Missouri State Fair 2017

I've been going to the Missouri State Fair since I was 3 years old. It's an annual event for me. I love the Fair, the people, the exhibits, sometimes the food. My favorite is the pineapple whip, which was sadly lacking this year.

The World's Greatest Carnival. At night with all the lights it's pretty amazing. Music everywhere, sometimes too much.
You have to be this tall to ride the rides! Try explaining that to a 3 year old boy!
I love this photo! There are rides for all ages. This kid will remember his father beside him on the Merry-Go-Round when he has kids of his own. I still remember my parents put me on the horse, then stood and watched from the side. This is better.
Great Tilt-a-Whirl, who wouldn't want to ride in a teddy bear's belly!
There's always plenty of fun, bizarre stuff to see. This guy obviously likes what he does.
The 146 lb prize watermelon from Deepwater, Missouri. And giant pumpkins and squashes and everything else in the Agriculture Building. I admit I skip over the corn displays, one ear looks pretty much like the next one, but I don't know anything at all about field corn.
I didn't ask but I'd guess this farm couple has been coming to the Fair longer than I have. Maybe I'll see the Fair that way some day, too.
Or atop the wagon pulled by the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. These huge horses used to be used for pulling enormous wagons and they almost went extinct, so I've been told, but the Budweiser folks are preserving the breed and show them all over the country especially at state fairs.
Farm equipment displays are always interesting. The newest tractors, combines, attachments and all that goes with them. This year one of the featured items was the robotic lawn mower. I didn't see it in action but did wonder if it will pick up all of my dog, Cricket's balls before it mows.
These budding farmers stopped for a rest on a John Deere Tractor wheel. From their gear it looks like they are attached to the John Deere brand.

Carol, who makes our Healthy Feet Soap and our excellent bug-repelling Bug Off bar, was there, too, with her soaps and products.
(You can find our soaps and other products on our website).
The 'velcro' teenagers, as I call them. At least one body part has to, at all times, be touching some body part of the girlfriend/boyfriend.
And that leads to... yet another young kid, being introduced to the Fair by his/her parents.
There are always corndogs (sausage on a stick, covered with batter and deep-fried, for readers in the UK and beyond). I skipped my annual corn dog this year, now I'm hungry for a corn dog with lots of mustard.
 Lemonade, corn dogs and red velvet funnel cakes. I'm not a fan of funnel cakes, and think adding a whole lot of red food coloring probably doesn't make them one bit better.

New this year are curly cones. Vanilla or chocolate. That curly J-shaped thing is a cone and when you order it, soft-serve ice cream is squeezed into the tube, filling it from top to bottom. I didn't have one of those, either. I'm pretty certain you can't eat both ends of the cone without one end or the other melting all over you.
Life is too short to drink cheap booze and argue with stupid people. An, youth. His attitude may change as he ages. Still, examining your standards at a young age isn't a bad thing.
The Fair is all about fun. It's a celebration of farming, of Missouri at its best, of what we raise and how we live. I look forward to a day at the Fair every year, to see and do and be, in a place I've visited for decades.
And a shady spot in the Highway Gardens is welcome, regardless of your age or place in life. This is 3 generations, the grandpa, father and son, all resting and getting ready for one more go at the Midway before heading home.
I had a short nap there, too, before heading back to explore more buildings, pig races, an ice cream cone and heading home.


Elephant Garlic Pie

Back in the 1980s, on a cold day in January I was preparing for the arrival of a newspaper reporter. She was coming to interview me to ask what was in the garden in that cold that month. When she had called a week earlier, she said she was looking for a garden story idea but assumed there was nothing still in the ground and maybe we could do a story on soil preparation. I explained that with our mild Ozarks winters, that yes, I did still have food growing in my garden. Carrots and leeks were still in the ground, lettuce, peas and spinach were growing in a cold frame. As is my custom when reporters come, I invited her for lunch, to taste a bit of the garden.

Elephant Pie

That day we dug carrots and picked lettuce and spinach for her photos. Those went into a salad, which I served with Elephant Pie. Elephant Garlic Pie, that is. I like elephant garlic as a vegetable, it has a mild, sweet flavor that works well in all sorts of dishes. Even steamed and buttered, it's delicious.

Elephant garlic, you may not know, was first introduced to the gardening world by our friends at Nichols Garden Nursery in 1941. (Someone later gave Luther Burbank credit, but the documentation is clear, the first elephant garlic, along with the name, started with Nichols Garden Nursery in Albany, Oregon.

