OK...finally made it to the fair last night to see how I did. Corn muffins...nuthin. Maple syrup muffins: second place in the "Muffins-Other" category. Pumpkin bread: first place in the "Quick breads-other" category. And....drum roll please....Best In Show for my Ginger Spice Cookies. As my British friend would say, I was totally gobsmacked. I never thought my first time out I would do so well. And I can't tell you what a rush it is to see a ribbon on your work...validation for your efforts. Just wonderful. If you have ever thought of entering something in your state or local fair, I encourage you to do so. It is a real rush. AND, most importantly, you would be supporting an institution that seems to be dying as quickly as some of our favorite mom and pop establishments--the agricultural fair. As we lose more and more of our farms to suburbs and sprawl, entries and exhibits are dwindling at almost every fair (at least in our area). Even though we live in a 'burb or what was once farmland, we can still uphold the home arts the were born on the farm. And don't even try to tell me that baking or canning isn't an art!! It is beauty and science mixed for something delicious and nourishing for body and soul. I'd call that art!
OK...enough preaching. Now for the recipes people asked for...
GINGER SPICE COOKIES (cut from an issue of Bon Appetit and modified by me...must give credit where credit is due)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps. ground ginger
2 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (aka candied ginger)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses (anything but black strap)
Sift together flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves and salt. Mix in crystallized ginger. In a separate bowl using electric mixer, beat brown sugar, shortening, and butter until fluffy. And the egg and molasses and beat until well blended. Add the flour mixture in two batches and mix until just blended. Refrigerate cookie dough for at least one hour. Overnight is fine.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray two cookie sheets. Place some white sugar in a thin layer on a plate. Take some dough and form into about 1-inch diameter balls. Roll in sugar and place on prepared cookie sheets, leaving lots of room for spreading. Bake until they are beautifullly cracked on the top, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Makes 2-3 dozen depending on the size of your balls!
MAPLE SYRUP MUFFINS (from my mom)
Start with one egg, beaten slightly. Stir in 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of maple syrup, and 1/4 cup oil. Sift together and add to wet mixture: 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt. Stir until just moist. OK for batter to be lumpy. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.