Stewarts Shops Cooking ChallengeSaturday, Feb 6, 2010 five teams gathered to compete in an unusual cooking competition. In the Adirondacks grocery stores are a rare commodity, many folks have to travel a great distance to purchase the freshest of vegetables and a fresh cut of decent meat. Special orders can be arranged, but in today’s fast paced culture (yes even in the Adirondacks) so many rely on the convenience of quick stop shop. Teams from Tupper Lake, Blue Mt. North Creek and Long Lake gathered at their prospective Stewarts to cull the shelves for just the right ingredients to concoct three menu items within a budget of $25.00, cooked only in a microwave, no stove tops. This was not a sport for the easily intimidated. Creativity, planning and the ability to operate machinery (okay a microwave) were imperative to guarantee success.
All three teams from Long Lake hit our local shop around 4:30pm before the kick off time of 6pm.
Team Von Bearslayer (mistakenly called Von BEERslayer…) hit the store picking up Hormel chili, torilla chips, cream cheese, oreos, butter, ice cream, snickers, potatos, kidney beans (no more cans of chili availalble… cleaned out by the other Long Lake team and their name eludes me at this writing)
After packing up three kids and a husband in a salt encrusted minivan we journeyed over to the Arts Center with special notes and directions mapped out to maximize the cooking progress. A box with knives, pyrex, mixing bowls, extra paper towels, and additional utensils (a a couple of beers – ingredients of course) rattled around on the eleven mile journey adding to general excitement of the Von Bearslayers.
Arrival at the center was exciting. The longest table had been set aside. The original rules outlined max four team members, but as we had three kids under 12 participating the judges were willing to look the other way. We paid our $15 entry fee (to benefit the Arts Center to keep those doors open!) and set our ingredients down. The team helped unpack and spread the ingredients around. We checked out other tables, we saw other cans of chili, potatos, and a cake mix box. Really? In a microwave? Wow! Who knew?
At 6pm Laura Marsh commandeered the sound system and set the clock running (well it was a few minutes after six because a contestant had ventured off to the bathroom to wash his hands) The clock ticking we set to work. Five teams, five microwaves. One team took over TWO microwaves adding to the tension of the competition.
Potatos were baking, chocolate was melting, oreos were crushed, olives were chopped. Kids hyper with excitement couldn’t wait to spread the soft Bear Claw Ice Cream over the oreos and the crushed candy bars. We stored the cake outside to freeze it in prep for the food tasting.
We watched other teams whisk eggs and heat up taquitos for a lovely Huevos Rancheros, another team took the same healthy approach. They had cleaned out the veggie bins of apples to make their beer bottle crushed granola apple crisp and their egg, onion and pepper souffle. The team from North Creek did succeed at baking a cake,
The judging was based on a taste test. Those teams with the highest number of paper plates in their garbage bags one.
The first round of judging was a three way tie with 20 plates per team, knocking out my team, the Von Bearslayers, but the kids did a great job collaborating, and cooking. In fact one child ever fearful of trying new foods was so into it he tried sour cream in the Nacho dip…”It’s the first time I tried olives and sour cream and ya know what… they aren’t that bad”
The winning team took home $100 gift card from Stewarts Shops. The event was a great creative time and next year… the Von Bearslayers will try their magic again.