Don’t cry baby, it’s sweet onion season. Walla Walla sweet onions became Washington’s official state vegetable in 2007 thanks to a dedicated group of junior high students who lobbied the state legislature. A soldier named Peter Pieri is credited with bringing sweet onion seeds to Washington from the island of Corsica in the
1880s. Sweet onions have a very low amount of pyruvic acid which is the compound that makes you cry and gives onions their pungent bite. This favored allium is also 95 percent water which means they have to be harvested by hand as they are much more delicate than their regular onion brethren. Their shelve life is shorter too, usually only available from mid-June to late August.
Continue reading Onion Funion – Washington
When we think of Maryland, we think of water. From the stunning Eastern Shore beaches, to Baltimore Harbor, to capital of Annapolis (hello, Navy), the ocean plays a major role in the culture and pleasure of residents. With good reason too; the Chesapeake Bay nearly bisects the state and most of the waterways in the state are part of the bay watershed.
Smack in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay sits Smith Island, accessible only by ferry. This small community of only a few villages boasts big about its most famous export, Smith Island Cake. This scrumptious confection consists of eight to 10 ultra-thin layers of yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting between each and was declared the state dessert of Maryland in 2008.
Continue reading We Were Told There Would be Cake: Smith Island Cake – Maryland
Georgia is a state chock-full of agricultural “P’s” – pecans, peanuts, poultry and its official state fruit, the beloved peach. It may surprise you that the peach received this designation only as recently as 1995 – even though its history in the state dates back to the 1500s, when Franciscan monks who had first planted peach trees in Florida brought them north to what is today coastal Georgia. We’re glad
Continue reading Just Plain Peachy Keen – Georgia
Yes, we will admit, we are smitten with the mitten – the state of Michigan, that is (look at a map of the state if you don’t get the mitten reference). The whole state is crazy for cherries, but tart cherries are a whole ‘nother story. Michigan is the top producer of tart cherries in the country, with 217 million pounds produced in 2013 according to the USDA.
Besides being delish, tart cherries are good for you. Studies link tart cherries with soothing inflammation and arthritis symptoms, easing muscle pain after a workout and enhancing sleep, according to the Cherry Marketing Institute. Continue reading Tart Cherries are so Very – Michigan
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
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
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 custardy 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.
Continue reading Give Mama Some Sugar … Sugar Cream Pie – Indiana
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.
Immigrant 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.
Continue reading The Pompatus of Pepperoni – West Virginia
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
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.
Continue reading Picka Pecka Pears – Oregon
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.
Continue reading A Race Day Favorite – Kentucky
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.
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