It’s no secret that I love food history. And if you know me well, you also know that I love the Iowa State Fair. So when I heard of the “Kenmore Honored Harvest Time Recipes” competition at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday, August 10, I was jumping up and down with my hand in the air to get involved.

This competition is right up my alley – as part of Kenmore’s 100-year anniversary, they’re visiting state fairs across the country to look for the best heritage recipes. Each recipe must contain at least three fresh, local ingredients as well as an explanation of what makes it special and gives it that “heritage” appeal. Whether it’s a hundred-year-old recipe passed down through generations, something you found scribbled in the back of a cookbook you picked up at an estate sale, or a new recipe developed in collaboration with your best friend, this competition is all about the story behind the recipes.

Those historical elements and local focus are the same qualities that draw me to my own favorite foods and restaurants. If given the choice, I’ll always opt for simple, fresh dishes that are firmly rooted in tradition over the soulless, trendy, avant-garde stuff that seems to be in fashion in some culinary circles.

Heirloom comfort foods and dishes with some connection to history or a specific special person seem to retain that history in every bite. Maybe that’s why I enjoy them so much. It goes beyond just the flavor and touches one’s emotions.

On that note, I’m excited to announce that Kenmore has brought me on board to host and judge this year’s competition! The State Fair cooking contests are my favorite events to judge; they’re always full of everyday recipes with history attached to them – a priceless collection from some of the heartland’s best cooks.

I’m already imagining all the unique dishes I’ll be able to see and taste there at the fairgrounds – and all the great stories of what makes each unique. Kenmore has already selected the competitors and has identified some pretty incredible prizes:

  • A Kenmore kitchen appliance makeover worth $5,000
  • A three day/two night trip package for two people to the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival
  • The chance to have a recipe featured in the Kenmore 100th Anniversary cookbook.

Even if you’re not part of the competition, you can still be in on the fun. Visit by August 1 and share your own recipe; for each submission, Sears will make a $5 donation to Heroes at Home to support military families.

If you’ve never been to, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s an online food site committed to quality recipes, built with community interaction and passed on through you. A few of my favorites currently posted are the “corned beef hash grown-up grilled cheese” and the “nacho mama’s chorizo casserole” – the ultimate in comfort food!

You can use the site to add your favorite recipes, create specialized cookbooks, browse the recipe library from celebrity and home chefs alike, and watch step-by-step recipe videos. There are some pretty cool tools, too, like a grocery list generator that will make sure you have everything you need to make your favorite dishes.

The thing I love most about the site is that each recipe is accompanied by a little story; maybe it’s how the recipe was created, where it came from, or some other little fact about the food. Often times, the recipes are long-time family favorites passed from one person to another.

So dust off those old family recipes, log on to and join me on August 10th at the Iowa State fair for Kenmore’s “Honored Harvest Time Recipe” competition. Hope to see you there!

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