A Temporary Depression~~Facing Defeat~~Huge Vulnerability

A Temporary Depression

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Cooking contests are brutal…you never know what’s going to turn on the judging panel or turn them off.  Probably the Mack daddy of the cooking recipe contest circuit is the ‘Pillsbury Bake Off’—this year,
2013, is the 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off.  I’ve never entered it before, and decided to get out of the balcony and into the ring this year.

The first round was ‘Dobable Dinners’.  The stakes are high—a million dollar prize—you have to be innovative and tasty with your recipes, yet simple.  The guidelines and rules are tough—seven ingredients only, two of which must be the sponsors’ products, and the preparation time is 30 minutes or less.  Goodie goodie, salt, pepper and water are ‘free’ ingredients!

A Temporary Depression~~Facing Defeat~~Huge VulnerabilityThe first thing I did was head to the grocery store and buy a small fortune of blue tubes—that is, Pillsbury products everything from biscuits and cinnamon rolls to pizza dough, crescent rolls and pie crusts.  I had no idea what would spark in my brain.  Then, of course, there were other sponsor products I wanted to have on hand as inspiration set in—Green Giant—I think I wiped out the inventory at City Market, then I loaded up on Smuckers, lots of jelly, jams and just fruit (dang, the store brands are so much cheaper!)—and not to forget some JIF products—I couldn’t find the mocha cappuccino spread anywhere and resorted to ordering from Amazon—nearly dropped my teeth at the cost with shipping—16 buckaroos!  And, yep, I also threw into my cart some Crisco products and Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk—an expensive venture.  There was no doubt I’d surely be throwing out a lot of the A Temporary Depression~~Facing Defeat~~Huge Vulnerability‘creations’ as they’d be inedible or disgustingly disturbed.

For over two weeks, I was incessantly obsessed with creating a ‘doable dinner.’  And, when I say obsessed, I didn’t do anything else.  I dreamt about recipes.  I awoke each morning jotting down ideas and putting together different combinations of ingredients knowing that my limit was seven.  I dared anyone to come into my kitchen domain and mess with me—family and friends feared for their lives! My first three recipes that I made and had my family eat were pathetically gross.  Your family and friends have to be brutally honest otherwise you’re in big trouble.  I was getting majorly disappointed—how was I making this so incredibly difficult?

Finally, I decided to let go of the desire to make something ‘winning’ and just try to make something that was good to eat, easy to prepare and fun to serve.  When I changed my mindset, I was able to create another eight recipes, which wasn’t easy—it took lots of time.  I would make the recipe not once or twice but sometimes three times to get my timing correct or tweak an ingredient.  Then there was the photography—I had to have pictures because if any of the recipes wasn’t a winner, I wanted to use it for another recipe contest and/or on my website.  Dual purposing is so important in foodie blogging andA Temporary Depression~~Facing Defeat~~Huge Vulnerability contests.

The next part of this process that was nerve wracking was uploading the recipe(s) to the website.  I uploaded them, all eight, over the next three weeks or so.  I must say there was a thumping in my chest and almost a shortness of breath as I cut/pasted—everything was critical.  I would let these recipes ‘sit’ in the archives for days (not hit ‘submit’)…go back read and re-read.  I had a trusted friend review the recipe(s) to ensure that they were understandable—pithy—I have a tendency to use way too many words—simplicity is so important in this contest!   Could she understand, follow and make the recipe(s)?  Thank goodness I did because she came back with things that were unclear to her.   Finally, the time came that I had to go to the website and click ‘submit’—geeze, A Temporary Depression~~Facing Defeat~~Huge Vulnerabilitywhy was this so hard!  There was a sigh of relief—but, I also was kind of in an addictive mode—I was really diggin’ these littl’ blue tubes—what else could I create?  I had to force myself to stop the madness.   Besides, I was putting on some extra pounds and starting to look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy!  Now, it was time to wait and see if I’d get an email or phone call from Pillsbury.

This first round of the Pillsbury Bake-Off probably consumed over 50 hours of my time and several hundred dollars in products and other ingredients—maybe I made it too hard, maybe I over-thought it, maybe my estimations of prep timing were askew—but the bottom line is that none of my recipes made it to the top picks—and, believe me I checked everything and everyway someone could find me—cell phone, email, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, snail mail—nothing, nada, zip, zero!  Obviously, what I thought were pretty darn good entries they didn’t have the ‘uuumph’ or whatever the judges were looking for.  Yep, it’s hugely disappointing, it’s defeating, it’s a confidence zapper, but what do you do?  Curl up, head for a rock or cave, tuck your tail and run? 

