Summertime is Fair Competition Time in our house. Lots of late night recipe testing for Susan; lots of fruit and other ingredients lying around the kitchen with sticky notes on them saying "DO NOT EAT".
First of the season is the San Diego County Fair (San Diego, California, USA). Along with the Los Angeles County Fair and the Orange County Fair, these are three of the top ten largest fairs in the country.
This weekend was the "Pie Boss" live, one-day competition. As usual, there was no vegan category, and Susan wouldn't enter it if there was -- the whole point is for her to enter her vegan food head-to-head against the non-vegan stuff.
Live-judged events are always fun. Most of the fair competitions are "drop-off" types, where you drop off the food item in advance, and you don't find out if you've won anything until days later, when the results get posted. But for live events, you and everyone else shows up with their items at the same time, the judges do their thing, and the awards are given right on the spot.
Often, the judges make their evaluations in an area that's viewable or partially viewable by the public, poking at the food and making notes on clipboards. It's always fun trying to guess what they're thinking when we see them get to Susan's dish.
"Is she trying it?"
"Yeah, I think that's yours..."
"She made a face -- I think it was a yummy face..."
"You think? What did she look like?"
"Kinda like this."
"Are you sure that was a yummy face?"
The award ceremony is fun, too. I always have high hopes for Susan's stuff, because I know how good it is. So when they announce ribbons in reverse order, a part of me is always hoping her name won't be called too early, another part is just hoping she'll get something (with judging, you never know). Susan is just happy to get any awards, but for me, I'm always hoping she'll get a 1st. And for this competition, she did!
Susan won 1st Place for her Vegan Strawberry Cream Pie!
She beat out some great-looking pies. As far as we know, hers was the only vegan entry. It wasn't explicitly identified as such, although per the rules she provided the ingredient list (which included such vegan standbys as silken tofu, raw cashews, agar agar, etc.). I think even the judges were surprised to hear later that it was vegan!
Especially gratifying was after the competition, when some of the other competitors and audience members were able to taste her winning entry. She got A LOT of compliments. Most people were stunned to hear that it didn't contain any dairy butter, dairy cream, or eggs.
One of her fellow competitors remarked that this showed that you don't have to give up taste in order to have great vegan food. This is Susan's sentiment exactly!
Great job love! I'm super proud of you! I know the only reason you do this is for the animals -- to help show that cruelty-free vegan food can be just as good (better!) than non-vegan food.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Here's Susan's award winning recipe. Not one of her easier recipes, but you can't argue with the end result! Please note that you need to soak the raw cashews for at least 16 hours, so be sure to plan ahead.