August is county fair season. And I can safely say that I have never missed a county fair in 25 35, okay, 40-something years. I mean ever! I was born in November and by the following August I was in a baby stroller attending my first fair. From the age of 9 to 19 I showed Jersey cows. Every year my family loaded up bags of feed, hay bales, straw, pitchforks, buckets, brushes, halters, hoses, cattle clippers, and portable milking equipment and headed to the county fair. We would arrive at the fairgrounds with a trailer load of cows from 6 months to 12 years old, filling half the barn. It was always a family affair including grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles and cousins galore. My Grandfather Bob, along with my father and uncles built many of the barns still there today.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Jerseys, they are a beautiful fawn colored dairy cow. They can be brown and white or can range from very light solid brown to almost black. I should also mention that I grew up in a family with a very sarcastic sense of humor. So what would start off on Monday as very informative answers to common urbanite questions often gave way to quick wit and humor by the end of a very long and exhausting week. One year we had a black Jersey cow in the show herd and by Friday my uncles had convinced most of the innocent city folk passing through that she gave chocolate milk. Sigh…
Getting married didn’t end my county fair career, it only perpetuated another generation of county fair goers. Like me, Corey grew up attending his county fair every year. His Grandfather David was fair president and his Grandmother Boots (the other side of the family) manned the information desk for years. As newlyweds, we exhibited purebred sheep and before long our children were following our footsteps showing livestock of their own. They have shown dairy cows, beef cows, sheep, hogs, rabbits and goats. This year my youngest daughter will be showing her very first chickens.
The county fair is so much more than animals, barbeque chicken dinners, carnival rides, and funnel cakes. Oh, don’t misunderstand, those are all important necessities. But the county fair is also the time of year when the whole community comes together to socialize, reconnecting with friends you haven’t seen in years (or since last year) and sharing stories with neighbors. It is the very essence of community.
Inspired by fellow blogger Tara Weaver of Tea & Cookie, I decided to reflect on the community I live in and offer my neighbors some face to face handshakes and hugs. I have met so many wonderful people through my food blog and Twitter. But I also need to remember to take my passion for food, bake a batch of cookies, stir up some sweet tea and share myself with my offline community too.
When it comes to chocolate chip cookies, there is simply nothing better than the real thing. I always follow the Original Nestle Toll House recipe as reprinted below.
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large egg
- 1 (12 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Combineflour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
- Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Gradually beat in flour mixture.
- Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
- Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.