the sugar, mix it all up, put it in the pie crust-lined pan. Treat it like you would any pie, etc etc. Bake, etc.

So, as I mentioned before, this is a LIME-peach pie. LIME. Inspired by margaritas. Very limey. The comment on my beautiful pie was that it had "overwhelming citrus flavor". First we note: huh, same exact judge, giving the same exact comment on my cookies. Second, we note: um, it's a LIME-peach pie. LIME. This is like saying, "your lemon meringue pie is too lemony, ugh." What we have here is a judge who doesn't like citrus. This is not impartial judging.

I just feel insulted that my poor pie was deemed inedible in this way. If the comments had been something along the lines of "bland taste", "too bitter", "too sweet" or "crust under/overcooked", or even "this flavor combination doesn't work", this would have been acceptable. But to base the ranking on one person's personal preferences! sigh.

So, moral of the story: I'm not entering a pie in a competition in NH again. I think "my perfect pie" is not their perfect pie. I prefer to lose myself in intense and unusual flavors. I think they would faint at my Thanksgiving ginger-apple-cranberry pie, the goal of which is to clear your sinuses. The perfect pie for the Cornish Fair, in my opinion, would be a simple, classic, macintosh apple pie. Also, peach pies cost a fortune to make. I can't afford it!

One last thing about the Cornish Fair. Geography of western NH: I live in Lebanon. If you go about 3 miles west, you get to West Lebanon (...huh!). If you turn south in West Leb, down Rt 12A, you pass through Plainfield, and finally Cornish, a total of 12 miles from West Lebanon. It was about 22 miles to get from my house to the fair, which was in the depths of Cornish, down a winding 6+ mile long dead end road. I equate this trip with going from West Hartford to the new(ish) shopping area in Canton. Not a long trip, something you can just hop in the car and do without planning. (well, I can, anyway). When I got to Cornish on Thursday evening to enter my items in the food and craft exhibits, I gave my address. When I said, Lebanon, the woman stopped and stared. Gaping mouth, look of awe, the whole bit. "Lebanon!" she breathes. "Yes, Lebanon," I respond. Her: "How did you come allll the way from Lebanon?!" Me: um... (wtf? all the way? all the way what? it's 20 minutes away!) I told her I knew someone who was involved with the fair, and heard about it from her. She couldn't get over I came all the way from Lebanon! I still don't know how to respond to that! It was really funny. I guess people in Cornish don't leave Cornish. (ugh, they should, though, there's not much there aside from a couple historic sites and at least 3 covered bridges)

My next adventures: D and I, along with our men, are entering items in the Tunbridge World's Fair. The categories are arranged differently, so I'll be entering a jewelery item, several knitted goods, and maybe two types of cookies- perhaps duck sauce as well as something plain and simple. Tunbridge is Vermont, so while it's rural, maybe it doesn't think it's quite so rural.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that is a bummer, man! (Dude, from the Big Lebowski)

Seriously, though, i always shake my head in wonder with what judges sometimes come up with. Both for knitting AND baking entries. i guess we just keep entering, and keep on hoping that we get blue ribbons. Hey, don't be discouraged about the pie too much! as a LEMON EATER- yes, i love eating lemon wedges- i can't understand how a peach LIME pie can be "too citrusey" seriously, it's not like you called the pie a Peach Pie and threw in the whole zest of a lime! geeze. i bet it tasted DELICIOUS.