Thursday, September 27, 2012

Colorado - #38, August 1, 1876

Colorado has the highest mean elevation of any state, with more than 1,000 Rocky Mountain peaks over 10,000 ft high and 54 towering above 14,000 ft. Pikes Peak, the most famous of these mountains, was discovered by U.S. Army lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike in 1806. Colorado's nickname of the Centennial State comes from its admission in 1876, the 100th anniversary of American independence.

The current Governor of Colorado is Democrat John Hickenlooper.  Both Senators from Colorado are Democrats, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall. The Colorado Congressional delegation has seven members (4 Republican and 3 Democrats).
  • State Capital and largest city - Denver
  • Date of Admission - August 1, 1876
  • Area - 104,094sq mi (8th) 
  • Population (2011 est.) - 5,116,796 (22nd) 
  • State Motto - "Nil sine Numine" "Nothing without Providence" 
  • State Nickname - The Centennial State
  • State animal Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
  • State bird - lark bunting
  • State flower - Rocky Mountain columbine
  • State tree - blue spruce
  • State University - The University of Colorado
  • Colorado State Archives 
  • The Colorado Historical Society 
Prominent Coloradans - (here's a few lists to peruse, one and two)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chocolate Swirl Buns

It's possible I am smitten with the Smitten Kitchen.

Chocolate Swirl Buns
Yield: 12 muffin-sized buns

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, preferably whole 
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) plus a pinch of granulated sugar 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) active dry yeast 
  • 1 large egg, brought to room temperature 
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface 
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt 
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional for bowl and muffin tins
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 pound (225 grams) semisweet chocolate 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional) 
  • Egg wash (optional) 
  • 1 egg 
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) heavy cream or milk 
Prepare dough: Warm milk and a pinch of sugar to between 110 to 116°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you’re looking for it to be warm but not hot to the touch; best to err on the cool side. Sprinkle yeast over milk and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, then slowly whisk in yeast mixture.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Run mixer on low and add egg mixture, mixing until combined. Add butter and mix until incorporated. Switch mixer to dough hook and let it knead the dough for 10 minutes on low speed. At 10 minutes, it should be sticky and stringy and probably worrisome, but will firm up a bit after it rises. Butter a large bowl and place dough in it. Cover loosely with a lint-free towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.

Meanwhile, prepare filling: If your chocolate is in large bars, roughly chop it. Then, you can let a food processor do the rest of the work, pulsing the chopped chocolate with the salt, sugar, and cinnamon (if using) until the chocolate is very finely chopped with some parts almost powdery. Add butter and pulse machine until it’s distributed throughout the chocolate. (If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the chocolate until it’s very finely chopped, then stir in the sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter until it makes a pasty/chunky/delicious mess.) Set mixture aside.
Generously butter a standard 12-muffin tin; set aside.

Form buns: Once dough is doubled, turn it out onto a well-floured surface and gently deflate it with floured hands. Let it rest for another 5 minutes. Once rested, roll dough into a large, large rectangle. The short sides should be a scant 11 to 12 inches. The other side can be as loooong as you can roll it. The longer you can make it — I got mine to 20 inches before I ran out of counter space — the more dramatic and swirled your buns will be.
Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough’s surface. It’ll be clumpy and uneven and probably look like there’s too much chocolate for the volume of dough; just do your best. Tightly roll the dough back over the filling from one short end to the other, forming a 12 to 13-inch log. (Yes, it always magically grows because the dough is soft.) With a sharp serrated knife, gently saw 1-inch segments off the log and place each in a prepared muffin cup. Loosely cover buns with plastic wrap or a lint-free towel and let them rise for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).

Bake: If you’d like, you can egg wash your buns before baking them (whisking together an egg and the cream until smooth, brush over each bun top). I found the buns I brushed with the wash shinier but otherwise virtually indistinguishable from the un-brushed buns in color. Bake buns for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and brown. If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take the buns out when it reads 185 to 190 degrees in the middle of each bun.
Set buns on cooling rack. Theoretically, you should cool them completely before unmolding them (with the aid of a knife or thin spatula to make sure nothing has stuck). This, of course, won’t happen, so have at them; just don’t burn your tongue. Serve with iced coffee and a bowl of berries. For nutritional balance.

