It’s County Fair Time in my July Kitchen.

County fairs were the major source of summer entertainment throughout my childhood in the 1930-40s era and we went to as many fairs as we could manage on my father’s salary and his gas ration points during World War II.  My favorite part of the fair was sitting around the barn before and after the afternoon’s races, listening to all of the “horse talk” going on around me and just sniffing – a horse barn is still my favorite scent in the world.  Of course, a barn is always full of flies.  My mother used to say that my little sister, who was so anxious to get to the midway and rides, would sit on a folding chair in the barn area and constantly wriggle, scratch, complain, and whine, while every fly in the county landed on her.  Meanwhile, I sat very quietly, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells with not one fly near me.

In my childhood, the horses made up 90% of my interest in the fair, so all through my life, I’ve collected anything with a harness horse on it.  I have quite a few items in my kitchen:

Although I always loved the horses the most, I was also anxious to see the baking and canning displays, the animals, and the quilts.

My kitchen shelf has a large silver tray on top that was won by my father for a race in 1969, and there are two silver bowls plus a brass tray that I won in pie contests in the 1980s.

All of the family competed and won awards in our county fairs and the Ohio State Fair.

It’s fair time again and although we don’t compete any more, I have a small county fair to enjoy right here in my own kitchen.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Apricot Spice Bars with Lemon Glaze

I have a large collection of county and state fair cookbooks, and this recipe came from an Indiana county fair book, 100 Blue Ribbon Cookies. The cookies are baked in a large jellyroll pan, 15x10x1, so you get a lot of thin, delicious bars with apricots and nuts plus a tart lemon glaze.

APRICOT SPICE BARS WITH LEMON GLAZE

Bar cookies:

  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves or allspice
  • 1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 15x10x1 jellyroll pan.

Cream together shortening, sugar and honey – beat in eggs.  Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture – stir well.  Fold in apricots and nuts.  Spread in greased 15x10x1 (jelly roll) pan.


Bake @ 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes until cookies are golden brown.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10-15 minutes.


LEMON GLAZE

  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 T lemon juice

Mix sugar and lemon juice together to make a glaze.

Brush warm cookies with lemon glaze.

Cut into squares and continue to cool on wire rack. 

In my recipe binder, I have a note:  First made June 10, 1995 to take to a picnic on Brookville Lake in Brookville, Indiana.  Everybody loved them.

State Fair Blackberry Pie

In 1986, my oldest daughter had been entering needlework in the Ohio State Fair for several years.  She kept nudging me to enter something in the food division but I was hesitant after seeing all of the beautiful entries that come in from all over the state.  Finally, I gave in and decided to enter a blackberry pie to use up some of the buckets of wild blackberries we picked every day in a thicket on the far edge of our property.  I used a recipe from a book by Susan Purdy that my daughter had just given me (unfortunately, I lost the book and I’m not sure of the title*) and made the long trip from Cincinnati to Columbus to enter the pie for judging.

I was pleased to win a third place ribbon on my first Ohio State Fair entry.

We no longer live in the house with the blackberry thicket but there were some beautiful blackberries at my farmers’ market in Loveland, Ohio (Blooms and Berries) and the pie turned out great.

STATE FAIR BLACKBERRY PIE

  • Pastry for a 9″ two-crust pie (click here for my favorite recipe)
  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 3 Tblsp. cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tblsp. quick cooking tapioca
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1 Tblsp. milk

Preheat oven @ 375 degrees F

In a heavy pan combine the blackberries, sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, salt, and 2 Tblsp. water.

Mash fruit very slightly with wooden spoon to start juices flowing.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until mixture nears boiling point (3-4 minutes).  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Stir in tapioca.

Pour into unbaked pie shell and dot with butter.  Fit top crust over fruit, sealing well.  Brush top crust lightly with milk and cut vents.

Place on flat pan to catch spills and bake @ 375 degrees F for 45-50 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. 

The flavor of this pie is so delicious – even the leftovers the next day were good.

