blue ribbon ah-fair

IMG_8072Entering a competition at the State Fair is as American as an apple pie, much like the one in the photo above.  And while I realize that the 2017 Tennessee Fair is old news, I really wanted to share these photos.  Actually, I have been missing in action (blame it on the job) and thought I should get my act together and start posting some of the photos that I have taken.

IMG_8036Dusk is the best time to visit the fair.  It is not as busy and the lighting is perfect, even when you are taking photos of lights.

IMG_8039As members of the Master Gardeners, we always find ourselves at the fair and working in the MG booth but we make time to walk around and see as much as we can.  This year, we did not work the booth but we spent some time there with friends who were visiting from Germany.

IMG_8040As adventurous as I am, and I am-I love a good roller coaster, this ride terrifies me.  The thought of dropping like a rock, straight down to the ground…If you need me, I will be out here with a camera, watching you drop like a rock.

IMG_8049IMG_8050IMG_8053This type of ride doesn’t thrill me either-too intense and too much round and round and round…

IMG_8059Ferris wheels can be fun, guarantees a great view of the fair.

IMG_8064This one made me dizzy just watching it.

IMG_8089And then there is the real reason I was at the fair.  On a whim, I decided to enter several competitions.  This was the first time I entered a canning competition and I entered a jar of my homegrown pickle relish.  When I learned the results, I was stunned!

IMG_8096Another competition I entered was the chess pie contest, this one, a honey chess pie, came in at a respectable third place.  If you were paying attention, the very first photo of this post was of a pie, specifically, an apple pie that I entered into the big money competition.

IMG_8091Here are the judges tasting my apple pie.  Long story short, I didn’t win, place or show.  At the end of the day, I have a pretty good idea of what is expected and I will be better prepared for next year.


granola cake; a tuesdays with dorie post

img_7316Back in September, I learned we were relocating again.  After a few bumps in the road, we have landed back in Nashville and are settling into our new home.  During the move, one of the things I missed the most was being able to bake in my own kitchen and now that I have a kitchen again, I am also baking again!

First up; granola cake.  Actually, this recipe comes from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan and not only is it the first cake I have baked in a while, it is the first time I have been able to join the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers since we started packing up for the move.  Since we are back in Nashville, we are active with the Master Gardener program and this cake was a great choice for the potluck dinner we have each month.  Having cut the cake into thin slices, I placed the cake on the dessert table and didn’t have any trouble convincing folks to try it!

img_7318The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate, shredded coconut and granola which all combine to make the flavor similar to an oatmeal cookie with coconut and chocolate chips.  The only thing you need to know, use a good quality granola because it is a large part of the flavor and texture of the cake.  With this in mind, I made a small batch of my own granola rather than buy it.

While I am not posting the recipe for the cake, we do not post the recipes from the book out of respect for the author, I am posting the recipe for the granola that I used in the cake.  This recipe is the one that I made for years when I was working at the Loveless Cafe and I suggest you mix up a batch-it’s that good!


This small recipe makes about 2 cups of granola and can easily be doubled or tripled, just store it airtight and use it within a month.  My preference is to use a combination of wildflower honey and sorghum but you can use just one for the total amount.  If you can’t find sorghum, molasses will work but will give it a little more color.

3/4 oz light brown sugar

1-3/4 oz pecan pieces

5 oz whole rolled oats

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon sorghum

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. In a heat proof bowl, stir together the brown sugar, oats, nuts and cinnamon, set aside.  In a small pan, combine the butter, honey and sorghum and over low heat, stir until the butter melts and the mixture is heated but not boiling.  Pour the melted butter mixture over the oats and stir until it is combined.  Dump the mixture onto the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.  Bake for about 10 minutes, stir it well and continue baking for another 10 minutes or so.  The time depends on how thin the layer is in the pan.  Keep a close eye on the granola and stir it frequently until it turns a nice deep amber color.  When the granola is the color you want, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Using your hands-it will still be hot and it needs to be pretty warm for this to work, break up the granola so that it will be free flowing when it cools off.  Gently rub the clumps between your fingers to separate the large lumps-they will be pretty hard once cooled so do not be tempted to leave them in tact.  Allow it to cool completely and store it airtight.

img_7326Want to bake along with us?  Pick up a copy of the book, visit the website and get to work!