Hell NO!  You get ready for the second round of the PBO—sweets and starters! You look at those littl’ blue tubes and start cackling like a mad scientist ready to gear up the lab!  I have a lot of the tubes nesting in my refrigerator ready to use, so they’re going to be morphed into creations that could be the next million dollar winner!  Enjoy looking at some of my ‘Doable Dinners’ entries—I’m sharing some
photos.  Hey, I thought these were  killer ideas (so did my food critics who game them thumbs up!)~~but, what do I know?  Only the dough boy knows for sure.  There are always other contests–I might re-fashion some of these ideas into something new.  So much of any adventure in life is all about the chatter in your head, your outlook, and your resiliency!  Attitude in competitions is supreme—if you get knocked down, you get your butt up and get back in the ring.  Remember, if you wanna run with the big dogs, then hike up your leg and give it your best shot!

Right now, I’m lickin’ my wounds~~leave me some words to perk me up~~






  1. Rebecca Walker

    You’re a Scorpio, right? We’re compelled to investigate the depths once in a great while. Crawl in your den and lick till it feels better, then you’ll come back swinging with that indomitable Gypsy spirit we all love! (I secretly always wanted to be a Gypsy…)

    • Oh, Rebecca! Can we run away together, gypsies we are, get a wagon, listen to Boho music, and eat all we want!! Yeah, my wounds have been licked, and I’m ready to come out w/a fightin’ spirit…and, yes, I’m a Scorpio!! xo

  2. we will forge on to the next round, my fabulous funky friend…….blue tubes in hand! xxoo

  3. Love your attitude, Ally . . . cooking contests are not for sissies – and you will get there! I agree that a lot of being chosen for the PBO is pure luck ~ that, and them ‘filling their quota.’ If you look back at their contests, you’ll see that it’s usually very similar recipe types, with different names and titles. They aren’t asking for much: just keep it simple – yet give it a ‘spin’, just keep it within the ‘quota realm’ – yet think outside of the box, etc, LOL! It’ll drive you crazy if you think too hard about it, so just keep sending your great ideas in . . . and it WILL happen. And remember that everybody’s reject file is way bigger than their win file 🙂

    • Oh, Patrice!! THANK YOU!! You’re so right on all these points, and I have to step back and let this flow happen…my reject file occupies its own external hard drive!!! lol xox 🙂

  4. Ally, I think your Do-able Dinner creations look imaginative and tasty! Not sure why the Dough Boy didn’t see ’em that way. (Wouldn’t ya love to be a mouse in the corner when they taste test?) (Oops, bad analogy — I’m sure Pillsbury doesn’t allow mice in their test kitchens!) Anyway, best, best wishes on Round Two! I can see you donning your Mad Scientist lab coat and rolling up your sleeves… go get ’em, girl! 🙂

    • Kim! You lived through some of my shenanigans of round 1, and you KNOW you’re gonna be hearing my rants in round 2!! Yeah, the mice might be a naty littl’ problem for the dough boy, but, hey, we might be able to eavesdrop!! Thank you, my dear friend, you make me happy! xox

  5. Sandi Sheppard

    You have managed to capture the essence… the process… the highs and lows of competition cooking! You GO for that next round Ally – I know you’ll come up with a winner!!! XO’s

    • Sandi!! I am soooooooooooo happy for YOU!! Yes, we all know this life, and while we disdain it at times, we go back for more…I’m gonna be rootin’ for you, angel…my crystal ball says you gots a winner!! xoxo

  6. Deborah Biggs

    Don’t give up, Ally! Best of luck with the other categories!

  7. Susan Bickta

    What a great story!!! I hear and feel your pain!!! By the looks of your pictures, I think we may have had a few similar ideas!!! Great minds think alike, I say!!! So, my friend, like you …… not in the first phase but picking myself up dusting off the Pillsbury flour and starting on the sweets and appetizer (2nd) phase …….. can’t let those 20+ years of trying go to waste as well as that awesome idea I came up with while in a drug-induced stupor in Intensive Care during the last PBO …… something with sauteed chicken livers, onions and chocolate ganache ….. that’s all I can remember…… digging out MY archives, now……… good luck to you in Phase 2!!!!

    • Oh, Susan! Bless your heart! Thanks for reading, and it doesn’t surprise me that we have similar ideas…yes, great minds! We shall pick ourselves up, be there to lean on each other through the sad and happy times…and in that drug-indiced stupor, you just might find a million buck idea!! Here’s to your success!! xoxo

  8. Your recipes are top notch! Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes. They always make me so gosh darn hungry. Lets kill round 2. I missed the ship in round one, but there are 2 more ships on it’s way. Heart ya girl! sw☺

  9. Sharon Damante

    Ally, oh my gosh what a great blog entry. I was beginning to think I was going crazy! Now I realize most of us feel the same extreme stress of our contest cooking (albeit completely self imposed 😉
    I didn’t spend as much time or money on PBO, but I did invest… Product, talent, effort and, a slightly unhealthy dose of passion. Alas, I too was smacked down by that elusive little white devil-boy. Even with a killer recipe. PBO for me is difficult because I am not a cook who regularly uses prepared foods. Virtually everything I make is from scratch. So these contests based on combining prepared foods to stay under such vicious ingredient counts is supremely difficult.
    But your post hits me far deeper than PBO… This has been a rough week for me, waiting on Grand Prize Winner word from top finals slots for two incredible trips. One has already slipped through my fingers… The other, to be announced “on or about March 1st”; do I dare maintain the audacity of hope that somehow that means there might still be a chance of a call or email today? Regardless of whether or not I should maintain hope, I confess I will be attached to my cell, my iPad and my pc all day… hoping.
    Hmmm… I’m sort of feeling a bit more inspired just letting that out! Think I’ll start my essay for Pork Passion. Thanks for the reverse pep talk sista!