Do ahead: These buns can be formed, placed in the muffin cups and refrigerated (loosely covered with plastic, which you might want to oil to keep it from sticking) the night before, to bake in the morning. You can bake them directly from the fridge. They can be baked and frozen until needed, up to 1 month.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nebraska - #37, March 1, 1867

We've arrived at yet another state that was part of the Louisiana Purchase and which portions of eastern Nebraska were explored by Lewis and Clark.  The Oregon Trail cut across Nebraska.  Western Nebraska was acquired following following the Mexican War in 1848.  Omaha, Nebraska was the starting point for the Union Pacific on its transcontinental railroad journey.

Arbor Day was founded in Nebraska City by territorial governor J. Sterling Morton and the National Arbor Day Foundation is still headquartered in Nebraska City, with some offices in Lincoln. Kool-Aid was created in 1927 by Edwin Perkins in the city of Hastings, which celebrates the event the second weekend of every August with Kool-Aid Days. Cliffs Notes were developed by Clifton Hillegass of Rising City.  The city of Omaha is home to Berkshire Hathaway, whose CEO Warren Buffett is one of the richest people in the world.

There is a swing in the Hebron, Nebraska city park that claims to be the world's largest porch swing, long enough to fit 18 adults or 26 children (although one in Canada may be larger - and this one isn't on a porch). Nebraska Huskers football holds sway over much of the state, during home football games, Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, with a capacity of 85,500, becomes larger than Nebraska's third-largest city.

Nebraska is the only state in the Union to have a unicameral (one-house) legislature. Members are elected to it without party designation. Although this house is officially known simply as the "Legislature", and more commonly called the "Unicameral", its members call themselves "senators." Nebraska's Legislature is also the only state legislature in the United States that is nonpartisan. The senators are elected with no party affiliation next to their names on the ballot, and the speaker and committee chairs are chosen at large, so that members of any party can be chosen for these positions. The Nebraska Legislature can also override a governor's veto with a three-fifths majority, in contrast to the two-thirds majority required in some other states.

Nebraska is one of two states (with Maine) that allow for a split in the state's allocation of electoral votes in presidential elections. Under a 1991 law, two of Nebraska's five votes are awarded to the winner of the statewide popular vote, while the other three go to the highest vote-getter in each of the state's three congressional districts.

Although he made his mark in the state of Michigan, the 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford, was born in Nebraska (as Leslie King) and the state is also the home of perennial presidential candidate and favorite son, William Jennings Bryan.

The current Governor of Nebraska is Republican Dave Heineman.  The Senators for Nebraska are Republican Mike Johanns and Democrat Ben Nelson.  Senator Nelson is retiring at the end of this Congress and the race to succeed him is fierce, with former Governor and Senator Bob Kerrey trailing Republican challenger Deb Fischer. There are three members of the Nebraska Congressional delegation, all Republicans.
  • State Capital - Lincoln
  • Largest city - Omaha
  • Date of Admission - March 1, 1867
  • Area - 77,354 sq mi (16th) 
  • Population (2011 est.) - 1,842,641 (38th) 
  • State Motto - "Equality before the law" 
  • State Nickname - The Cornhusker State
  • State bird - Western meadowlark
  • State dance - square dance
  • State fish - channel catfish
  • State flower - goldenrod
  • State fossil - mammoth
  • State soft drink - Kool Aid
  • State tree - cottonwood
  • State University - The University of Nebraska (Lincoln) is the state's oldest and largest university (and flagship of the state system).
  • The Nebraska State Archives are part of the Nebraska Historical Society
Prominent Nebraskans  - (here's a few lists to peruse, one and two)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was just talking with a friend not too long ago and we both decided that we liked oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip cookies - but the ideal was an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

Then the recipe appears. From Simply Recipes.

