August 23, 2014

Maryland

Statehood: April 28th, 1788 (7/50)

Since 1962 the official state sport of Maryland has been jousting. JOUSTING. As in - you get on your Chincoteague (a feral pony from this region of the world), I'll get on my Chincoteague, and we'll have them run full force at each other as we aim enormous lances at one another's hearts (which we'll probably do with a smile on our face, since the first dental school in the U.S. was located at the University of Maryland).

I'm now convinced, Marylanders, your state might be the coolest because of this.

I have no problem admitting that I knew very little of MD before today (except that legendary baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. was born there, played 21 seasons for the Orioles, and beat Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played!); for example, I had no idea that one of the state's nicknames was "America in Miniature" because Maryland has the unique distinction of being home to nearly every type of natural geographical feature found elsewhere within our country's border - topography like mountains, forests, dunes, coast, et cetera (everything except desert, really) can all be found here.

And now? We're mere moments away from mowing down on Maryland's magnificent morsels!


State Beverage: Milk

Maryland is one of around twenty states to name milk as their official state beverage. For MD, moo juice became a symbol on October 1st, 1998 because of the abundance of Holstein dairy cattle (those picturesque beauties with black and white spots). To celebrate the beverage, we're making beaten biscuits, a Maryland tradition...

Beaten Biscuits, aka The Hockey Puck of the Bread Kingdom
Makes: 18 biscuits

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup cold milk

Method:
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter (fingertips work well for this!). Slowly add the milk until a stiff ball of dough forms. On a floured VERY STURDY surface, dump the dough out and with a floured rolling pin beat the dough for 30 minutes. Beat until it's flat, fold in three, then beat until it's flat again. Eventually the skin of the dough will blister and crack. When it does, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch in thickness, then cut into small circles (note: I used the mouth of a mason jar to cut mine out). Prick each biscuit three times with a fork, then placed on an ungreased cookie sheet so that they're all touching each other. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with ham and whole grain mustard.


State Dessert: Smith Island Cake

Imagine cutting into a slice of cake and - much to your delight - finding eight to ten very thin, equally sized layers separated by a fudgey frosting (and maybe candy bar pieces, too!). That's Smith Island Cake and it was designated as the official state dessert of Maryland on April 24th, 2008 (though it didn't officially take until six months later on October 1st). The treat hails from Smith Island, MD. This is not as hard as you might think!

The Eight-Layers-of-Color Cake
Makes: one very enormous cake

Ingredients:
For the cake -
1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup vanilla soy milk
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
optional: food coloring (yellow, blue, red, green)
For the frosting -
5 to 6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup + 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
3 Tablespoons vanilla
1/4 cup chocolate soy milk

Method:
For the cake - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter eight 9-inch cake pans. Set aside. Mix the flour, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine the vanilla, vanilla soy milk, butter, and apple sauce. Pour batter - by the 1/2 cup full - into the cake pans (if there's any batter remaining, evenly distribute it amongst the eight pans). This is where you get to have fun if you're using food coloring! Make each layer a different color - i.e. in one pan, squirt red coloring, and mix gently to combine. Repeat seven times with your color preferences. Finish by baking four at a time in the oven (two on the top shelf, two on the bottom) for six minutes before rotating the top cakes to the bottom/the bottom to the top. Finish baking for another four minutes or until cakes are "golden" brown on the edges and have a spongey texture that retains shape when gently pressed. Remove. Repeat process with remaining four cakes. Remove. Let all eight cakes cool completely (at least twenty minutes) before removing from the pan.

For the frosting - With an electric mixer, combine the powdered sugar (starting with just four or five cups of powdered sugar - add more if you need it), cocoa powder, butter, vanilla, and soy milk until a smooth consistency has formed.

To assemble - On a cake stand or plate, spread a small amount of frosting. Place the first layer of cake so that it sticks to this and doesn't move. The icing process is really a matter of eyeballing and preference, so spread some icing (1/4 cup-ish or more) on top of that. Place the next layer of cake. Repeat process until you've run out of layers. Spread remaining icing evently all over the entire cake. Refrigerate for a couple hours before serving.


State Crustacean: Blue Crab

In 1989 the Blue Crab was designated the official state crustacean of Maryland because of their abundance in the Chesapeake Bay. The sideways walking critter's scientific name (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun - which translates to "beautiful, savory swimmer") was named after scientist Mary Jane Rathbun - the woman who discovered the species in the late nineteenth century. 

Decadent Crab-less Sandwich
Makes: 2 sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 box (8.8 oz) Sophie's Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes, thawed
4 slices of whole grain bread
optional: 2 slices of Havarti cheese
1 avocado, sliced
1 medium tomato, sliced
4 Lightlife's Smoky Tempeh Strips, fried and set-aside
1/4 cup Chipotle Vegenaise

Method:
In a skillet, heat the oil and gently place in the Sophie's Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes. Fry on each side for four to five minutes (or until a golden-hued crunch has formed on the patty). If you're using Havarti: put the four slices of bread on a cookie sheet, placing Havarti on two of the slices, and broil until bread is toasty and cheese is melty. If you're not using Havarti: toast bread per usual. To assemble: place sliced half of avocado on top of melted Havarti, top with two slices of tomato, top with two crab cakes, top with two (broken in half to make four pieces) Smoky Tempeh Strips. On remaining toasted bread, spread half the Chipotle vegenaise, and place sauce down on Tempeh strips. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make the second sandwich. Serve immediately.


Sources:
Maryland Kids Page: State Symbol
Maryland Manuel On-Line: State Symbols
Visit Maryland: State Symbols
Yingling, Connie. "Maryland State Foods." Message to the author. 16 Nov. 2013. E-mail.