Bierocks Rock – Nebraska

Americans love their hand-held meat pies. Michigan has the pasty, West Virginia has the pepperoni roll, and Nebraska has the bierock. (Let’s not even start with Central and South American empanadas or the Italian calzone). Just like pepperoni rolls, these savory buns were

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probably brought to the U.S. by Europeans, specifically Eastern Europeans who immigrated to the Midwest and Plains states beginning at the turn of the century until after WWII. Many of these people were farmers, as they found the land to be similar to their homeland. Bierocks filled the farmers’ lunch pails – they were easy to eat on the go and were filling. Bierocks (pronounced “brook” or Continue reading Bierocks Rock – Nebraska

Give Mama Some Sugar … Sugar Cream Pie – Indiana

Indiana is pie country and Hoosiers are serious about their pastry. In 2009, the Indiana legislature declared sugar cream pie — also called Hoosier pie — as the official state pie of Indiana. Pies of this type, also known as desperation pies, were created when folks had to make do with whatever ingredients they had on hand. This delicious Sugar Cream Piecustardy concoction of very unpretentious ingredients probably dates back to the 1850s and might have the Amish or Quakers to thank. Both groups historically have had strong representation in the state. Even today, Indiana has the world’s third largest population for Amish. Lots of variations of this pie exist, but we liked this recipe as the filling stays firm and tends not to weep. Yup, sometimes simple is best.

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The Pompatus of Pepperoni – West Virginia

Pepperoni rolls are to West Virginia as lobster is to Maine. What!? You’ve never heard of pepperoni rolls? A pepperoni roll is delicious soft dough, formed into a little loaf, baked with pepperoni and a little cheese inside.

Pepperoni RollsImmigrant baker Giuseppe Argiro, who opened the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, WV, may have been the first person to create the snack perhaps as early as 1927, although others claim it was not until the 1940s. The rolls were said to sustain the mostly-Italian coal miners who needed a portable, filling lunch to eat down in the mines. The Country Club Bakery is still in operation to this day and bakes between 250 and 900 rolls per day.

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Picka Pecka Pears – Oregon

As the official state fruit of Oregon, pears are one of the oldest cultivated fruits. Pears were probably brought to this part of the country by early colonists. They thrive in the Northwest due to ideal growing conditions which include volcanic soil, warm days and cool nights. Pears are the state’s number one tree fruit crop and Oregon

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is ranked second in the U.S. for fresh pear production, according to USA Pears. At only 100 calories each, the pear is a good source of vitamin C and provides almost a quarter of the daily value for fiber.

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A Race Day Favorite – Kentucky

Time to bust out your fancy hats, snappy suits and dresses, it’s Kentucky Derby season! Folks in Louisville (say it right, “Lew-a-vul”) have some menu favorites that will be part of the festivities – among them, mint juleps, Hot Browns (hot turkey club sandwiches with Mornay sauce), rolled oysters, and those little fancy cucumber sandwiches that are cut oh-so elegantly. The sweet finale often is a chocolate chip pecan pie flavored with a bit of Kentucky bourbon.

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A True Crabby Patty – Delaware

Delaware, the second smallest state area wise, obtained its nickname “the First State” due to the fact that it was the first of the 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution. Delaware is known for its stunning beaches, and whether noshing on Grotto Pizza or Thrasher’s Fries in Rehoboth, or grabbing a cone at King’s Ice Cream in Lewes, you must save room for crab cakes.

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While tourism generated $400 million in state and local government taxes/fees in 2010, the commercial blue crab fishery is also vital to Delaware’s economy, adding at least $7 million annually to the Delaware estuary region in 2005. While it’s fun to steam some blue crabs, roll out the butcher paper, grab your mallet and beer and get to picking, crab cakes fill your belly for a lot less work. Crab cakes from this part of the country are made with very little filler, just a bit Continue reading A True Crabby Patty – Delaware

Arkansas Rice Reigns

 

The Arkansas Delta is the sister region to the Mississippi Delta, both sharing an alluvial plain that is home to small rural towns, migratory birds, and large, flat tracts of farmland. One of the key crops grown on the Arkansas side is rice – that versatile grain that feeds a good portion of the world. A little more than a century ago, a farmer by the name of W.H. Fuller took a hunting trip to Louisiana where he saw rice growing. Thinking that the agricultural conditions in Arkansas would be quite similar, he brought the grain back, and is credited with starting the rice industry in the state. And a good job he did — because today, Arkansas is the leading producer of rice in the United States.AR & LA.003 sign

 

 

With so many ways to prepare rice, we opted to bring you a recipe that utilizes brown rice, which is a less processed whole grain without the husk. It retains the bran and germ layers, making it a Continue reading Arkansas Rice Reigns

Mississippi’s Mighty Fish

 Mississippi’s famed Delta region in the northwest section of the state is well known for its flat agricultural expanse, its home-grown blues music, and its whiskered (and very tasty) ambassador – the catfish. If you’ve never tried catfish, you’re missing out on one of the South’s most iconic foods. This quirky-looking freshwater swimmer is found on the menu in fish shacks and at family and community gatherings all throughout the South, and particularly in Mississippi, which is the nation’s largest producer of farm-raised catfish. For traditionalists, this fish is typically deep-fried in a cornmeal coating and served with hushpuppies and coleslaw, but it also can be easily broiled, grilled or baked. We opted to try out a recipe that serves up a heaping helping of flavor with the ease that comes from throwing a pan in the oven.

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This fish is so treasured in the state that the area around Humphreys County (including the town of Belzoni) is known as the Continue reading Mississippi’s Mighty Fish

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