I went to Six Flags Over Texas last weekend, and before we ended our day, we all split a funnel cake to celebrate my 3-year-old’s first roller-coaster ride. I try to eat pretty healthily in general, but there are few things that tempt me like a funnel cake. It’s basically a giant crispy donut that is always served piping hot and is somehow socially acceptable to eat any time of day.
As we were pinching off pieces of curly fried dough and covering ourselves with powdered sugar, a young woman sharing our park bench inquired, “I just have to ask, do those really taste as good as they smell?” Of course we all answered in unison a resounding, “Yes!” After a moment of chatter, I couldn’t help but ask her a question in return: “How did you make it to your adult life without ever having even a bite of funnel cake? Didn’t you ever get one at a county or state fair?” It turns out she is from Oregon, and she explained that the funnel cake was not a staple of her health-minded Oregonian childhood, where greasy food is just not as widely glorified in the same way as it is in my Lone Star State.
After selling her on trying the funnel cake, we said our goodbyes. I sort of regretted not being there to see her enjoy her first funnel cake, wondering if she’d enjoy it as much without the nostalgia of childhood in each bite. Something tells me she would.
In the spirit of county and state fairs opening up across the country, I bring you twists on classic fair treats, so you can bring a taste of the fair home … and if you’re feeling generous, to the teacher break room to share.
You know why corn dogs are a staple at the fair and not in our home kitchens? Because they are a big giant mess to make! You really do need a deep fryer and a big vat of batter to get a good thick coating of breading on your dog. There is no comparison to a deep-fried corn dog, so you might just have to go to the fair to enjoy one. But look at these adorable little Corn Dog Muffins from RecipeGirl. A little taste of the fair, without all the calories or the mess! These would make great snacks for football parties, kids’ parties, teacher potlucks or for the lunch box.
If you happen to own a smoker and have the weekend free, I’m sure there are some amazing Smoked Turkey Leg recipes that would truly bring the fair to your home. But if you don’t have a smoker, and my guess is most of us don’t, this recipe from Vodka and Biscuits for Roasted Turkey Legs brined, then roasted over a bed of vegetables and slathered in compound butter, looks to be every bit as delicious.
I’m a sucker for a fried pie and also for pecan pie. The Southern Bite brings the two together for this decadent handheld treat: Deep-Fried Pecan Pies. New to your school? Looking to make some new friends? I’m telling you, bring a couple dozen of these to school and you’ll be the Teacher to Know. If you’re looking to indulge with a few less calories, you can bake these in the oven until golden brown instead of frying them.
I can almost smell the delicate sweetness of caramel mingling with salty, buttery popcorn. Caramel popcorn is a definite fair favorite and one that is actually pretty simple to make at home. This recipe for Caramel Popcorn from High Heels and Grills is the perfect break-room treat to share with teachers this fall. Set it out in the morning … and come collect your empty container in the afternoon.
And let’s not forget my favorite fair treat, funnel cakes. There are tons of recipes online for funnel cakes, but this one by Taylor Takes a Taste caught my eye as the perfect way to enjoy a funnel cake at home: Mini Funnel Cakes! Click through to his site to see pictures of these adorable little fried goodies. He uses a circle metal cookie cutter to make the shape, but others suggested using different shapes, like stars or hearts, for even more adorable-ness.
What am I missing? What is the must-have fair food where you are from? Tell us in the comments!
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Rachel Randolph is a mom to a busy toddler boy and a wife to an even busier high school football and baseball coach. She is co-author ofWe Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, a food memoir written with her mom, and their upcoming book Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness, and a Full Night’s Sleep(Zondervan, January 2015). She also blogs at www.TheNourishedMama.com and www.laughcrycook.com.