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Omnomicon’s premier recipe contest is finally back! While the holidays are rife with opportunities for a round-robin, I was busy and wasn’t entirely sure everyone else would follow through given their own busy-ness, (but mostly I was just busy). And SO I’m pleased to announce January 2010’s Recipe Round-Robin: Pancakes!

Pancakes. The easiest thing that will ever impress a new love interest first thing in the morning. In addition to those lucky ladies and gents, it’ll also impress your family and friends crashing on the couch.

This month’s prize is the product of one of my infamous thrift store binges: a 1950s vintage aluminum Automatic Pancake and Donut Maker! I would argue that it’s not *really* automatic, and is more of a *dispenser* than a maker, but the name Automatic Pancake Maker really sells itself better. I’ll be uploading a photo of the actual item likely on Monday, but I wanted to kick things off sooner rather than later. In the meantime, all you need to know is that it appears to be unused, comes with the original directions (and recipes!) and works just like this modern version.

There will be a super secret special prize for one Tastebud selected at random. Incentive!

pancake maker
Pancake Batter Dispenser/ Donut Maker

So, if you’re new to the Recipe Round-Robins, please take a moment to read the rules. The short story:

Ooo ooo, I make the world’s most incredible pancakes!
Awesome, we’d love to try ’em! Send your wicked awesome recipe to aleta [at] omnomicon [dot] com. The contest can only accommodate a certain number of recipes (limited by the number of participants), so submitting as early as possible is to your benefit. Submissions will be accepted through Thursday, January 21 (2010, just in case that needed to be pointed out).
Please note that if you submit a recipe, you are committed to taste-test two other recipes. This helps assure that we have enough taste-tests going on to include as many recipes as possible.

Okay, so I make my pancakes from a box, but I’d love to get into them from scratch!
Well hey, friend, you are totally in the right place! We need far more taste-testers (tastebuds) than recipes, and your commitment is crucial to making this little experiment work. Leave a comment indicating your taste-buddiness, and you’ll receive two recipes from two different contributors. Try each and then send me an email with which you prefer. Tastebuds will be provided two recipes to compare by Friday, January 22nd, just in time for the weekend! You will have two weekends to report your favourite, and send me your choice by Tuesday, February 2nd.

Please note that if you agree to be a tastebud, we are relying on you to test two recipes in the timeline indicated. Shit happens, I know, but really, if you don’t think you’ll have the time, please do not volunteer.

I’m defining pancakes as, well, pancakes. Your famous pancakes may have blueberries or chocolate chips, but we want to keep things consistent, so while you are welcome to include your secret add-in, please list it as optional; Tastebuds will be encouraged to try the pancakes naked. I’m also requesting that we stick to the standard, Bisquick type pancakes. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some crepes, Finnish pancakes (and regional variations), and German pancakes, but they’re really not the same thing.

The only thing I’ll be changing from the old rules is allowing tastebuds to blog the recipes they tried (after a winner has been announced). I used to discourage this, but it’s too hard to police and I’ve never had a complaint from a recipe contributor for another blogger simply printing their recipe. I am asking all tastebuds to link to the owner’s website if applicable.

  • If you are contributing a recipe and have a food blog of your own that you would like linked, please send the link so I can pass it along to the tastebuds.
  • If you are contributing but not comfortable with having your site linked to your recipe, please indicate.
  • And if you are contributing but not comfortable with having your recipe printed here or elsewhere, with or without credit, please do not contribute.

What has not changed is the demand that the tone in discussing these recipes be respectful. Remember that someone treasures this recipe, is likely to see your post, and if you wouldn’t give your critique to their face, keep it to yourself. We try to run a warm and fuzzy ship over here.

Free advice based on past RRRs:

  • Bear in mind that the tastebuds’ opinion is extremely subjective—that’s the point. Keep in mind things like the difficulty of obtaining ingredients and the preparation time, so if the batter needs to sit overnight (which is fine!) it might work against you.
  • I try to edit recipes as little as possible, so a little personality never hurt!

Alright…who’s in?


The last Recipe Round-Robin met with success, and I was so happy the idea took hold! Since the close of the contest, I’ve done a little informal polling to decide on the next generationally-transcendental delight. I thought it would be nice to alternate sweets and savouries, as food-types tend to gravitate toward either cooking or baking specifically. And with that in mind the next Round-Robin Recipe is meatloaf!

And this month’s prize is The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Heavy-Duty Revised Edition. From what I hear, it is a fantastic read.

