Fair time is food time: Make your own fair fare at home this year

Cooking In The West By Susan Metcalf
Thursday, July 30, 2020
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The 4-H Fair, which is this week in our county, is going to look a lot different because of Covid. Spectators are being asked to stay home and watch the fair on live feeds. Perhaps that will make fair a bit less dramatic and more relaxed. I have been asked to run this column about 4-H Moms again, because even though spectators are discouraged, the moms will still be doing their 4-H mom thing. I hope all moms remember there is a fine line between extremely supportive and downright crazy! Having been a 4-H mom, I can tell you it is much less stressful to be a 4-H grandma!

4-H and FFA Fairs are a huge success every year due to the hard work of the Extension staff, the FFA advisors, the kids, the parents, the grandparents, and a lot of supportive volunteers. I must admit that I enjoy the fair more now than I used to when my kids were in 4-H. As a 4-H’er, I loved fair. As a parent, it took a lot out of me. It is very hard to be a good 4-H parent!

A good 4-H parent has to be supportive without taking over and actually doing the project. Good 4-H parents have to shelve their own egos and accept the judge’s decision as one person’s opinion without feeling mortally injured by it. A good 4-H parent learns to blame teary eyes at the market sale on allergies. A good 4-H parent knows that whatever is said to a nerve-wracked disappointed child will be perceived as the wrong response. A good 4-H parent should not hoard residual Valium from previous prescriptions to alleviate fair stress--unless you have someone to drive you home.

4-H parents are scary during fair week, but the moms are the worst. I know this, because I am a recovering 4-H mom. I have developed the following criteria for judging 4-H moms:

Purple Ribbon Moms: These women strike fear into the hearts of County Extension Agents. They know the policy and rule book forwards and backwards, and they have performed background checks on the judges. They use hoof polish on their own nails and control their own hair with Sheen. Their showmanship cues are so subtle that only their own child and their child’s animal perceives them. No one will voluntarily sit near them during the week. They no longer launder white shirts. They have a lifetime supply of brand new white shirts starched and hanging in the truck.

Blue Ribbon Moms: These women give such subtle showmanship signals that only half of the kids in the ring catch them. They can give a spit bath to their child and the show animal between the stall and the ring and still have energy left to give the aforementioned subtle showmanship signals. They consider the livestock sale a holiday almost as important as Christmas. They can outmaneuver all of the other moms vying for a spot for their child’s animal at the wash rack.

Red Ribbon Moms: These poor souls missed out on giving subtle cues at the round robin showmanship because they threw their backs out giving showmanship cues in the qualifying round and had to go to the chiropractor. They have failed to memorize the policy manual nor rule book and forgot to bring them to wage war with the judge, the ring master, the volunteers, and the kids in the snow cone booth. These moms have to borrow or buy a white shirt from a purple or blue ribbon mom, because they mistakenly believed that one white shirt would remain white for more than one trip into the ring. These mothers have been known to send a child into a show ring with a mismatched item of tack.

White Ribbon Moms: These women have not practiced the subtle art of giving showmanship cues, so they just shout out or better yet stage whisper tips and suffer the condemning stares. They have not scouted other previews and fairs for ideas and trends to utilize at their own fair. They have driven uptown right before showmanship for some nonessential item such as Ibuprofen with their children’s showmanship clothes in the car. They have never chased a judge, an extension agent, or even a ribbon clerk into a dark parking lot to question not only their judgment but their very right to breathe air.

My recovery as a 4-H mom is ongoing, but this week, I need prayers.

I am going to be the Open Class Foods Division judge, and frankly, that strikes terror in my heart. If my column is missing next week, I was likely poisoned or run down in the parking lot by a disgruntled exhibitor!

Fair time is fun food time. Since many are a bit reluctant to eat vendor food during this pandemic, it is a great opportunity to make your own fair food at home with these recipes!

Funnel Cakes

2 C. 2% milk

3 large eggs

1/4 C. sugar

2 C. flour

2 t. baking powder

Oil for deep frying

Confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, combine milk, eggs, and sugar. Combine flour and baking powder. Beat mixtures together until smooth. In a cast iron or electric skilled, heat 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees. Cover the bottom of a funnel spout with your finger. Ladle 1/2 C. batter into the funnel. Holding the funnel several inches above the skillet, release your finger and move the funnel in a spiral motion until all the batter is released. Fry until golden brown about 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Repeat with remaining batter. This should make about 8 funnel cakes.


Midway Lemonade

2 1/4 C. sugar

5 C. water, divided

1 T. grated lemon zest

1 3/4 C. lemon juice

6 to 8 ice cubes

lemon slices to garnish glass

Combine the sugar, 1 C. water, and lemon zest in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and remaining 4 C. water. Pour into a pitcher and chill before serving over ice.


Homemade Corn Dog Bites

1 C. flour

2 T. cornmeal

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

season with Alpine Touch or seasoned salt to taste

3 T. shortening

3/4 C. milk

1 large egg

1 pkg. hot dogs

oil for frying

Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and seasoning. Cut in shortening until crumbly. Whisk milk and egg and stir into flour mixture. Cut hot dogs in half and dip in batter. In a cast iron skillet or heavy pan, heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry a few corn dogs at a time until golden brown about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve with condiments.