There were no blue ribbons in my winnings at the Cooking with Maple Contest at the Genesee Country Museum this year. My Roasted Vegetable Pizza with Maple Balsamic Glaze did, however, earn a red (2nd place) ribbon in the savory category. The Maple Morning Cake donned a yellow (3rd place) ribbon in cakes. Since the veggie pizza ranked the higher ribbon, I’ve included that recipe in this post!
It’s a good thing the contest has ended because after pulling so many possible entries out of my oven every ounce of my body is saturated in maple syrup. Surprising as it is, even my sweet tooth needs a break.
Since the judging, I’ve been pondering what it means to win. This year the grand prize went to 8 year old Margaret “Molly” Sullivan! I couldn’t help but smile as Pat Mead, the woman who runs the Food Ways program at the village and organizes the whole bake-off, shared with Darrell and I that Molly won by modifying her grandmother’s cheesecake recipe.
In my estimation, that boils down to a whole pot of winners. Of course, Molly won but I think her grandmother was a winner, too. The passing on of recipes, as I’ve written about before, somehow has the ability to steady us in the world. Kudos to her grandmother for not only sharing the recipe but allowing it to be fiddled with.
From a bird’s eye perspective, the community also won. The museum provided an opportunity for families to set aside the lure of technology in order to get into the kitchen and be creative! Who knows what that might translate into one day, perhaps a woman who has an investment in making sure the museum has a future because of the fond memories she has of being an active participant in it as a child?
Just like the layers of textures and flavors in the baked goods on the table, there are complexities in defining what it means to win. Being a competitive person by nature, I wondered if I might feel a bit of a let-down leaving the museum without a blue ribbon this year. After all, my Maple Cream Cheese Coffee Cake and my Maple Ribbon Cake have both taken first place in the past.
I start experimenting for this contest in mid-February every year turning out a different goody or two every Sunday when my kids come for dinner. There’s usually a lot of banter about what’s good (or not so good), what needs to be tweaked, and what should be put directly into the compost bin. It’s light-hearted fun for us all.
When I’ve narrowed down my possible entries I put them out for sampling at our annual Maple Syrup Day. More discussion always ensues which often includes maple experiments our friends have begun bringing! This year’s potluck contributions included sausage cooked in sap over an open campfire, maple-brined pork tenderloin, and maple cupcakes.
If I had to be honest, moments with friends and family gathered around the kitchen table, even without the exchange of ribbons, are the grand prize for me.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer up a great big thank you to the museum for giving all of the participants, myself included, a chance to get involved and play a little.
Every entrant into the contest gets a prize just for entering, too: a free ticket into the village for the day. There are categories that include both the savory and the sweet. There are divisions for children and for adults and, as we learned this year, the grand prize isn’t determined by age! If you didn’t get a chance to enter, why not start thinking about it for next year? Let your kids get creative right alongside you!
Some great philosopher once quipped that life is about the journey not the destination. I wholeheartedly agree. If winning a blue ribbon were the destination, I’d miss out on the memories that are built along the way. I might lose sight of the people who are working hard to make sure our local history is preserved for future generations to learn from. I might even forget why we’re having this contest in the first place. Remember that maple dance I wrote about in my last post??
There are lots of events taking place at the museum between now and next year’s contest including the Old Time Agricultural Fair which is another great opportunity to enter your jams, pickles or even art work! Keep current with happenings by following the Genesee Country Museum’s Facebook page!
You can follow Kneading Life on Facebook, too….or join my contact list at the top of the page! if you know someone who would love to make this pizza for you, feel free to share this post using the link below!
Hope to see you around the bread bowl (and around the village!),
Roasted vegetable pizza with maple balsamic glaze
2 sweet peppers of differing colors
1 large onion
8 -12 oz sliced baby portabella mushrooms
Salt (don’t underestimate the power of good salt! I love the Celtic gray)
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup balsamic glaze
Shredded mozzarella cheese; 8 ounce bag
1 recipe of No-Fail-Anybody-Can-Do-It-Focaccia (or your favorite pizza dough)
Cut peppers into a ½ inch dice. Cut onion in half and slice. Place on large cookie sheet along with the sliced mushrooms. Coat lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in a 450 degree oven for 20 -25 minutes; until begins to caramelize.
Meanwhile, stretch dough onto large cookie sheet on oiled parchment. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. When the veggies come out of the oven, bake the crust for 10 minutes without topping until dough begins to set.
Top with roasted vegetables, drizzle with desired amount of *balsamic glaze (refrigerate the rest for later use) and top with mozzarella cheese.
Return to oven and finish baking.
*Balsamic Glaze. Mix ¼ cup syrup with ½ cup balsamic glaze. Warm together.