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Of Golf, Hard Boiled Eggs, Cast Iron Skillets, and Cooking Competitions...

Posted Feb 13 2009 4:23pm

The following may rank as one of the world’s oddest checklists:

*Golfing outfit
*Golf clubs
*Golf shoes
*Frying pan
*Gorgeous layer cake on pedestal
*Cute country-style Texas outfit
*Two dozen hardboiled eggs
*Awards room
*Husband and toddler
*And…practice whacking (this will be explained below)

But, I kid you not, it is real, and it was mine, sent to me by High Noon Entertainment before one of their crews arrived in Nacogdoches to film me before the Ultimate Recipe Showdown.

Let me take you through that day, then on to the trip to New York City for the show. It’s pretty funny in retrospect.

Let’s start at the very beginning: the golfing gear. The idea was that I’m the “Tiger Woods” of cooking contests, so why not recreate a Tiger Woods golfing commercial, with a URS twist. Apparently, there is a well-known (though not by anyone I know) commercial that shows the talented Tiger bouncing a golf ball at the end of his golf club. The URS twist? Do the same, but with hard boiled eggs. Let that sink in for a moment. What could possibly go wrong?

The scenario presented several stumbling blocks. First, I don’t golf, so I don’t possess a golfing outfit, golfing shoes, or golf clubs. “Just ask a friend, borrow what you need.” Right. The very short list of people I know (in town) who golf are men; they’re not my size. And besides having large, hard-to-fit feet, I’m squeamish about borronwing someone’s shoes. I did manage to get the clubs (courtesy of my friend Lindsey; her husband, David, golfs), but I was too stubborn to buy a golfing ensemble, one which I will certainly never wear again. So while it may look like a golfing-like outfit on the show, it is in fact the skirt bottom of my navy swimsuit, a sort-of matching (the navy was different in the light) sporty polo shirt, and my cross-trainers. I won’t be repeating this look anytime soon.

To the golf course!

I haven’t yet mentioned when this all went down. August. In East Texas. Close your eyes and envision 100 degrees, 100% humidity, and 100 mosquitoes swarming your legs. It’s everything you can imagine, yet so much more.

I almost lucked out of the golf course scenario: August is also the start of hurricane season in this neck of the woods, and Nacogdoches was pelted with torrential rainstorms in the days leading up to filming. It even rained in the early morning, but then, miraculously, cleared just in time. Oh lucky day. So I met the crew (they were great, funny and down-to-earth; a producer and a camera guy from High Noon productions, and then two Houston-based guys who did lighting and sound) on the private golf course just south of town (had never been there: it was quite beautiful from the air-conditioned bliss of my car) and the filming began.

Now I can explain a few more items on the list. The High Noon producer had mentioned in his most recent phone call that I should pack a frying pan for the golf course; he had some additional ideas about what we might do. Not knowing what it would be used for, I packed a cast iron skillet. This was a very bad idea, as you will soon find out. As I began hauling out the golf clubs and hard boiled eggs (boiled that morning at 6 am, so they could chill), the producer said, “Oh no, we won’t be needing those,” (must…not…scream). “just grab the frying pan.” I marched up the hill (a very, very muddy hill), trying to stifle violent thoughts involving a cast iron frying pan. They did have me practice whacking, after all…

About that whacking: “Practice bouncing the egg on the end of the club, then whacking it as far as you can on the last bounce,” I was instructed. Right. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep dozens of hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator for destruction purposes. The thought of the profound stank following the whacking carnage (remember, it was about 100 degrees last August) likewise deterred me, as did my lack of clubs (I waited to ask Lindsey until the day before the shoot). And, perhaps most importantly, the last thing I wanted to do with my spare time, in between chasing a toddler, keeping house, working, and practicing the preparation of the two desserts for the show, was to stand outside whacking hardboiled eggs around the backyard in the sweltering heat.

And what do you know, my lack of practice paid off. The new plan? Bounce a golf ball with the skillet, then whack it off into the horizon.

So as the camera, light, and sound guys set up their equipment, I was told to rehearse my whacks.

Now, I must ask: do you own a cast iron skillet? One of good size, at least 9 or 10 inches across? Can I trouble you to head to the kitchen and pick it up in one hand? Good. Now start lifting it up and down, quickly, as if you’re, I don’t know, bouncing a golf ball. Do this at least 500 times. Now try to look relaxed, confident as you do it, as if you are, say, Tiger Woods. There you go.

Aargh!!! Do you comprehend the error of my cast iron choice? On a general scale of complexity, the one-handed bouncing of a golf ball in a cast iron skillet ranks right up there with herding cats or wrestling snakes. Adding to the difficulty were (1) the fact that I had surgery for multiple fractures in my right wrist the year before (and, you guessed it, I’m right-handed), and (2) in order to keep the shot from being back-lit, the crew had me facing the sun, which, after days of hiding behind rain clouds, was nothing short of blinding.

But if you saw the show, then you saw that somehow, someway, I managed to pull it off. I got so caught up in the final moments of my success at the task that I forgot that all traces of the make-up I had applied an hour before were now on the soggy handkerchief at my feet, I was drenched from head to toe, and (gulp) this was now footage fodder for a nationally televised show.

We wrapped up the golf course action with me riding around in a golf cart (I have no explanation for this at all whatsoever). The flat parts of the course just wouldn’t do, so over bump after muddy bump I steered and bounced, splattering myself head to toe in mud.

And the day had just begun! Tune in tomorrow for part two, as the crew and I head to Millard’s Crossing Historical Village with my triple layer carrot cake and (my lack of) that cute Texas outfit…

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