Who remembers the Cold War and the idea of fallout shelters? I can remember as a child seeing the symbols posted inside public build indicating where the shelters might be located. I made mental notes as to their locations, although getting from our home in the country to a downtown building in the city would have been out of the question on my own. After all, I was just a child.
So what do fallout shelters have to do with National West Virginia Day? I’m glad you asked. In the mid-1950s, the US government covertly arranged to build a massive fallout shelter to house the entire US Congress beneath the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Known as Project X, Project Casper and eventually as Project Greek Island, the congressional fallout sheltered remained a well guarded secret until 1992.
Paid for by the Eisenhower Administration, the government built a facility deep below the resort that would allow the government to continue to function in the event of a nuclear war. The very idea of being able to hide out for a few weeks below ground until safe to be outside is crazy. Today we know better. Nuclear war is not survivable – it would be the end of mankind. But in the 1950s we were either stupid or misinformed. Either way, this massive shelter was completed in 1958, and stood at the ready, fully equipped, until its location was revealed in a 1992 Washington Post article.
Today the shelter is said to house the offices of a data storage company. There are even guided tours, although most visitors to the Greenbrier Resort come for the Five-Star accommodations, gourmet dining, spa treatments and golf.
While this resort might offer some amazing foods, most West Virginia residents like the comfort found in establishments that have been serving up down home cooking for more than 50 years. Biscuits and Gravy, Liver and Onions and tender a Baked Steak Supper are all iconic in West Virginia.
West Virginia Baked Cube Steaks, Whipped Potatoes and Peas and Carrots
Cube Steaks Baked in Gravy
4 Cube Steaks
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
1/3 cup Flour
1 small White Onion, sliced
2 tablespoons Butter, divided
1 (10 oz) can French Onion Soup
1 (10 1/4 oz) can Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Better than Beef Bouillon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a deep casserole dish with cooking spray, set aside.
Season cube steaks with salt and pepper. Season flour with additional salt and pepper. Dredge cube steaks in seasoned flour, set aside.
Peel onion, slice into rings. Break rings apart, set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter.
Brown the cube steaks in 1 tablespoon butter, until browned on both sides. Transfer the browned cube steaks to the prepared casserole dish. Set aside.
Sauté the onions in remaining tablespoon butter until softened about 5 minutes. Place the onions over the browned cube steaks in casserole dish.
In a bowl, mix soups together until well combined. Peel garlic, grate into the soup mixture. Add Beef Bouillon and Worcestershire Sauce. Pour mixture over cube steaks. Tightly cover casserole dish with foil to seal.
Place in the heated oven, covered; to bake for 2 hours.
Serve baked steaks over mashed potatoes.
3 lbs Russet Potatoes
3/4 cup Milk
6 tablespoons Butter
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Rinse potatoes in a colander under cold water until water runs clear, about 1 minute; drain well.
Place in a large pot with enough water to cover potatoes by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and slow-boil until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat milk, butter, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking until smooth, about 3 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
Carefully pour contents of Dutch-oven into colander, drain potatoes well, then return potatoes to pot. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until potatoes are thoroughly dried, about 1 minute.
Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip half of the potatoes into small pieces on low-speed, about 2 minutes Add half of the milk mixture in a steady stream until incorporated. Increase speed to high and whip until potatoes are light and fluffy and no lumps remain, about 5 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer to a large, warm serving bowl and cover to keep warm.
Repeat whipping process with remaining potatoes and milk mixture.
Incorporated second batch of potatoes with first and serve.
Buttery Peas and Carrots
2-1/2 cups Baby Carrots
1-1/2 cups frozen Peas
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Water
1 teaspoon Sugar
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Cut carrots in half lengthwise, set aside. Rinse frozen peas under cold water, set aside.
In a skillet, sauté carrots in butter for 5 minutes. Stir in peas, water and sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and heated through.
Transfer to a serving bowl, and enjoy.