Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blogging and Contesting: Sparkling Lemon Ginger Cooler and a Cooking Contest Central Membership Giveaway

 Unfortunately I have had to draw another name for my giveaway.  This time Random.org chose Holly as my winner for the CCC membership.  I'm sorry that I didn't get a screen capture to post here.  Congratulations Holly.  I hope you are a big winner in the months to come.

I have been blogging for going on five years now.  I started because I simply wanted to share some favorite recipes with others who love to cook and create recipes as much as I do.  Much to my surprise, many of you stopped by, left great comments and still come back all these years later.  You are why I keep going. Thanks for sharing your time with me.

My first couple of posts took me weeks of writing, rewriting and proofreading before I published.  Now years later I still care, but I am much more relaxed, so relaxed in fact, that I recently missed adding flour to a cake recipe.  DAMN!  There's a saying that goes, "If you want to find a mistake, just hit publish." So true.  I'd like to now extend my sincerest apologies to anyone (Susan) who made the flourless version of my Pineapple Macadamia Cake. 

Photography for my blog is a whole new animal altogether.  I first started out just snapping photos at the dinner table and soon found out that would never do.  I needed a DSLR, lessons to figure out how to use said DSLR, and lights and props . . .  lots and lots of props.  Almost five years and a couple of million dollars later, my photos have improved, but I still only get about 1/4 of then on the food porn sites.  Sometimes I understand why, sometimes I don't.

Even though I love it, the blogging world itself is a pretty competitive place.  I have never understood why we just can't be more supportive of each other.  Don't get me wrong, I have been lucky and met many great, supportive and talented bloggers who really want to share their knowledge and perks with others, but I have to say that they are not all so generous.  It can be dog eat dog out there sometimes, but I have learned to lean in and not forget why I started this in the first place.

One place where I have never been disappointed is in the world of contesting.  You wouldn't think that would be the case would you?  I belong to a couple of sites where we members chat mostly about contests, but often times life and family seep in there too and friendships develop.  If you need a question answered about contest rules, or opinions about a recipe you are entering, it will be answered thoughtfully and with great encouragement.  Even when there is a million dollars at stake, everyone is happy to help just hoping that someone from the "family" might be the big winner.  Honestly, I love these people.

This time of year there are more cook-offs and contests than you can shake a stick at.  Cook-offs are my favorite because not only do you win a wonderful trip to some place fun, but you usually get to cook next to someone that you've known for a long time but have never met.   Last year I got to meet several people at The Gilroy Garlic Festival that I have been wanting to meet in person for a very long time.  I didn't win anything, but I've never had so much fun at a cook-off before.  So far I know I'll be reunited with a couple of them at Pillsbury and I have my fingers crossed that the rest of them will make it and if that happens, watch out Vegas.

Trying to pick out a recipe to go with this post has proven to be difficult at best.  I have lots of great contest recipes in my archives, but I kind of like to keep them under wraps just in case the right contest comes along.  The the last one I retired and published here on my blog (Chicken Enchilada Mac and Cheese) was one of my most popular posts ever.  I had entered versions of it in a couple of contests without any attention from the judges, so when the Support for Sandy event took place I donated this great recipe for the cause.  Looks like those contest judges don't know so much after all.

Since it is finally summer here in Colorado, I thought I'd retire a version of a really refreshing drink recipe that I developed a couple of years ago.  It didn't win anything but accolades from my friends and family, but just like that mac and cheese recipe, I think the contest judges really missed out on something special.  Their loss is your gain because this is a sparkling, refreshing glass full of yum.  You are really going to love it.

Sparkling Lemon Ginger Cooler

2 ounce lemon ginger simple syrup (recipe follows)
1 - 1/2 ounces vodka (or a good glug of dry white wine)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 ounces (or enough to top off your glass) sparkling water

Place a good handful of ice in a large glass.   To the ice add the Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup, vodka, lemon juice and sparkling water.  Stir well.  Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ounce fresh ginger, grated (a piece just a bit smaller than a golf ball)
Zest of 1 large lemon

Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves (just a couple of minutes).  Remove from the heat and let it steep until it comes to room temperature.  Strain twice to remove all the bits. Use immediately or keep unused portions in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

To spread the contesting love, Kristina over at Cooking Contest Central has offered to give one of my blog readers a year's subscription to her site.  Cooking Contest Central is home to the most comprehensive cooking related contest listing on the web.  Not only will you find pertinent information about every cooking contest that you can imagine, but you are also provided with links to each contest site.  You will also gain access to a big warm group of new friends that are just waiting for you to arrive.

If you want to enter this little giveaway valued at $25, please just leave me a comment saying so.  If you want extra entries, you can sign up to receive my posts via e-mail (see field in the upper right hand side of this page), follow my page on Facebook,  Pinterest or Twitter, and there ya go!  Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each method of entry and whatever you do, make sure I have a way to contact you in case you win.  You will have 48 hours to claim your prize, if not a new winner will be drawn.  My lucky winner will be chosen on Monday, June 3rd at about noon mountain time.  Thanks and good luck!
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