May 25, 2015

Oregon

Statehood: February 14th, 1859 (33/50)

When I tell people I'm from Portland they almost always assume Oregon. When I tell them I'm not, and that our Portland came first... they almost always think I'm kidding. I am not. Portland, Oregon was named after Portland, Maine - and, actually, a coin was flipped when it came time to name the west coast town. The other option? Boston.

So, I'm sorry, Oregon if I come off a little salty towards you. It's not you. It's... well, no, it IS actually you, but what's in a name, eh?, when you've given us so much more:
- The Oregon Trail (basically the best game in the history of the world that you can currently play for free online). Too cliche? How about...
- Lots and lots and lots of microbreweries. Don't drink?
- The world's shortest river (that's D River located in Lincoln City and it's only about 120 feet long... however, during low tide when it becomes 440 feet long Roe River in Montana then becomes the world's shortest river at 210 feet) and the world's smallest park (Mill Ends Park, created in 1946 by veteran and journalist Dick Fagan, is two feet in diameter and the home of a leprechaun colony and snail races [or so Fagan oft wrote about in his columns]; however many other parks throughout the world have debated whether they should solely claim the title)! Too much controversy?
- There are 16 known hot springs, one of the world's largest sea caves (Sea Lion Caves), the deepest lake in the U.S. (Crater Lake) formed in the remains of an ancient volcano and just one of OR's Seven Wonders, caves carved in solid marble (Oregon Caves National Monument), and the deepest river gorge on the continent (Hells Canyon; it's 8,000 feet deep). Natural beauty not doing it for you?
- How about pirate loot?! While this is most likely just a tall tale, there are rumors that there's buried treasure near Neahkahnie Mountain.

This is what I've surmised after such a brief look into the Beaver State... they have awesome games, beer, rivalries, beautiful things, and pirates.

I mean, do you really need anything more than that? I sure don't... and, y'know what? Despite the fact that ol' OR are name thieves (says the girl who comes from a state with town names like China, Madrid, Paris, Mexico, and Poland), I think I'm feeling considerably more sweet towards them. Appropriate, considering they became a state on Valentine's Day.

Ohhhhhhhkay, Oregonians. Our hour to observe your honorary hor d'oeuvres and more has arrived.


State Beverage: Milk

Like most other states, Oregon designated milk as it's official state beverage. In 1997, the legislature moved to make it so as dairy production and manufacturing are an important part of OR's agriculture. Since we really can't drink milk for every state who has this, try making a nut cheeze with another one of Oregon's official foods: the hazelnut.

Hazelnut Cheeze
Makes: 2 1/2 cups cheeze

Ingredients:
2 cups hazelnuts
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 to 1 cup (nut) milk

Method:
Soak the hazelnuts for at least one hour in hot water.

Drain.

Toss the hazelnuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper in a blender. Slowly pour in the (nut) milk and blend. Blend. Blend. Blend. Be sure to scrape down the sides of your blender bowl as you go. Blend. Blend. Blend. This may take a while, because you really want the consistency to be as creamy and ungrainy as possible. Refrigerate when finished until you're ready to use.


State Fruit: Pear

Pear was designated the official state fruit of Oregon in 2005, since the state produces many types of varieties like Bosc, Bartlett, and Anjou (just to name a few).

Pears with Goat Cheese
Makes: a nice little snack or a great dessert!

Ingredients:
1 pear, cut into 8 slices
8 teaspoons goat cheese

Method:
Gently spread one teaspoon of goat cheese on each of the eight slices of pear. Yum!


State Mushroom: Chanterelle

The Pacific golden chanterelle became the official mushroom of OR in 1999. The Cantharellus formosus is a wild mushroom unique to this region of the world, so they may be incredibly difficult to find near you. Whole Foods should have them available dried, though.

Mushroom Quiche Tart
Makes: 1 quiche

Ingredients:
1 pie crust
1/2 cup gruyere cheese
1/2 cup swiss cheese
1 Tablespoon flour
5 large brown eggs
3/4 cup (nut) milk
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
12-oz mushrooms (like a shiitake, bella, chanterelle blend)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pie Crust Tips: I always use Immaculate Baking Company for my pie crust. Once I've laid it in my pie dish, I take a large sheet of aluminum foil and gently press it against the pie crust to cover it (making sure to overlap it over the crust edges). I then freeze it for at least 20 minutes before baking it for 15; removing from the oven, and removing the aluminum foil I had gently pressed against it. Why am I doing this? I find it helps prevent the crust from slipping down the side and melting into goo.

Combine the cheese and flour in a bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together the eggs and (nut) milk in a separate bowl. Add the cheese mixture. Set aside

Sauté the garlic in olive oil oil for 2ish minutes, then add mushrooms. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Sauté for another 10ish minutes before placing into the bottom of the partially baked pie crust. Pour the egg mixture on top.


Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven. Let set for at least 10 minutes before cutting into and serving/eating immediately.


State Nut: Hazelnut


In 1989, legislature designated the hazelnut the official state nut since OR produces 99% of the entire U.S. commercial crop.  Why not use it to make a pesto?

A Different Kind of Caprese Sandwich
Makes: almost 2 cups of pesto

Ingredients:
1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup packed arugula
1/4 cup packed basil
3 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil

Method:
Toss the hazelnuts, arugula, basil, garlic, and salt into a blender. Begin to blend and slowly drizzle in the olive oil a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the blender as you go, until everything is evenly blended, smoothy, and creamy.

(To assemble sandwich, grab some bread, toast it up, then spread the pesto on it. Top with sliced tomatoes, some of the hazelnut cheeze you made earlier, and another piece of bread. Enjoy!)


Sources:
Oregon.com: Oregon State Facts
Oregon Blue Book: State Symbols