September 27, 2014

Rhode Island

Statehood: May 29th, 1790 (13/50)

What state was the first to declare their independence from Great Britain on May 4th, 1776?

If your guess was the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, you're right! They take their freedom seriously, too, as Bristol, RI has the claim of the country's longest running, unbroken series of July 4th celebrations. Rhode Island -  lucky number thirteen to the original colonies - is the tiniest in the union at just 48-miles long and 37-miles wide, but it has around 400 miles of coastline absolutely warranting the nickname The Ocean State.

If history doesn't excite you, and you're bored by the same-old-same-old info on RI's smallness, then how about this... there's a serious case of vampires in the state. Or there was, anyway. Specifically, there are tales of two deceased young women, Sarah Tillinghast and Mercy Brown, who were exhumed by their families, then had their hearts removed and burned to ashes post-mortum to prevent them from killing from beyond the grave (which, supposedly, they were). In reality, tuberculosis - called "consumption" then - was an extremely infectious and lethal disease that caused weight loss, fever, and eventually the coughing of blood. If one person in the family had it... there was a good chance others would, too. Still, it's creepy that supposedly both Tillinghast and Brown, when removed from their casket and vault, respectively, looked healthy as if they were just asleep.

Egads.

Fortunately there's nothing sanguine about RI's foods, so if you're ready... let's relish Rhode Island's recognized refreshments!


State Drink: Coffee Milk
On July 29th, 1993 the Rhode Island state legislature voted coffee milk to be it's official state drink, because of it's incredible popularity. Wondering what this beverage - which was first enjoyed in the 1930's - exactly is? It's just coffee syrup mixed with milk!

A Breakfast Cabinet 
Makes: 1 mega shake or 2 smaller, shareable shakes

Ingredients:
1 pint Luna & Larry's Cappuccino Coconut Bliss
1 cup (alternative) milk
1/4 cup of coffee syrup

Method:
Put everything in a blender and mix until smooth and drinkable.









State Fruit: Rhode Island Greening Apple


The Rhode Island Greening Apple - similar to a Granny Smith in taste and texture - was voted the state's official fruit on June 20th, 1991. This perfect-for-pie heirloom apple is considered one of America's oldest varieties as it dates back to the 17th century.

Very Green Chick'n Salad
Makes: enough for two sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 10.5-oz bag of Gardein Teriyaki Chick'n Strips, sauce discarded
3 Tablespoons mayo or Vegenaise
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped
1 avocado, gently smashed
1 Tablespoon lime juice (from about 1 lime)
1 green(ing) apple, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
4 slices of multigrain bread
optional: 2 slices of smoked Gouda cheese

Method:
Saute the Gardein teriyaki chick'n strips in olive oil on medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes until dark golden brown. Remove from heat and cool until you can handle them. Roughly chop up the chick'n and toss into a bowl. Add mayo, celery salt, salt, black pepper, cumin, walnuts, avocado, and lime juice. Mix until everything's combined - this will break down the avocado even more (and that's okay). Distribute chick'n salad evenly onto two slices of bread. Top each with 3 slices of green(ing) apple, 1 slice of smoked Gouda cheese, and remaining pieces of bread.


State Appetizer: Calamari
On June 20th, 2014 - almost a year after the law was initially proposed - the Rhode Island state legislation finally designated calamari as it's official state appetizer. The bill reads, "it is in the best interest of the state and its local economy to officially recognize the importance of the squid fishing industry to our economy and the unique and delicious appetizer known as calamari."

Hot and Sweet 'Mari
Makes: enough for two for an appetizer

Ingredients:
8.8-oz box of Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Calamari
3 Tablespoons butter or Earth Balance
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ cup sliced TJ’s Hot and Sweet Cherry Peppers
2 Tablespoons sliced green onions

Method:
Bake calamari according to package directions. Towards the end of the baking process, melt butter in a skillet on medium heat. Add garlic. Saute both garlic and peppers for 5 minutes. Add crispy calamari and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes, making sure to coat calamari with completely with butter and veggies. Pour contents onto plate and top with fresh green onions.


Sources:
RI Secretary of State: State Facts & Figures
RI.gov: State Symbols
Moreland, Amie. "RE: VisitRhodeIsland - Contact Form" Message to the author. 31 Oct. 2013. E-mail.