September 29, 2014

Vermont

Statehood: March 4th, 1791 (14/50)

"Snow/It won't be long before we'll all be there with snow/Snow/I want to wash my hands, my face and hair with snow..."

While that might have been Bob, Phil, Betty, and Judy's perfect Vermont in the movie White Christmas, mine's always been about three things:

Ice cream. Cheese. Apples.

You see, once a year for nearly a decade my family would take an autumnal pilgrimage to the Ben and Jerry's factory, the Cabot factory, and Cold Hollow Cider Mill (you should totally check out this trio sometime, by the way). It was a complete day of gluttony set against some of the most beautiful scenery in New England - wide open farmland and the always impressive Green Mountains.

Vermont (which in French literally means green [vert] mountains [mont], by the way) is also home to Champ, a friendly and shy serpent-like sea creature - similar to the infamous Loch Ness monster - that lives in Lake Champlain. There's been hundreds of sightings, starting as early as the 1600's. Just as cool? Because Vermonters - though outnumbered by cows - historically have been fiercely independent (their state motto is "Freedom and Unity") and were the first to outlaw slavery, the State of Georgia declared that "the whole state [of Vermont] should be made into an island and towed out to sea".

And now we move away from the thirteen colonies on to a veritable variety of victuals!


State Beverage: Milk

Like most of the rest of the states in the country, Vermont's official state beverage is milk and was designated as such on April 22nd, 1983. Vermont is well-known for its contribution to the dairy industry, as its been producing high-quality dairy (and dairy products) for generations. 

Mac & Cheese & Squash
Makes: enough for 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 small/medium sized spaghetti squash
1 12-oz bag of broccoli
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons butter or Earth Balance
1 1/4 cup (alternative) milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or this or this)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes

Method:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Place flesh-side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes. In a baking dish, toss broccoli with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes. When there's about 12 minutes left until both vegetables are done, melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine to make roux. Slowly add (alternative) milk 1/4 cup at a time (only up to a cup), whisking/mixing non-stop to ensure complete blending. Then add cheese, continuing to mix as it melts into the sauce. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of milk, the salt, black pepper, and red chili pepper flakes. When squash and broccoli are done, remove from oven. Carefully - with a fork or pair of tongs - shred the squash's flesh out of the skin. Place inside a casserole dish. Pour in cheese sauce and broccoli. Stir to evenly combine, then broil on high for 5 minutes. Let cool for five to ten minutes before serving.


State Flavor: Maple Syrup
Vermont is the national leader in maple syrup production, so it's no wonder that it was deemed the official state flavor effective April 26, 1994. From February to April each year, Vermont's trees run with the sap (it takes anywhere from 40 to 50 gallons of sap to create one gallon of syrup) which is high in antioxidants. 

Mama Said Brussels Sprouts, I'm Gonna Brussels Sprouts
Makes: many small side servings

Ingredients:
1-lb Brussels sprouts
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 strips of tempeh bacon (like this or this)/regular bacon, fried
1 cup cubed apple (about 1 medium apple)
1/2 cup chopped candied walnuts

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim the ends and bad leaves off the Brussels sprouts. Toss with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, the salt, and the black pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. When finished, add to a bowl with chopped bacon, cubed apple, and chopped candied walnuts. Drizzle remaining olive oil over salad and mix to combine.


State Pie: Apple

The state pie became apple on May 10, 1999; the official bill states that,"When serving apple pie in Vermont, a 'good faith' effort shall be made to meet one or more of the following conditions: (a) with a glass of cold milk, (b) with a slice of cheddar cheese weighing a minimum of 1/2 ounce, (c) with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream."

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice Apple Pie
Makes: 1 large pie

Ingredients:
For the dough -
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 Tablespoons cold water

For the filling -
3 large apples, sliced (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, diced in half
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the topping -
vanilla ice cream
slices of cheese

Method:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Make the pie crust: mix the flour with salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and vegetable oil. Cut together using a fork so it's cornmeal like. Sprinkle in the water and knead with your hands until a ball of dough forms. Refrigerate for an hour.

After an hour, remove and let rest for fifteen minutes. During this time, mix together the apples, cranberries, walnuts, sugar, flour, salt, apple pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl. Set aside.

Divide dough into two portions. Roll out into a 14 or 16-inch round on floured surface. Gently place in 9-inch pie plate. Pour apple filling into bottom crust - there's a lot, but it should all fit. Roll out remaining dough also into a 14 or 16-inch round. Place on top of pie filling. Pinch of excess dough and crimp the bottom edge of the pie with the top edge of the pie. Using a fork, poke the top of the pie several times to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 40 minutes or until pie crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and wait at least ten minutes before serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a slice of cheese, or both!


State Fruit: Apple
Also on May 10, 1999, the apple became the state fruit. The yearly apple crop in Vermont is valued between $10 and $12 million, and the state produces mostly McIntosh, Cortland, Red Delicious, and Empire. The science of growing apples, by the way, is called pomology.

The Green Mountain State In A Sandwich
Makes: two sandwiches

Ingredients:
1/4 cup (or more to taste)  maple-flavored mustard
4 slices of multigrain bread
1 apple (Honeycrisp works great for this), cored and sliced
8 slices Oven Roasted Tofurky Deli Slices
4 to 8 thick slices of Cabot cheddar (especially the Vintage Choice)

Method:
Evenly spread the mustard on all four slices of bread. On two of the slices, layer first with apple, then Tofurky Deli Slices, and finish with cheddar cheese. Place remaining slices of bread, mustard side down, on top to complete the assemblage of your sandwich. Enjoy with a beer!


Sources:
Denison, Gerrie. "RE: Vermont.gov - Ask a ?" Message to the author. 29 Oct. 2013. E-mail.
Vermont Apples: Facts About Apples
Vermont Statutes Annotated: Title 1, Chapter 11. LexisNexis. Pgs 511 - 518.