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Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's cook-off season

Reprinted from the Emporia Gazette, June 6, 2012

Sure, there are barbecue competitions every weekend now, and catfish tournaments, and chili cook-offs, but there’s not much that is more fun than a Murphy’s Menu Cook-off at the Emporia Farmers Market.
Now in our eighth season, the cook-offs are a fun, free way to have a stress-free friendly competition, support the market with something different to do while shopping and generally strut our culinary stuff.
Here’s how it works. Thanks to the sponsorship of the market (Thank you, Tracy) and CountryMart North (Thank you, Nancy), area cooks have a place to compete and a chance for a neat prize: a grocery bag full of nifty cooking items and regional bragging rights.
The contests are held either on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. or Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m. Those who wish to participate bring their entry to the kiosk in the parking lot at Seventh Avenue and Merchant Street in the 15 minute period before the market opens with a copy of the recipe. We’ll take a photo, talk to you about your dish and assign it an anonymous number.
At the opening bell, market shoppers will taste all the entries and vote for their favorite one. The votes will be tallied at an hour into the shopping period and a winner announced! Many competitors will then be the food page star in the following Wednesday’s Gazette.
Interested? Here’s the schedule.
June 16: Berries
A single recipe of your favorite berry dish. It might be a baked good, a jelly, a compote, a salad. It could be one berry or a mixture of berries and even include what’s available at the market (hint, hint!). We’ll parcel it into tastes and serve. Consider the heat, and if you want your dish back, you’ll need to stay for the vote tally.
July 11: Pinwheel roll-ups
The Homegrown Celebration Pre-party will be on a Wednesday, so a big plate of your best pinwheel filling spread across the tortilla of choice is the competition. Please slice them into little bites and secure with a toothpick to keep them looking pretty. The options are endless.
August 1: Salsa Competition — Hot and Not
We are keeping our fingers crossed on the weather, that the tomatoes last until Aug. 1 so everyone can use home-grown heirloom tomatoes to make their salsas. Of course, green tomatoes, mangos, peaches and beans are all nice salsa bases, too. Fresh or canned, we split these into a mild category and a “pepperhead hot” category. One entry per person per category and we’ll bring the chips.
October 31: Halloween Treats
As luck would have it, Halloween corresponds with the final Wednesday market of the season. Kids big and small are encouraged to come to the market in costume and trick-or-treat with the vendors. Bring a batch of your best treat — Rice Krispie style, popcorn balls, gooey bars and more — to share with the shoppers and you may get a big treat from CountryMart North.
It’s all good fun and it starts next week. Curious? Questions? Call me at 342-4800 or e-mail Time to get cooking!