Awesome Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Brown the butter first, as the butter is cooling, prep the other ingredients. 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz, 225 g) unsalted butter 
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed 
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar 
  • 2 eggs (large), lightly beaten 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 Tbsp water 
  • 1 1/2 cups bitter-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional) 
  • 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut (optional) 
  • 3 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats (Quick oats are okay, but not steel cut, not instant) 
  1. Brown the butter. Place sticks of butter in a thick-bottomed medium sized stainless-steel saucepan. (It's important to use a saucepan that has a light, reflective interior like stainless steel, otherwise you won't be able to see the butter browning.) Heat on medium. Melt the butter, whisking so that the butter melts evenly. Continue to cook the butter. As it cooks, the butter will foam up, and then the foam will subside. Whisk frequently to check underneath the bubbly surface. At some point, browned bits will form at the bottom of the pan and the butter will begin to smell nutty. Watch carefully, it's easy for the butter to go from browned to burnt. When the browned bits begin to form, remove the pan from the heat. Pour the melted butter, with the browned bits, into a glass or metal bowl. Allow to cool a bit while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Vigorously whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the browned butter (along with the browned bits) in a mixer bowl. Add the brown and white sugar. Beat on medium high speed for about 3 minutes, until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat for three more minutes on medium speed until smooth and light. 
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the butter sugar egg mixture. Stir in 2 Tbsp water (note that if you are using jumbo eggs, and not large eggs as the recipe calls for, you will probably not need this much extra liquid.) 
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips, and the pecans and shredded coconut (if using). Stir in the oatmeal. Up to this point you can make the dough up to a day and a half ahead and store in the refrigerator. 
  6. Butter two large cookie sheets, or line them with Silpat mats or parchment paper. Spoon out heaping tablespoon-fuls of cookie dough and lay them on the cookie sheet. Make sure you have about 2" of space between each cookie, as they will flatten a little and spread on the cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 10 minutes, or until they are just brown around the edges, but still soft in the center. They will firm up as they cool. (If you want them crispier, you can bake them from 12-14 minutes. 10 minutes will help yield a more chewy cookie.)
  7. Take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool for two or three minutes on the hot baking sheet. Then, using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the still-hot cookies to a wire rack to cool. They will continue to be soft until completely cooled. Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container.
 Yield: Makes about 30 cookies.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nevada - #36, October 31, 1864

The battle born state, Nevada, came into the Union on Halloween 1864.  The territory was explored by trappers and traders, including Jedediah Smith and Peter Skene Ogden in the 1820s.  Twenty years later the area was explored by John C. Frémont and Kit Carson.  As a result of the Mexican War, the United States took control of the territory.  Eight days prior to the presidential election of 1864, statehood was granted to help ensure Abraham Lincoln's reelection. As it turned out, however, Lincoln and the Republicans won the election handily, and did not need Nevada's help.

Nevada owes much of its "fame" to the discovery of the Comstock Lode, the richest known U.S. silver deposit, in 1859.  The state's mines have produced large quantities of gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, mercury, barite, and tungsten.  To add to the riches, oil was discovered in 1954. Gold now far exceeds all other minerals in value of production.

The other reason Nevada is well-known is for two industries, divorce and gambling. For many years, Reno and Las Vegas were the “divorce capitals of the nation.”  Nevada is still the gambling capital of the U.S. and a leading entertainment center. In 2009, 12.5% of Nevada’s general revenue came from gambling, which brought in $830 million.  For additional pleasure, prostitution is legal (in brothels) in the state, although confined to the more sparsely populated areas of the state.  It is specifically illegal by state law in the state's larger jurisdictions, which include Clark County (which contains Las Vegas), Washoe County (which contains Reno), and the independent city of Carson City.  Otherwise, it is legal in those counties which specifically vote to permit it. Prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada in licensed brothels, but only counties with populations under 400,000 residents have the option to legalize it. Although prostitution employs roughly 300 women as independent contractors, and not a major part of the Nevada economy, it is a very visible endeavor.

Nevada has by far the most hotel rooms per capita in the United States. The state is ranked just below California, Texas, Florida, and New York in total number of rooms, but those states have much larger populations. Nevada has one hotel room for every 14 residents, far above the national average of one hotel room per 67 residents. 

Nevada is notable for being one of only two states to significantly expand its borders after admission to the Union. (The other is Missouri, which acquired additional territory in 1837 due to the Platte Purchase.) Nevada has the nation's 5th largest school district in the Clark County School District.

The current Governor of Nevada is Brian Sandoval (R).  The Senators for Nevada are split - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) and Dean Heller (R). The Nevada Congressional delegation has three members, one Democrat and two Republicans.
Prominent Nevadans - (here's a few lists to peruse, one and two)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

To Remember 11 Years Later

The weather today is very much like it was that dark day 11 years ago.  Bright blue sky, comfortable temperatures.  I had dropped my car off for service and a friend picked me up to take me to work.  Walking into my office and turning on the radio in my office was the last "normal" thing I did that day.

I moved from the New York area less than a year after 9/11.  But on this day - I will always be a New Yorker.  Here are my previous posts on 9/11.
I also recommend that you go read MetroDad's blog - who usually posts a letter to his friend Andy, who was in the Towers. Today I am choosing to remember one of the victims who was from the same town where I grew up.  Remember Andy, Maria, and all of those we lost that day.

