Friday, February 7, 2014

Interesting Regional Foods across America!

I had to get my car inspected and it was going to take about an hour. I decided to walk across the street to Starbucks and wait until the car was finished. It was early in the morning and Starbuck's is always crowded. I managed to get the last seat available. The tables and chairs are close together and it gets packed with customers. I was sitting very close to two woman at the table next to me. I was not eavesdropping but it's easy to hear the conversation when you're so close. I knew they were talking about some event they were planning. At first I though they were planning a wedding reception, maybe  they were caterers, I wasn't sure. Then, I very clearly heard one of them ask the other if she had ever heard of Kool-Aid Pickles. I knew at that point I had to apologize for overhearing the conversation and comment, after all, I have the recipe on my blog for Kool-Aid Pickles.

I mentioned that to them and told them about the blog , I said that I overheard them talking about food and they could get the recipe from the blog.  I told them that I'm fascinated with regional foods in American that only the locals are aware of and take pride in cooking and eating. Then the other woman told me that she grew up eating bags of Fritos with a yellow mustard packet squeezed into the bag, mixed up and eaten with a spoon.  I had never heard of it, but then as the conversation continued they mentioned eating Pickles stuffed with candy, Horse Shoe Sandwiches, Walking Tacos etc. I told them that I was so interested in this topic that I would research it and blog about it. I finally learned that they were planning an event at the local elementary school where they wanted to gather recipes from parents and create a cookbook to be published to raise money for the school. I was fascinated at that point and came home to start my research.

I didn't get their names and it's taken me awhile to get the story written. So, if they are reading this, I would love to hear your comments on the story and I'd love to hear how you're project is progressing. I would even love to buy a copy of your final cookbook!
You can either write a comment here on the blog or reach me at :

I have to start with the Kool-Aid Pickle story and recipe:

This is the craziest thing I've ever made.

The concept and original recipe is believed to have come from the Delta region of Mississippi.
The overwhelming favorite flavor was any of the Reds which included Strawberry, Cherry, or Tropical Punch. I heard a story that a woman created these pickles and sold them at her local country store in Mississippi. They were such a success that she ended up selling them in many outlets.

We've made the Tropical Punch. I want to try Lime or Grape.

1 - 46 ounce jar of Whole Dill Pickles.
1 C Sugar
2 C Water
2 Packets of you favorite flavor of Kool - Aid

Drain and discard the juice from the pickles, rinse the jar and the pickles .
Remove the pickles and cut each one in half lengthwise
Return them to the jar and set aside
In a large measuring cup, combine Sugar, Water and Kool - Aid
Mix until the sugar has completely dissolved
Pour the Kool - Aid into the jar to completely cover the pickles
Discard excess Kool - Aid
Cover and refrigerate at least 48 hours
Longer if you can wait....... LOL

I know this sounds crazy, but you may be surprised that you like them , we did!

Far Out Man!

Here's another interesting Kool-Aid Recipe from my blog:

I had previously posted a recipe for Kool Aid Pickles and I thought that was bizarre. I made them and I loved them. I've learned not to be critical when I see a recipe that I'm not familiar with. There was such a great story that went with the Kool Aid Pickle recipe that I embraced the concept.
There isn't a story behind this recipe, just another All American Iconic recipe.
This recipe comes from

Kool-Aid Pie:

1 (0.13oz) package of any unsweetened fruit flavored Kool Aid drink mix.
1 (14oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk.
1 (8oz.) container of frozen whipped topping, thawed.
1 - 9" prepared graham cracker crust.

Whisk Kool Aid and milk until thick and smooth.
Gently fold in whipped topping until light and fluffy.
Spread into the crust
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Here are other Pickle stories:

The woman at Starbucks was telling me that when she was young, she would go to the local corner store that sold large Pickles and the kids would cut off the top of the pickle and stuff it with a candy called, Now and Later. I have never heard of this candy. They would suck on the pickle and the candy. It was the first time I had ever heard of this "treat". 

Here are other Pickle stories that I discovered:

On the South side of Chicago there were corner stores that sold Van Holten Pickles in plastic bags, They would sell the pickles with a peppermint stick stuffed in the middle.

In St. Louis  pickles sold from jars in the Penny Candy Stores were stuffed with a Jolly Roger Stick.
Pickles were also hollowed out and stuffed with your favorite flavor of Kool_Aid.

This was just the beginning of discovering unusual and, not so unusual, but interesting regional foods in America.

Here's one that I absolutely love:

Walking Tacos:

I think this would be great for a kids party, a neighborhood Block Party or even a fun family party.
I like this idea!

1 small bag of Fritos.
Open the bag and start filling it with your favorite Taco ingredients, and eat it from the bag with a fork.

Here are a few of the suggestions:

Chili Con Carne (recipe to follow)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream
Chopped Green Onions
Sliced Pickled Jalapenos

Open a bag of Fritos, spoon in some Chili, Cheese, Sour Cream, Onions and Jalapenos.

