Acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase, Arkansas became a separate territory in 1819 and achieved statehood in 1836. A slave state, Arkansas became the ninth state to secede from the Union. That might explain why, from 1874 to 1967, every Arkansas governor was a member of the Democratic Party.
Speaking of politics, Arkansas-native Hattie Caraway was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate in November 1932. She served in the Senate for 14 years. Hattie was not only the first woman elected to the Senate, she was the first woman to preside over the Senate, the first woman to chair a Senate Committee and to co-sponsor the Equal Rights Amendment for woman.
The Dover Lights are an unexplained phenomenon of lights that flicker and sway in various colors in the sky overlooking the Ozark Valley. Legend has it that the lights are carried by Spanish Conquistador ghosts searching for their lost gold in the hills.
Fouke is said to be home to the Boggy Creek Monster, a seven-foot-tall hairy cousin to Bigfoot that kills chicken, cattle and dogs. Like Bigfoot, no one has ever actually met one and none has been captured.
Looking for a little bling? Arkansas is the only place in North American with an actual diamond field. The largest diamond ever discovered there was in 1924. More than 33,000 diamond have been found. It’s also the only Diamond Mine in the entire world that is open to the public, and whatever you find, you keep.
Rumor has it we can thank Arkansas for Mexican Cheese Dip. If you believe the stories, the original owner of Mexico Chiquito Restaurant is said to have perfected the dip in 1935. However; after a 2016 story in the Wall Street Journal featured Arkansas’ claim to cheese dip, several Texas news outlets insisted the Chile Con Queso is Texan. To settle the dispute, U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton of Arkansas challenged their Texas counterparts, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, to a blind taste test. Sorry Texas, but Arkansas won.
What a shock that must have been to Texas!
How perfect for Taco Tuesday (or in our house Tijuana Tuesday) that we get to have a spicy cheese dip to celebrate Arkansas Day.
Arkansas Champion Cheese Dip
1/2 cup Cilantro
1 medium Jalapeno
1 medium Poblano Pepper
1/2 Yellow Onion
1 cup crushed Tomatoes from a can
2 (4.5 oz) cans Diced Green Chilis
1/2 lb Velveeta
1 8 oz block Jack Cheese
2 cups whole Milk
2 teaspoon New Mexican Red Chiles Powder
1-1/2 teaspoons White Pepper
2 teaspoons Garlic Salt
1 tablespoon ground Cumin
4 tablespoons Flour
3 tablespoons Butter
1 Yellow Mini Bell Pepper
1 Red Mini Bell Pepper
1 Jalapeno Pepper
Tortilla Chips for serving
Note: Shred jack cheese from a block. Packaged shredded cheeses have a coating that prevents cheese from clumping together. This same coating prevents a smooth melt.
Chop and loosely pack Cilantro, set aside. Stem and finely mince 1 Jalapeno Pepper, set aside. Stem and finely mince Poblano Pepper, set aside.
Cut onion in half from tip to root. Reserve half the onion for another purpose. Peel and finely mince remaining half, set aside.
Drain crushed tomatoes over a strainer, pressing down gently to squeeze out excess water. Set aside. Drain green chilies, add to crushed tomatoes.
Cube the Velveeta and shred the Jack Cheese, place cheeses in the bowl of a slow cooker set on LOW heat. Add the milk, cilantro, jalapeno, Poblano, onions, tomatoes and green chilies. Stir to blend.
Season cheese mixture with red chili powder, white pepper, garlic salt, and cumin. Gently stir to distribute seasoning into the cheese mixture.
In a heavy-bottom pan over medium heat, melt butter. Once foamy, add flour. Cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes to create a light colored roux. Add to the slow cooker.
Cook dip on low, stirring occasionally until the cheese is melted and all the flavors have fully incorporated
While the cheese dip is melting, slice the remaining jalapeno pepper and the mini bell peppers into rings for a garnish, set aside.
Once the dip has fully melted together, ladle the cheese dip into a serving dish. Garnish with the pepper rings and dust with cayenne pepper
Serve warm surrounded by tortilla chips