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Cook the Issue: We Have a Winner

Barbaras Lemon-Ginger and Blood Orange-Mango Marmalades

Barbara's Lemon-Ginger and Blood Orange-Mango Marmalades

By Sarah Breckenridge, producer

March 12th, 2009

Congratulations to Barbara Jacobson, winner of the Cook the Issue Challenge for issue 97. Barbara entered nearly twice as many posts in the contest as her closest contenders, often returning to dishes for a second time with new insights or variations. After mastering basic croissants, she improvised a frangipane-filled variation, and she borrowed the flavors of FC's blood orange-mango salsa with the technique of lemon-ginger marmalade to create a blood orange-mango marmalade.

Barbara wins a $200 gift card. Fifty runners-up will also receive a copy of Fine Cooking's Make it Tonight special issue. Thanks to everyone who took part in the contest!

posted in: Blogs
Comments (7)

Pielove writes: Congratulations Barbara! I love the marmalade. When are the runners-up going to be notified?

pie Posted: 9:48 pm on March 22nd

pidol writes: Excellent post Legalcat. It's interesting how the winner's pictures were never showcased on the front page of this site. Posted: 10:58 am on March 20th

legalcat writes: This is simply an expression of my disappointment with the Fine Cooking Editors’ interpretation of the Cook the Issue Challenge Official Rules to ensure in future contests the Rules are clear to all.

My interpretation of the Rules was simply to “cook as many of the recipes in issue 97 from the Complete List of Recipes as you can” and "during the Submission Period, follow the directions to upload and submit photos of each recipe you make, accompanied by a description and your opinions of the recipe, telling us what you love, what you don’t love, and what else you want to know." When it came to the croissants, we had the option of cooking the Classic Croissants, or one of the variations. When it came to the creamy vegetable soups, we had the option of making one or more. Therefore, if we cooked as many of the recipes in the issue 97, including at least one croissant and one soup, we would have 33 total posts. If each of those 33 posts included at least one photo and some commentary on the recipe prepared, we would have successfully completed the challenge and there may have been a tie between those members. For the tie-breaker, the Judges would have made sure all of 33 posts were “qualified posts” and then judged those 33 qualified posts based on the quality and thoroughness of those 33 posts. There was absolutely nothing in the Rules stating modifying the recipes by substituting ingredients or creating variations of the recipes qualified repeated submissions as posts for cooking a listed recipe.

A few other ambiguities in the rules raised additional questions in my mind during the course of the Challenge. One was whether the Martinez and Whisky Smash cocktails were technically part of the Challenge. Although they weren’t included in the Complete List of Recipes, the cocktail recipes were in the magazine. Some of us had some fun with these, whether they counted or not, by making the cocktails and posting our photos and commentary. We also contemplated the question of how many Croissants and Creamy Vegetable Soups would be appropriate to make and post as separate posts. Again, most of us made at least the Classic Croissants, plus a few variations, and at least one Creamy Vegetable soup, plus several variations. Obviously, we could have made dozens of variations of soups and dozens of variations of croissants, posting each variation as a separate post, but I concluded that was not the intention of the Challenge and winning shouldn’t come down to who posted the most variations of croissants and/or soups.

Therefore, based on the printed Rules, I chose to cook every recipe in the issue, including ALL the variations of Croissants and Creamy Vegetable Soups featured in the Issue, just to play it safe! That brought my total posts to 42, if I did both cocktails and all the croissants and creamy vegetable soups featured in the magazine. Many of us finished early, or worked very hard the last few days to finish the issue, believing we had successfully completed the challenge and there would be a tie-breaker decision based on the thoroughness and quality of our posts (i.e., those who were most prolific in our commentary and photographs, taking the time to photograph different steps in our preparation, and being creative in our food styling and photographing the “cover” photo for that post). We never realized repeat or duplicate recipes would count towards our total number of posts. If that were the case, many of us could easily have whipped out 10 more soups in the last week, posting each separately, and/or made 15 variations of croissants out of one batch of croissant dough, posting each as a separate post. But not once did I think that repeating any of the recipes, then posting those second, third or even fourth attempts as separate posts, or making up a new recipe or variation of one of the recipes, was part of the Challenge or would be considered by the editors as being prolific. I actually did make a few variations of some of the recipes, but I posted those photos and commentary about those within the original post for that recipe, believing that would go to the quality and thoroughness of my post and/or make that particular post more prolific.

All of which leads me to the editor’s announcement of the winner and her praise for entering “twice as many posts in the contest as her closest contenders, often returning to dishes for a second time with new insights or variations.” True, the winner had the most posts, 63. But that number was not “nearly twice as much as her closest competitors.” Of her closest competitors, by my count, the total number of posts ranged from about 42 to 51 (depending on the number of soups and croissants entered as separate posts). Of the winner’s total posts, 30 were repeat attempts or simply duplicates of the same recipe, additional variations of croissants and soups, and one or two new recipes which used common ingredients or methods from the magazine’s recipes. If I forgot to add capers when I made the Escarole the first time, my second post of Escarole with the capers shouldn’t count as a separate qualified post. If I used a haddock in the Sear-Roasted Halibut with Blood-Orange Salsa the first time, my second preparation of the recipe using flounder shouldn’t count as a separate, qualified post. If I had leftover soups from previous posts, my second or third post combining them in one bowl shouldn’t count as a qualified post. If I cooked the recipe for the Chocolate Mousse with variations four times, the original unmodified recipe should have been the only one that counted as a qualified post. If I decided to make hash my way the first time then follow the Fine Cooking recipe the second time, I would only expect the my “cooking the recipe” to be counted as a post. Nor should other duplications, such as side-by-side posts of the Pulled-Pork Sandwiches and identical presentations of the Spiced Carrot Cakes twice have qualified as additional posts. To me, those additional posts should not have been considered “qualified posts” according to the Rules of the Challenge, nor were they examples of “abundant inventiveness or productivity.”

Posted: 10:49 am on March 17th

LucindaS writes: Congratulations Barbara! It really was a fun challenge. I only just managed to do each recipe in the time allowed. Your input was really impressive. Well done and happy cooking! Posted: 9:57 pm on March 14th

bohnappetitFC writes: That's great! It was such a family experience as well! So who is making the decision for the $2oo shopping spree? Susan Posted: 7:32 pm on March 12th

dabneyg writes: Kudos, Barbara! Love the variation on the marmalade... Posted: 2:50 pm on March 12th

LisaWaddle writes: Congratulations Barbara! Your effort was indeed impressive. I loved the way you took the recipes in the issue and ran with them, making so many of them your own. Posted: 2:31 pm on March 12th

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