Be content with what you have

How long has it been since you have attended a fair? Think about it.

When I was a kid, fair time was the only time we were ever allowed to miss school days. It was the only excused absence. My parents thought it was a true learning experience, so they felt it was alright if we went to the fair instead of being in the actual school room. We learned as much at the fair showing animals and exhibiting canning and sewing as we did attending classes in public school. It never took the place of school, but we did learn a lot about animals and practical things.

Most country kids were in 4-H or FFA, so we groomed and fattened our cattle or sheep or pigs all year to compete at the fair. We almost ate and slept with those animals. We became so attached to them. We were always sorry when the fair was over and they had to be slaughtered or sold. Hopefully they would go on to the state fair and win prizes and ribbons. It was fun to show them in the rings and see the results of all our training and grooming and care.

What a joy it is to view the many produce exhibits. I love to see those enormous pumpkins and watermelons they display. It is also a visual pleasure to see the paper plates of apples, okra, tomatoes and such. It is a beautiful show of God's bounty. My parents were right; it is educational to see the various varieties of wheat and other grains, as well as grasses and such. There is a lot to be learned about nature at fairs. Everything is right there before us to compare and take in.

Now so many people go to fairs and never even look at the exhibits and animals. Their only reason to go is the “midway” and the food and the industrial booths. When we sign up at those demonstrations and display booths in the industrial buildings, we receive calls and letters all year long wanting to show us something or sell us something. We learn about the newest machinery and updates on things by stopping by those displays.

I have always thought the petting zoo for little kids is one of the most interesting parts of any fair. Sometimes it is the only close reaction any of those kids will have with sheep and goats and chickens and things. That is certainly educational and interesting.

Mother canned all year for the fair. Those green beans had to be in perfect order in those jars to be acceptable. She also made lots of jams and jellies. I always thought her canning was perfect just like it was, but for the fair it has to be extra special. It always was. We kidded Mother about her canning and cooking being of “fair” quality, so when she made a cookbook for her daughters she called it “Recipes of Fair Quality." Others may have thought “average or mediocre,” but we meant “fair” as in prize winning. She had many blue ribbons to show for her efforts.

She also sewed and was a master at it. Sewing for five daughters gave her lots of practice. She also made crocheted rag rugs and curtains and other things. There was a certain number of things all clubs had to enter to win. I think she qualified for every entry.

When we think of the state fair, we all think of the food. Those cinnamon rolls that smell much better then they taste. The corn on the cob that is dripping in butter sauce that makes us remember corn straight out of the fields. Those corn dogs, those wieners dipped in batter and fried ... then dipped in mustard to eat them. Cotton candy and sno-cones are always readily available and every kid wears the red syrup home on the fronts of their shirts or blouses. Every year someone thinks of something new to fry. Pork sandwiches are a rather new thing. Some church always had a lunchroom where we could eat lunch or a hearty breakfast. There was food everywhere. One certainly never went hungry at a fair.

The midway (why is it called that?) is a big attraction for many. I never was crazy about a Ferris wheel or most of those rides that went too high and too fast for me. They always seemed noisy and loud and smelly with old popcorn and stuff. I disliked the throwing games and the “come-ons” to play them. If a person won a prize, they had to lug that bear or rabbit or whatever all day no matter where they went.

There are always some big name entertainers performing at the state fair. If they aren't big names now, they will be. Many entertainers get their starts at state fairs. Also, there are usually car races or truck pulls at the fair. There is something for everybody.

I, with a lot of help, have been making plum jam from already-picked plums given to us by dear friends. Can you can? Well I can can. And I do. I just love to prepare the fruit and run it through the food mill and then get the jars ready and start the process of canning. So far this week we have canned 15 pints of plum jam and five half pints. We have another gallon of plums to process and enjoy canning. Making jellies and canning takes me back to when I was a kid. I loved to help (translated, that means get in the way) with everything: green beans, corn, tomatoes, blackberries, peaches, pears, apples, etc. Most of this was pre-freezers, so everything had to be preserved in jars.

Fair time usually means rain and a change from the really hot weather. It feels like a time of year to get out and do something after sitting under air conditioning all summer. We are ready to cook something in our ovens that have been on hiatus all summer. I think you will enjoy this casserole. It is great with anything in the fall.

Corn Casserole

1 can creamed corn

1 can whole kernel corn (do not drain)

1 small carton sour cream

1 package cornbread mix (I use Jiffy)

1/4 cup sugar (optional)

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup melted butter

Mix all ingredients Pour in casserole dish and bake in 350-degree oven for one hour or until center is set. The last time I made it, I drained the corn and used 1 cup buttermilk instead of sour cream and it was just as good.

Click for the latest, full-access Enid News & Eagle headlines | Text Alerts | app downloads

Goodrich writes a weekly column for the Enid News & Eagle​. Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

React to this story: