February 4, 2015

Missouri

Statehood: August 10th, 1821 (24/50)

Thank you, Missouri. Without you my home state of Maine might still be a part of Massachusetts or, who knows?, a province of Canada. How'd it all happen? It was 1819 and Missouri petitioned to be its own state. Only, the country was like, "whoa, hold up, we've got the perfect balance of states right now with eleven free and eleven slave. If The Show Me state's admitted, then the favor of the country tips towards that of being pro-slavery. And that's no bueno." So Congressman Henry Clay came up with a compromise: Missouri (which had a large population of slaves) was allowed to come in only if Maine - which had also been petitioning to be it's own state - could also come in, but as a free state... also, slavery would be prohibited north of a certain line in the South (that part only lasted until the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 when it was decided that states north of that boundary really ought to have sovereignty in the choice).

And now your brain is exploding with knowledge you haven't thought of since eighth grade. Let's counter the history chatter with a smattering of fun facts:
- The state musical instrument of Missouri is the fiddle (as of July 17th, 1987), and not coincidentally the state folk dance is the square dance (as of May 31st, 1995).
- MO is also known as The Cave State with more than 6,000 caves.
- Like other states, Missouri also has an official dinosaur. The Hypsibema missouriense was an herbivore with over 1,000 teeth in it's duck-billed face to handle tough vegetation. Apparently it lived in The Show Me State in the Late Cretaceous Period and was first discovered in the early 1940's by Dan Stewart near Glen Allen.

Missourians, if I may, let's take a moment to munch on your memorable menu items!

State Tree Nut: Eastern Black Walnut

The eastern black walnut became the official state tree nut on July 9th, 1990. It's great in a variety of foods, but I thought it would be fun to use it in a spin of the Springfield Cashew Chicken known in this region of the world. The Chinese-American dish consists of fried chicken topped with a sauce, cashews, and green onions.

A Spin on Springfield Chicken
Makes: 1 large portion or 2 smaller portions (depends on how piggish you're feeling!)

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 10.5-oz bag Gardein Mandarin Crispy Chick'n, sauce discarded
1 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoons sugar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
2 rounded Tablespoons scallions
2 rounded Tablespoons black walnuts
1 cup of cooked rice

Method:
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, sauté the Gardein Mandarin Crispy Chick'n in the olive oil (turning frequently until golden and crispy on both sides) for 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pot on medium-high heat, combine the veggie stock, sugar, soy sauce, and corn starch. Whisk until all is blended and bring to a rolling boil and let thicken 5 to 7 minutes.

Serve the Gardein Mandarin Crispy Chick'n over the pre-cooked rice. Pour sauce over chicken. Top that with green scallions, then with black walnuts. Serve immediately.

State Fruit: Norton/Cynthiana Grape

The Norton/Cynthiana grape has been cultivated since the first half of the 1800's and is thought to be North America's oldest grape varietal still commercially grown. It was declared the official state fruit on July 11th, 2003. It may be incredibly hard or even impossible to find in your neck of the woods, so try looking online - that's what I did!

Cheese(Rice)Cakes
Makes: 1 rice cake

Ingredients:
1 rice cake
2 Tablespoons goat cheese
2 Tablespoons Norton Red Wine Jelly (like this)

Method:
This is an easy brunch... smear the goat cheese on top of the rice cake, then gently spread the wine jelly on top of that. Eat immediately (with a cup of strong black tea)!

State Dessert: Ice Cream Cone

How could the ice cream cone NOT be Missouri's official state dessert, which it was made on August 28th, 2008? After all, it's debut was at the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904. There's so much more you can do with it besides a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Ever make cake in a cone? How about these super easy cannoli's?

Ice Cream Cone Cannoli's
Makes: 10 to 12 ice cream cone cannoli's

Ingredients:
2 cups ricotta
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup of white chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon (alternative) milk
1 box of sugar cones
1/2 cup pistachio meats

Method:
In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, powdered sugar, lemon rind, lemon juice, and almond extract. Make sure everything is well combined.

In a sauce pan over low heat, melt the white chocolate chips with the milk. Once creamy - working very quickly - dip the open-ends of the sugar cone in the chocolate and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. When finished, gently pat the still warm chocolate ends with pistachios. Let set for ten minutes before filling each cone with the ricotta mixture.

Serve immediately! These DO NOT hold up well overnight (the cone will become soggy).


Sources:
Missouri Secretary of State: State Symbols of Missouri
Foutes, Stephen. "Missouri". Message to the author. 29 Oct. 2013. E-mail.