Iowa Butter Cow Print

I recently finished another state themed block print – this time in homage to our current state of Iowa.  We don’t have a catch phrase like y’all to work with, so I went with something the state fair theme.  I know that plenty of states have state fairs, but I promise you, they have NOTHING on the Iowa State Fair.

This is the Artist’s Proof run.  I always make sure I do one of these when I think I am nearing completion of a print.  This way, I can catch any mistakes or make any last minute changes.  I noticed this time around that I did not cross my t’s on butter.  I also decided to cut away more of the background in the state of Iowa.  
Prints and artwork are always for sale, please inquire by e-mail or through my Etsy shop, which is currently empty.  If you are interested in purchasing something you have seen on this blog, I will create a custom listing for you.  

Rebecca’s Zucchini Bread

It is still zucchini season!  Here is one of my all-time favorite zucchini recipes for you – named after the friend of my mom’s that the recipe comes from.  It’s moist and dense with a sprinkling of crunchy sesame seeds on top.

I made a double batch the other day and gave some away.  However, I committed a cardinal sin in baking and did not taste it before giving it away.  I thought it was a tad on the dry side – I am still trying to figure out my new oven.  Sorry if yours were at all dry like mine were!

The liquids will foam like this.  I substitute half the sugar for coconut sugar in this recipe.

The final loaves will have a nice dark crust on them.  Give them time to cool at least a little – it’s easier to slice them then.

In other news, we have been to the Iowa State Fair twice in the last two days.  This year’s theme is Happiness is….The Iowa State Fair.  It nice living here and not trying to cram it all in to a few days as we did last year.

We went to an Iowa State Fair Party on Friday night and these were the cute table centerpieces.  

 Greta was eager to pet the dairy cows outside the Dairy Barn, which have the best milkshakes!

 It’s  been ages since I was last at the fair after dark.  This Iowa Craft Beer tent has been a fun addition to the more recent fairs.

 The Midway was lit up with lights and over primped teenagers.

 The Tilt-A-Whirl, is it bad that I cannot remember if I even like that ride?  It makes me feel old to wonder that…

We went a second time this morning and hit up more of the buildings.  The 4H building is always one of my favorites.  If you know my sister and my maiden names look for a brick with our names on it on the ground outside this building.  We both put in 9 rewarding years of 4H.

 Greta, as always enjoyed the tractors.  She was nearing nap melt-down here though, and screaming, “Mommy, no cheese!’ at me.  As in, no, I will NOT smile for you.

We found Madagascar hissing cockroaches at the DNR building.  Greta let me hold them but refused to touch them herself.  She did pet the tarantula though and was very proud of that moment.

Hope you can make it to the Iowa State Fair, but if not, check back for more fun 2013 Iowa State Fair moments in the days to come.

Rebecca’s Best Zucchini Bread – 2 loaves

1. Mix 1 cup oil, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 3 eggs3 teaspoons maple flavoring or maple syrup together in a bowl until mixture is thick and foamy.

2. Shred 2 cups of zucchini and add to sugar mixture.  Stir well.

3.  Mix together 2 ½ cup flour, ½ cup wheat germ, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon baking powder.

4.  Make a well in dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and stir until blended.  Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.  Pour batter into pans.  Sprinkle tops of loaves with ⅓ cup sesame seeds.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Cool 10 minutes in pans and then remove.  Slice when cool. 

Iowa State Fair

Is this Heaven? No, Iowa. 
We went to the Iowa State Fair on two separate days.  Both days were beautifully cool.  Here is a sampling of our fun. 

We ate caramel apples, 
egg on a stick, 

milkshakes,

ice, 

veggie corn dogs, 
Iowa craft beer, 

honey lemonade,

cinnamon rolls, 

and Bauder’s peppermint ice cream sandwiches. 
Edibles we saw but did not eat were: deep fried candy, 

the butter cow, Snow White, and her Seven Dwarfs, 

a slab of bacon, 

deep fried butter, 

pork chop on a stick, 

a huge chocolate moose, 

prize-winning jelly, 

salad on a stick, 

double bacon corn dogs, 

chicken (or beef?), 

and the biggest pumpkins. 
Livestock we saw were: dairy cows, 

calves, 

crowing roosters, 

pygmy goats, 

the biggest boar, 

we saw that Greta is no where near the size of the biggest boar, 

we saw Greta is also nowhere near the size of Jake, the biggest horse, 

We saw kids playing tricks on people in the horse barn, 

We saw tanks of Iowa fish, 

some I had never heard of before, 

we saw a farmer and his pig, 

Iowa ostrich association, 

a cow leaking water, 

chickens, 

and geese.  
We things uniquely Iowa State Fair-ish: onion petal flowers, 
dairy farmer cut-outs, 
a bus ride from the state capitol building, 
a tractor tram, 

4H exhibits, 

a 4H tattoo, 

a local potter, 

a bicycle that powers light bulbs, 

a vegetarian stand, 

double Ferris wheel,

the Ring of Fire, 

a tornado chaser (shudder), 

big tractors, 

funny tractors, 

tractor wheels, 

a mural about tractors, 

Back to the Future car made from canned goods, 

the sky ride, 

rhinestone ice cream cone, 

the big slide, 

the line for the butter cow, 

a wax corn, 

model of the tallest ever corn stalk, 

a really tall windmill, 

corn ice cream, 

award ice cream, 

Little Bo Peep, 

a dog peeing on a classic car, 

and lots of Iowans.  

