Sunday, May 22, 2011

Minnesota In May

Paul and I judged our first BBQ contest yesterday.

We arrived in Faribault early in the morning to check in at Minnesota in May,

an annual contest run by the Minnesota Barbeque Society

and sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society

for which we are newly certified judges.

It was an interesting day. We experienced a very professionally organized event. The judging is blind and conducted in an honest and carefully monitored fashion. No talking is allowed during the judging process. Entries are turned in at 30 minute intervals and each entry is judged on appearance, taste and tenderness.

The first entries we tasted were turkey breast, provided to contestants by Jennie-O. I am going to be experimenting with this in the smoker as soon as possible.

We then moved on to the four meats sanctioned by KCBS.

The first turn-in is always chicken.

Second is ribs.

Third is pork.

And fourth is brisket.

Here is a picture of me at work. I found it this morning on the contest website!

As first time judges, we were well mentored and I feel so much more confident about the task. Next time I have to drink more water during the event. Although we only take two bites of each sample, that was much more salt than I normally consume in one day! Our next judging event is in three weeks. At this contest, we work both Friday and Saturday.

We both came away from this contest knowing our nephews, with whom we have experienced contests from the cooks' perspective, are top competitors.

We have a busy week ahead. I have auditions for the children's chorus for the summer show and we host our dinner group next weekend. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Camping

Hi! We've been busy living life and so I have not gotten here to update. We have managed to run away twice with our new Airstream. Paul calls her Betsy. I call her fantastic!

Our maiden voyage was to Frontenac State Park the first week in May. It was a barren landscape.

We did find a few spring flowers.

And, it was cold. We did see the sunset from our campsite, though, because there were no leaves to block our view.

What a difference two weeks makes this time of year. We just returned from camping at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.

Spring happened!! I love hiking in the woods as much as Paul loves walking on the beach.

We have camped in this park for 30 years. When she was fours years old, Suzanne asked if they turned this waterfall off at night. We laugh about that now every time we do this hike.

We found some trout lilies blossoming, although we were a little late and missed the big show. They blossom before the leaves come out on the trees.

I am trying to make up for all of those years we missed hiking in the spring. I love the flowers this time of year.

We generally seek out State Natural and Scientific Areas near our camping locations. This trip, we chose Townsend Woods.

This area is a small portion of woods that has never been cleared. We had to hike along the edge of a farmer's field to get to it. Paul actually asked me to go out into that field and stand so he could take my picture. Being the obedient wife, I obliged.

Then he said I could finally tell people I was out standing in my field. Look closely, you might see the hook in my mouth.

It was worth the hike, despite the bad jokes.

This is what southern Minnesota looked like before the land was cleared. This tract of land was on a hilltop surrounded by ravines and so was probably considered unworthy to clear. Over the years, it was left untouched and the family eventually gave the land to the Department of Natural Resources for study purposes.

There are amazing old growth trees there.

Because there were no maintained hiking trails, we followed deer trails. Paul stopped abruptly as we found our way back to the edge of the woods. He almost stepped on

this baby deer. Too little to run, he was hiding under a log, hoping we would not harm him.

What a great moment.

Speaking of newborns, while we were off in the woods, Jacob Rohrer, our newest grand-nephew was born. We are so excited to meet him.  Also, we judge our first KCBS competition tomorrow!!!  I'll keep you posted.