My Cajun Country Mystery series contains recipes, but I’ll be honest. Sometimes coming up with them, whether as originals or adaptations, is the hardest part of writing the books. Still, when KCRW, our local public radio station, announced their tenth annual Good Food Pie Contest, hosted by Good Food‘s Evan Kleiman, I decided to be adventurous and enter a recipe I’d created that I like to call “Sugar High Pie.”
The event took place on the UCLA campus on a Sunday in late April. Once I registered, I was told to drop off a pie at 12:30 p.m., which I did. I’d serve the second pie to festival attendees, who each received tickets entitling them to two pie tastings.
I walked up the steps to where event tents were set up outside the Fowler Museum, a co-sponsor of the event.
Long tables filled the tents, each laden with a load of pies.
I sussed out the competition for my category, which was Nuts. (Yeah, I know, very apropos.) I was a little concerned when I saw this fancy box…
Clearly, this piemaker meant business. And this pie, in a savory category, took my breath away…
Since we wouldn’t be serving our pies for a few hours, I wandered around the event, eventually happening upon Bad Pickle Tees, a vendor selling food pun tee shirts. I couldn’t resist picking up a couple for my daughter. (She loved them. And Mark Baker, if you’re reading this, you would too.)
Finally, it came time to share my pie with the festivalgoers. Expecting to be descended on by hordes of hungry pie lovers, I cut into my confection. Or tried to. You see, I learned at the last minute that even the crust had to be homemade, which ruled out the premade Trader Joe crusts I’d bought. I found a recipe and made my first crust. It was Rock. Hard. As I sawed away at the pie, my chance to win the Nut division diminished with each fruitless attempt. I finally used latex-gloved hands to break the pie into bite-sized pieces. And those hordes? Only one person took pity on me and used a precious ticket to sample my pie. But her face lit up after she tasted it. “This is delicious,” she said, not bothering to hide her surprise.
I resorted to giving away my pie, no ticket needed, to anyone I could coax into trying it. That wasn’t easy, considering my next-door neighbor was sharing a S’mores Pie.
I warned people to eat around the hard-as-nails crust, and got the same shocked reaction every time. “This is really good!” “Wow, yum!” “Are there raisins in here? I don’t usually like them, but they totally work in your pie.”
So, no, I didn’t win the contest. But I got the satisfaction of knowing that, crust aside, my recipe was a hit. And that gorgeous savory pie pictured above? It didn’t win either. Which was too bad, because it tasted as good as it looked. (Yes, I snagged a piece from its baker.)
Would I enter the contest again? Oh, hell no. But it was fun to do once. And if you’re curious about the recipe for “Sugar High Pie,” you’ll find it in my sixth Cajun Country Mystery, which will be out in September 2020.
Readers, have you ever entered a contest, baking or otherwise? Or done something once that was fun but you’ll never do again?