Here's the Chili Con Carne recipe, or you can just open cans of Hormel Chile! (Hormel makes canned vegetarian chili)

2 TBS Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 pound of Lean Ground Beef ( vegetarian option is available)
a pinch of Salt and a pinch of Pepper
2 C diced Roma Tomatoes
1 C of your favorite Chunky Salsa
1 small can of Tomato Paste
1 C Water
3 C of a variety of canned beans (black,red kidney,chili beans, navy beans), drained
1 C sliced black olives, drained
2 TBS Chile Powder
1 TBS Cumin
1 TBS Tabasco Sauce
1 TBS Lime Juice
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 C fresh chopped Cilantro

In a large Dutch Oven on medium heat, saute:
bell peppers
saute 5 minutes
Add minced garlic for 1 minute

Add beef, salt, pepper, cook until browned , drain
Add tomatoes, salsa, tomato paste, Stir Well

Add water, beans, olives, chile powder, cumin, tabasco sauce, lime juice, salt and pepper, garlic powder.
Stir Well

Add cilantro, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

One of the women at Starbucks told me about this interesting dish:

Chicken Booyah:

This is a stew made with chicken from Northern Wisconsin. It's a favorite at many festivals, church picnics, bazaars and any large gatherings in the northern part of Wisconsin.

It's believed that the word Booyah comes from a very low language called Walloon. The word Booyah may come from the Walloon word Bouyon , Bouyu or from it's original French word Bouillon.

The original Belgian immigrants arrived in Wisconsin in 1853. It's believed that they brought Booyah with them. They spoke a Walloon dialect.

Here's the recipe:
It's not possible to create a vegetarian version of this recipe.

1 (4-5) pound whole roasting chicken cut into quarters
1 pound beef stew meat, including bones
1 pound pork stew meat
2 large onions, chopped, divided
4 quarts of water, divided
6 carrots, divided
6 potatoes peeled and diced
1 C frozen peas
1 small bunch of celery, divided
1 (28oz.) can whole tomatoes, undrained and cut up.
salt and pepper to taste

In a large Soup Pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat, add chicken, beef, pork, 1/2 of the chopped onion and 2 quarts of water.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes until chicken is tender and the meat falls off the bones.
Remove chicken and transfer it to a bowl and set aside to cool.
When the chicken has cooled, take the meat from the bones and cut it into pieces.
Refrigerate the cooled chicken until ready to use.

Continue cooking the beef and pork for 1 1/2 -2 hours or until tender.
Remove to a bowl, cool, remove the meat from the bones and cut into pieces.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

Strain the stock, refrigerate until cooled completely.
When cold, remove the fat from the surface.

Return the strained stock to the pot.
Add remaining ingredients, 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil.
Reduce to low heat and add remaining onions, carrots and potatoes.
Simmer 10 - 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add chicken, beef, pork, peas, celery, tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Simmer until thoroughly heated.
Serve ladled into soup bowls.

"Hotdish" or Tater Tot Casserole from Minnesota:

It's a version of Shepherds Pie using Tater Tots in place of  mashed potatoes. it finds it's origin from the Midwest United States. It's affectionately called Church Lady Casserole. It's said that there are as many different ways of making Tater Tot Hotdish as there are Minnesotans that make it.

Hotdish is a Minnesota term typically known as a casserole that contains a starch, a meat, canned or frozen vegetables and a canned soup that's cooked together in one baking dish. Since many Minnesotan  settlers are Norwegian, it's believes that Hotdish originated from the Norwegian word "Varmrett" which means warm dish. These one dish meals were inexpensive, easy to fix and very filling. They came about when farm wives needed to find convenient ways to feed a meal to their family or congregation members of the Lutheran Church.

2 pounds of ground beef or ground turkey (this recipe can be converted to vegetarian).
2 tsp beef bouillon or vegetarian bouillon.
2 C water
1 (10.5 oz.) can of cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 oz.) can of cream of celery soup
1 (8oz.) package of cream cheese, room temperature, cubed.
1 TBS onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 (14.5) cans of cut green beans, drained
1 (32oz.) bag of frozen Tater Tots, do not thaw
2 C shredded Cheddar Cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Put a 9"X13" baking dish on a sheet pan sprayed with a vegetable cooking spray

In a medium bowl, mix together bouillon and water until dissolved.
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the beef and drain off the fat and discard it. (this is not necessary with vegetarian crumbles), remember to cook them in 2TBS of vegetable oil.
Add in the bouillon, both soups, cream cheese, onion powder and garlic powder.
Stir until cream cheese is melted and bouillon is blended.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour beef mixture into the prepared dish.
Layer green beans evenly over the beef.
Cover beans with a single layer of frozen Tater Tots.
Sprinkle evenly with Cheddar Cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sugar Cream Pie or Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie, Indiana Cream Pie, Sugar Pie or Finger Pie is simply a basic pie shell with layers of creamed butter and maple or brown sugar with a sprinkle of flour filled with vanilla flavored cream and baked.

The recipe originated in Indiana around the 1850's within the Shaker/Amish Community.