    • Oh, Sharon, my sweet angel, your words hit home loud and clear…like you, I don’t do much processed, pre-packaged foods, and maybe that’s why the ‘tastes’ (our buds have been trained for the real stuff) weren’t off the charts. You know how it feels to be smacked down, as do I…when we hit, we hit big, and when we lose we lose immensely…maybe we’re kinda like gamblers at the high-rollers table in Las Vegas…like you I held on to elusive ‘hope’ even resorting to checking junk mail (ha!), then decided it was time to purge these feelings…I’m glad we’re good friends, I’m glad you came to read this post, I’m glad we are there for each other sister girl xoxo Ally

  10. Hi Ally! I enjoyed reading and feel you pain – all of us who do contests “get it”! I have a dumpster filled with the recipes that didn’t go anywhere and a tiny file of the ones that did. You just have to keep going and have hope!! A cooking friend and I discussed how if we’re really disappointed – just scream your head off when you’re alone in your car, then put it in your past and move on. I got really, really, really x a million lucky, but I never ever thought that would happen! But it can and does happen, so keep trying!!! I’ll be rooting for you!!! GO ALLY!! Crack those blue tubes!!

    • Tina!!! You’ve made my day! In face I cracked a blue tube this morning and created something for the next round (not even knowing the ingredients, rules, whatever), and it was therapeutic…like facing fear and death in the face and moving on! I know those files…I have them, too…the “Contests I DIDN’T Win” is much larger than the win file!! Thanks for rooting for me, angel…so glad we met on Pinterest, and I’m looking forward to watching your culinary growth, contest winnings, and escapades, too~~we are a kindred spirits who live in similar worlds~~that fat dough boy ain’t gonna get Ally Kat down! xo

  11. I really enjoyed the information and in my book you are always a winner always. The food looks fantastic!

    • Thank you, Denise…you are an incredible supporter, and that means so very much to me…these dishes were really tasty, so I’ll be making them again!! xo

  12. Ally, you are a pro. And Pillsbury, for its giant purse, is also a giant long shot. Lots of great cooks struggle with the quick n’ easy n’ perky world of the PBO…..I know I sure do! You’ll hit it on one of the other rounds, or you’ll hit something else great while the rest of us are immersed in PBO fluff. I understand getting down with the randomness of contests (and will happily commiserate over a glass of wine some day) but PBO? Like a gorgeous but dumb ex-boyfriend, not worth the tears.

    Hang in there!


    • Jen, girl! I’m popping a chilled bottle of La Crema for us!! ***clink clink*** Yes, you know the world, you live the world~~I love the gorgeous but dumb ex analogy…and in time we say, what in the devil were we even thinking! The PBO is a huge long shot, akin to the lottery…so many great cooks are also lickin’ their wounds and readying for round 2…thank you for visiting, darlin’! Here’s to drowning our sorrows and chasin’ down that fat dough boy again!! xo Ally

  13. Well, I for one am very proud of you….coming from someone who was right there with you!!!! Good luck in the next round!!!

  14. Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And neither should you! — You … You … You sleeping giant!

    • Dang, General Adam! I’m ready!! Those blue tubes are gonna be flyin’ in my kitchen once the next round opens up!! I love being a snoozin’ giant!! You’re the best!! xo

  15. I enjoyed reading your blog but fear not, Ally. You may be destined for the sweet/appetizer category. The first time I ever entered was in 1993 for the ’94 Bake-Off but, alas, no dice. Two years later I entered again and VOILA I made it to the 1996 Big Dance…….then again in 1998 and 2002. Now I’m done……just an aging cheerleader. I’ll be looking for your name in one of them soon.

    • Pat…you’ve brought tears to my eyes…thank you for those wonderful words of encouragement…I needed it…you start doubting yourself, second guessing, nit picking…you’re no aging cheerleader, you’re one helluva megaphone for hope!! xo Ally

  16. You are wise beyond your years and understand the common thread of desire, hope and excitement we all feel when entering these contest. It is true we can get discouraged and give up or dust yourself off and try again. If we don’t try we will never win will we. Hugs! Good luck and Thank you!!!! You are awesome!

    • Oh, sweet Roberta…we all have this DNA thread that bonds us, that’s for sure…you’re thoughtful and poignant words are like littl’ nuggets of gold! You’re one dear friend! xoxo

  17. Well defeat like this could only lead us to RISE to a much better occasion 🙂 That doughboy was a devil…..I think he and all his little friends should have been thrown into a crockpot.,since it looks like if they left you out thenit was a crock 🙂 Your creations look divine xxoo

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.