Tuesday, May 22, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Dan Neman

State fair contests on the horizon

The Ohio State Fair is more than just rides and award-winning cows. It’s also contests. Lots and lots of contests.

You know about the hard-fought contests for best pies and best jams. But you might be less familiar with the cupcakes and cake pops competition, the Ultimate Breakfast Challenge, and the best-cheesecake contest (the name of which, it pains me to say, is “Smile and Say Cheesecake!). These three competitions are being presented, separately and in concert, by the Ohio Poultry Association and the American Dairy Association Mideast.

This year’s fair will be held July 24 through Aug. 4 in Columbus, but the entry deadline for all three contests is June 20.

The cupcakes and cake pops competition will be held at 1 p.m. on July 24. The amateur division will have four classes: chocolate cupcakes, white/vanilla cupcakes, any other flavor of cupcakes, and cake pops (those round cake things on lollipop sticks that are so popular these days). Each recipe must be homemade and must use three or four eggs (whites and/or yolks).

The Smile and Say Cheesecake! (ouch, ouch, ouch) contest will be July 26 at 3 p.m. This contest will have three categories: savory, sweet, and individual cheesecakes. Each cheesecake must include at least four Ohio eggs and what the organizers are calling “real dairy” products (those are their quotation marks, not mine). Each cheesecake will be judged on its taste (50 percent), creativity (20 percent), its appearance and presentation (20 percent), and whether its ingredients and procedures have been written correctly, whatever that means (10 percent).

After local celebrities compete in the Ultimate Breakfast Challenge on Aug. 3 at 10 a.m., non-celebrities will get a chance to cook against each other. They will be given a mystery basket of ingredients — including Ohio eggs and dairy products, of course — and will have 30 minutes to whip up the ultimate breakfast.

To enter any of these competitions, visit www.OhioStateFair.com and click on “competitions” and then click on “cooking, baking and decorating.”

Incidentally, though apropos of nothing, the Ohio Poultry Association would like you to know that Ohio ranks second in the nation (behind Iowa — boo! hiss!) in producing eggs, with more than 7.6 billion each year. Meanwhile, the American Dairy Association Mideast wants you to be aware of the fact that, with 605 million gallons of milk each year, Ohio ranks 11th in the nation in milk production — and first in the nation in making Swiss cheese.

We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1!

Urban farming

With urban farming so popular these days, the Ohio State University Extension is holding a couple of free workshops to teach people the fundamentals of raising your own bees and produce in cities.

(Actually, there was a third workshop about raising chickens in urban environments, too, but they got us the information about that one after deadline).

The Central Ohio Beekeepers Association will hold an introductory workshop, paying special attention to the needs of urban beekeepers, on June 15 from 9 a.m.-noon. Mike Hogan of the OSU Extension, will discuss good agricultural practices for urban producers of fruit, vegetables, and other food items, on July 13 from 9-11 a.m. Both workshops will be at the Godwin Guild, 303 E. 6th St., in Columbus. To RSVP, send an email to localmattersintern@gmail.com.

Kuchen contest

Get out your cake pans, load up on butter, and dust off your drindl. The German American Festival is back in town.

Actually, it’s not coming back until Aug. 23-25. What some people consider the very best part of the festival, the German baking contest, will be Aug. 24 at 3:30 p.m., and the people that run the contest think it is a good idea now to start thinking about what you may want to submit. This year’s category will be Kuchen, and if you don’t know what Kuchen is, maybe you shouldn’t be competing in a German baking contest.

(Note: It’s cake. Kuchen is cake. German cakes, of course, are what the judges will be looking for.)

For more information, call Diane Schmidt at 419-693-8343.

Uncool beans

From the I Seriously Had No Idea About That file comes this possibly important tidbit: If you don’t cook dry red kidney beans properly, they can make you sick.

Dry red kidney beans contain phytohaemagglutinin, which is now my favorite Scrabble word ever. Also called PHA, though isn’t nearly as much fun to say, phytohaemagglutinin is a type of protein that, at high levels, can be toxic. It is found in high levels in raw red kidney beans, but those levels drop off to next to nothing when they are cooked. All other beans, including white kidney beans, also contain the protein, but in much lower and safer doses.

Eating even just a few improperly cooked red kidney beans can lead to vomiting, followed by diarrhea. Most people feel better about three to four hours after the symptoms begin, or just about when they would start to think about calling a doctor.

Avoiding the problem is easy, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Soak the beans first for at least five hours (changing the water is a good idea, but it is not necessary for safety). Drain the beans from the final soaking water and boil them in fresh water for at least 30 minutes. Although the toxin is actually destroyed when boiled for 10 minutes, the FDA recommends boiling them the full 30 minutes to make sure all parts of the bean reach the proper temperature for the proper amount of time.

And don’t worry about those red kidney beans in cans. They are already cooked.

Items for Morsels may be submitted up to two weeks before an event to food@theblade.com.

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