February 16, 2014


Statehood: December 7th, 1787 (1/50)

The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia in 1776. Therefore, it's safe to assume that the first state admitted to the union was definitely Pennsylvania... right?

Way to fail 11th grade U.S. History.

Delaware - state of "Liberty and Independence" - was actually the first state in the good ole' USofA. As a matter of fact, one of its nicknames is "The First State". It's also called the Blue Hen State (because of the prized chickens used in cockfights during the Revolutionary War), The Diamond State (Thomas Jefferson considered it a "jewel" because of it's geographical location on the East Coast), and Small Wonder (because of it's contributions to our country... after all, good things come in tiny packages).

Now that we've got that sorted, let me tell you what I know about Delaware...

Nothing. Okay, that's not true; I know it's where that infamous painting of Georgie Washington at the helm of a boat takes place (it's appropriately named "Washington Crossing the Delaware" [river], and it was created in 1851 by Emanuel Leutze in honor of the General during the American Revolutionary War on Christmas Day in 1776).

My limited knowledge of our country's very first state in the union is super pathetic. Forgive me, Delawareans? You've been around the longest, so you'd think folks would know more about you than just an oil painting (and that it's the birthplace of Henry Hemilich of the maneuver of fame). That's what Eat the State is all about, though, right? Getting to know each unique region.

So let's delve deep into the dishes of Delaware!

State Fruit: Strawberry

Strawberries are an integral part of Delaware's agricultural scene where they grow their berries for flavor, not for size or durability. On May 13, 2010 the strawberry was adopted as the official state fruit. Have some cheesy, fruity salad to celebrate!

Fraise and Fromage Salad
Makes: one big salad for two very hungry people

2 cups arugula
1/2 c. basil, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
10 medium strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon orange zest
1 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Toss together the arugula and basil. Lay out on a large platter then sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and most of the strawberries (reserving three slices). Plop one large mound of ricotta in the center, then a smaller mound on either side. Place one remaining strawberry on each mound of ricotta. Sprinkle salad with almonds. Before serving, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, orange zest, and orange juice, then pour evenly over salad.

State Beverage: Milk

The most common "state beverage" for just about every state is milk and Delaware is no different. They made it theirs on June 3, 1983. Just drinking milk seems kind of boring, so why not indulge on some baked oatmeal that also incorporates the state's official fruit?

Chocoberrynana Oatmeal
Makes: four breakfast servings

1 cup vanilla-flavored almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1 cup sliced strawberries berries (about 8 average sized), tops removed
1 1/4 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 banana, sliced
1/4 cup chocolate chips

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Puree milk, vanilla, white sugar, and strawberries (wet)
- Mix together oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt (dry)
- Mix the wet with the dry ingredients.
- Gently stir in banana and chocolate chips.
- Pour out evenly into a greased 8x8 pan.
- Bake 25 to 30 minutes until “set."
- Serve warm with more milk poured over.

State Dessert: Peach Pie

When you think of peaches, you probably think of the south - I know I do. Peaches, however, are actually an important part of Delaware's agriculture too. At one point in the latter half of the 1800's, DE was even the leading producer of peaches for the U.S. The pie was adopted as the official state dessert on July 30th, 2009 after the fifth and sixth graders of St. John's Lutheran School in Dover lobbied for it to be so. I hope they were rewarded with a slice or two! So should you...

Mini Rum-Kissed Peach Pies
Makes: six mini pies

Pastry dough for pie crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance, room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cold water

Inside of pies:
1 1/2 cups frozen peaches, thawed (about 10 ounces)
1 ounce (2 Tablespoons) spiced rum
1 Tablespoon sugar

6 Tablespoons brown sugar
4 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons oats
3 Tablespoons butter or Earth Balance
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Make dough: in a medium bowl use a fork to mix the flour and the salt together. Cut in the butter and stir in the vegetable oil until everything is crumbly. Sprinkle the water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing everything (and using the fork to break up any lumps) until a dough forms. Remove the dough from the bowl and, using your hands, roll it into a ball. Wrap the ball of dough with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Mix together the peaches with the rum and the sugar, set aside.
- In a separate bowl - using hands - gently combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, butter, cinnamon, and ginger to create crumble topping, set aside.
- Grease half of a muffin tin.
- Dough, round two: remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator, place it on a floured surface, and roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness. Using the rim of a small glass or jelly jar (keeping in line with the size of the muffin pan openings), cut 6 disks out of the dough. Roll each disk our flatter and larger so that each fits well into the bottom of a muffin tin.
- Using a slotted spoon, gently remove pieces of peach - shake to remove excess juice - and place in dough cup until either a) all the peaches have been used; b) the cups are all 3/4 filled with peaches.
- Sprinkle crumble topping onto each pie.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes until crusts are golden brown.
- Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream.

State HerbSweet Golden Rod

Since sweet golden rod is indigenous to Delaware, the International Herb Growers and Marketers Association of Delaware helped make it the official state herb on June 24th, 1996. Chewing on weeds might not seem appetizing unless your a cow or a bunny, so try ingesting yours in tea form!

Iced Golden Rod Tea
Makes: one 64 ounce pitcher of tea

8 cups fresh water
4 goldenrod tea bags
1/4 cup orange blossom honey

Bring the water to a boil. Pour over tea bags in pitcher, then stir. Add honey, then whisk. Place in the refrigerator. Let teabags steep in pitcher for several hours, or until the tea is cold. Remove teabags prior to serving with a wedge of orange or sprig of rosemary.

Delaware.gov's "Delaware Government"
Delaware.gov's "Delaware Miscellaneous Symbols"
Delaware.gov's "Delaware State Plants"