Welcome to week 46 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Oklahoma, who joined the union on November 16, 1907. I was actually surprised to sort of ‘back peddle’ to the middle US this week. The story of statehood for Oklahoma is one that actually made me a little sad about our country, because the reason Oklahoma joined so late is because of Native Americans.
Throughout the 1800s, the U.S. government relocated Indian tribes from the southeastern United States to the area, and by 1900, over 30 Indian tribes had been moved to what was originally called the Indian Territories. At the same time, ranchers from Texas began to come into the region looking for cattle grazing pastures. Eventually, Washington opened up the lands to settlers and developed what they called “land runs” for interested people to lay claim to the lands. These were established at set times, and people who broke the law and ran early were called “sooners”, a title that later became the states nickname.
So the lands that had been set aside for Indian nations was quickly devoured by European settlers looking for a better life and piece of land to call their own. At first, the area was divided into two distinct territories, the Indian and Oklahoma territories. And interestingly, in 1905, leaders from the Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw nations (known as the Five Civilized Tribes) submitted a constitution for a separate Indian state to be called Sequoyah. Although a large majority of voters supported the petition in the November election, Congress refused to consider the request for statehood. On November 16, 1907, the Indian and Oklahoma territories were combined and formed the state of Oklahoma.
Since Oklahoma was settled by a huge number of individual land claims, there was never a specific food influence in the region (other than Native American), so the foods of the state reflect much of the southern styles of its neighbors. When looking for a recipe this week, I discovered that Oklahoma is the only state that actually has a complete Official State Meal. No kidding. The State Meal of Oklahoma includes fried okra, cornbread, barbecue pork, squash, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas. Wow. These people are serious.
I thought about fried okra (for about 2 seconds), but I seriously don’t like okra so I tossed that one. I also thought about chicken fried steak, but I just couldn’t do another fried thing that had no hope of being even remotely healthy. What I did decide to do is Black Eyed Pea Soup and Homestead Corn Muffins.
I have never eaten black eyed peas before, but they are very popular throughout the south, especially on New Years Day, as they are supposed to bring you a year of prosperity if you eat them on January 1st. Although Oklahoma has an official meal, they do not offer up official recipes, so I went looking for something that sounded tasty and settled on a soup recipe that included the ‘holy trinity’ and tomatoes (oh, and a whole pound of bacon). The original recipe was very simple and uses mostly canned ingredients, but lacked some seasoning. I added some garlic, some pepper, and a good dollop of Tabasco, which brightened the dish and gave it a nice little heat.
I have made cornbread before, but the recipe that I used tonight was from the Shawnee Milling Company, which is based in Oklahoma. They were really tasty, but I think I over mixed the batter, as they didn’t rise like I would have liked. I also think they would have done better if I had let the batter rest for a little bit before baking to help the baking powder do its thing.
The verdict? I really liked the soup, but my son Josh was not impressed. He is not a ‘stuff in your soup’ kind of guy, so I wasn’t surprised when he turned his nose to it. He loved the corn muffins though.
I give these recipes a solid A. I think if I made the soup again, I would cook up my own beans from scratch and maybe reduce the bacon to a ½ pound and add a little ham instead. The muffins were perfect as is and I will use that recipe again.
Have a great week everyone and thanks for stopping by. See you next week in New Mexico! (Only four more to go!)
Recipe for Black Eyed Pea Soup:
1 lb. thick cut bacon
1 c. chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
1 c. chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 c. chopped green pepper (about 1 medium)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cans (16 oz. each) black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 ½ oz.) low-sodium beef broth
1 can (14 ½ oz.) stewed tomatoes
1 can (14 ½ oz.) crushed tomatoes*
1 t Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
In a large fry pan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel covered plate to cool. Once cooled, coarsely chop and set aside.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings from pan; sauté celery, onion, green pepper and garlic until tender, about 7 minutes.
Transfer to a large soup pot. Add all remaining ingredients, including bacon. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
Recipe for Homestead Corn Muffins:
1/3 cup yellow corn meal
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
3 Tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup milk
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
Blend oil, egg, and milk together and add the dry ingredients.
Stir until dry ingredients are just moistened.
Fill greased muffin pan 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes.