June 9, 2014

Connecticut

Statehood: January 9th, 1788 (5/50)

I'm trying to avoid eating any state symbol under the "Living Creature" or "Animal" designation ("let's honor this important sentient being... BY KILLING AND EATING IT RAAAWWWRRRRR" - nope, it just doesn't feel right to me). But what do you do when a state doesn't actually have an official food of any kind? C'MON CONNECTICUT!: you have a State Folk Dance (the Square Dance), a State Troubadour (Kristen Graves), and a State Aircraft (Corsair F4U) but no State Appetizer, State Dessert, or State Fruit? From what I've heard, you'd be smart to make the White Clam Pie your State Pizza or the hamburger your State Sandwich. But, noooooooooooo, today I'll have to break one of my lone rules for this food project and settle on eating your State Shellfish, the Eastern Oyster.

You're alright in my book, though Connecticuters, because a) you were one of only two states (the other being your pal to the east, Rhode Island) to reject the 18th Amendment (i.e. prohibition); and, b) the first woman to receive a U.S. patent - Mary Kies, on 5/15/1809, for a method of weaving straw with silk - came from South Killingly, CT.

(Side note: Because I feel badly for CT's lack of recognized food, I wanted to mention Election Day Cake. It was apparently created in Hartford and used to be a big thing [not big enough to make it a state symbol, though, so we won't be making it]. Back in the 18th century when elections were cause for a festival - chockablock full of parades, formal balls, and banquets to boot - part of the socializing was done over tea and a slice of this "election day cake" which was a cross between dense fruitcake and bread.)

Come, come! Let's chow down on Connecticut's coastal cuisine!


State Shellfish: Eastern Oyster


Oysters are bivalve mollusks with colorless blood that are alternating hermaphrodites (meaning they can switch gender multiple times throughout their lives). Cassanova ate them in great abundance for their supposed aphrodisiac properties. In 1989 the General Assembly designated the Eastern Oyster as Connecticut's State Shellfish. Because of their abundance in both rivers and coastal embayments, the creature was a staple part of early European settlers' diets. Oyster farming has been - and continues to be - a vital industry of Connecticut's since the late 1800's.


Oystah Frittofu
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced (for 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
1 12-oz jar of fire roasted red pepper (like Trader Joe's), drained and diced
4 to 6-oz oyster mushrooms, washed and julienned
3 garlic cloves, minced
16-oz firm tofu, drained
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon lime juice
5-oz goat cheese

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8x8 casserole dish and set aside. Pour the olive oil into a skillet, and head on medium-high. Add onions and saute 3 to 5 minutes (or until they appear soft, beginning to become translucent, and are fragrant). Add zucchini, roasted red pepper,  and mushrooms and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes (until both the zuke and 'shrooms are tender). Add garlic cloves and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes (until it, too, becomes soft and fragrant). Remove from heat.

Mash the tofu in a large bowl. Add turmeric, cumin, crushed red pepper, black pepper, lime zest, and lime juice and continue mashing until everything's combined. Then, add the vegetable mixture to the tofu mixture and stir to distribute everything evenly. Spread out into casserole dish. Dollop goat cheese throughout "frittata" dish.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let sit for at least ten minutes (to let it set).


Sources:
Bove, Rosemary. "FW: CT's official state foods." Message to the author. 19 Nov. 2013. E-mail.
CT.gov's ConneCT Kids