Ohio State Fair blue ribbon winner

Linda Conway Eriksson - Contributing Columnist

June, July and August are the halcyon days of summer. When I was a child, school ended by Memorial Day and started again the first full week after Labor Day. We had three whole months of freedom in the summer, plus a little on both ends. I’m always surprised at how soon the Fourth of July comes around now. It’s the middle of summer before I have time to get used to the longer days.

None of the other three seasons behaves like summer. It seems like forever that you wait for it, it comes and there it goes! I’m convinced summer lasts about two months at the most. Seems like spring is over in a month and a half — so is fall. If you don’t believe me, just think about how hot those first two or three OSU football games are and how cold it is sitting up in the stands for the last home game.

Seriously where does summer go?

So, if summer’s really just two months, and spring and fall are about a month and a half each that would leave us with seven months to fill. Who better to do that than Old Man Winter?

My math must be right. Remember how early winter sneaked in last year? And how long it took to leave? If you lived in Boston, Massachusetts, last winter would have made a believer of you. One mountain of snow, ice and debris piled up by the city’s snow plows took well into July to melt, leaving a pile of assorted detritus 20 feet high. That was extreme weather, even for New England. But that’s winter (and it really does seem like it’s seven months long).

While it’s summertime, and fair season, let’s enjoy it. The 2015 Ohio State Fair is upon us. Ten whole days of rides, carnival games, critters, concerts, and 30 different kinds of food on a stick (it’s true!).

Let’s think about that fair food — the blue ribbon kind. I enjoyed judging contest food at the Ohio State Fair for years. My favorites were the Spam contest (mostly just for the fun of it) and the pies for the wonderful flavors of the varied fillings. We have some fine cooks in Ohio. Among them, Julie Gonzalez from Okeana, in Butler County, whose blackberry pie won a blue ribbon in 2011 for the Pillsbury pie contest.

Try this winning recipe, and make two while you’re at it. Freeze one to pull out and bake during the short, cold days of February and you’ll taste summertime all over again.

Following is her recipe.


1 baked Pillsbury pie shell (single crust)

1 cup cold water

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons white corn syrup

1.4 ounce package Royal brand blackberry flavored gelatin mix (see cook’s notes)

Drops of blue food coloring

4 cups fresh blackberries

Whipped topping

Fresh blackberries for garnishing

Unroll one Pillsbury crust. Place in a 10-inch tart pan. Trim edges. Prick bottom of shell with tines of a fork. Bake according to package directions. Cool completely.

Mix together water and cornstarch in a pan over low heat. Add sugar and corn syrup. Stir constantly; cook until mixture is thick and clear.

Remove from heat. Add gelatin and several drops of food coloring. Cool. Gently mix in the blackberries.

Pour mixture into the pie shell. Chill several hours before serving.

Garnish the pie with whipped topping and fresh blackberries.

Cook’s notes: If using Jell-O brand gelatin, use 4 tablespoons of the gelatin mix. Julie Gonzalez says that you can substitute other fresh fruit for the blackberries, using the flavor of gelatin that matches the fruit (and food coloring, if desired).

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at ieatatmoms@gmail.com.


Linda Conway Eriksson

Contributing Columnist