Maria Rose Abad

Age: 49
Residence: Syosset, NY,
Occupation: Senior Vice President, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Location: World Trade Center, Tower 2, 86th floor

Marie Abad loved her job as a senior vice president at Keefe Bruyette Woods, where she was one of the highest-ranking women in the firm. But it was equally important to her to find an escape from work, said her husband, Rudy, and she found that through the hundreds of books she went through each year.

Ms. Abad, 49, read on the train commuting from Long Island to the World Trade Center, and she read on vacation. Each October, she and her husband would spend three weeks in Hawaii — a tradition that started on their honeymoon and continued over the next two decades — and every year she would make sure she had plenty to read. Hawaii meant down time: days on end when the biggest decision was where to have dinner, and the passage of time was marked by the leisurely flutter of turned pages — novels, biographies, celebrity tell-alls.

"She'd go through eight books in three weeks, and these were not little books," Mr. Abad said. "I know because I did the packing."

Ms. Abad, who was born and raised in Queens, did not plan on a career in business. She studied sociology at Queens College and dreamed of being a teacher. She and her husband had plotted out the lives they would lead when the workaday world could be left behind: six months of the year traveling was their plan. And of course, a world of books to explore.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on April 7, 2002. From


Rudy Abad's world collapsed when the Twin Towers fell, burying his wife, Marie Rose, and the couple's plans to retire early and travel the world.

"I could feel the slabs of concrete hitting her, crushing her body," Abad said at his Woodbury home.

It took a while for Abad to face the reality of his devastating loss. Feeling like he "was getting paid for her death," he held out until the 11th hour to claim his share of the $7-billion victim's compensation fund after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

But Abad found a way to channel his grief by helping others in hardship and keeping the spirit of his wife alive by partnering with a nonprofit to build housing for homeless families in his native country, the Philippines. So, in one of the Philippines' most poverty-stricken areas, today rises The Maria Rose Abad Village, named for his late wife.

Abad's is just one of the most visible charitable efforts undertaken by many bereaved relatives of 9/11 victims. Other families have launched similar charitable ventures ranging from full-fledged foundations to scholarships and donations to the victims of natural disasters such as the Southeast Asia tsunami.

"The grief they have experienced has made them more empathetic to the grief of others," said Bill Doyle, a 9/11 family advocate and co-president of the 9/11 Charitable Health Insurance Group, which provides group health insurance to more than 1,500 individuals and family members affected by the attacks. "So many families are now calling me to find out how they can do something for the hurricane victims." Doyle, a retired Lehman Brothers stockbroker from Staten Island, lost his son, Joseph, a government bond supervisor for Cantor Fitzgerald at the World Trade Center.

Marie Rose Abad was 49 when her life was cut short in the south tower. She was born in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn and raised in Richmond Hill, Queens.

"She was a very bright, very pleasant, giving person whom was always willing to lend an ear," Abad said of his wife, who was memorialized Oct. 13, 2001, at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Woodbury. "We were really best friends."

The Maria Rose Abad Village in Tondo, in metropolitan Manila, comprises three clusters of 46 brightly colored row houses and a two-unit school house for preschoolers. Except for the school, all the houses have been completed and are already occupied.

One of the residents is Marites Espinosa, 39, a mother of seven, the youngest of whom is only 3.

She lives with husband Romulo, who works hauling vegetables delivered at a nearby market. After their humble shelter burned down in 2001, her family was awarded, one year later, one of the new homes that Abad financed.

"I am happy that we now have a home," she said.

Especially with the onset of the rainy season last month, Marites is thankful that there are no roof leaks to contend with anymore. The only hitch now is the lack of electricity because residents have yet to apply for meters with the utility company.

Rey Campanera, a two-term councilman in Baseco since 1998, is grateful as well for the work being done by nonprofit groups like Gawad Kalinga and Habitat for Humanity. "Finally, legitimate residents are being provided their right to decent housing," he said.

His wife would have been extremely happy about that, said Abad, 59, adding that theirs was a "Cinderella marriage." They met in 1970 during a Merrill Lynch training program, he said, and married, in 1974.

She landed a job in Manhattan in 1978 with investment bankers Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. She rose to senior vice president at the firm, which moved into the south tower in 1985.

When a truck loaded with explosives tore a hole in the underground garage of the north tower in 1993, Abad said his wife walked down 90 floors and was covered in soot. "At first, we were fearful about her going back," he said, "but, like with everything, time makes you forget."

Still, Abad said, he won't forget the images of Sept. 11.

He was on his daily treadmill run when the phone rang that morning. "Don't worry," Abad said his wife assured him from her office on the 89th floor. "I'm OK. I said, 'What are you talking about?' She said, 'Turn on the TV.'"

