Westward Ho to Nebraska

Today is National Nebraska Day. The Corn Husker State joined the union on March 1, 1867. Pioneers migrating westward along the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails traveled through the area, marking off recognized landmarks along the way.

One such landmark was Scotts Bluff. Imagine if you will reaching this pass, knowing that you only had another 1,200 miles to go and yet many pushed on. Some Pioneers on this westward migration put down roots in what would eventually become the state of Nebraska thanks to the Homestead Act of 1862. These rugged people planted families that would significantly contribute to the farming and ranching industry that is still a part of Nebraska today.

It’s interesting to note that very few of the farmers and ranchers are single men. Those that work the land understand the importance of a hard-working wife. She brings children to help with the many chores of ranching and farming. She manages the household, feeds the hired hands, and after the 1930s, wives generally handled the paperwork and financial details of the homestead. In rural Nebraska, there is a rich social life. At the heart of many a social function such as barn raising, corn husking and quilting bees, the womenfolk organize shared meals and potlucks.

The first Arbor Day in America took place in Nebraska City, organized by J. Sterling Morton. On April 10, 1872; thousands of citizens turned out for a giant party and planted an estimated one million trees. That’s quite the accomplishment. And I’m sure the women organized the potluck.

church-potluck

When you think of Nebraska, think corn and corn-fed goodness. Think simple foods with honest, straightforward flavors. For me, when I think Nebraska, I think awesome cobbler. My father has been a very lucky man. First he married my mother, who set a proper table and loved to entertain. Upon her passing, he married a woman from Nebraska who could do things my mother never would, like work the farm. One thing she does that I love is bake up an awesome cobbler. So when I think Nebraska, I think cobbler.

Nebraska Day
Straight Up Grilled Rib Eye
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Potato Salad
Corn-cake Muffins
Blackberry Cobbler


Straight Up Grilled Rib Eye
4 boneless Rib Eye Steaks
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste

Rub steaks with salt, the season with some black pepper. Let the steaks rest on the counter for about 45 minutes while the grill is prepared.

Build a nice bed of coals in the grill. When the coals are just beginning to ashen and glow, place the steaks on the grill. Cook for about 7 minute per side for medium-rare.

To get nice criss-cross grill marks, angle the steaks on the grill, then give the steaks a quarter turn after about 3 or 4 minutes.


Grilled Corn on the Cob
4 Ears of Corn
Cold Water as needed
1 tablespoon Sugar (see note)
Kitchen Twine as needed
Butter
Kosher Salt

Note: If you grew the corn yourself, or know the grower and know it’s guaranteed to be sweet corn every time, omit the sugar. If not, a little sugar goes a long way to making this the best grilled corn you’ve ever tasted.

Pull back husks, remove silk. While the hunks are still down, trim the tip of the ears. Pull husk back over the ears loosely, trim the ends. Set aside.

Pour 2 cups of cold water in a pot large enough to hold the corn flat. Add sugar, stir until the sugar has dissolved completely.

Place corn in the pot. Add additional water, if necessary, so that the corn is completely covered in water. Let soak for 30 minutes.

Build a nice fire for grilling. Make sure the grate is generously oiled to prevent the corn from sticking. Once the coals are ready, prepare corn for the grill.

Remove the corn from the water. Secure husks in place with kitchen twine.

Grill ears of corn for about 20 minutes, turning several times for even cooking.

Remove corn from grill, allow to cool slightly before opening. Serve with sweet butter and plenty of salt.

Rosie’s Potato Salad
3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 Eggs, hard-boiled
1 Red Onion, minced
2 Celery Stocks, minced
1 Tablespoon Bacon Drippings, warm (Optional)
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoons Mustard
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar plus a sprinkling for potatoes
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Parsley or green onion for garnish

Note: The longer the potato salad sits, the more the flavors develop. It’s really best when made the night before or early in the morning the day of serving. If the salad seems dry, sprinkle with a bit more vinegar and spoon in just a little more mayonnaise. Be sure to taste just before seasoning. Sometimes a little more salt is needed after the salad has chilled.

Peel and slice potatoes into large chunks. Place potatoes in a stockpot and cover with 1-inch of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are just tender but not soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain well. Sprinkle LIGHTLY with red wine vinegar and set aside in refrigerator to cool.

Place eggs in a saucepan, add cold water to cover eggs. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 12-14 minutes, then plunge eggs into cold water to stop cooking process. Once cooled, roll egg on counter to crack the shell. Return eggs to cold water and let sit for about 15 minutes. This will help to make the eggs easier to peel.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine onions, celery, bacon drippings, mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream and red wine vinegar. Whisk to combine. Taste dressing and season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Peel and chop 3 eggs. Add to dressing. Cut V marks in 4th egg to create two tulip flowers. Reserve 1 flower, chop other and add to dressing. Taste dressing a second time, adjust seasonings as necessary.

Place potatoes in a large bowl. Pour egg dressing over potatoes and toss to coat. Smooth out top. In the center, using the back of a spoon, create a small indentation. Place Egg flower into indentation. Sprinkle top of salad with parsley or chopped green onion for added color. If desired, sprinkle lightly with paprika. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until well chilled.


Sweet Corn-cake Muffins
1/2 cup Butter, melted
2 cups Flour
1 cup Yellow Cornmeal
1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 large Eggs
1 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup Milk
1-1/2 cups Corn Kernels, frozen

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position.  Heat oven to 400.  Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin; set aside Melt butter, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda in a bowl to combine well.  Set aside.

In a second bowl, whisk eggs until well combined and pale light yellow, about 20 seconds.  Add sugar and whisk vigorously until homogeneous, about 30 seconds.  Add melted butter in 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition.  Add half of the sour cream and half of the milk.  Whisk to combine.  Whisk in remaining sour cream and milk until combined.

Combine wet and dry ingredients together, mixing gently with rubber spatula until batter is just combined and evenly moistened; do not over mix. Gently fold in frozen corn kernels.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups using a large scoop such as a cookie or ice cream scoop. Drop the butter in the center of each cup, allowing a mound to form.  Do not level or flatten tops of mounds.

Bake in the heated oven until muffins are light golden and toothpick comes out almost clean (few tender crumbs are perfect.)  Bake about 18-19 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through for even baking.

Cool muffins in tin for a about 5 minutes.  Serve warm with plenty of butter.


Blackberry Cobbler
Blackberries
4 cups Blackberries, rinsed clean
3/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons Cornstarch

Rinse berries clean, set aside. Zest a lemon, split in half and juice the lemon. In a 9-inch square baking dish, mix together the blackberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cornstarch. Stir to combine and coat the berries evenly.

Let sit for 30 minutes so that the sugar dissolves and the berries have release their juices.

Cobbler Topping
1 cup Flour
3 tablespoons Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
4 tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup Milk
1 large Egg

Heat the oven to 350-degrees.

In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a fork until the topping mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Beat the milk and egg together lightly, pour into the well. Gently stir just until the dough is moistened.

Scoop up the dough in large spoonfuls, and drop over the berries in the baking dish like cobblestones. (Hence the name “cobbler”).

Bake in the heated oven for 30 minutes, or until the berry mixture is bubbly and the topping is nicely browned.

Serve warm, with a scoop of ice cream if desired.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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