Cookies acquit themselves honorably

The 2010 Dallas News/Central Market Cookie Contest Final Round was a lot of fun!

Everything was arrayed on a long table for all to admire. The SANTA FACES won “best of show.” The lumpy-looking chocolate ones were delicious. People cried when cookies got broken in transit. It was a HECK of a lot of work. Cooking is slavery.



The judges withdrew to choose the winners. Then it was “sample time.” I’ve never seen so many people descend upon a table. With Rubbermaid tubs. They grabbed one of each cookie and tossed it into the tub and ran for their cars, perhaps to have examples to copy for next year. Most of the entrants were Dallas’ Foodie Elite: they win State Fair competitions annually, they have had recipes win the monthly contests in “Better Homes and Gardens,” and many had been to the Pillsbury Bake-Off! I was one of three newbies who just looked on slack-jawed. We hadn’t thought to bring any kind of box for samples. But we did acquit ourselves honorably.

“The Devil Eats Chockies” was not a major winner, but I did win a consolation prize/honorable mention of sorts. I came home with a cookbook all about cookie exchanges and how to hold them. Whoa! Tell me something I will NOT be doing, EVER. I’ll hold a drunken brawl and Texas Hold ‘Em tourney instead. It would be easier to clean up after. *wink* Someone else got Jessica Seinfeld’s new cookbook as her honorable mention prize; I wonder if that one is plagiarized (allegedly) like the first?* A third person got a book titled _The Happy Baker_, all about emotional baking and how to influence people with food. I already know all that, and hated to see the curse passed on, but oh well.

* {Just yanking your chain, folks: she was acquitted. I looked at both books and didn’t see ANY lifted passages. It’s just the idea that’s the same. My major problem with it is that they’re both based on “hiding” small amounts of cooked vegetable purees to desserts and other foods–and I don’t think there could be much nutritional value left after you cook squash and then bake it twice. But anyhow, hers is a very PRETTY book.}

Everyone at the contest was excited. These people are major foodies. The way I love to write novels and play piano, they love to cook and invent recipes and feed people. I was SO Far Out Of My League. It was fun to pretend to be a good cook for a couple of hours.

But anyhow. Even if your passion is not for cooking, you have to hand it to ’em all. It was a LOT of work to produce twelve perfect cookies for the judges’ tray and then choose two dozen others (mostly perfect) for the tasting tray. There were six categories, and ten finalists in each category, and everyone brought a guest . . . so you can imagine how crowded the Central Market upstairs meeting room was. However, a good time was had by all, and I got the recipes for a few good cookies. The people I was rooting for took the top prizes. What more could one ask?

To get a good idea for a NaNoNoVel, of course.

I already have my idea and am busily filling hopelessly adverbial pages. But I also think I might set a future mystery at a cooking contest! I’ve already done a chili cookoff in the Marfa Lights novel, but the cookie thing gave me some ideas. For later, that is. Everything’s fodder for the writing mill.

You already know NaNo, I know. Participants get together several days a week to write in coffee shops, bookstores, and so forth. I generally do better pecking away in my own digs here at Casa el Dumpo. But I might visit a group or two, just for fun. If I can ever get out from under these piles of laundry. (They’ve been breeding while I wasn’t looking.)

Apparently the Dallas-area group is called the Rhinos. I’m more of a “hippo” myself, but whatever. It works.

Read all about it.

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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