How many ways can you devil an egg or compose a quiche? Those two types of egg-related foods were abundant in the cooking contest I helped judge at the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh. I guess they were obvious choices – the theme was The Incredible Edible Egg Appetizer/Picnic Recipe Contest, sponsored by the N.C. Egg Association. Each entry had to use at least four eggs in the recipe.
The five other judges and I tasted 16 entries. What set the winning three apart, for us, was creativity but staying within the idea of a dish for an appetizer or picnic (some entries stretched that concept quite a bit); balanced flavors and quality ingredients.
The winners were: first place, Gail Fuller of Raleigh for her Bacon-Cheese Puffs, rich little cheesy biscuits with a contrasting filling; second place, Silke Bourgeois of Durham for a layered dip-like dish using feta cheese, chickpeas, tomatoes and eggs; and third place, Amanda Boury of Raleigh for Fall Harvest Mini-Quiches, a refreshingly different quiche using roasted root vegetables.
I was told that the recipes would be up on the fair website, but I haven’t seen them yet.
The fair is one place that anyone can enter their favorite food and win something. I enjoy looking at the pickles, jams and jellies competition – and there seemed to be more entries in those this year, particularly from men. While I was looking at the winning jar in the dried corn category and wondering what you’d use it for, Jean and Walter Davis of Youngsville showed up to check on Jean’s entries. She won blue ribbons for her squash pickles and what she called everyday cucumber pickles. “I used to think my mother called them everyday because you could eat them every day,” she said. “But when I started making them, I realized it was because you had to pick the cucumbers every day to get them small enough.” The perfect little cukes are no longer than a finger.
Walter proudly told me that Jean used to can 600 jars of pickles, jams and jellies a year. He was in sales, and sent his wife’s homemade delicacies to his customers for the holidays. Her jams were a big hit in Japan.
The couple used pecans in the shell as packing peanuts. “People in Colorado I sent them to said they had never had pecans, and that the packing material was as good to eat as what was in the box,” Walter said.
Both are retired now. Jean still cans, just not as much. “But we still get calls from his old customers, seeing if they can still get something,” she says.