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!
The days are getting shorter, the temperatures a little cooler, and a whole new crop of produce is appearing at the farmers’ market. We are well into the dog days of summer, and unfortunately, that means the first ever Cook’s Country Fair is coming to an end. We loved digging up old photos, sharing stories about country fair foodways, and finding recipes that reminded us of the Midway. After a summer of dairy products, horticulture, a virtual livestock show, and layer cake queens—we couldn’t think of a better way to wrap up a 12-week online culinary exposition than with a traditional country fair chili cook-off. Do you think you can handle the heat?
In my neck of the woods—Texas—chili is a suppertime staple. Folks come from all over for a the annual Chilifest, and even the local county fairs always have big simmering pots of chili next to piles of corn chips and bowls of longhorn cheddar. Down south, it seems as though every family has their own special recipe. Sometimes a kind cook will share their chili tricks, but more often than not these recipes are kept as closely guarded secrets saved exclusively for cook-offs and competitions. I’ve sampled many new-fangled chili concoctions made with ingredients like buffalo meat, salsa verde, ketchup, venison, curry powder, celery, chocolate, coffee… you get the idea. But the sole controversy, more contentious than all these uncommon ingredients combined, is beans and whether or not to use them. Wars have been waged over this seemingly innocent addition—I’m talking a Hatfields and McCoys kind of rivalry. My own grandma once walked out of a restaurant because they dared to put pintos in their chili appetizer. This is the very reason chili cook-offs exist, and explains the numerous chili recipes on tables throughout the nation. At the end of the day, chili is much more than a filling dinner—you could even call it a religion.
Cowboys and chili—but did they eat it with or without frijoles (beans)?
Photo Credit: Boston Public Library
Invite some friends and family over and cook up a bowl of bubbling chili—beans or no beans, your choice. I hope you enjoyed our first ever Cook’s Country Fair, and I loved reading your comments and stories about your own fair experiences. Check Cook’s Country online for more Americana-inspired, country-fied recipes that will have you cooking all year long.
Once you’ve decided where you stand on the bean issue, take a gander at the above chili additions. We use each of these spicy ingredients at various times in the chili recipes below.
HOW THE COOK’S COUNTRY FAIR WORKS
Every Thursday this summer, we posted a new story on the Feed. For the final post of the Cook’s Country Fair we rustled up some of our favorite chili recipes including Ranch Chili, Five-Alarm Chili, Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili, and Hollywood-Style Chili.
MAKE IT NOW
SHOW AND TELL
HOW TO WIN THIS WEEK’S GIVEAWAY
We’re giving away a 1-year online membership to cookscountry.com! Want to win our final giveaway? Leave a comment below telling us your favorite chili topping. Entries due Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 11:59pm EST. Giveaway for continental US residents only.