Thursday, July 29, 2010

Posts From the Farm: A Storm, Fair Food, Rocky Mountain Apple Pie, And Pulled Duck

Here's what I've been up to for the last 24 hours....

One of the things I forget about until I'm back on the farm is how far you can see into the distance on this flat Indiana farmland. If there's weather approaching from any direction, a quick glance at the horizon can provide an idea of what's in store for your immediate future. I still love to watch a sheet of rain travel across the field toward me, feeling those first few front-running drops on my face before the downpour hits and soaks everything. Late yesterday afternoon, my mom pointed out that "it looked pretty dark to the north of us". I grabbed my camera and stepped into the yard to watch as the storm rolled in. There's something exciting about watching the skies darken, seeing the lightning flash in the distance and hearing the rumble of thunder, and then feeling the temperatures drop and the wind pick up, blowing through your hair and carrying the scent of rain.

This storm was a bit unusual because most storms come at us from the southwest. While these clouds simply rained on my parent's house without incident, the storm hit my sister's house (about 15 miles South) much harder. Today they have power lines and limbs down in addition to damage to their barn.

Here's the view to the northeast.

And to the southwest.

Just look at the angry storm clouds converging upon those unsuspecting happy, fluffy white clouds.

The clouds looked pretty ominous.

Even the birds decided to "make a run" for it.

Here's another look to the south, just as the first raindrops started to fall.

It rained hard. And then...just like that, it was over.

And so we did what most logical people would do after observing a line of impending thunderstorm doom stretched across the radar. We went to the fair! The truth is, I'd already made plans to meet some friends at the neighboring county's fair and I didn't want to stand them up. With the hope that we might miss those storms, we headed out.

When I go to a fair, I'm all about the food! I subscribe to the following theory: If you can't find it deep-fried at your local county fair, then it might not exist.

This booth was a new one for me. I'm all about Shrimp, Crawfish, and even Frog Legs (yum!)....but Fried Gator? Really? I probably would have tried it, had it not been $8 for a tiny skewer.

I settled for a Fried Catfish Sandwich from the Morning Optimist Club instead.

A conservative choice, compared to a giant basket of fried vegetables with a side of ranch dressing that seemed to be calling my name. I may have discard a bun and eaten my sandwich open-faced (See, I was trying to be good), but not before smothering it in tartar sauce!

After dinner, we visited the barns and exhibits and rode the carousel...and then the rain started again.

Relentless, pouring, rain! We sought shelter under tents and awnings as we made our way back toward the parking lot. There seemed to be 5-15 minute intervals between downpours. Just enough time to grab my annual elephant ear! Seriously, I only eat 1 elephant ear (shared with friends or family) per year. Back when I was a kid and I had jack-rabbit metabolism, I could eat 3 or 4 of these over the course of a fair week and still shimmy into my skinny Wranglers. These days, if I even look at a piece of fried dough for too long, my pants feel tight!

Now, some might say that one buttered up, sugar-covered, fritter of fried dough is as good as another.

Wrong! The consensus around here is that the elephant ears sold out of The Red Barn take the cake!

I would agree. My mom, my youngest daughter, and I sat under the cover of an awning and enjoyed our last fair treat while listening to the Lone Star concert playing from the grandstand before heading home.

We returned to my parent's house late last night and I went to bed even later...probably because I wasn't tired after my elephant ear sugar high.

This morning, I was awakened bright and early by a heavenly smell drifting up to my room from the kitchen. My thoughts were a bit fuzzy as I padded down the stairs. I clearly smelled apple pie....but it seemed so early for apple pie. What was going on?! Rocky Mountain Apple Pie, that's what! My mom had gotten up early and made two of my Great-Grandma Light's favorite apple pie recipes. I took a picture just as she pulled the first one from the oven.

I've eaten this pie for as long as I can remember, but I'm not sure about the story behind it. I suspect that the big chunks of apple rising out of the pie (mountains) with the white cream and sugar on top (snowcaps) are how the pie earned it's name, rather than the region from which it originated. But I could be wrong...

Tonight for dessert, we sliced up that pie and ate it a la mode with homemade vanilla custard. Yum! (Pie recipe provided at the end of this post).

This afternoon my mom had arranged for me to paint my own set of measuring cups at a local paint-your-own pottery place in The Village of Winona. I decided to grab a late lunch at the 1000 Park Bãkafé next door to the Pottery Bayou. I was pleased to find this sandwich with Pulled Maple Leaf Farms Duck in a blueberry barbeque sauce on the menu. It was served on a toasted rosemary roll and topped with gouda and greens. Ya'll know how I dig duck! This was delicious!

Following an afternoon of pottery painting, I returned to my parents for the evening. I was just getting ready to change into my tennis shoes and work off last night's elephant ear when my grandma called to inform me that my uncle had arrived with a whole load of produce from his trip to Michigan.

Anyone want to guess what I'm doing tomorrow?

Here's that pie recipe:

Great-Grandma Light's Rocky Mountain Apple Pie

1 single crust pie shell
A "whole bunch" of "transparent" apples (I'm still not really sure about transparent apples) my mom used Lodi apples.
1 c. sugar
2 T. flour
Heavy whipping cream (up to 1 cup)

Mix together the sugar and flour. Sprinkle "a little" in the bottom of the pie shell. Peel and quarter the apples. Set "on end" in the pie shell. Sprinkle remaining sugar and flour over the apples. Pour cream over the apples. Stop pouring before the cream goes over the edge of the pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees, until the apples are tender.


theUngourmet said...

Well, there is just way too much goodness going on over here! I love fairs! Can you believe I've been to the fair every year for as long as I can recall but I've never eaten an Elephant Ear?! I'm so getting one this year! ;)

Katie@ThisCrazyLife said...

Okay Krista, I need step by step instructions on that pie! I've been hearing about it for years but never tasted it! It sure would be a nice surprise for Chris! Oh and just so ya know I ended up with the very last of those green beens. But not in a bad way. After all of the deliveries, I was Tim's last stop so I got everything that was left which was a lot! I too am going to spend my day elbow deep in green beans!

maddienme said...

I can hardly wait for our County Fair. The BEST corndogs in the world. We made elephant ears at home one time, they were fun and tasted just as good as at the fair. Love your site Krista.

Ben said...

Was idly surfing around and suddenly saw a picture of myself! I'm the guy standing over the fryer. This was the Elkhart county 4-h fair, right?

Krista said...

Sorry that I just saw this comment...yep, it was the Elkhart Co. Fair. So you're the guy standing over the elephant ear fryer? What a crazy coincidence!

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