by Fran DeWine for the Xenia Gazette
It’s fair time!
We have been having a great time at the Ohio State Fair! Mike and I have enjoyed walking through the barns and talking with kids about their livestock and 4-H projects. It’s always fun for us to see the determination and pride the kids have when they show their animals. Our kids were all in 4-H — for a total of 34 consecutive years. And even though we are not farmers, all the kids did market lamb projects. They did a variety of other projects too — photography, creative writing, cooking, sewing, trash to treasure and rockets! It was a wonderful way to learn in the summer.
I am actually cooking at the state fair — with kids. Nearly every day I am leading a group of about 20 kids in pizza making. We start by looking at and feeling some wheat that has been freshly combined, and then I let them grind some in a little hand grinder that Mike’s parents bought when Pat, Jill and Becky were little. After everyone takes a turn grinding the wheat and feeling the flour, we mix up some pizza dough. We use part all purpose flour, part the flour we just milled, and mix it with salt, olive oil, yeast, warm water, and a little honey. We talk about how the yeast is alive; I let each of them mix the dough and then they help me knead it. We chop fresh peppers and broccoli and basil and tomatoes.
After we make our first pizza together, each child gets their ball of dough on a square of foil, and they each create their own. My grandkids Jeanie and Steve helped me do it each day and now they are anxious to help the other kids! Steve, who is 6, says he now likes vegetable pizza best! While everyone’s pizzas are baking, we read The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza. And as soon as the pizzas come out of the oven, we slice them. The children love eating their pizza and most of them proudly share theirs with their parents. Look for us in the Taste of Ohio Cafe — 11 a.m. & 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30 and Wednesday, July 31, and 11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1.
After pizza-making we went to the ODNR part of the fairgrounds. Young kids have a great opportunity to fish there. Jeanie and Steve each caught two (the limit) in just 15 minutes! Smokey the Bear also talked to the kids (and surprised them by knowing their names). He will be 75 next week! The kids saw owls in the aviary, watched some older kids kayak, checked out the tall prairie and learned a lot from the park rangers. We loved watching Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers perform at the ODNR amphitheater. Then we gathered up more grandkids — Rebecca, William and Grady — and spent the night at the fair. We enjoyed marshmallow s’mores, and we all slept well after a very busy day. You can check out the cabins and yurts on display at the fair that are available to rent at state parks. Be sure to pick up maps and guides, too.
The kids also loved the Lausche Building with COSI and lots of building and crafts for kids to do. And we couldn’t miss the butter cow and the great butter carving of Neil Armstrong and the astronauts.
Of course, the fair wouldn’t be the fair without all of the great fair food — homemade ice cream, delicious draft root beer, Schmidt’s brats and cream puffs, blooming onions, funnel cakes, grilled corn, turkey legs — the list goes on and on. I may have to try the deep-fried buckeyes before the fair is over. The trick is to share the food so you get to taste lots of things!
Many counties across the state are also in the middle of their county fairs. So Sunday morning after church we popped over to the Greene County Fair to see the whole fairgrounds come alive on their opening day. I love seeing the young 4-Hers with their feeder steers, and some with bunny rabbits. The fair is such a wonderful way to connect with old time friends and neighbors.
I hope you’re enjoying county fair time and Ohio State Fair time, too. With so much to do and so much to eat, it’s really the best of summer!
1 Tablespoon (1 package) yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups flour (Can be part whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
1/2 cup warm water
Dissolve yeast into warm water. (Water should not be warmer than your body temperature.) Mix all the ingredients together until dough forms a ball and cleans sides of bowl. Knead a few times and make a ball. Let rise in greased bowl for an hour. (Or, if you don’t have an hour, go ahead and make pizza now.)
I let the kids form their pizza on squares of aluminum foil sprayed with Pam. Add toppings. Place on cookie sheet.
Bake approximately 12 minutes at 450 degrees. Adjust bake time to size and thickness of pizza.
When I am making the pizza without kids’ help, I make it in my food processor.