For those of you new to Omnomicon’s RRR scene, welcome! This is our second contest, the first was for Blueberry Muffins, and here’s a link to the results. I think we’ll do this monthly to give everyone plenty of time to hold up their end of the bargain. The basic concept follows.

  • Omnomicon announces this month’s recipe, aiming for some widely-enjoyed comfort food. A tantalizing prize is mentioned.
  • You say “oh hey, I have my own recipe for that!” and step up to the challenge by sending aleta at omnomicon dot com your recipe. You don’t need to be supercook to throw in your recipe, but if it’s something you’d feed to someone else, what do you have to lose by entering? Recipe-providers will henceforth be referred to as “Recipierres.” Fancy!
  • Or maybe you don’t have a recipe for that, but you would still like to taste-test. Great! We need more taste-testers than recipes anyway! Readers have said they have a lot of fun taste-testing with their friends, roommates and families. Taste-testers will be referred to as “Tastebuds.”
  • Aleta sends you (whether you are a Recipierre or Tastebud) two anonymous half-recipes to try out, giving you two weekends to test.
  • You reply with which was your favourite.
  • A winner is announced and sent the prize!

I’m hoping to better define the process and rules with each iteration, so the concept is a bit of a work in progress, but here are some new details for this round. Please note that many of these details are anticipatory rather than a reflection of people trying to bend rules. For example, nobody tried to enter multiple recipes last time, but I could see someone misinterpreting the spirit of the contest and wouldn’t want to make them feel bad nor make the contest unfair for others. Rules: they keep things easy.

  • One recipe per entry. Remember, this is supposed to be your favourite meatloaf recipe. The term “favourite” implies just one.
  • Contributed recipes MUST be (at least mostly) your own. It’s fine if you started off with someone else’s and modified it (hey, there’s nothing new under the sun), but please use some scruples. So your grandmother’s recipe from some ancient text is fine, but copying and pasting some other food bloggers’ recipe is a huge no-no.
  • Recipierres MUST taste-test in order to qualify for the prize. This is kinda just good manners.
  • You are more than welcome to blog about your experiences, but please save your posts until the contest has ended—we wouldn’t want to bias anyone.
  • As a corollary, if you are blogging about your testing, please keep it kind. The recipes are anonymously titled, but you never know if someone who reads your blog was the one who sent in their more creative recipe that just didn’t do it for you.
  • To keep things fresh and fun for everyone, once you’ve won one RRR, you must wait 2 more rounds before entering a new recipe. So far this only affects Lo. Sorry to single you out, Lo.
  • And lastly, your judging is completely subjective; as a rule of thumb ask yourself  “which recipe would I be more likely to put in my recipe box to make again and again?” For example, suppose Recipe A tastes better than Recipe B, but you’re watching calories and Recipe B is way lighter and you think you’d be more likely to make B in the future . . . Recipe B deserves your vote. Think similarly about prep time, availability of ingredients, appearance, the coolness factor . . . etc. “Best” is all about your opinion and priorities.

According to, a meatloaf is “A mounded or molded dish, usually baked, of ground beef or a combination of various meats and other ingredients.” You may submit a vegetarian meatloaf if you so wish, but must be willing to taste-test meatloafs of the more traditional variety.

You have until 5pm EST next Thursday: April 30th, 2009 to send your most bestest-ever meatloaf recipe to aleta at omnomicon dot com. Please, no recipes in the comments.

You have until 5pm EST next Thursday: April 29th to leave a comment indicating your interest in tasting. You will (hopefully) receive your assignments by the next day (Friday 4/29), and will have the better part of two weekends to try both recipes. Your vote is due Sunday May 10th by 3pm EST.

I just broke a bottle of champagne over my computer monitor and cut a ribbon with some giant scissors, so we are good to go!


Heya recipe holders! Just a status update Blueberry Muffin Recipe Round Robin (details, prize, etc. at that link if the Round-Robin thing doesn’t ring any bells for you).

So far we have 23 25 enthusiastic tastetesters, not counting roommates, girlfriends and other pals who are generously donating their tastebuds! But I’m sad to tell you that it would appear SOME people are hoarding their family secrets and not sharing the baked blueberry love. We do have recipes from some bakers (y’all are the best!), but I’d love to make it more interesting with a few more. Listen guys, and I mean that in a very gender-neutral way, there is a PRIZE for the best recipe. Who could say no to a prize?! I don’t say no to prizes, and neither should you. See, I set good examples.

