March 14, 2014


Statehood: December 12th, 1787 (2/50)

Team Hoagie or Team Cheesesteak?

Because obviously the official state food of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is either one of those options, right (depending on whether you're in Philly or Pittsburgh, that is)? Or maybe it's chocolate (after all, it is the home of Hershey's). Or chocolate chip cookies (a proposition which was initiated by a 4th graders in 1996 [which really just seems like smart kids conning their government into giving them a legitimate reason to eat more cookies, to me])?

Contrary to popular belief, none of those foods have been approved by the state's legislature. The Keystone State (which is an architectural reference to the central and pivotal stone in an arch, by the way) only has one "official" food... and in this case, it's actually beverage.

Now that I've burst bubbles everywhere, let me tell you what I know about Pennsylvania...

It takes eleven hours in a blizzard to drive from the Gray/New Gloucester commuter parking lot in Maine to 9th and Wharton Streets, which is where Pat's King of Steaks is located, and an additional 15 minutes with no line to order a "steak wit onions and Cheez Whiz". Pennsylvanians, you also happen to be the ones to blame thank for Dramatic Groundhog, Sneezing Baby Panda, and Peanut Butter Jelly Time... kind of. The Moore School of Electrical Engineering and the Army created ENIAC ((Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), the first electronic general purpose computer.

Ponder that while you're perusing PA's palatable picks!

State Beverage: Milk

Pennsylvania is home to many farms, and as such milk is one of the most important agricultural products to the state's economy. The moo juice was made the official state beverage on April 29th, 1982. Since the chocolate chip cookie got slighted, it only made sense to me to me to honor the sweet treat by using milk as one of the ingredients. Let's get bakin'!

Very Vanilla ChocoChip Cookies
Makes: 2 1/2 to 3 dozen

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup butter or Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup of vanilla-flavored nut milk
1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 cup of (dark, no-dairy, vegan) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together the brown sugar, butter, vanilla nut milk, and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, flower, and chocolate chips, and mix until just blended (you don't want to overmix this). Refrigerate dough in an air-tight container for an hour.

When time is up, scoop by the rounded Tablespoon-full onto greased cookie sheets and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Enjoy with a nice glass of milk, obviously!

And now, because I feel badly for PA's beloved sandwiches...

Unofficial State Food: the Cheesesteak and Hoagie

Many people (even locals) see both the cheesesteak and/or the hoagie as PA's official state foods. The former, it's believed, was created in 1930 by Pat Olivieri, eventual owner of the aforementioned Pat's; the latter has a hazy history stemming from the Navy Yard's former home on Hog Island where workers - who ate large meat and veg filled sandwiches - were known as "Hoggies". Or from the word "Hogan", an Irish name which became a colloquialism for the Irish immigrant employees at the Navy Yard. Or even from a fella named Hogan who asked a colleague if he could partake in the delicious looking Italian-style sandwiches he brought for lunch each day.

Cheesesteak Maine-Style
Makes: two sandwiches

2 six-inch sub rolls, sliced open
1 10 oz. bag of Gardein Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips, sauce discarded
2 large slices of aged Provolone
4 large dill pickle spears (not whole) from a 24 oz. jar, julienned
1/4 cup of chilled ketchup

Preheat oven to 400°. Cook Gardein Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips (I usually put 1 to 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, heat to medium-high heat, then cook the strips for 10 to 12 minutes or until the texture has a nice crisp on the outside) according to package. To build sandwich, place one slice of Provolone in one sub roll. Then fill it with half of the julienned pickle spears and half of the cooked Gardein Gardein Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips. Repeat with other sandwich. Bake until cheese just begins to melt (5 to 7 minutes). When finished, top each sandwich with 2 Tablespoons of cold ketchup and serve.

Garlicky Broccoli Rabe "Hoagie" 
Makes: two sandwiches

2 cups of packed broccoli rabe
2 six-inch sub rolls, sliced open
10 slices of Italian Tofurky Deli Slices
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 gloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red chili pepper
Optional: 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

Cook the broccoli rabe in boiling, salted water for two minutes. Drain and immediately submerge in an ice bath. Drain again in a colander, and allow the broccoli rabe to continuing draining in colander as you prep the rest of the sandwich. Take one sliced open sub roll and fill with five slices of the Italian Tofurky Deli Slices. Repeat with second sub roll. Set aside. In a pan on medium heat, pour the 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic and crushed red chili pepper and cook for two to three minutes or until fragrant but NOT BURNED (you'll need to babysit this). Add the well-drained broccoli rabe, cooking for another five to seven minutes. When finished, remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to portion broccoli rabe equally into open sub sandwiches. Top each sub with Parmesan if desired. Serve!

Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission
Robertson, Annie. "Contact Us -" Message to the author. 28 Oct. 2013. E-mail.
Trimble, Cherie. "RE: Pennsylvania State Foods." Message to the author. 31 Oct. 2013. E-mail.