Video of the burning tower played on television, prompting Abad to call his wife. As they talked, he watched horrified as the second jetliner slammed into her tower. "Your building just got hit," he told her. She cut the call short. Then around 9:25 a.m. she called again to say the heat was getting unbearable and people were trying to leave.

"Pray, please pray," she told him. "Call me as soon as you can," he said.

In the aftermath of his wife's death, Abad said he searched for a purpose - something "meaningful."

He sponsored a couple of young Filipino girls whose photos adorn his fridge, and even made donations to American Indian causes.

But when former schoolmate Mike Goco told him about the work a Philippines-based nonprofit was doing to provide housing for residents in metropolitan Manila, he had an epiphany.

Abad recalled how, heartbroken by the street urchins his wife saw, some as young as 4-years-old selling lottery tickets on one of several trips to his homeland, she spent two days handing out one-peso coins to every kid she crossed paths with.

Abad partnered with Gawad Kalinga, taking a portion of the victim compensation he received to finance the construction of the village that now bears his wife's name and picture on a plaque at the gateway.

"The lives of 50 families will improve dramatically because my wife died," Abad said shortly before leaving Long Island last week on a five-week trip to the Philippines where he plans to break ground on a second housing project. "This time, I want to get my hands dirty." - Collin Nash  From Newsday

Monday, September 10, 2012

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits

SoBA has an extreme attraction to the biscuits that come with the Popeye's fried chicken that we sometimes order (don't judge us - it's a good meal to have at the pool, which is now, sadly closed for the season).

He would probably go bonkers over these.  From the Smitten Kitchen.

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits
  • 2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) aluminum-free baking powder 
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt 
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold, unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup (about 130 grams) chopped very ripe strawberries (I quarter small or medium ones and further chop larger ones) 
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Add butter, either by cutting it in with two knives or a pastry blender (alternatively, you can freeze the butter and grate it in on the large holes of a box grater; a tip I learned from you guys) cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, breaking it up until the mixture resembles a crumbly meal with tiny pea-sized bits of butter about. Gently stir in the strawberries, so that they are coated in dry ingredient, then stir in heavy cream. (I like to use a rubber spatula to gently lift and turn the ingredients over each other.) When you’ve mixed it in as best as you can with the spatula, go ahead and knead it once or twice in the bowl, to create one mass. Do not worry about getting the dough evenly mixed. It’s far more important that the dough is not overworked.

Generously flour your counter. With as few movements as possible, transfer your dough to the counter, generously flour the top of it and with your hands or a rolling pin, gently roll or press the dough out to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into 2 1/2-inch circles with a floured biscuit cutter or top edge of a drinking glass, pressing straight down and not twisting (this makes for nice layered edges) as you cut. Carefully transfer scones to prepared baking sheet, leaving a couple inches between each.

You can re-roll the scraps of dough, but don’t freak out over how wet the dough becomes as the strawberries have had more time to release their juice. They’ll still bake up wonderfully.

Bake the scones for 12 to 15 minutes, until bronzed at the edges and the strawberry juices are trickling out of the biscuits in places. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do ahead: Biscuits are generally best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, arrange them on your parchment-lined sheet and freeze them. If you’re prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. If you’re preparing them more than one day in advance, once they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Bring them back to a parchment-lined sheet when you’re ready to bake them. No need to defrost the froze, unbaked scones, just add 2 to 3 minutes to your baking time.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

West Virginia - #35, June 20, 1863

We have arrived at West Virginia, a state that became part of the United States having been a part of another state - West Virginia seceded from the rest of Virginia during the Civil War and was admitted as a Union State shortly before the battle of Gettysburg.  As a result, West Virginia is the only state in the Union to have acquired its sovereignty by proclamation of the President of the United States. 