With this in mind, I’m extending the due date for recipes through tomorrow Saturday March 28th 2009 at 2pm EST. Taste testers will start receiving their assignments immediately after the window closes, but no later than 6 or 7 pm.

Thanks for rolling with the punches, Taste-buds! Yes, I just coined that term there, it means “my taste-testing friends”—write it down, it’ll be used again.


This morning I had the most amazing idea ever. Ever. One that excites me SO MUCH that I’ve been squirming in my seat all day and can’t even wait a whole day to post it. I call it THE RECIPE ROUND-ROBIN.

Here’s how it works: I pick a foodstuff, in this case blueberry muffins. You say to yourself, “Lady, everyone knows that *I* have the best blueberry muffin recipe!” Meanwhile I already know that *I* have the best blueberry muffin recipe. Neither of us is going to bother with a new recipe because we already know ours are the bestest. But how would we ever know whose is truly the best?

The answer is we ask everyone we can to test two recipes (half batch each) and just answer which one they like best! I’ll employ my fancy statistics skills to determine which recipe wins the most. Depending on my recall of Partially Balanced Incomplete Block Designs and their analyses, which may not be very much, I might do a legit analysis or perhaps just take a basic “add ’em up” approach. (Mathy types with more recent DOE knowledge, if you’re out there, please contribute your perspective on a proper analysis, kthx).

If you want to put your recipe in the running:
Please email your blueberry muffin recipe to aleta at omnomicon dot com with RRR in the subject line by Friday March 27, 2009 at 6pm EST. Original-ish recipes only—the recipe your grandmother found on a bag of flour 50 years ago is okay, but a recipe featured by a fellow food blogger is a big No-no. No comments with recipes in them, please, we want to keep this nice and anonymous. You will automatically be entered as a taste-tester (hey, only fair), and will receive two recipes to try that are not yours.

If you just want to taste test:
Please leave a comment by Friday March 27th 2009 at 6PM EST saying so any old time, as long as you have some time to bake ’em by Sunday! We need more taste testers than recipes, so even if you have never made blueberry muffins and don’t have your own recipe, we still need you!

Each taste tester and each recipe contributor will be assigned two half-batch recipes to try by Friday at midnight EST and will have until Sunday April 5, 2009 at 5pm to give a thumbs up to one or the other.

And now you’re wondering if there’s a prize, right? Aside from the fame and a link on Omnomicon, I can’t think of anything more appropriate than America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book so you can compare your recipe and technique to theirs! Yeah!

For the record: ATK doesn’t even know I exist, and I’m buying this out-of-pocket because I’m personally so very enthusiastic about this project and it’s just the perfect prize. I have ATK’s The New Best Recipe and have been devouring it before bed as though it were a novel. So even though I haven’t perused it, I can’t imagine their Baking Book would be any different.

Okay, Omnometrists, have at it! This experiment will be only as successful as we have participants, and please tell your friends too! Squeee!!!


Hey guys, just a quick post to let you know how the Mama Zuma’s giveaway panned out. As promised, there were two winners:

Cassidy Said,

Hmmm, I just made a creamy broccoli soup yesterday that these would probably be lovely crumbled into instead of bread or crackers. Yummy!

I might also take the tuna/potato chip idea and incorporate some chip crumbs into a spicy tuna sushi roll…

Cassidy, how creative! I think the spicy tuna roll would pretty much be the coolest fusion idea ever, but I have an unnecessary amount of appreciation for sushi.


Josh K Said,

Knowing me, I’d probably do something reaaally stupid… like make really spicy chicken wings and coat them with the chips like in your recipe.

What? Josh, what is this?! I give you something for free and you call me stupid? Psh.

Jk, I dig it man. But that’s what the cucumber sauce is all about, silly.

Many thanks to everyone for participating! I was so super excited all week about this giveaway, as empirically proven by the abundance of exclamation points positively littering this post. But for the 46 of you who didn’t win, here is where you can find Mama Zuma’s in your state, and on the off-chance you’re not near any (this was my issue) here is where you can order a box online. Don’t worry if you didn’t win, there will be plenty of giveaways in the future.

Here’s one particularly awesome comments that caught my eye:

Melanie Said

Could you use any other flavored chips for this? How would “salt & vinegar” chicken taste, or “sour cream & chives”…… maybe I’ll do some experimenting. I don’t know if I can find the RT 11 chips to try this one, but my husband would try it. I’d try the sauce.

