September 15, 2014

New York

Statehood: July 26th, 1788 (11/50)

"If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere. It's up to you, New Amsterdam... New Netherland!"


Those aren't the lyrics, are they Frank Sinatra? Although they could have been in some parallel universe where the Dutch never lost control of the region to the English - the stronger of the two naval forces led by King Charles brother James, Duke of York (can you see where this is going?) - during the appropriately named Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1664.

Other things you probably didn't know about The Empire State: Adirondack Park - which is 6.1 million acres - is the largest park in the continental U.S. (it's larger than Everglades, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Yellowstone National Parks combined). Think that's impressive? How's this: one of the most important modern day inventions ever comes to us from New Yorker, Joseph Gayetty, in 1857. He is to thank for pre-packaged toilet paper. Each sheet  (sold in packages, not on rolls - that would come later from Scott Co.) was moistened with aloe vera and stamped with Gayetty's name on it.

Now that you've got that nugget in your noggin, let's nosh on New York's notable nibbles.

State Fruit: Apple
New York is one of the top apple producing states in the country (ranked second behind Washington), and has over 55,000 acres dedicated to growing them. The apple became the state's official fruit in 1976. With the strong German influence in parts of upstate New York, I thought we'd make... 

Himmel und Urde (a.k.a. Urdle and Himee, since I can't seem to remember the name)
Makes: enough for 2 people (if you're feeling generous)

2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
3 medium-sized apples, peeled and cut into cubes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter or Earth Balance
2 Tablespoons (alternative) milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 +1/8 teaspoon salt
Optional: fried onions

Boil potatoes in salted water and cook until soft (about 10 to 15 minutes; they're done when a fork easily slides in and out). Meanwhile, add apples and 1/2 cup water to a separate sauce pan. Cook 10 minutes on medium-high heat until they turn to mush or apple sauce like consistency (you'll need to stir often to prevent them from sticking to the pan - also note: it's okay if some chunks don't break down completely). Drain the potatoes then place them back in the pot in which they were cooked. Add the apples to it, along with the olive oil, butter, and milk. Mash completely. Once mashed, add the seasoning and stir. Top with fried onions (if you want) and serve immediately.

State Beverage: Milk
In 1981, New York designated milk as the official state beverage. Appropriate, since dairy is considered one of New York's most important agricultural products (they're also consistently one of the country's leading milk-producing states).

Black and White and Lemon
Makes: around 8 to 10 cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (alternative) milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together. In a separate bowl combine the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, lemon zest, and apple cider vinegar. Gently combine the wet with the dry, then add the butter. Mix until everything's combined. Scoop by the very generous Tablespoonful onto a greased cookie sheet (you'll probably only be able to get five cookies on each tray). Flatten and make circular. Bake each tray (by itself) for 15 minutes - this will probably take two or three shifts. Let come to at least room temperature before frosting.

Ingredients for frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons (alternative) milk
5 Tablespoons chocolate chips, melting in a pot on the stove on low to off heat
5 Tablespoons white chocolate chips, melting in a seperate pot on stove on low to off heat

Method for frosting: 
Mix together the powdered sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla, and milk together until combined. Add half to pot of melted chocolate chips, and the remaining half to the pot of melted white chocolate chips.  Very carefully frost half of each cookie with chocolate mixture, then other half with white chocolate mixture. Let set an hour in the fridge before eating.

State Muffin: Apple

Again, apples are an integral part of New York's agricultural scene. Did you know the first apple nursery was started in Flushing, NY in 1730? The apple muffin became an official state symbol in 1987 thanks to students efforts throughout the state.

Apple to the Fourth Power Muffins
Makes: 18 small muffins

1 1/2 to 2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 cup apple butter
1/4 apple sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup apple (about 1 medium apple), peeled, cored, and chopped into cubes
Optional: 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 Tablespoons (alternative) milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and apple pie spice. Mix the apple butter, apple sauce, vegetable oil, and apple pieces. Combine the wet to the dry. Do NOT overmix; just mix to combine. Scoop by the 1/4 cup full into well greased muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool. If you want a glaze on the muffins, combine the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and apple pie spice. Drizzle liberally over muffins.

State Snack: Yogurt
This comes as no surprise, given New York's steadfast production of dairy and overall farming prowess. Yogurt was granted the official state snack status as of June, 2014. 

A Lassi
Makes: enough for two people

1 cup of mango (about 1 medium ripe mango), cored and chopped
3/4 cup yogurt (like Trader Joe's Vanilla Cultured Coconut Milk)
2 Tablespoons honey (or Bee Free Honee)
1 cup of ice cubes

Toss everything into a blender, and blend until creamy and honey is no longer sticking to the sides.

New York State Department of State: New York State Symbols Largest Park Area in the Contiguous US Remains Open to Visitors