September 10, 2014

New Hampshire

Statehood: June 21st, 1788 (9/50)

I've always had a special place in my heart for New Hampshire - when you grow up in Maine, it's hard not to since they're the ONLY U.S. state we border (and, on clear days, from certain vantage points we can actually see Mount Washington). Our friend's to the west have cheaper alcohol, no sales tax, and a seriously badass motto ("Live Free or Die"). We wept alongside The Granite State when the Old Man of the Mountain crumbled, and we both know the visual glory (and abundance of tourists) that autumn brings. You are doing yourself a disservice if you've never driven NH's 32-mile byway Kancamagus Highway (the state's even known as the "Switzerland of America" because of their insanely beautiful mountains).

New Hampshire was home to Levi Hutchins, the man who invented the first alarm clock a year before statehood. Unfortunately, it only rang at 4am. NH also boasts "America's Stonehenge", chambers and walls constructed over 4,000 years ago that represents an accurate astronomical calendar (and can still be used today to determine lunar and solar events). Even cooler? New Hampshirites know that they were the first of the original thirteen colonies to boldly declare independence from England... and that was six months before the Declaration was signed. They're also one of the few constitutions that expressly give citizen's the Right to Revolution (read: rebellion; NH's people can overthrow their government if it isn't acting in their best interest... I repeat: live. free. or. die.).

Neat? I think so. Now onward to New Hampshire's noteworthy F&V!

State Vegetable: White Potato

In 1719 an Irish immigrant brought potato seeds in a sack to this region of the U.S.; because of this, New Hampshire became the first state to cultivate the white potato. In 2013, thanks to Derry Village Elementary School, the General Court adopted the veg as a state symbol. I know curry isn't a very traditional dish, but - darn it! - it tastes good. So there.

Potato Paneer Masala
Makes: 4 servings

2 cups white potato, cubed (about 1 1/2 potatoes)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sweet onion, diced (about 1 large onion)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 packed Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
28-oz canned plum tomatoes, moderately drained
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (for low end of heat; add more if you like spice)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons curry
1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons (alternative) milk, cream, yogurt, etc.
1/4 teaspoon salt
8-oz paneer, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay out cubed potatoes on cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes, using your spatula to flip over vegetable halfway through. When finished, turn off oven, and set potatoes aside. Saute the onions in the olive oil 3 minutes on medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the the plum tomatoes with some of their juice. Then add the tomato paste, smoked paprika, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and curry. Stir well so everything is evenly distributed and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Then pour contents into a blender, add alternative milk (or cream, yogurt, etc.) and salt, and blend until creamy. Pour the thick tikka masala sauce back into a sauce pan on lowest heat setting and add paneer.

State Fruit: Pumpkin

Pumpkins were being used as food and medicine by Native Americans long before Starbucks began exploiting the taste profile in every drink and food item they offer from Labor Day to Thanksgiving. In all seriousness, the pumpkin really has long been part of the New England agricultural scene, and in 2006 that the General Court adopted the pumpkin as NH's state fruit after Wells Memorial Elementary School petitioned for it. 

Pumpkin Spice Scones
Makes: 6 bakery-style scones

3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup + 2 T cup of vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 Tablespoons (alternative) milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice. In a separate bowl, combine the vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, and 1 Tablespoon of vanilla. Pour the wet into the dry, along with the macadamia nuts, and mix until everything's combined. Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead into an 8 or 10 inch disc. Divide into six pie like pieces. Bake 14 minutes. Make icing (combine powdered sugar, maple syrup, milk, and remaining vanilla) and drizzle as much or little as you want over scones after ten minutes of cooling.

America's Stonehenge
Freligh, Tai. "RE: Official State Foods." Message to the author. 29 Oct. 2013. E-mail. New Hampshire Almanac