Dude, what an awesome idea! Route 11 (in addition to your favourite gourmet potato chip company) has like, a ton of different kinds of chips. How cool would it be to have a sampler platter of all chip types you want to try? Also, the sauce is a great complement to the dish, but in isolation…well, you’ll be happier with plain yogurt.

. . . and then a bunch of people talked about sneaking hot chips into their unsuspecting friends’/significant other’s meals. Well at least I’m not dating any of you, sheesh!


I am pleased to announce Omnomicon’s very first giveaway! And not bad for a first, if I say so myself.

It all started with a dear reader, noinamg, sending me the following email.

i would like to pose you a challenge if i may

i would like something to do with my Route 11 Mama Zuma’s Habanero (the red bag ones)
they are so spicy that even one chip is like hell in your mouth. since i cannot actually eat these, do you have a suggestion for a dish to use them in somehow?

Well, man, I do believe I can oblige, courtesy of the fine folks at Route 11.

Mama Zuma's Revenge.

This chick is badass. Wickedly badass. Also, a total babe.

Mama zuma herself.

I guess the word they’re going for here is really “hot,” and though hot chicks rarely have anything to do with habaneros, they certainly can’t hurt sales, right? These are like really good bbq chips, except particularly tongue-burning. They’re almost diet friendly in that you have to take a little bit of break between chips.

Mama zuma's.

Really hot potato chips with an actual flavour to boot. It’s a good thing.

So here’s the giveaway: I will be sending out two bags of Mama Zuma’s Habanero Chips to two randomly-chosen readers. Would you like to win some? Leave a comment before 6pm EST Friday, March 6th describing what you would do with your Mama Zuma’s. (American readers only–apologies to my foreign friends, but I’m sending these out on my own dollar and funds are low).

Will you be enjoying them crunched into your tuna fish sammich? I can’t be the only one who does that. Perhaps slipping some to your Indian friend who keeps bragging about how white people don’t know what truly spicy food is. Or maybe even giving my recipe below a polite little shot. At the very least, it has a topical and interesting title.

Noinmang, you’re on. We’re making Mama Zuma’s Red Hot Gams.

First de-skin, de-fat, rinse and pat dry some chicken thighs to give yourself a nice fresh non-slimy surface. As I happen to be in possession of a veritable plethora of kitchen towels, I reserve one specifically for these kinds of things.

The gams.

Next we’re going to flour, butter, then chippy the thighs and in that order. It helps conserve resources by using bowls that just barely fit a single thigh, particularly the chips. I found that one 2 oz bag of Mama Zuma’s crumbled up to *just* enough for four thighs.

Floured thighs.

Next is a dunk in butter to make the chips stick, and then the crumbled chips.


Now we bake for a bit. In the meantime, let’s prepare a little something in case the chicken’s still too much. It’s a pretty simple yogurt/cucumber/parsley concoction that might also work well as a lighter alternative to blue cheese dressing for your buffalo wings. Essentially, the only prep here is in a food processor.

Parsley, cucumber.

And ohhhhh man. What a meal this made.

Mama zuma's red hot gams.

Mama Zuma’s Red Hot Gams

4 chicken thighs (bone in our out, your choice)
2 oz Mama Zuma’s Revenge Habanero Potato Chips (one bag) [in a real pinch you can use your favourite brand of hot potato chips, or even plain ones if you’re not into the spicy thing]
3 tbsp butter, melted (no worries, you won’t be using all of it)
1/4 c flour

Preheat oven to 375o.

Remove the skin and trim the fat from the chicken thighs, unless they came skinned and boneless. Now rinse the thighs and pat dry.

Crumble the Mama Zuma’s in the bag until a rough but not fine consistency.

For “breading” the chicken, using the smallest bowls you have that will fit the thighs is the best way to economize your ingredients. First flour the chicken on both sides, dip quickly in butter and let drip dry a few moments before grinding the chicken into the chip crumbles. Really grind it in there, and on both sides; you want the chips to be all pokey into the surface, as they’ll stay better that way.

Place chicken on a cookie sheet and pat in any remaining chip crumbs, since they’re already contaminated and preciously delicious.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165. Serve with . . .

Aleta’s Mama Zuma Antidote: Cucumber Chill-Out Sauce

1/2 c yogurt
about 2 tbsp loosely packed parsley leaves
1″ of cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt

Put all that stuff up there into a food processor and process for a minute or so, until the cucumber is ground. Add an extra 1″ of cucumber, dice, to the finished sauce, if desired.

Don’t forget to leave your comment if’n you’d like to give Mama Zuma’s a try! Contest closes Friday at 6pm EST.