October 7, 2014

Kentucky

Statehood: June 1st, 1792 (15/50)

I think it's safe to assume that most non-Kentuckians know one absolute thing about the state: the Derby. The oldest continuously held horse race in the country, the Kentucky Derby - which was started in 1875 - is held at Churchill Downs and is a 1.25 mile race held on the first Saturday in May. The mint julep - as infamous as the extravagant hats are at the "run for the roses"- has it's own official food holiday. But... it is not a state symbol.

The Bluegrass State - which gets its name from the bluish-purple buds the grass has in spring - is home to Fort Knox (supposedly the largest underground supply of gold in the world), Mammoth Caves (the world's longest cave system), 95% of the world's bourbon production (according to Kentucky Distillers Association), the first Lebowski Fest (started in October 2002, it's now held in over 30 cities), and the origin of the tune to the Happy Birthday song (by two sisters in Louisville in 1893 who originally wrote a song called "Good Morning To You").

And now you know five more things about the state that I bet you didn't know before!

The cuisine of Kentucky is calling us, cohorts! C'mon!


State Drink: Milk
Kentucky adopted milk as their official state drink on June 20th, 2005 (another very popular beverage in the region is Ale-8, a ginger and citrus pop). Most states have declared milk as one of their symbols because of it's importance agriculturally and in the typical American diet. 

Benediction in My Mind, Benediction in My Heart... Benediction in My Mouth
Makes: about two cups of spread/dip

Ingredients:
1 large cucumber, peeled
1/4 to 1/3 of 1 large sweet Vidalia
1 8-oz tub of cream cheese
1 Tablespoon Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce (or to taste)
1/4th teaspoon salt
1/8th teaspoon black pepper
Optional: 1 drop of green food coloring

Also:
10 to 14 paper towels or a cheese cloth

Method:
Shred the cucumber then place it on top of a stack of five thick paper towels. Bring the corners of the paper towels together, twist them, then gently squeeze the water out of of the veggie (you should be able to draw out a large amount). Once it seems like nothing more is coming out, dump the cucumbers on top of a new stack of five thick paper towels and repeat (seriously, there's so much water in these). Set cukes aside on top of additional paper towels when finished. Next, grate enough onion so that you have three rounded Tablespoonfuls. Dump onions and cukes into bowl with cream cheese. Also add the chipotle hot sauce, salt, and black pepper. Gently combine until everything's incorporated. Finish with 1 drop of green food coloring and mix one last time before refrigerating for thirty minutes. Serve on crackers or between slices of white bread. NOTE: This is best eaten immediately as it gets progressively more runny the longer you let it sit.


State Fruit: Blackberry


High in vitamin C, vitamin K, and antioxidants, blackberries - also called bramble berries - were adopted on July 13th, 2004 as the official state fruit of Kentucky. "Blackberries are red when they're green" is an old saying that refers to the unripeness of the fruit when they're still in a red-colored state (whereas many fruits are green when they're unripe).

Easy, Cheesy, Berryfull Breakfast Pastries
Makes: 4 pastries

Ingredients:
1 8-oz can of crescent rolls
4 Tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
4 Tablespoons blackberry jam
4 overflowing teaspoons flaked coconut

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Instead of separating the crescent rolls into 8 triangles, create 4 squares instead (pressing together the seems so nothing leaks out). In the center of each square, spread out (leaving a border of dough) 1 Tablespoon of cream cheese. Sprinkle on top of that 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger. Then top with 1Tablespoon of blackberry jam and 1 overflowing teaspoon of flaked coconut. Repeat with three other squares. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Serve immediately.


Sources:
Kentucky Distillers' Association: FAQ
Kentucky Legislature Kids' Page: State Symbols
Lebowski Fest: About