Tag Archives: corn

The Deep-Fried Review of the N.C. State Fair or I Can’t Believe I Ate That

Gentle Readers, though The Practical Cook no longer wears the crown or sash of Deep Fried Ambassador, her commitment to Fried remains strong as always. This past weekend, Team Practical Cook headed to the fair to try, well, almost one of everything.

Deep Fried Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Bacon Sprinkles

Deep Fried Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Bacon Sprinkles

This year’s sensation is the Deep-Fried Mini Cinnamon Roll with Bacon Sprinkles. Hot, sticky, and bacony. Wow, just wow. It was disturbingly delicious. We scraped off the bits for the Eldest so she could remain true to her vegetarian ways.

How was it? Roll the tape:

We also tried the Deep-Fried Girl Scout Cookies (aka, Caramel Delites) and were less wowed by them. Beautiful, but empty.

Deep Fried Girl Scout Cookies: Caramel Delites (aka Samoas)

Deep Fried Girl Scout Cookies: Caramel Delites (aka Samoas)

The single most requested item: fried okra from the State Farmers Market food stand. It was the bomb, as always. That was lunch. Followed by corn and an apple dumpling. I actually lost count of the desserts.

Fried okra from the State Farmers Market food cart. It is a family favorite.

Fried okra from the State Farmers Market food cart. It is a family favorite.

So if you are heading to the fair this year, do not go halfway. Upon hearing that certain individuals weren’t planning to eat anything fried, the Eldest offered a mildly Elvis-like sneer and said, “why bother going?” And that is how I know I’m raising my children properly.

If you don't eat fried, why bother going to the fair? -- The Eldest

If you don’t eat fried, why bother going to the fair? — The Eldest

If you haven’t been to the fair in a while, consider going on a weekday, or early. It’s not as crowded, and it is a lot of fun. Don’t miss the endless samples in the made in NC tent and the Kerr Scott building. Also, we love the oversized vegetables and creative art made from them.

Say pumpkin pie!

Say pumpkin pie!

This is our fall family tradition. We go, we eat an obnoxious amount of Fried, and we break every rule of common sense. Then we go home and have a nice salad. Have you been to the fair this year? What fried goodness did you try?

Fearless on the Ferris Wheel.

Fearless on the Ferris Wheel.

Send your celery and carrot sticks to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, Broccoli Pasta Recipe.

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Chicken Chowder Recipe, or Just Add Corn

Gentle Readers, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. This week, I had planned the simplest of beans and rice for Sunday dinner, but alas, I had a half-portion of dried black beans and no time to correct the misfortune. So I punted. Here’s the result.

Chicken Chowder: Simple Comfort Food

Chicken Chowder: Simple Comfort Food

Chicken Chowder Recipe, or Just Add Corn

There is no reason to call this chowder except for the corn. I decided that anything with corn in it could legitimately be called a chowder. I’ll leave you to piece through the logic there.

olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 or 3 handfuls of shredded cabbage
1/2 or more frozen corn kernels
2 cups of shredded chicken, shredded from a rotisserie chicken
1 to 2 cups cheating chicken stock
1 can white beans, rinsed

1. In a medium sized pot, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Toss in the onion, carrots, celery, and seasonings. Saute for a few minutes until onion is softened, stirring on occasion.

2. Add the cabbage, corn, and chicken, and some of the stock. Heat until cabbage is cooked and the corn is heated through, 7 to 10 minutes. Add more stock as needed.

3. Add the white beans, mashing a few up to thicken the chowder, and heat for a few minutes more. Adjust seasonings, serve.

Chicken Chowder with Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley

Chicken Chowder with Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley

This was so simple, and so satisfying. Both of The Practical Cooks Junior ate it, though The Youngest preferred the “grains” served with it (Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley with Chicken Stock). And I’ve got stock and chicken leftover for my chicken pie, score!

Do you feel that corn turns soup into chowder? Post a comment today! It’s so very painless, I promise.

Got questions, requests, or a bunch of leafy greens? Email them to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Where did this week go? It’s time for Sunday’s Weekly Menus!

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First Time at the Fair: The Practical Cooks Junior Review (And Love-A-Fair with video)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook is proud to introduce today’s guest bloggers, The Practical Cooks Junior. As first time fair-goers, their perspective is energizing and a reminder that a field trip is a worthy investment of time and energy.

Let’s hear from TPCs Jr, shall we? Roll the tape:

To quote the Youngest upon arrival: “They have everything in the world here.” Yes, yes they do.

Stick Together at the Fair: We Descend Like a Barrel of Monkeys

Stick Together at the Fair: We Descend Like a Barrel of Monkeys

First, the Eldest in her own words, her journalistic debut, because nothing is wasted on a writer:

The Eldest's First Trip to the Fair, Journal Entry

The Eldest's First Trip to the Fair, Journal Entry

Here’s a transcript of the Eldest’s journal entry, with a little editorial clean-up:

I went to the state fair. It was fun. There were animals. There was fried food. There were rides. We went on the Ferris wheel today. I saw the animals. I ate a hot dog. I ate a fried okra. I ate a fried Oreo. I ate an apple dumpling. I drank lemonade and a cider.

