Monday, July 30, 2012

Fun at the Fair

Summertime means a trip to the Orange County Fair (where my husband and I had our first date!).  In August of 2010, I themed my monthly dinner after this summertime activity with some Fun at the Fair!  This is an easy theme because there is so much yummy (and strange) food at the fair as well as lots of great activities, animals, exhibits, etc.

Invite:  Make your invitation a fair ticket with the details of your event. This is a very simple one using a Circus font.  Mail it.  Or if your guests are local, place a pail of popcorn ($1 at Target for the pail) on their front porch with this ticket attached.

To pull in the "exhibit" part of the fair, I asked each guest to email me a photo or two to be entered into a "Photography Exhibit".  I backed the photos in black cardstock and placed them on the walls as decor.  I made paper ribbons for the winners.  The ribbons were displayed next to the photos on the wall then awarded to the guests after dessert.

Decor:  Use bright colors.  I set the table with a royal blue tablecloth and used bright green and yellow napkins.  As a centerpiece, I made this super cute Ferris wheel.  It took me a LONG time to put together as was not as easy as the directions say, but it ended up being cute and a yummy treat for guests to nibble on at the party. I also added popcorn buckets filled with popcorn and red tickets to the table.  As a place card, I made mini cotton candy cones.  I used polka dot scrapbook paper to make the cone, cut out a white square in which the guest's name was typed to glue to the front. I placed real cotton candy inside.  However...if I were to do this again, I would use pink cotton balls.  The August heat melted the cotton candy rather quickly.

Menu: I wanted to serve fair food, but since some of my guests are somewhat picky eaters, I tried to stay with general rather than the completely fried/crazy foods.  Here is what I decided...

Giant Turkey Legs

9 giant turkey legs (one per person)
BBQ Sauce
In a large pot, place all turkey legs and cover with water.  Boil turkey legs until they are cooked and tender (approx. 45 minutes).  Remove legs from pot and place on the grill for approximately 10 minutes.  Baste with bbq sauce.

Corn on the Cob

Season corn with butter, salt, and pepper and wrap in tin foil.  Grill until done.

Crispy Seasoned French Fries

2½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
½ cup water, or as needed
1 cup vegetable oil for frying

Slice potatoes into French fries and place into cold water so they won’t brown while you prepare the oil. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  While the oil is heating, sift the flour, garlic salt, onion salt, (regular) salt, and paprika into a large bowl.  Gradually stir in enough water so that the mixture can be drizzled from a spoon.  Dip potato slices into the batter one at a time, and place in hot oil so they are not touching at first.  The fries must be placed into the skillet one at a time, or they will clump together.   Fry until golden brown and crispy.  Remove and drain on paper towels.

Funnel Cake

1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ¼ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

In a deep skillet, heat about 2 cups of oil over medium-high heat until hot.  Test the temperature by dropping a pinch of flour into the oil.  If it sizzles right away without smoking, it’s perfect.  Beat eggs and milk.  Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add the egg mixture, beating until smooth.  Using a funnel, drop into hot oil working from center outwards in a web pattern. (You may use a gallon size freezer bag instead of a funnel.)  Cook for about 2-3 minutes, remove from oil when golden brown and crispy. Sprinkle with powdered sugar right away and serve.

I never miss funnel cake when I go to the fair, and these were very easy to make.  Of course, you could just have guests eat the Ferris wheel centerpiece as your dessert.  Either way, this is a simple party and was a lot of fun.  Add some fair games if you want as well!

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