In the Kitchen with the Queen of the Kitchen

Bonnie in her Kitchen

StreuselRemember my friend Bonnie who came in 2nd place last year for Queen of the Kitchen at the Colorado State Fair.  Well, I am happy to announce, after only three years of competition, Bonnie is THE Queen of the Kitchen this year.

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Bonnie on a lovely September afternoon.  When I showed up to talk about her fabulous win, she was in her kitchen making homemade BBQ sauce and canning Italian plums!  This woman never stops.  The Italian plums were actually in preparation for next year’s competition at the El Paso County Fair.

So what does it take to be Queen of the Kitchen?  You must enter at least 12 of the 22 Pantry categories and place in 10 of these categories.  Pantry categories include items like pies, quick breads, candy, jams, yeast bread, etc.  Bonnie entered 233 items with multiple entries per category.  What’s her secret?  Bonnie says the key to winning is both quality and quantity.    She also attributes Spencer’s Market in Colorado Springs , she gets much of her produce from them.

If you are wondering (as was I) what started this baking and canning obsession it all started with a little friendly competition!  She and a friend dared each other to compete, her friend competed for Kitchen Wizard at the El Paso County Fair and Bonnie three years in a row for Queen of the Kitchen at the State Fair.  Now that Bonnie has won the top honors at the State Fair it’s her turn to try for Kitchen Wizard.

Competition also piqued her interest because she was curious how her canning, that she learned from her grandmother, would “stack up” in competition.  As we talked she pulled the Italian plums out of the water-bath and uttered an explicative of disgust because some of the plums were starting to float.  Who knew floating plums were a bad thing?  The Queen of the Kitchen apparently!  I could learn oodles from this lady!

Here’s the deets as my daughter would say…

Seven of the 22 categories she “Sweepstaked” meaning she took the highest number points in the categories.  She walked away with 117 ribbons.  To see how she placed and in what categories go here!

Some of her first place ribbons included her Strawberry Jam, Jelly Roll, Mint Candies, Canned Green Beans, Canned Beets, Stewed Tomatoes, Filled Cookies, Refrigerator Cookies and the one category I feel I played a small role in…

Quick Bread with Dried Food!

Dried Apricots!

She made this bread with dehydrated apricots.  Yes, the very apricots that you heard me lament about last summer!  I gave Bonnie about 20 pounds from my tree and she turned some into a beautiful quick bread that she won with.

Can you believe that Bonnie estimates she spent 500 hours creating these 233 entered items!  Amazing!

I asked Bonnie to describe the effort this kind of competition entails.  We talked cookies!  You enter three cookies.  To get these three perfect cookies she only bakes one sheet of cookies at a time for even baking and she carefully inspects each cookie.  It can take two or three cookie sheets to get three that she feels are suitable for competition!  I think next year I’ll plan to be at her place to eat all of the rejects.  Who’s with me?



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