Areas of the famous Willamette Valley, known for its mild climate and amazingly fertile soil, was settled partly by immigrants from Czechoslovakia and Northern Yugoslavia. Mr. Nichols discovered that some of these folks were growing a gigantic variety of garlic, mild in flavor and vastly different from any garlic he had ever seen. The immigrants had brought this unusual garlic with them from the Old Country. He purchased 12 pounds as seed stock in 1941 and began cultivating it. When he finally had enough to sell, he began advertising in newspapers and magazines. In 1953 he gave it the name, elephant garlic. Back then, he was the only one selling it and when you ordered elephant garlic from Nichols, in your order you received a little pamphlet with growing and storing instructions. He sold elephant garlic across the U.S., Canada and to many places overseas.
The original pamphlet that accompanied orders, in 1953
I just planted my elephant garlic this past week from some I ordered from Nichols. I prefer to plant it in September, but things were too busy this year. I've actually planted it as late as the first of December and it has done well, thanks to our fairly mild winters here. Next summer, probably about mid to late June, my elephant garlic will be ready to dig. You can still order some for planting from Nichols. I've seen it in the produce department of several grocery stores if you want to get some to cook, but to get a start to grow, of the original, authentic elephant garlic, order from Nichols. (Every other nursery or seed company that sells elephant garlic, can trace their original sources back to Nichols). Here's my Elephant Garlic Pie recipe. It's like a quiche and you can add a regular pie crust if you wish, but I usually make mine crust-less because it cuts down a bit on the carbohydrates and fat.

Elephant Garlic Pie
5-6 cloves elephant garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
4 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 cup diced, thinly-sliced ham (leave it out if you don't eat meat)
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
1/4 teaspoon any brand hot sauce
2 green onions, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Saute the sliced elephant garlic in olive oil or butter until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Beat the eggs and milk together; add the cooking sherry, hot sauce, green onions and salt and pepper. 
  4. In a oiled pie plate, layer the garlic, cheese, spinach and ham, then pour the egg mixture over. Dust with a bit of paprika if desired.
  5. Bake until a knife inserted comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let set for 5 minutes before serving.
Nichols Garden Nursery also is the source of my favorite sour dough starter. Mr. Nichols got the start in the late 1940s from a friend who'd been a logger in Alaska. They sell it in powdered form and you mix it with your own bread flour and get it started. We make 2 loaves of sourdough bread a week here at the farm. Sourdough bread is considerably easier for diabetics to eat and Nichols' starter is the best tasting I've ever had. (I don't care for the San Francisco sourdough breads, they're too, well, sour, for me, but Nichols' Oregon Pioneer starter tastes lots better). Here are a couple of recent loaves of sourdough bread we've made.

Freshly-baked sourdough bread is simply delicious!


Dried Apple Zucchin Pie

Our zucchini plants are still producing great lots of squashes. The late August planting that I've started doing in recent years works way, way better than spring planting. The pest-bugs are almost non-existent and we can barely keep up with using what 5 plants produce. One year I made sweet pickles, using my mother's 7-day sweet pickle recipe, substituting zucchini instead of cucumbers and it worked very nicely. But this is my first time to use zucchini in apple pie.

Dried Apple-Zucchini Pie
Our friends, Betty and Dennis, were coming for dinner last week. The menu was simple - beef stew, homemade biscuits and pie. The reason the photo is half a pie, is because I forgot to take the photo until after we'd all had a piece. Everyone agreed my experimental recipe was worth keeping, so here it is for you to try. You could use fresh apples, but the dried apples were convenient. If you use fresh apples, be sure to add additional flour to the recipe.

Dried Apple-Zucchini Pie

4 cups of dried apples (we got ours from the Amish Store)
2 cups thinly-sliced zucchini
1 1/2 cups apple juice or water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 rolled-out pie crusts

Combine the apples and apple juice or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add the zucchini slices and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Add the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and flour to the apple-zucchini mixture and stir to dissolve sugar.

Line a pie plate with one rolled-out pie crust, then fill with the apple-zucchini mixture. Dot the top with butter. Moisten the edges of the pie crust, then place the second crust on top and crimp to seal the edges.

Brush the top of the pie crust with half and half or milk, then sprinkle the top with sugar. Cut slits for the steam to escape. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let pie sit for about an hour before serving.


Jim Long's Garden: Bear Creek Reunion 2015

Jim Long's Garden: Bear Creek Reunion 2015

Bear Creek Reunion 2015

I haven't been to the Bear Creek Reunion since I was about 17 years old. My grandmother Harper, who never drove a car, asked me to take her to the Reunion one year. So it was fun to reconnect with the few people who I know there, and meet lots and lots of new people who are all my relatives. Following here is a short tour of what I think is a kind of amazing place. It's a church that was founded by several families including my own (Garrison, Harper & Wisner ancestors) along with Johnstons and others). Founded in 1856, this Methodist church remains active, alive and thriving today.
Bear Creek Methodist Church, est. 1856.
Inside the church.

