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July 8, 2014
Award Winning Recipes Straight From the County Fair
By Janet Tharpe
People tell me there's a whole lot to do at county fairs - rides, games, music, crafts - but I never can seem to stray far from the FOOD! And I don't mean those rich-smelling food trucks (although those are mighty good too.) No, I mean the Blue Ribbon food... the recipes from real folks right here in my area. The food that gets put out at Sunday suppers and make you silently hope for a dinner invitation. This time of year - fair time - is when community comes together to celebrate local cooks and homemade recipes. Sometimes that acknowledgement comes in the form of a simple hug. Other times it's the pinning of a big, blue ribbon. And you know what? Either way, that plain makes me giddy.
I have to say, I'm pretty proud to have many county and state fair ribbon winners right here at Just A Pinch. Our goal, after all, is to honor Blue Ribbon cooks 24 hours a day 365 days of the year!
One of our lovely members, Judi Harris of Montana City, MT, is among the county fair winners dishing up their winning recipes here in the Club. One of our favorites from Judi, her Best In Show Blackberry Cobbler, really epitomizes the flavors and feeling of fair season. "This [recipe] was in my mother's handwritten cookbook," says Judi. "I made it for the Jefferson County Fair ...and it won 3 awards: First Place, Champion, and Best in Show. I always make a double batch of this - it never lasts long!"
And it's no wonder! Judi's cobbler recipe bakes the fresh blackberries to perfection, and the cake-like base crisps up impeccably. You'll want to be sure to have a good amount of ice cream on hand for this one!
And speaking of ice cream, another perfect pairing comes from Blue Ribbon winner Crystal Villa of Arizona. We just can't get enough of her beautiful Apple Bundt Cake, first place winner at her State Fair! "This cake always seems to be a hit with everyone that tries it," explains Crystal. Not in the mood to make the glaze called for in the recipe? That's where the ice cream comes in! Crystal tells us ice cream is a great substitute for the sweetness of the glaze. (Although, I'll admit that I do so love the way her glaze looks when drizzled over the cake.)
Savory dishes are fair game for fair ribbons, too! Norma DeRemer's signature Hot Dog and Hamburger Relish has its roots in her local county fair. Years ago Norma was inspired by a ribbon-winning fair recipe, and has since transformed that recipe into a must-have spread.
"I started making this back when I first got married," says the York, PA resident. "Times were hard and money was tight down in Southern Ohio back then. Now that I'm living in PA, I couldn't find green tomatoes anywhere. I'm growing some tomato plants but not getting much off of them so I went to a local farmer and asked him if he would sell me some green tomatoes and sure enough that sweet farmer did... My family and friends love it."
In fact, Norma's relish really takes me back to the homemade relish my own grandmother used to make. We used it on everything! This relish is just as tasty...and makes a lot. I've been known to wrap the relish jars in gingham and give them as a hostess gift. There are always smiles all around.
These are just a few of the Club members who have been honored at their local fairs! Talented cooks abound here at Just A Pinch and it surely does not go unnoticed. I continue to learn so much from you Blue Ribbon guys and gals, and I count myself a better person for it. Happy cooking!
Carol Junkins CarolAJ - Aug 23, 2011
Makes me want to go to a County Fair ~ Living up hear in New England, have never had that experience ~ I always think simple recipes are sometimes the best such as a melt in your mouth doughnut ! I Enjoyed reading this article and congratulations to all these super cooks! (and the moms that inspired them)
Angela Gray angiemath - Aug 23, 2011
Congratulations everyone on your Blue Ribbons, they were well earned ! Here is my Grandmothers prize winning Bread and Butter pickles. She always soaked the cukes in an ice water bath before canning so they stay crispy and crunchy even after processing. They are amazing ! Alma's Bread and Butter Pickles
Barb Blasey quilterinidaho - Aug 23, 2011
I had to print out all the recipes this time. Every one of them sounds like a winner in my book! Thank you to all of the great cooks out there for your inspiration.
Norma DeRemer PApride - Aug 23, 2011
How I do remember my small town county fair back in the days when I first got married and started canning. It is sad that so many small towns like Carlisle, PA no longer has a fair. Here in York, PA where I am now; I might just take a change and enter some of my things. Thanks Janet for such a great story. I truly love it here at JAP.
Judi Harris-Nulle winningrecipes - Aug 23, 2011
Thank you, ladies, for your comments. This year I'm entering two things at Saturday's county fair - 1) A chocolate bundt cake and 2) a cherry pie.