*UPDATE:  I was able to identify the book – As Easy as Pie by Susan G. Purdy and found a nice hard-cover 1984 edition on eBay.com.  I feel better now.  That was the only cookbook that I have ever  lost and I’m happy to have a copy to complete my collection.

Cranberry Date Bars

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About 20 years ago, I subscribed to a small newspaper called The Blue Ribbon Gazette, a publication devoted to county and state fair cooking winners.  Sadly, it’s no longer in publication but I got some wonderful recipes while it was around.  One recipe that I include every year for St. Nick and Christmas is the one for  Cranberry Date Bars.  It was the favorite treat for my youngest daughter to take to work to share.

CRANBERRY DATE BARS

  • 6 oz. fresh cranberries (frozen don’t work as well)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • Glaze:  1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar mixed with fresh orange juice to make a drizzling consistency.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a small saucepan, combine cranberries and dates, cook covered over very low heat for 10 minutes until the cranberries pop, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, soda, salt, and flour.  Stir in the butter with a fork.  Put half of the mixture in the bottom of an ungreased 9×9 baking pan.  Spread the cranberry/date filling over the bottom layer.  Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture on top, patting gently.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes until top is golden brown.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

While the cake is still warm, drizzle the Glaze over the top and cut into bars. 

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This wreath complete with vintage cookie cutters was made by my oldest daughter and hangs in my kitchen to inspire me while I’m baking cookies.

A Meme – 8 Things You Probably Never Wanted to Know

I was tagged by littlesketches to do a meme.  Her blog is absolutely charming and fun to read.

 The rules of this meme are:

  • When tagged you must link to the person who tagged you.

  • Post the rules before your list

  • List 8 random things about yourself
  • At the end of the post you must tag and link to 8 other people
  • Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog, linking back to your meme.

Here are 8 random things about me:

  1. I started my blog the same month this year that I turned 75.
  2. I’m a widow, a mother of 4, grandmother of 6 and great-grandmother of 2 (and loving owner of an 8-year-old hound mix)
  3. I started doing office/secretarial work 60 years ago and retired as the vice-president of a small sales/engineering company.
  4. I’ve been a baseball fan all my life with one my earliest memories being going to old Crosley Field in Cincinnati with my father to see the Reds.
  5. I have collections of all kinds of things – vintage dishes and kitchen ware, scottie dogs, harness horses, county and state fairs, baseball memorabilia, etc.
  6. I’ve always loved harness horse racing and my father was a well-known local harness horse driver/trainer. 
  7. I’m an Andy Griffith groupie since the original 1960s television shows.  My youngest daughter has given me all of the black and white episodes in box sets so I can enjoy them whenever I like.

  8. My late husband and I spent 15 years round dancing and square dancing.

I would like to tag the following bloggers:

Salmagundi Express

Hensteeth at Dancing on Eggshells

Retroredux

The Quilting Belle

Life Lessons

Quilts & Pieces

Material Girl

Robert at Poetic Asides

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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I first made these cookies in 1956 when I was the young mother of an infant boy and a toddler daughter.  They were very popular and I continued to make them over the years.  I remember when we lived in a pretty white house in the suburbs in the 1960s, all the neighborhood kids would gather on the back porch when the aroma of these cookies wafted out the screen door on summer days.  The cookies won ribbons at our county fair and at the Ohio State Fair in the 1980s.  Today, I baked another batch with the “help” of my youngest granddaughter, and they still taste good.

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CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES

  • Servings: approx. 60 cookies
  • Print

¾ cup margarine or butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup water
1 egg
1-1/2 cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups quick cooking dry oatmeal
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped nuts

Large mixer bowl:  Beat together margarine/butter, sugars, water, and egg.  Sift together flour, soda and salt, and add to shortening mix.  Add oatmeal and vanilla.  Stir in chocolate chips, raisins, nuts.

Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for about 6-1/2 minutes.Yield:  Approx. 60 cookies 


Note:  Could be made as plain oatmeal cookies or with the addition of only chips or raisins or nuts.