If you wondered if TPC Jr was related to me in the food department, there you go.

Deep Fried Okra from the Farmer's Market Wagon: Group Favorite!

Deep Fried Okra from the Farmer's Market Wagon: Group Favorite!

Though the Eldest mentions okra as singular, let me tell you, she chose to eat more of this than the ear of corn her sister had. It was in fact that good, and every member of the crew, including all Complicated Vegetarians, like it. We’ll be going back for more.

Apple Dumpling: From Smitty's, These Rock in Ways I Can't Express

Apple Dumpling: From Smitty's, These Rock in Ways I Can't Express

Speaking of the CVs, witness the three-straw action on the apple cider freezie, found in Heritage Circle.

Apple Cider Freezie: Another Refreshing Delight (as Witnessed Here)

Apple Cider Freezie: Another Refreshing Delight (as Witnessed Here)

But we weren’t the only ones dining. We also got to see some piglets and a calf having breakfast:

Piglets Need to Eat Too!

Piglets Need to Eat Too!

And of course, we had to take the ceremonial photo in front of the overlarge produce:

The Junior Deep Fried Crew + The Pumpkins

The Junior Deep Fried Crew + The Pumpkins

This just in, if you’re afraid of heights, and the Youngest isn’t, the Ferris Wheel can be a challenge (“sit down, mommy’s trying not to barf”). However, it was a highlight of the trip for everyone:

Ferris Wheel: We got the Carolina Blue car, much to the joy of the Eldest.

Ferris Wheel: We got the Carolina Blue car, much to the joy of the Eldest.

Special thanks to my guest bloggers today, for the great review and for generally being awesome.

The Eldest, Having Just Enjoyed Maple Butter (from the fair) in Oatmeal

The Eldest, Having Just Enjoyed Maple Butter (from the fair) in Oatmeal

The Youngest Masters the Art of Mobile Eating

The Youngest Masters the Art of Mobile Eating

The Corn Husk Dolls, Because TPC's Jr Want to Share

The Corn Husk Dolls, Because TPC's Jr Want to Share

Do you remember your first trip to the fair? Have you taken your kids? Share your stories in the comments below, or Tweet with #ncstatefair as the hashtag. (And do please comment and “like,” the Youngest is very metrics driven and will inquire how many people “liked” this. What can I say, future Social Media expert.)

Send thoughts and queries (cooking ones, not just fried ones) to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, we wrap things up with Highlights from the N.C. State Fair: Top 5 List.

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Low-Cost and No-Cost: The Practical Cook’s Guide to Attending the Fair on a Budget (with video)

The Practical Cook is thrilled to announce that aside from a bit of sunburn (one Gentle Reader referred to TPC’s complexion by way of a popular pork slogan, ahem), yesterday’s adventure with the Juniors went swimmingly. As the Juniors were bankrolling part of their own trip, it’s the perfect time to discuss attending the fair on a budget. Thanks for the Facebook and Twitter questions on the subject as well.

All we are saying, is give @NCPig a chance.

All we are saying, is give @NCPig a chance.

Let it be known, I am The Practical Cook for a good reason. I am Depression-era at heart, and my father could one-up Homer Simpson in his quest for free samples, so these are applied tactics, not just suggestions.

Roll the tape of low-cost ideas and Fried reporting from some thrifty pals, because really, should you put a price tag on world peace?

Number one thing I’ll do differently next year: buy ride tickets in advance. My friend, the wily @convertiblelife taught me that one.

Straight from Mt. Olive to you, that's a lotta pickle for cheap!

Straight from Mt. Olive to you, that's a lotta pickle for cheap!

Low-Cost Fair Activities:

Super Chocolatey Chocolate Peanuts Sampler: Fifty Cents

Super Chocolatey Chocolate Peanuts Sampler: Fifty Cents

  • Food:50 cents gets you a pickle or a sampler size of chocolate-covered peanuts in the Education/Commercial buildings. Well worth it. Ham biscuits are $2 on church row. While we’re on pig, Pork Chop Shop and Pik-N-Pig both do barbecue sammies at a good price, with slaw (see: vegetable). Fudge is also a good choice, because you can buy a little of it, and it’s satisfying.

    Pork Barbecue (as if there's more than one in NC) Sandwich from Pik-N-Pig, Winner!

    Pork Barbecue (as if there's more than one in NC) Sandwich from Pik-N-Pig, Winner!

  • Souvenirs:For little ones, the big hits included origami (cranes or frogs for 25 cents!) and small pottery items ($4 apiece). Another comrade scored a wooden truck for $6. Consider framing a map with a photo for a classic memory.