One of the original pews that was saved from the remodeling some years back. 

Behind the church is the cemetery, well-maintained, with many of my relatives buried there.

Surrounding the church and cemetery is almost a park, old oak trees for shade. At the edge of the grounds is a band shell/stage with words over it, "Make a Joyful Noise." It is the spot of weekend music from time to time - there is even a Bear Creek Band from time to time. People bring their lawn chairs and listen to the local musicians who come to play.
Under the shade of the park-like setting is a very long table, permanent, for reunions, family dinners and their annual pig roast and fish fry - both of which are fundraisers that go to help local, needy families. For the annual Reunion, this table, probably 60 or 80 feet long and 4 feet wide, is almost groaning with food. My family likes to eat!
Food of every description and kind.
Yes, real fried chicken! Barbecued ribs, chicken and noodles.
I lost count of the desserts but 20 or 25 kinds. More than anyone could sample all of, but some tried!

To prove our family likes picnics, potlucks, food in general, here's my great grandfather, George Washington Garrison, about 1930 with my aunts, uncles and others, gathered around a picnic.
Yes, note, all my relatives have plates and food in their hands!
After lunch, people visited, milled around, shared photos, stories.

Musicians played. Music is always a big part of any reunion at Bear Creek Church.

John and Minerva Wisner
John and Minerva Wisner
John Adam and Lora Wisner 1836-1907
Harpers, 3 generations. My grandfather, James Edward Harper is center, back, age 16.

Three of Richard Garrison's sons, circ 1846-1850
Being at Bear Creek Reunion was a very satisfying and reassuring experience. Almost every person there was related in some way. Nearly all of us descend from the Wisner, Harper, Garrison, Cassity or related families. We all share DNA, we are all descended from the early pioneers, and every one of our ancestors came as immigrants from another country.


Buy Garden Seed, Helps Kids Gardening

School Gardens Teach Kids about Food and Where it Comes From

A few of the 500 kids in one of their 3 gardens at school.
Since it's seed-ordering season, if you are going to order garden seed, consider ordering some of your seed through my website. On my home page, scroll down to the bottom and on the left you'll see this button:
We raised $465 from Renee Shepherd, from people who ordered her seed through our website, all of that money going directly to the kids' garden project.        Thank you to all who ordered!
Kids gardening is important! When kids learn how to grow plants, learn where their food comes from and how to prepare healthy meals, they learn skills that will stay with them for their entire life. I've written about the amazing kids' garden project at the magnet school in Jonesboro, Arkansas, several times before. (Click here to see an earlier post and more photos). And here for the story about cooking with the kids in their amazing kitchen. But I thought you might like a reminder that this project is always struggling to find enough money for seed, soil and other supplies the kids need.

Learning to weed and identify the edible plants.
For 3 years we've had a button on our website, "Buy Seed, Help Kids." It's a project whereby you can order garden seed from Reneesgarden.com, for your own garden, and Renee Shepherd generously donates 25% of the revenue from your order, back to the school! It's a wonderful project. Unfortunately we only raise about $25 a year for the school. I don't know if people don't find the link, or don't want to order seed, but if you go to our website, LongCreekHerbs.com; here's the button you will see on the left side:

The lower left corner on our home page has the Help Children-Buy Seeds button. When you click on that, you are directed to a page with a code to enter when you place your order at Renee's Garden Seed You can order seed for your spring garden and when you order, it will count toward a donation for the kids' garden project, and you will receive outstanding seed.

Renee Shepherd, owner reneesgarden.com
Renee Shepherd donates to a wide variety of children's garden projects, both in the United States and in other countries. That's why we are so pleased to partner with her in helping this garden in Jonesboro, Arkansas. If you have not visited her website, please do so, her seed selections are outstanding and I grow many in my gardens each season.

To visit Renee's Garden website, go to our website at Long Creek Herbs, and click on the Help Children- Seeds button.  You'll find the link to Renee's Seeds website, look around and see if you aren't tempted by her spring seed offerings. Then when you order, use our code (it's in the instructions you'll see), so that she can make a donation to this wonderful project. Then, you will know that more kids, like this boy, below, can experience for the first time in their life, the taste and smell of a chive blossom and learn how to fix a meal using fresh herbs and vegetables right out of the garden.
I hope you'll consider ordering seed from Renee Shepherd, she has outstanding varieties you won't find anywhere else. And when you order, won't you do it through my website so the kids get credit? Thank you!
This was his first time smelling or tasting chives!