Some fun facts about the Mountain State:
  • The state is considered the southern most northern state and the northern most southern state.
  • Mother's Day was first observed at Andrews Church in Grafton on May 10, 1908.
  • Jackson's Mill is the site of the first 4-H Camp in the United States.
  • The New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville is the second highest steel arch bridge in the United States and the longest steel arch bridge (1,700 feet) in the world. Every October on Bridge Day, the road is closed and individuals parachute and bungee cord jump 876 feet off the bridge.
  • West Virginia has an mean altitude of 1,500 feet, giving it the highest average altitude east of the Mississippi.
  • T. Bailey Brown, the first Union solider killed in the Civil War, died on May 22, 1861, at Fetterman, Taylor County.
  • Minnie Buckingham Harper, a member of the House of Delegates by appointment in 1928, was the first African American woman to become a member of a legislative body in the United States. 
  • Chester Merriman of Romney was the youngest soldier of World War I, having enlisted at the age of 14. 
  • The first brick street in the world was laid in Charleston, West Virginia, on October 23, 1870, on Summers Street, between Kanawha and Virginia Streets.
The current Governor of West Virginia is Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin.  Both Senators for West Virginia are Democrats, the senior Senator is Jay Rockefeller (John D. Rockefeller IV) and the junior Senator is former Governor of the state, Joe Manchin III. There are only three members in the WV Congressional delegation, two Republicans and one Democrat.
    • State Capital (and largest city) - Charleston
    • Date of Admission - June 20, 1863
    • Area - 24,230 sq mi (41st) 
    • Population (2011 est.) - 1,855,364 (37th) 
    • State Motto - "Montani semper liberi" "Mountaineers are always free"
    • State Nickname - The Mountain State
    • State animal - black bear
    • State bird - cardinal
    • State flower - rhododendron
    • State tree - sugar maple
    • State University - West Virginia University was established on February 7, 1867 under the name of "Agricultural College of West Virginia."
    • West Virginia State Archives part of the Division of Culture and History
    Prominent West Virginians - (here's a few lists to peruse, one and two)

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Grilled Lemon-Coriander Chicken

    Today is Labor Day.  It is the unofficial end of summer and a required grilling day.  There is a rumor the C in DC family may be joining us for dinner this evening - but the Brave Astronauts are going to try and get some pool time in today as well.  After today, our pool will only be opened next weekend and then closed for the season.

    I got a round of golf in on Saturday and yesterday we all took in the red-hot Washington Nationals as they try to seal up a post-season berth.  If you had told me at the beginning of the season that both the Nationals and the Orioles would be likely playoff teams, I would have called you crazy.

    I have a good idea of what we may be grilling today for our Labor Day barbecue - it might be this - or something else altogether.  Have a great Labor Day!

    Grilled Lemon-Coriander Chicken
    from Gourmet | May 2006
    Grilling a whole chicken cuts down on prep time and makes for a dramatic presentation. A purée made from fresh herbs, garlic, and chile spread under the skin of the bird keeps the meat moist. 
    Yield: Makes 4 servings
    Active Time: 25 min
    Total Time: 1 1/2 hr

    • 3/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs 
    • 1/4 cup olive oil 
    • 2 shallots, chopped (1/2 cup) 
    • 1 large garlic clove, chopped 
    • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 
    • 1 fresh serrano chile, minced, including seeds 
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander 
    • 1 teaspoon sugar 
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt 
    • 1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb) chicken, rinsed and patted dry 
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
    Special equipment: kitchen string; a large chimney starter (if using charcoal); an instant-read thermometer

    Purée cilantro, oil, shallots, garlic, lemon zest and juice, chile, coriander, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor until it forms a paste. Leave any fat in opening of chicken cavity and sprinkle cavity with pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Starting at cavity end, gently slide an index finger between skin and flesh of breast and legs to loosen skin (be careful not to tear skin). Using a small spoon, slide cilantro purée under skin over breast and drumsticks, using your finger on outside of skin to push purée out of spoon and distribute evenly. Tie legs together with kitchen string and tuck wing tips under. Brush outside of chicken all over with butter.

    Prepare grill for cooking over indirect heat with medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas)

    To cook chicken using a charcoal grill: Lightly oil grill rack, then put chicken on rack with no coals directly underneath and cook, covered with lid, until thermometer inserted into fleshy part of thigh (do not touch bone) registers 170°F, 40 to 50 minutes. (Add more briquettes during grilling if necessary to maintain heat.) Transfer chicken to a platter and let stand 15 minutes.

    To cook chicken using a gas grill: Lightly oil grill rack, then put chicken above shut-off burner. Grill, covered with lid, turning chicken 180 degrees halfway through cooking if using a 2-burner grill, until thermometer inserted into fleshy part of thigh (do not touch bone) registers 170°F, 35 to 45 minutes.

    Cooks' notes:
    • Chicken can be prepared, but not grilled, 1 day ahead and chilled, covered with plastic wrap. Let stand at cool room temperature 30 minutes before grilling.
    • If you can't grill outdoors, chicken can be roasted on an oiled rack set in a roasting pan in middle of a 375°F oven about 1 1/4 hours.