Iowa State Fair season

Having grown up in Iowa, in 4H, this time of year is a very special time.  This time of year the days are hot and seem to stretch on forever, yet somehow they still magically slip by until the first day of school hits you like a an alarm clock going off.  Then, sweet relief it is autumn.  The hot stretch between summer and school is State Fair time.  Even before the State Fair a 4Her must endure county fair. 

For nine years of my life I spent my summer days gearing up for the county fair in July, sewing prom dresses, sewing Halloween costumes, matting drawings, developing photographs, testing recipes, grooming cats, refinishing chairs, and typing writing typing.  The night before each county fair is perhaps my favorite memory of spending time with my sister.  We shared the kitchen on that long night, trying to bake all of our exhibition goods before dawn.  In order to have the freshest baked goods, we had to do most of the baking the night before which often meant the two of us up well past coherency sharing the same oven with my parents laying awake upstairs listening to us giggling, sifting, mixing, slamming oven doors, and giggling.  

Each project had to have an accompanying set of goals, things one did to reach those goals, then an evaluation as to how successful one was with said goals, and what one planned to do with the same project the following fair.  Thus, 4H was the single best activity in preparing me for college applications, coursework in college, and the real world: teaching.  I learned more about my strengths and weaknesses through 4H than I ever did in in any other venue.  Sorry school, 4H was just more my style, it was more independent.  That topic however, is an entirely different blog entry.  

The county fair was the culmination of the prior year’s blood, sweat and tears which always happened to fall on some of the hottest, un-airconditioned days that I can remember.  Our county fair was held on the State Fair grounds due to being in Polk County and so we were in the State Fair 4H building every July, sitting on long benches with projects in our laps, eying each others’ work, making judgments as to the degree of parental help each 4Her had, trying to stay cool with only fans to help, and waiting.  Waiting most often came in the form waiting to be called to speak one on one with one of the judges.  If you were in line for baking or sewing you always hoped for the youngest judge in the section.  The older judges would look for threads that hadn’t been trimmed, seams that were a little wobbly, or inevitably find the one lump of baking soda that hadn’t been sifted in the entire batch of muffins.

Then judge would read your statements, look over your final project, touching every seam, looking at your matting, lifting glasses to look at the graininess of your photograph all the while asking you questions about your process, goals, challenges, how you overcame your challenges, would you do it again, how did you decide to do this, what made you go back and change that….  If it was a baked good being examined, the judge would finally slice your beautiful object, take a taste, examine the texture, look at it from all sides and tell you how it tasted.  I always felt the worst for these judges, I am sure they ate some awful things during their time at the county fair.  

After this entire exhausting and fulfilling process, the judge would tell you the ribbon awarded and write it on your entry tag attached to your object.  Each entry was $1 to enter and depending on your ribbon status, you earned money.  This was the incentive, the more you entered, the more money could could make.  For most kids this 4H program made a ton of sense: So if I do well and work hard, I can make money!?!  Why isn’t school this way?

4Hers could earn a blue, red, or white ribbon at the county fair with blue being the most valuable.  However, if one’s project stood out amongst the others, it was often chosen for consideration for State Fair and these were big beautiful green ribbons.  I know that I had more than one project chosen for State Fair, but the one that stands out for me was my senior prom dress, due to the French seams, the countless hours cursing over the sewing machine, and the final hemming done only mere hours before my date picked me up.  This was by far the most thing I have ever sewn, and unlike anything ever purchased, it fit me like a glove.  I was more proud of this project than any other 4H thing I had done.  Seeing it displayed in the State Fair was better than anything I could have asked for as my final 4H summer.  

These memories are some of my favorite growing up in Iowa memories, I spent nine years in 4H an eventually the monetary incentives of 4H gave way to a feeling of confidence that I could accomplish my goals and could be self-sufficient.  My mom sent me a link today, of a girl who turned her ribbons into a dress, that brought all these memories back.  I was in awe of this dress and vividly remember my own struggles with the sewing machine, sweating, and wishing I had chosen to make muffins instead.  I included some shots of my proudest sewing project below:

Me in my senior prom dress with my friend Martha.  She is very creative with hairstyles and did my hair for this dance.
Day of prom, finished hemming hours before this photo was taken.  
At the Iowa State Fair, senior year of high school, ready to model my prom dress.  The tractor background was a nice touch.