In 1986, Petey and I moved to the Heart of Carolina.
Over the next couple of years, we made a home, made friends, and made ourselves familiar with the area. And these two nomadic children of military men made a decision; we had found ourselves a forever home.
In 1988 we made our inaugural visit to the North Carolina State Fair.
Not long after we arrived on that crisp, sunny, fall day I realized that every day I’d spent before this day didn’t exist. Because my life hadn’t actually begun until I walked through those fairground gates and smelled the intoxicating perfume of roasting corn, sugar, and livestock, all set to the music of a John Deere-powered ice cream maker.
The fair became a family tradition. And time and familiarity did nothing to dim my passion. Each year, my anticipation grew greater, and my love stronger.
In 2015, four years after I began food writing, I began judging at the fair’s special food contests. These are the challenges organized by food companies and organizations (think House Autry and the NC Egg Association). In 2017, The Kid, who like me possesses an almost pathological attachment to the state fair, joined the judging stable.
This year, one of our assigned contests was sponsored by the N.C. Vegetable Growers Association. Coming in second was a quiche that I loved so much, I finished my entire slice; something I’ve never done in five years because if I did, I’d run out of stomach space well before we ran out of entrants.
Chaucer said that “April is the sweetest month.”
I have nothing against April. Heck, I was born in April, which means birthday cake.
But because there’s a nip in the air, Brach’s pumpkins are in stores, and most importantly, the N.C. State Fair is held, the month of October is sweeter than all of the Pappy’s root beer and Peachey’s doughnuts on the midway combined.
Thanks for your time.
Contact Debbie at email@example.com
Parmesan Crusted Fresh Veggie Quiche
1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 Tbsp. cold milk
Pulse flour, nuts, Parmesan cheese and salt in food processor until nuts are finely chopped.
Add butter and pulse until mixture’s crumbly. Drizzle milk and pulse until dough comes together. Form into a flattened ball and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate dough 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°. Roll dough into 12-inch circle on lightly floured surface and press into greased 10-inch tart pan. Freeze crust 10 minutes then press aluminum foil over bottom and sides of pan.
Bake for 30 minutes on baking sheet. Remove foil and set aside on cooling rack for 10 minutes.
Prep quiche ingredients while crust is baking. Increase oven temperature to 400°.
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
4 ounces chopped fresh mushrooms
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. apple juice
1 cup half and half
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Dash of ground red pepper
5 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
Sauté red pepper, onion, zucchini, and mushrooms in olive oil until tender. Add apple juice and cook until liquid’s absorbed, stirring often. Remove from heat.
Whisk together half and half, eggs and seasonings. Stir in mushroom mixture, spinach and swiss cheese.
Pour into prepared crust. Place thin slices of veggies in a decorative pattern on top if desired.
Bake on lowest oven rack at 400° for 35-40 minutes or until set.
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