Sunday, October 12, 2008

Garden Harvest Smackdown

Winter is closing in, which much to my dismay, means the end of fresh produce. Even though my garden was a bit slow and late this year, i now am getting lots of tomatos, peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, and various other veggies. Since i can't possibly eat it all myself i decided to take a creative approach to fall harvest time: a garden harvest cooking smackdown (with some inspiration from Iron Chef). So i invited some family and friends to participate and sent out the rules:

1) dishes will be judged on a) presentation b) taste and c) orgininality/creativity
2) dishes must incorporate the secret ingredient, as well as produce from the garden goodie bag
3) extra points will be rewarded for using local products for your other ingredients
4) you must cook as a team
5) finished dishes must be on the table at my house, presentable and ready to eat by 6:30.
6) judging will be by peer review

Saturday i coordinated for all teams to get a bag full of stuff from my garden, then saturday around 3:00 i announced the secret ingredient: pumpkin.

We had four teams compete:

Team Bradley: heavily favored to win by Catydid who wondered if we could require that they be handicapped and required to compete without an oven. The cook's cooking blog has received international acclaim: . There was some controversy over whether the cook's winning main dish, which only included pumpkin seeds, should have been eligible, but in the end, judges agreed it was absolutely delicious. Check the cook's blog for recipes from the competition.

Team ZB: a late addition, but with extensive knowledge of both American & Mexican cuisine, they were serious contenders, despite being 45 minutes late. Willy-G should have won the dance competiton.

Team CreepyCrawly: Caitydid has been known to create some amazing marshmallow dishes, so we were all prepared for a pumpkin marshmallow dessert that could steal the show. Although we didn't get anything with marshmallows, the creepy halloween spider get-up and musical accompaniment garnered them points.

Team Ringer: there were rumors that this team was bringing in a "ringer" to help in the kitchen (though the teammember closest to the "ringer" allegedly laughed out loud when he offered his help) . Even without the help of a ringer, however, this culinary powerhouse promised to easily wow judges with their creative presentations and tasty creations, and as it turns out, the ringer's spicy pumpkin seed dish won for best appetizer.

Despite the fact that team Bradley tried to stack the ballot by bringing enough small children to ensure a family victory . . .

in the end, everyone was a winner. We all went away happy and stuffed with plenty of leftovers to keep us eating for the rest of the week. Although the artist said he wouldn't post any photos of the dance competition, if caitydid will share her photos with me, i certainly will.

Mini spicy pumpkin pie and Team Creepy Crawly's tasty pumpkin phillos.

No. 1 surveying the spread. I should note that Team ZB should have lost presentation points for serving their dishes in tupperware.

Team Ringer's pumpkin empanadas.

The dessert spread.No. 1 cleared her plate.

Team Creepycrawly demonstrates how to do the twist (and Caitydid illustrates her addiction).

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