Cooking contests are brutal…you never know what’s going to turn on the judging panel or turn them off. Probably the Mack daddy of the cooking recipe contest circuit is the ‘Pillsbury Bake Off’—this year,
2013, is the 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off. I’ve never entered it before, and decided to get out of the balcony and into the ring this year.
The first round was ‘Dobable Dinners’. The stakes are high—a million dollar prize—you have to be innovative and tasty with your recipes, yet simple. The guidelines and rules are tough—seven ingredients only, two of which must be the sponsors’ products, and the preparation time is 30 minutes or less. Goodie goodie, salt, pepper and water are ‘free’ ingredients!
The first thing I did was head to the grocery store and buy a small fortune of blue tubes—that is, Pillsbury products everything from biscuits and cinnamon rolls to pizza dough, crescent rolls and pie crusts. I had no idea what would spark in my brain. Then, of course, there were other sponsor products I wanted to have on hand as inspiration set in—Green Giant—I think I wiped out the inventory at City Market, then I loaded up on Smuckers, lots of jelly, jams and just fruit (dang, the store brands are so much cheaper!)—and not to forget some JIF products—I couldn’t find the mocha cappuccino spread anywhere and resorted to ordering from Amazon—nearly dropped my teeth at the cost with shipping—16 buckaroos! And, yep, I also threw into my cart some Crisco products and Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk—an expensive venture. There was no doubt I’d surely be throwing out a lot of the ‘creations’ as they’d be inedible or disgustingly disturbed.
For over two weeks, I was incessantly obsessed with creating a ‘doable dinner.’ And, when I say obsessed, I didn’t do anything else. I dreamt about recipes. I awoke each morning jotting down ideas and putting together different combinations of ingredients knowing that my limit was seven. I dared anyone to come into my kitchen domain and mess with me—family and friends feared for their lives! My first three recipes that I made and had my family eat were pathetically gross. Your family and friends have to be brutally honest otherwise you’re in big trouble. I was getting majorly disappointed—how was I making this so incredibly difficult?
Finally, I decided to let go of the desire to make something ‘winning’ and just try to make something that was good to eat, easy to prepare and fun to serve. When I changed my mindset, I was able to create another eight recipes, which wasn’t easy—it took lots of time. I would make the recipe not once or twice but sometimes three times to get my timing correct or tweak an ingredient. Then there was the photography—I had to have pictures because if any of the recipes wasn’t a winner, I wanted to use it for another recipe contest and/or on my website. Dual purposing is so important in foodie blogging and contests.
The next part of this process that was nerve wracking was uploading the recipe(s) to the website. I uploaded them, all eight, over the next three weeks or so. I must say there was a thumping in my chest and almost a shortness of breath as I cut/pasted—everything was critical. I would let these recipes ‘sit’ in the archives for days (not hit ‘submit’)…go back read and re-read. I had a trusted friend review the recipe(s) to ensure that they were understandable—pithy—I have a tendency to use way too many words—simplicity is so important in this contest! Could she understand, follow and make the recipe(s)? Thank goodness I did because she came back with things that were unclear to her. Finally, the time came that I had to go to the website and click ‘submit’—geeze, why was this so hard! There was a sigh of relief—but, I also was kind of in an addictive mode—I was really diggin’ these littl’ blue tubes—what else could I create? I had to force myself to stop the madness. Besides, I was putting on some extra pounds and starting to look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy! Now, it was time to wait and see if I’d get an email or phone call from Pillsbury.
This first round of the Pillsbury Bake-Off probably consumed over 50 hours of my time and several hundred dollars in products and other ingredients—maybe I made it too hard, maybe I over-thought it, maybe my estimations of prep timing were askew—but the bottom line is that none of my recipes made it to the top picks—and, believe me I checked everything and everyway someone could find me—cell phone, email, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, snail mail—nothing, nada, zip, zero! Obviously, what I thought were pretty darn good entries they didn’t have the ‘uuumph’ or whatever the judges were looking for. Yep, it’s hugely disappointing, it’s defeating, it’s a confidence zapper, but what do you do? Curl up, head for a rock or cave, tuck your tail and run?
Hell NO! You get ready for the second round of the PBO—sweets and starters! You look at those littl’ blue tubes and start cackling like a mad scientist ready to gear up the lab! I have a lot of the tubes nesting in my refrigerator ready to use, so they’re going to be morphed into creations that could be the next million dollar winner! Enjoy looking at some of my ‘Doable Dinners’ entries—I’m sharing some
photos. Hey, I thought these were killer ideas (so did my food critics who game them thumbs up!)~~but, what do I know? Only the dough boy knows for sure. There are always other contests–I might re-fashion some of these ideas into something new. So much of any adventure in life is all about the chatter in your head, your outlook, and your resiliency! Attitude in competitions is supreme—if you get knocked down, you get your butt up and get back in the ring. Remember, if you wanna run with the big dogs, then hike up your leg and give it your best shot!
Right now, I’m lickin’ my wounds~~leave me some words to perk me up~~