Last Friday, Karla, her sister-in-law, Kathy and I got in the car early in the morning, sang a chorus of “Our State Fair” and headed west to the Nebraska State Fair. This year’s fair celebrates the 150th Birthday of the State of Nebraska and opened to the most beautiful weather. We had a gorgeous day to experience all it has to offer.
We arrived at the fair too late to enjoy opening ceremonies, so we headed right to the Raising Nebraska, Demonstration Kitchen at my favorite fair site, the Nebraska Building. If you want to get the best and most current information about agriculture in our great state, this is where you want to take time to explore.
The Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board was baking and serving delicious, gluten-free sorghum chocolate chip cookies. The aroma of freshly baked cookies was enticing and we enjoyed a sample as we waited for Barbara Kliment, Executive Director of the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board to do her first cooking demonstration of the fair – Sorghum Pilaf with Peppers and Sweet Peas. The recipes for both of these treats are included for your gluten-free dining and snacking pleasure.
Ms. Kliment is scheduled throughout the fair for cooking demonstrations along with the Nebraska Beef Council, Common Ground, UNL Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management Students, Winery and Grape Growers Association, CCC Culinary & Hospitality Students, Nebraska Extension and many other food organizations. Check each day’s Event Schedule that you will be given as you enter the fairgrounds. Since the schedule changes each day, you can also go online to StateFair.org to see if you should go on a specific day to catch a particular demonstration that is of interest to you.
We did sample a treat or two as we checked out the other exhibits at the Fair. We had to have our annual dish of Pineapple Whip. One order with three spoons was more than sufficient and gave us an opportunity to sample another treat or two. The new-to-me food I wanted to try was a Peach on a Stick. This was a fresh peach dipped in batter, fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It tasted like a fresh peach dumpling and was wonderful. Once again we split it three ways and it was just enough to satisfy curious taste buds.
We also checked out 4H exhibits from counties near and far. I always experience pride in our state when I see the amazing projects that Nebraska youth send to the fair. They can cook, build, repurpose, craft, quilt, sew and write. I am always awed at their skill and accomplishments. It gives me great hope for the future of our state and great admiration for the adults who are guiding these young citizens as they grow and learn.
As we were leaving the Fairgrounds late in the afternoon, we heard the loudspeaker announcement of the contestants and rules for the Twinkie eating contest. By that time, we were full enough that the idea of attending an eating competition even as observers seemed imprudent so we made our way to the car. Three weary fair goers made their way back to Fremont.
I wish I had time this week to catch more State Fair Fun. I urge you to visit the fine folks of Grand Island and experience everything that makes the Nebraska State Fair so special. It is well worth the trip!
Sorghum Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/2 cups gluten free all-purpose sorghum flour blend
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup gluten-free brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla
1 1/2 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips
Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and stir into the sugar/egg mixture, mix well. Add chocolate chips. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop in 1-inch balls; press down slightly. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 48 small cookies.
Sorghum Pilaf with Peppers and Sweet Peas
4 cups cooked sorghum
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery – sliced diagonally
1 1/2 cups carrots – thinly sliced
1 cup red or yellow bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen sweet garden peas
1 teaspoon chicken soup base, dissolved in
1/2 cup hot water
Salt & freshly cracked pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh parsley – roughly chopped
Teriyaki chicken and pineapple fully-cooked meatballs or other favorite sausage or meatballs
In large skillet, heat oil and add onion, celery and carrots; sauté until tender crisp (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add peppers, garlic and peas. Cook an additional 3 minutes. Add dissolved soup base, sorghum and meatballs. Cover and cook until sorghum and meat are heated thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serves 6 to 8.
Quote of the Week: With every turn our great state has made, the Nebraska State Fair was there. In fact, the State Fair is unofficially older than the state itself, because prior to 1867, there were Nebraska territorial fairs Farmers, ranchers and their families brought their prize livestock, prize crops and perhaps a pie or two. They gathered to see the latest farm implements, compete with their neighbors in good natured fun, and spin a tale or two before heading home. — Chris Kircher, Chair, Nebraska State Fair Board of Directors