    Origami for the Win!

    Origami for the Win!

  • Milking: $2 a shot. Not bad for a memorable experience, though I can imagine dairy farmers everywhere who have to get up at o-dark-thirty in all weather must think this is the most ingenious money-making gig ever.

No-Cost Fair Activities:

  • Samples:Hot spots include the Kerr Scott Building (maple butter, peanuts, honey cotton candy, liver pudding—hello, deeply Southern people); fudge shops; Got to be NC Agriculture (Lumpy’s ice cream, peanut butter, BBQ sauces); Commercial Building (maple cotton candy, hush puppies)
    Big vats of fudge, the smell is completely free, and the samples aren't bad either.

    Big vats of fudge, the smell is completely free, and the samples aren't bad either.

    NOTE OF CAUTION: The deliciousness may lead to a purchase. Lumpy and I are on a first-name basis now, and I’ve served the maple butter twice at home with intentions of a whole blog post devoted to it.

  • Shows:Ongoing in Kiddieland and around Heritage Circle. People-watching in one of the quiet spots mentioned yesterday is reality TV without a screen, the human drama unfolding as the day progresses: fresh in the AM, cranky kids in the early afternoon, teenagers teening about at dusk. Check your map for more.

    Cow with Attitude Hoofing the Runway

    Cow with Attitude Hoofing the Runway

  • Animals and Vegetables:Not implying you can walk away with a turkey and a sweet potato, but you can get an eyeful of both in the Expo Center. If you hit one building, go there. Everyone I’ve been with (and that’s 10 people and counting at this point), ranks it as a favorite. If you have more time, cruise over and watch the animal judging, it’s mesmerizing and educational, like the heifer version of America’s Next Top Model (OMG, that cow is so skinnay, like whatever . . .).

    Frankly, my dear, I do love this dress.

    Frankly, my dear, I do love this dress.

  • Craftiness:Obviously, I’m now entering old age (see Depression-era, above) because I can’t get enough of the Village of Yesteryear and the Education/Commercial Buildings. Yesterday we watched candles being made, glass being blown, and origami being folded. It rocked. And the Best in Show dress is complete Scarlet O’Hara (Edu/Comm Bldg). Still trying to empanel myself as a pound cake judge. (Hope springs eternal.)

    Dahlias in Bloom

    Dahlias in Bloom

  • Flowers: No offense to the gardeners of the world, but since my passion is food, I didn’t expect to heart this as much as I did. Seriously, the dahlias were just rocking, and the serenity of the building was supreme. And bonus, small butterfly house inside!

Last but not least, here’s a rough breakdown of average Fried pricing at the N.C. State Fair:

  • Drinks: Around $2-3, more for commemorative mugs and deals with refills; there are water fountains around the grounds, so save your cup and refill
  • Food: $4- 8 (low-end is fries, corn, sides, high-end is  entree, sandwich, etc.), biscuits are the bargain ~$2, portions are large so invest and share
  • Deep-fried:  $4-7, with most being about $5, and you’ll need a village, as there are no single-servings in fried, and I’m yet to meet the person who can eat more than 2 deep-dried Oreos

What deals are you finding at the fair? Share you finds, tips, and tricks in the comments section below, or Tweet using #ncstatefair as the hashtag.

Send requests, telegrams, and queries to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up tomorrow, Deep-Fried Is Fun, Hunger Is Not: Hunger Relief Day at the Fair.

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One Ingredient, Three Ways: Corn Edition

Gentle Readers, aside from tomatoes, fresh corn is one of The Practical Cook’s very favorite summer foods. If you have the opportunity, buy it at the farmer’s market, or trade a neighbor for some. The faster you get it from the field to the table, the more amazing it is.

The Practical Cook Junior Shucks Corn

The Practical Cook Junior Shucks Corn

Corn, Three Ways

Fresh Corn!

Fresh Corn!

1. On the cob. Boiled, grilled, I like it all. If you grill it, try doing it husk off for a char-riffic treat. Don’t hold back on the salt, and try adding chiles, lime juice, or parmesan if you want to change the flavor profile.

Corn salad with tomatoes, pancetta, and creme fraiche with chives

Corn salad with tomatoes, pancetta, and creme fraiche with chives

2. In a salad. Speaking of tomatoes, it’s a natural pairing. Cook the corn first or just cut it off the cob and toss in for crunch. Great with light-flavored lettuces and creamy dressings.

Mexican corn with peppers and bacon

Mexican corn with peppers and bacon

3. Succotash. Forgive me lima/butterbean haters. Saute the corn with squash, onions, cooked butterbeans, add some fresh or dried thyme, a little butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Are you a corn fan? Share your serving suggestions here.

I’m all ears, send an email to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading the Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Straight from South Carolina to you, a review of Sgt. White’s Diner.

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