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January 14, 2015
Blue Ribbon Showcase, First-Class Cooks
By Janet Tharpe
I never cease to be amazed at how talented you folks in this Club are. No really, I mean it! The Kitchen Crew and I can taste it in the recipes we prepare from you, and we are privileged to get to see it firsthand when we have the pleasure of meeting members in person. This was certainly the case at the most recent Blue Ribbon Showcase event where Ultimate Salad Toss contest winner Marie Guaragna and her delightful friend Peggy winged their way from their homes in Arlington, VA to Just A Pinch HQ in Nashville where they met, mingled and mixed it up in the kitchen with the Crew and me. Marie is a food dynamo who brings oodles of energy with her everywhere she goes. Her enthusiasm was infectious as she led a packed auditorium of Just A Pinch Recipe Club members in the preparation of her prize-winning Mandarin Orange/Strawberry Spinach Salad.
We continue to be so thoroughly wowed by the winners! In fact, past wower and Springtime Cake Contest winner, Jane Freed of Clarkston, MI joined us once again for this special event. This time, Jane took on emcee duties and had the crowd laughing just seconds into the show. (With Jane, who would expect any less?!)
There was meeting and greeting o’plenty as we also had the honor of hosting the submitters of three of the four Blue Ribbon recipes that were served to the lunchtime crowd. With encouragement from her husband who is stationed in Iraq, busy mom Debbie Wright grabbed her cousin and made a road trip to the Showcase all the way from Sulphur , LA! These gals appeared to be having a ball as they met with folks in the audience and made plans on how to best enjoy the city. Debbie, we were honored that you’d spend your precious time away with us - and hope that you’ll return again soon! (In the meantime, you can bet your Death By Oreo Cupcakes will be a regular guest at our table!)
Frequent Just A Pinch contributor Leah Stacey made the long drive to Nashville as well. She and her friend, Jamie, joined us all the way from Jonesborough, TN where Leah is a busy mom with a big passion for teaching others to cook and get comfortable in the kitchen. Her Cumin Grilled Pork Chops served as the main entrée for our Blue Ribbon luncheon and we couldn’t have made a better choice. The subtle cumin flavor brought out the deliciousness of the pork, and from the buzz I overheard afterwards, I suspect a lot of folks will be preparing Leah's recipe for their next tailgate!
Nashville resident - and soup-whisperer - Susan Ward was also on hand as we served up her Blue Ribbon French Potato Soup. This recipe was among the finalists in our very first Just A Pinch Contest and remains one of my cold weather all-stars. My daughter-in-law Krissi was kind enough to share with the crowd that the first time I made this soup in the Test Kitchen, I actually hid it from my husband so he wouldn’t eat it all up! Yes, that’s right…. This soup is so good that I resorted to sneakiness in order to save some for my own snack. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!
Terese Galgano of Raleigh, NC wasn’t able to make it to the Showcase, but she was well-represented by her melt-in-your-mouth recipe for Gougeres. These tasty little cheese puffs with the fancy name literally melt in your mouth as you eat them. And they smelled so good baking that our tummies were rumbling from the moment they hit the oven. Now that’s what Blue Ribbon is all about.
Thanks to all of you who enter the contests and join us for these special heart-warming events. Don’t forget to submit your own favorite recipes for our two current contests for your own chance at winning awesome prizes. I think it’s safe to say that our Blue Ribbon gals left a mark on Music City for sure. After Marie’s $1,000 shopping spree at the Viking Kitchen store, she and Peggy could be found dancing like divas in the music district downtown and dining at some of Nashville's very best eateries. Congratulations, Marie! Until we eat again….