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Cooking up your own state fair food

Easy recipes to enjoy the best of the fair from home

Making your fair food favorites at home is easier than you think. You can enjoy corn cob puppies, funnel cakes and fried Oreos all from your air-conditioned home.
Making your fair food favorites at home is easier than you think. You can enjoy corn cob puppies, funnel cakes and fried Oreos all from your air-conditioned home.

I sometimes call August the (county or state) fair season because you can find one in many states like Wisconsin, Aug. 2 to 12, Indiana, Aug. 3 to 10, Illinois, Aug. 9 to 19, and Michigan, Aug. 30 to Sept. 3.

And, of course, we have our very own Sandwich Fair from Sept. 5 to 9. Originally started as an annual livestock show in 1888, this fair is one of the oldest continuing county fairs in Illinois.

Most of us have been to a fair at least once during our lifetime and I’ll bet food is close to the No. 1 reason why we love fairs. Livestock shows, baking contests, carnival rides, games, tractor pulls, antique and craft vendors and entertainment are what draw people in, but I think what keeps us coming back every year is the food.

There’s certainly a wide variety of choices, like corn dogs, tacos in a bag, turkey legs, pulled pork sandwiches, caramel apples, deep-fried Oreos, funnel cakes and brownies. And I’m sure there are a lot more I haven’t mentioned.

One thing state fairs offer a lot of are fried but oh-so-good foods, many covered in powdered sugar. While you’re strolling among the vendors and craft booths, people will pass by with any food you can think of on a stick and the aromas are really tantalizing — so tantalizing, I’m always left wondering exactly how many sticks of food I can hold at one time.

If you’re calorie conscious, the fried foods could make you totally avoid any fair. But don’t do that because, believe it or not, you can find some gourmet delights that range from 125 to 200 calories. You just have to look a little harder, but it’s worth it.

Popcorn popped in oil with no butter or salt is about 55 calories. Try a vegetable kabob at 125 calories but remember, if you add chicken or beef, plan on eating 300 to 500. Try unsalted peanuts at 166, a scoop of ice cream at 135 or corn on the cob, 160 calories without butter. You can have a plain corn dog at 151 calories or regular one at 460.*

Fried cheese curds come in at 420 calories while a fried turkey leg is 420. Pork chop on a stick adds up to 736. If you really love those fried Oreos, the good thing is they’re less than a funnel cake (760), coming in at 610 calories.*  

Most of the oh-so-good fried dessert foods are covered in powdered sugar. And while you’re strolling among the attractions, people pass by with any food you can think of on a stick and the aromas are so tantalizing — so tantalizing I’m always left wondering exactly how many sticks of food I can hold at one time.  

Or I might see someone with a huge funnel cake and suddenly I’m in a trance, in line waiting to savor my favorite sugar high. I like them best with a dusting of powdered sugar but there are a few other toppings to try that will add a more delicious taste to every bite. Try hot fudge, peanut butter, strawberries, caramel sauce or whipped cream. There’s not a right or wrong way to top a funnel cake. Just try what you like.  

So, in honor of fair season, I’ve found some good fair food recipes. I’m glad I did because I had no idea how easy it was to make funnel cakes or a batch of fried Oreos. Fair season happens once a year, so why not cook up some fair food in your kitchen? You can host your own summer event without leaving home.  


u 8 Bun-length hot dogs

u 1 Quart vegetable oil for frying

u 2 Cups all-purpose flour

u 1 Cup corn meal

u 1 Cup buttermilk

u 2 Large eggs

u 1 (12-ounce) Can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

u 2 Tablespoons white sugar

u 2 Tablespoons bacon drippings

u 2 Teaspoons salt

u 2 Teaspoons baking powder

u 1 Pinch garlic powder

u 8 Sturdy bamboo skewers  

Place hot dogs into large pot of simmering water and keep hot. Heat vegetable oil in deep-fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees farenheit. Whisk flour, corn meal, buttermilk, eggs, sugar, bacon drippings, salt, baking powder and garlic powder in large bowl until moistened; beat batter until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove hot dog from the water and blot completely dry with paper towels; skewer hot dog lengthwise with bamboo skewer. Using skewer end as handle, roll hot dog in batter to thoroughly coat. Roll corn dog in hot oil with same continuous rolling motion, setting the batter; continue to roll corn dog in hot oil until deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Alternately, lay corn dog into hot oil after initial rolling to finish cooking the batter, about 1 minute per side. Repeat.  


Makes 52 cookies

u (20 ounce) Package Oreo cookies

u 2 Cups Bisquick

u 2 Eggs

u 1 1/2 Cups milk

u 3 Teaspoons oil Vegetable oil (enough for deep frying)  

Blend Bisquick, eggs, milk, and 3 tsp oil until smooth. Preheat deep fryer to about 375°F (use thermometer to deep fry in a pan). Dip cookies in batter mixture until totally covered and then place in the hot oil (cookies will float). Keep checking and turn over cookie when bottom side of Oreo is brown. Keep a close watch because it only takes a short time to brown. Remove cookies and eat warm.  


Prep time: 5 minutes.

Cook time: 3 minutes

u One 3-lb. boneless pork roast  

u Oil to fill your deep fryer or large frying pan

u 2 eggs

u 1 egg white

u 1 teaspoon of vanilla

u 1 1/2 cups whole milk

u 1/4 cup sugar

u 2 to 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour

u 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

u 1/2 teaspoon of salt Confectioner’s sugar  

Heat oil in fryer up to 375F. Beat eggs and egg white until frothy. Add vanilla and milk and blend well. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and quickly blend. Don’t over beat. If you have time letmixture refrigerator overnight. Put mixture in funnel or squeeze bottle cut to have an opening about the size of pencil. Hold your finger over opening and bring as close as possible to surface of hot oil. Remove your finger and move funnel in smooth circular motion over top of oil. Fry until golden on one side. Flip and fry until golden on other side. Remove fromoil to absorbent paper towel. Sprinkle with Confectioner’s sugar or sugar and serve hot.    

* The calorie content of foods mentioned are approximate.

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