What's next? Well, good question! Right now I am playing a bit of a waiting game. As mentioned in earlier posts am waiting to see the new 2010 Fair Entry Books before laying out my game plans. But in a nut shell here is what my preparations will be in general:
Veggies -- Garden is set to go in 1st part of May. On a side note: I did plant some tomato seeds today. It's been awhile since I have worked at starting my own seeds but thought I would give it try again. I also transplanted marigolds that my son and I started from seeds - OK not a show flower; however, important in the veggie garden as they tend to keep some bugs away from other plants. With two young boys we do tend to keep the garden as chemical free as possible. My favorite book (that I remember my mom using growing up and helping her garden) is Carrots Love Tomatoes. There is a lot to be said for planting in groupings that have the plants benefit each other.
Flowers -- Glads will go in beds based on maturities and planted a couple weeks apart to spread the season out. Still on the fence with giving Dahlias a go again this year - they may have to wait until all the children are at least able to play outdoors solidly on two feet.
Quilts -- I have been working on one -- it will be done by May 16th (since it is a birthday gift for my soon to be 3 year old). Am debating on the other quilt and whether I will have time.
Bread -- plan to keep baking and testing every week. In July I hope to do a test run of doing multiples at once to check timing and see how my oven handles a few loaves at a time vs. just one or two. Bread is best fresh and so all will be baked within the two days leading up to entry day.
Cookies -- I realize that the Entry Book states things should be fresh which I agree with to a point. However, there are just some cookies that freeze amazingly well. Since most storage times on cookies are around 2 months I plan to start baking some of the really good freezer cookies in June.
Cakes -- the decorated cake I plan to do some trial runs with in May for my son's birthday. Then will do the real thing sometime in mid-July (will not be using real cake so it will hold for awhile). As to the actual baked cakes -- usually I stay away from this area because time after time has proven I don't do well here -- mainly because Iowa has some awesome cake bakers! But, I have been trying a new carrot cake that I think has some merit. Plus, I said I wasn't in this for the ribbons but for the challenge so lets go!
Pies -- going to freeze the crusts in late June.
Jams/Jellies -- YUM! As fruit becomes available in season make it up and store it. Good tip -- Don't put sticky labels on the jars (you'll have to use googone to take it off before competition). Just label and date them on the jar lid once they've cooled. This way the sticker entry tag goes right over your labeling job (it's in the rules - no labels). Always label and date your canned goods - I know some of you roll your eyes but it is a must -- you have to know when it was processed not just for competition but for proper storage!
So, those are the main areas I'm working on. I'll narrow it down once the Fair Books are out (should be next week). And of course it will get narrowed down even further closer to the fair.
So -- what are you planning on entering? That's right bring on your carrot cakes! or whatever else you have in mind!