1 - 8" Pie Crust
1 C Brown Sugar
1 TBS flour
1 C (minus 2 TBS) of Heavy Cream

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix brown sugar and flour directly in the unbaked pie crust until the flour disappears.
Add the cream and mix with your fingers or a wooden spoon.

Bake at 325 degrees until the entire surface of the filling is boiling and the crust is bronzed, about 50 - 60 minutes.

Remove from oven , cool to room temperature before serving.
An option is to sprinkle the top of the pie with grated nutmeg.

Horseshoe Sandwiches:
This can be converted to vegetarian with the hamburger version.

The signature dish of Springfield, Illinois. It was originally serves on a sizzling metal plate. Two thick slices of Bread were toasted and placed on the plate. A thick slab of Ham, shaped like a Horseshoe was added. The Ham was topped with a Welsh Rarebit Cheese Sauce. The Cheese was topped with a pile of French Fries to represent the "nails". The metal plate represented an Anvil. Today the sandwich can be made with either Ham or two large Hamburger Patties and then the Fries topped with the Cheese Sauce.
The name came from the Ham shaped like the Horseshoe, the hot plate was the Anvil and the Fries were the Nails. It was created in the late 1920's by Chef Joe Schweska at the Leland Hotel on the corner of 6th and Capital in Springfield, Illinois.

I ingredients for 4 sandwiches:

frozen french fries
beer cheese sauce
8 slices of toasted white bread
sliced ham or 8 cooked hamburgers

Prepare the fries as directed on the package
Place 2 slices of bread on individual plates
Top with ham or hamburger
Cover with cheese sauce and a large mound of fries
Garnish with paprika

Beer Cheese Sauce:

2 egg yolks
1/2 C beer
2 TBS butter
3 C shredded English Cheddar cheese
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

In a bowl,:
egg yolks
Mix Well, set aside

In a double boiler over hot water:
worcestershire sauce
black pepper
cayenne pepper
Mix Well
egg mixture, a little at a time, stirring constantly.
Cook and stir until it thickens and bubbles.
Remove from heat.

Rochester, New York / Garbage Plate

Garbage Plate was created at Nick Tahou Hot's fast food restaurant. The restaurant was opened n 1918.
The dish included just about everything the kitchen could cook. Meat, potatoes and other things thrown on to create a one plate meal. It was considered a great late night snack for college students. There are so many variations such as the Hot Dog Plate, Hot Dog Burger Plate, Hamburger Egg Sausage and Steak versions.

Here is a recipe:
Layer the following on an individual plate.

1st layer:
Home Fries and Macaroni Salad
2nd. layer:
2 Hamburgers, well done covered with Melted Cheese, Horseradish Sauce and Chili Sauce.
Serve with a side of Italian Bread.

Portland, Oregon / Mashed Potato Candy

Wow, this one is definitely odd. But I guess all of these regional dishes may seem odd to some people.
I have never heard of this before.

1 medium potato
1/2 C dates
1/4 C dried figs
1/2 C golden raisins
2 TBS dark raisins
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp maple flavoring
5 2/3 C Confectioner's Sugar, sifted
1/2 C Confectioner's  Sugar for coating the candy
1/2 C Ground Pecans

Bake or Microwave the potato
Grind the dates, figs and both types of raisins in a food mill or finely chop in a food processor.

While the potato is still warm, scoop out the potato fron the skin and mash well.
Mix in:
5 2/3 C Confectioner's sugar
Mix until a dough is formed
fruit mixture
Mix Well
Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour

Shape into a 1 1/2" diameter rolls
Roll them in 1/2 C confectioner's sugar and ground nuts.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled for 24 hours.
Slice thin
Refrigerate the slices
Bring to room temperature to serve
Store in a covered container to prevent drying

Roll the dough into small truffles, confectioner's sugar and nuts.
Refrigerate and bring to room temperature to serve.

Cincinnati Ohio / Skyline Chili
I would actually make this one!

Cincinnati is famous for Skyline Chili. My wife found it here in Dallas at a local grocery store.
This recipe can be made vegetarian with a can of Hormel Vegetarian Chili.

Here's a recipe for  Original Skyline Chili Dip:

1 (15oz.) can of Skyline Chili or Hormel Vegetarian Chili
12 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 C Diced Onion
12 oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 - microwavable glass 9"X13" baking dish

Spread Cream Cheese evenly over the bottom of the baking dish
Sprinkle evenly with Onions
Pour Chili evenly over the Onions
Cover the Chili with Shredded Cheese
Microwave for 2 minutes or Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes

I hope you enjoyed reading about these interesting regional foods in America.
I think there are a few that I would make.
I'm not sure they're all for everyone, but it's fascinating to see how diverse the country is when it comes to favorite foods.
I know from traveling the world that every region in every country has speciality foods that have been passed down form generation to generation and I find those recipes to be interesting too.
My wife and I have actually been brave and sampled some regional foods in other countries. I think she has tasted more unusual foods than I have since I'm a vegetarian........ I think you all know what I mean!

Until the next story.....!
And if the two woman from Starbucks made it to the end of this story...... I would love to hear from you!

Peace in the Kitchen!

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