Tuesday, July 07, 2009

And the loser is…

Well, I didn’t win the annual Fourth of July pie competition. This being the first time I’ve entered a pie competition, I’m hardly surprised. In fact, I have to admit to not even being too terribly bummed out, either.

I know that totally flies in the face of baking for competitions, but there it is. It really was about having some fun and engaging with our community a little bit for me, along with hefty humor value because I’m really not the “I enter my food in competitions!” type.

If I were, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do things like patch tears in my pie crust with big old splotches of extra dough without bothering to make it all smooth and perfect – I figure if my patch job holds the filling in, we’re good. It don’t need to be perfect, darlin’, it’s’a just gonna get et t’minute it won’t scald their tongues…

An apple pie won. A mighty appetizing looking and obviously toothsome example of the species, too…although there is a part of me that kind of chuckled and said, “Ya, that would be the pie for our town!”

Very American and folks, we are a very American kind of town out here, if you disturb the thin veneer of bedroom-community that is what most people think of when they think “Tracy, California.”

Poor, poor Brent Ives (our beloved mayor), along with some volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce and the community, had to labor their way through eight pies and four hamburgers, picking out the Best of the Best.

I know. His job is a tough one.

Although actually, I didn’t envy him one bit. First of all, we bakers can get a wee tad touchy about being judged, and furthermore, the winning burger turned out to be from Famous Dave’s? (WARNING: Music plays!!)

SCANDAL!!!!!! The people around us not only uttered blasphemous words upon this announcement, but hats were flung to the ground in disgust and furthermore there were cries of Foul! and a few other choice words said. (And if Captain Adventure suddenly begins singing out that other four letter word for poop, I can honestly say it isn’t entirely my fault.)

Our boyishly handsome mayor had to publicly declare within moments of the announcement that he didn’t know who the four (4) burger contestants even were until the results were in. Repeatedly. And still, there are whispers that it was all a set up, and the words “kick backs” were bandied around and ohmygah, you would think somebody got billions in Federal dollars to build a bridge to Ripon, y’all!

I didn’t envy him his position one little bit.

And then there was even more scandal because!, see, the burger competition, well fine, they didn’t have any kind of “no restaurants may apply” clauses. But the pie competition clearly stated that the pie had to be homemade, NO COMMERCIAL PIES ALLOWED.

And then the winner immediately announced that this pie was available daily at the Banta Inn. Huh-wha-now? LET THE ANGRY WHISPERS BEGIN!!!!!

If you can buy it, doesn’t that make it commercial? hst-whsss-psssst-hummmmm!

What’s really funny about this is that the pie results were announced before the burgers. So we all just sort of applauded at first, but then five minutes laterSCANDAL!!!!!!!!!

So you know, the whole thing is rigged and the mayor is in cahoots with the Devil and furthermore they’re pretty sure drugs are involved somewhere along the line…

Ah, the small town feel! There’s nothing like it in the world…come to think of it, I seldom envy the mayor his gig. Which is why you won’t be seeing “Tama for Mayor” signs sprinkled around town any time soon. No, no, Brent, I’ll just leave that to you, shall I…?

ANYWAY. Those of us who didn’t take this whole thing too terribly serious (and we outnumbered those who did about three hundred to one) had a wonderful time at both the competitions and the festival itself, which was small, cute and rather well-attended thank you very much.

This is my losing pie.

blackbottom pie

It’s a black-bottom pie. It has a thick dark chocolate mousse in the bottom, and the top is a rum custard / meringue blend. It’s my mom’s favorite pie, and frankly I’m pretty fond of it too…which made all the trial-run pies bearable. (I also discovered a carrot-ginger pie that is pretty darned good too…think pumpkin pie, only substitute pureed carrots and add in some diced candied ginger.)

I tried something new with this (because isn’t that what you always do for these things, try something you’ve never tried before and hope it works out for you?), which were these little deals:

chocolate leaves

I will grant you they were fiddly, but not as hard as they look. First, I went out into my backyard and picked out a bunch of rose leaves. After I washed and dried them, I melted some semisweet chocolate, dribbled it onto the leaves, smoothed it out with a small spatula and stuck them into the fridge to harden back up.

Come back later, peel off the leaves (eating the disastrous ones to eliminate the evidence of your foolishness) and voila! Chocolate leaves, suitable for suggesting where to cut your slices.

OK, yes, there were supposed to be eight smaller leaves, since a pie is supposed to be eight servings. But, well, there were fatalities when I peeled off the leaves. I’d never done it before, and it took a fair number of them before I got the trick and stopped breaking them in half, or holding them too long so they partially melted in my hand, and, well, let’s just say there are a lot of ways to ruin them.

Besides, this saves time and calories for the consumer. Because, see, we all know that if you cut a pie into eight equal slices, well, you don’t eat just one slice, you eat two. BUT, presented with a 1/6-of-a-9”-pie portion, well, you can eat that and feel like you got somethin’, you know? Which saves the time of having to wait until nobody’s looking to go in for that second slice, not to mention the time wolfing down the second slice, and furthermore you’re saving, what, 30% of the caloric intake? (Something like that. I’m not going to do math right now. It might upset the delicate balance of this logic.)

Because I’ve never done this sort of thing before, I didn’t think to ask what my score was – there were 45 possible points, 15 for presentation, 15 for taste and 15 for personal preference.

I learned from the disappointed bearer of a very pretty peach pie that she had only scored 26 points, and I was all, “Whoa, you can get your score?” and she was all, “Whoa, you didn’t get your score?!” and I thought about running back to see if I could get it but then the Denizens threatened Mutiny!!! so instead I just went back to my house like a good little loser and ate the rest of my pie, the end.

(And thus was I spared learning that I got, you know, five points or something, which might actually have upset me even though I’m not the kind of person who gets all hysterical about what others think of my baking because if they don’t like it, that means more for me…)


17th stitch said...

The pie looks gorgeous! Congratulations on the awesome job with the chocolate rose leaves... I've been there and it isn't easy.

Any chance you would share the pie recipe with your loyal readers? It sounds like something that might actually impress my mother-in-law...

Rena said...

Yummy! Well done, sis.

That carrot pie does sound delicious.

SuperM said...

Gorgeous pie! I second the request for pie sharing if you're willing.

(My husband has improved his tortillas making skills no end since you posted about that)

(formerly) no-blog-rachel said...

I'd totally vote for you for public office. Governor, perhaps? You clearly know how to budget... :)


PipneyJane said...

Oohhh.... Recipe, please!

Great story, Tama.

- Pam

Science PhD Mom said...

Yummmmm!! You have totally made me want pie now...thanks Tama. Lemme see, hassle of making piecrust vs. sweet deliciousness of cherry pie...hard to call!

I'd love the recipe too, when you get a chance!

Steph B said...

Oh yes, recipe, please! That looks dee-licious, and I'm not even a pie person. I agree with your philosophy - more for you!