In the 1990s, I did a large painting of our county fair pie contest.
I took a picture of this painting and printed it on June Tailor Colorfast Fabric for Inkjet Printers. I left the backing paper on while I touched up the acrylic paint and re-inked the picture. Then, I removed the backing paper and sewed on strips of fabric plus rick-rack to complete the top.
I used all scraps for the backing and completed a memory piece for my table topper rack.
The little pie was hand carved from wood by a good friend and I borrowed one of my daughter’s miniature blue ribbons for this display.
In 1995, I had used a version of this painting to make a floor cloth for my daughter. It has been in constant use since that time and I’m going to freshen the paint and apply another couple coats of clear acrylic so it will be bright for a few more years.
In 1993, the original design was on a sweatshirt which won a blue ribbon at our county fair and at the Ohio State Fair.
My inspiration for the sketch was my first pie contest in 1983. The story is posted here.
As hectic, hot and tiring as the experience was, it stands out in my memory as one of the highlights of my life.
My oldest daughter, who was there at the time and has entered contests herself, has a delightful poem about pie contests on her blog.
I offered to fix lunch for my two daughters and two grandchildren before they headed for the large pool at Coney Island in Cincinnati. One daughter suggested an oriental style pasta salad would be good and I found one on Allrecipes. This is my edited version with a few changes.
SESAME PASTA CHICKEN SALAD
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 8 oz bow tie pasta (Barilla Piccolini)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 3 Tblsp. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- few gratings of black pepper
- 2 chicken breast halves, baked and shredded
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 7 minutes. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water. Transfer pasta to a large bowl.
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine canola oil, Teriyaki sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, ginger and pepper. Shake well. Pour dressing over pasta and toss to coat evenly. Gently mix in chicken, cilantro and toasted almonds.
The three adults loved this salad – it was exactly what I was looking for in flavor and I would suggest that you not omit the fresh cilantro. It just adds so much to the salad.
For dessert, I pulled out a recipe for a pie that myoldest daughter had made for a pie contest at the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati) in 1985. She won an award and as soon as we tasted it, we could see why. It’s incredibly rich, so plan on at least 8 servings.
NANCY'S CHOCOLATE LIME PIE
- 16 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed (Oreo)
- 2 Tblsp. butter, melted
- 3 egg yolks
- 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
- 2 envelopes of Nestle Choco-Bake pre-melted chocolate
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- 3 egg whites
- 7 oz. jar of marshmallow creme
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
In a 9″ pie pan, combine crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake @ 375 degrees F for about 8 minutes. Cool while preparing filling.
Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.
In mixer bowl beat egg yolks at high speed about 4 minutes. Add condensed milk, pre-melted chocolate and lime juice, mixing well. Pour into prepared crust.
Beat egg whites to soft peaks, gradually adding marshmallow creme, incorporating well and beating to stiff peaks. Spread over filling.
Bake @ 350 degrees F for 12 minutes until meringue is golden brown.
Chill for 2-3 hours.
Note: It’s important to chill the pie well and to chill any leftovers to make the pie easier to serve.
I didn’t want to enter the county fair pie contest at all. My experience with pie baking consisted of old-fashioned pies for Sundays and holidays – nothing that was worthy of a contest. But my oldest daughter insisted and so I got up early on a hot August morning in 1983 to bake a pie for the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati, Ohio). I had a lot of fresh blackberries we had picked in the wild bramble area behind the house and some green apples from the trees in the front yard. It sounded like a good combination and I baked the pie. I felt a little dismayed when I saw the juices had bubbled out of the top crust as usual, but cooled the pie, wrapped it in foil and started out for the fairgrounds.
Contest entries were flowing in by the time we got there. It was an open class contest so there was every conceivable kind of pie – apple, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, lemon meringue, chocolate cream, a fancy strawberry pie with mint leaf garnish – I was starting to get a little worried. I didn’t want to embarrass myself with such a low-key entry. I was only hoping for one of the runner-up baskets of apples with no thought of winning a ribbon. The pies were being arranged on large tables set end-to-end and at one point I almost went over and removed my entry but my daughter insisted on going through with the ordeal.
It was an interesting experience watching the entrants and their supporters, the judges, the passers by – all in intense heat in an antique building with windows open and an occasional swishing electric fan. There were 34 entries in all, each one lovely and surrounding my very ordinary-looking pie. Finally, after about an hour and a half, the winners were announced, beginning with the runners-up – no basket of apples for me. Then the third place was announced and the second – I was almost relieved that it was finally over – when I heard the blue-ribbon, Best of Show winner called – BLACKBERRY APPLE PIE! I was astounded and went to the contest director to ask if there could be a mistake. I couldn’t believe that a Sunday dinner pie had won this contest.
I had my picture taken for the newspaper holding my pie and blue ribbon in one hand and the Best of Show rosette and an engraved brass tray in the other.
Then, my daughter and I got to carry all this plus a half-bushel of apples through a very crowded Saturday afternoon fairgrounds midway to the parking lot.
I entered this pie in a lot of other contests after that and it always won for me, but I never again had the thrill that I had that hot August day when I WON THE PIE CONTEST!
BLACKBERRY APPLE PIE
- Pastry for two-crust 9″ pie (See recipe here)
- 3 cups blackberries
- 1 cup peeled & thinly sliced green apple
- 3 Tblsp. quick-cooking tapioca
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tblsp. butter
- 1 Tblsp. milk
- 1 Tblsp. sugar mixed with 1/8 tsp. cinnamon for topping
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
In large bowl combine berries, apples, tapioca, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Mix well and allow to set while preparing pastry.
Turn berry mixture in a pastry-lined 9″ pan. Dot with butter, adjust top crust, cut vents and flute edges. Brush top with milk and lightly sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Set pie pan on a larger flat pan to catch spills.
Bake @ 375 degrees F for 45-50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
A remake of the pie some years later with the coveted rosette.