Howdy! Welcome to the first ever virtual Cook’s Country Fair. With a cornucopia of agriculture-themed posts and down-home cooking competitions, for 12 weeks we’ll pay homage to our rural roots and those who taught us to enjoy good, simple food. We’ve got our summer jam-packed with fun stories, blue-ribbon winning recipes, and exciting giveaways. Each week we’ll be asking you, our fans, to share your personal stories in our comments, and we’ll pick a new story each week to be our winner. We hope you’ll join us for the festivities every Thursday afternoon from June to September!
Growing up on a farm taught me from a very early age that the rooster never waits for dawn to crow; he wakes everybody up whenever he wants. And similar to the rooster, every morning my brother and I would wake up bright and early, quickly readying ourselves for school, attempting to start our daily chores—but more often than not, we ended up lounging in the tire swing. Instead of helping haul feed bags or fill water troughs, we would scheme the best hiding spots around our little country plot, begging to be taken to the fishing hole or the dewberry bramble. Looking back, I realized we didn’t do much to help my Dad, who worked as a farmhand, and we probably got in the way of his morning routine most of the time.
Each year we took it upon ourselves to name every animal on the farm. To us, there was no greater honor than naming a farm animal after someone. That’s how our beloved milk-cow, Barbara, earned the same name as our grandmother. I now realize (later into my adulthood) that sharing one’s name with a black-and-white spotted Holstein heifer could possibly be taken as an insult. But our Grandma appreciated our innocence and held her head high every time she visited the farm and her cow-counterpart. After all, we loved both Barbaras all the same. They both spoiled us: Barbara the grandma with toys and trips to beach, and Barbara the cow with fresh milk and cream.
I never really understood my great fortune as a farm-dweller until I moved to into the city. No more fresh milk, no more thick cream, no more homemade butter whose yellow tint changed with the changing seasons. But, now, thanks to the growing popularity of farmers’ markets, CSAs, and larger selections in local grocery stores, these ingredients are once again available to most, including us city-folks. Fresh dairy products can vary in taste and design as wildly as this country is vast. From the variety of grass and wildflowers the animal consumes to the season in which the fresh ingredient was collected and processed, there’s really nothing plain or boring about milk.
(Pictured above, me at age 5, holding my Pee Wee Dairy Showmanship trophy.)
We often underestimate milk, butter, and other dairy products like yogurt and cheese in the process of cooking. A little milk makes a batter come together, a pat of butter makes a crust golden-brown, cheese forms the base of many fine sauces. Why else would a country fair devote an entire show to such a humble ingredient? While we might not have any Holstein heifers to parade around the show pen, our first ever online Dairy Show highlights some of our favorite recipes.
HOW THE COOK’S COUNTRY FAIR WORKS
Every Thursday this summer, we’ll post a new story on the Feed. This week we’ve herded some of the finest dairy-based recipes from our collection, including Pimento Cheese Coins, Buttermilk Pie, and Dijon Tarragon Butter.
MAKE IT NOW
SHOW AND TELL
HOW TO WIN THIS WEEK’S GIVEAWAY
We’re giving away a copy of The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook! (See the full recipe list here.) Want to win? Leave a comment below describing a fond farm memory, and we’ll pick one cookbook winner. Entries due Wednesday, July 17 , 2013, 11:59pm EST to enter. Giveaway for continental US residents only.
LAST WEEK’S WINNER
Congratulations to Christine M., who shared a heartfelt story about black raspberry pies and her family’s Fourth of July traditions—she won a year online membership to CooksCountry.com! Thank you to all who shared their blue-ribbon stories; read them all here.