I never pass up an opportunity to heap praise on myself, so I'll divulge the news that I got first place for my white cake entry in this year's fair. I still think that white cake is far inferior to just about any other cake - chocolate, lemon, pound, coconut - except Angel Food cake, which is a cake at which I'll turn up my nose. It's another cake you make when you're stuck with some egg whites you need to use.
I did have one more fair entry. I made a batch of peanut butter cookies. Not much makes my PB cookie recipe different, except for the addition of extra peanuts and their jumbo size. The dough was delicious, but I was disappointed when they came out of the oven. They had run together on the baking sheet, which is the disaster of all disasters when it comes to baking cookies, right? They weren't very beautiful.
On top of that, when I went to turn in my cookies, the volunteer noted the jumbo size of my cookies and told me that next year the cookies cannot be larger than 2" in diameter. "Otherwise, we'll give you a knife so you can cut them down."
I would sooner take my cookies back and go home. "Great," I thought, "the judges have a preference for smaller cookies, and here I am with cookies on steroids. I should have used an alias."
My fears were unfounded. Maybe the judges are waiting until next year to decide that size matters. Maybe the bribe worked. Anyway, I got first place for the cookies. Here's a shot of almost all of the peanut butter cookie class. Mine are at the bottom right, looking very disheveled on the plate.
That's the end of my win streak at the fair, though, because if I'm still in Lubbock at this time next year, I'm going to throw myself off the Ferris wheel.
Last Saturday I went to Apple Country Orchards in Idalou for the annual Apple Butter Festival. It started out as a date idea for Chet and me. Then we decided to invite our moms. I called Mom Saturday morning to make sure she was still going. Yes, she was, and Dad wanted to come, too. She called back a few minutes later and said that everybody wanted to go. Hopefully that wasn't too much family time for Chet's mom.
I have good memories of going to the orchard to pick apples when I was younger. Mom picked us up after school in the Suburban, and we'd drive out. You have such a different concept of time when you're a kid. That drive to Idalou seemed so long, but it was probably only twenty or thirty minutes. We drove up FM 400 which passes through a canyon, which was exciting to us. Mom would get lost, and I'd probably be the only one of the kids who hadn't dozed off, so together we figured out where we missed the turn. While you pick at the orchard, it's all you can eat apples. Mmmm. The apples peeked out at us from underneath the tree leaves. We probably had to be told more than once not to pick the wormy ones. The autumn sun cast its inimitable shadow and the fall air remained cool. It made this farm girl think of harvest time. We would get apple cider slushes, and they also had a soft serve machine that dispensed an apple yogurt that was amazing. I haven't seen that in years, but they still have their fabulous bakery and delicious cider. A few years ago, I had a job in Idalou. There were a few times when I would drive to the orchard during lunch, buy a loaf of Apple Cake, eat the whole thing, and take a nap.
The orchard was already pretty crowded Saturday when we arrived. Lots of young marrieds and toddlers. Pretty WASPy. Different crowd than the fair, for sure. We grabbed some buckets on wheels and started picking apples. We found a few varieties. There were some pretty Holly apples. Other than that, the highlights were seeing a Horny Toad and me standing in an ant hill for a couple of minutes until I realized I was getting bitten by red ants. Farm girl, indeed.