When I was a kid, every summer over the Fourth of July, the Jubilee, a carnival, came to my hometown of Bryan in Northwest Ohio. It set up around the courthouse square in the middle of town. This was big time fun! Streets were closed down and the town was overtaken by four blocks of excitement: rides, cotton candy, funnel cakes, carnie hawkers, games, and, for the winners, the biggest stuffed animals ever. Kid heaven. The Jubilee was all excitement, mystery, and magic.
When I was little it was all about the pony rides: Shetland ponies hitched to a wheel of metal spokes. My mom would take me in the afternoon and watch me ride round and round. I can still smell the ponies, the saddle, and the wood shavings they walked on.
My friends and I could go to “the Jube” together without adult supervision and stay after dark, when the fun really started. The lights came on and the rides sped up. “The Spider” was my favorite. More round and round, sitting in buckets with a friend this time, spinning and spinning.
And the food! There were all kinds of treats to tempt you. I loved the cotton candy most. I was fascinated watching the machine spin, producing feathery wisps of pink and blue sugar. It was gathered up, wrapped around a paper cone and still warm when you ate it. I loved cotton candy so much that one birthday my parents gave me my own cotton candy machine!
My other favorite food was creamed chicken sandwiches. I think of this as a local favorite, a Bryan specialty. A local group, a church or civic club, would make and serve them. I loved them and could eat two easily.
The Jubilee still comes to town, but not over the Fourth anymore, and the kids still love it. My son, MM, and I were there this summer. We got to share a night at the Jube together. We ate creamed chicken sandwiches, and I swiped some of his cotton candy. It’s nice to know the magic still happens.
I no longer have my cotton candy machine, but I have made my own recipe for creamed chicken sandwiches. I’m pleased to say MM and his friends are big fans.
Creamed Chicken Sandwiches
Makes 4 sandwiches
1 cup cooked chicken*, chopped or pulled
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup crushed crackers, saltines or Ritz
1 tablespoon cream**
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce***
Place the chicken, chicken stock, and crackers in a small skillet or small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until the chicken begins to fall apart and the crackers have softened and blended into the sauce. Add water if the mixture seems too dry. Stir in the cream and soy sauce. Cook a bit longer if it seems too thin, or add water if seems too thick. You want it creamy but not soupy. Serve and enjoy!
*I’m sure that in Bryan canned chicken is used for this recipe. But I like to use fresh dark meat that I poach. Then I have the poaching stock to make the creamed chicken. White meat works as well.
**I’ve never seen a recipe for creamed chicken from Bryan that had cream in it. The “creamed” in Bryan creamed chicken refers to the creamy texture, but I like a bit of real cream in my creamed chicken.
***Recipes from Bryan use Worcestershire sauce, but the taste reminds me of hamburgers. When I was a kid, I think my mom added a bit of Worcestershire to her burger meat. So I replaced the Worcestershire with soy sauce.