Welcome to Rhode Island Day. Today we celebrate the last of the original colonies to become a state. Rhode Island was established by Roger Williams, a man persecuted for his beliefs in Massachusetts. Williams sought religious and political freedom when he established his colony in 1636 in what would become Providence, Rhode Island.
While the first colony to publicly renounce British Rule, Rhode Island was absent from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. The citizens of Rhode Island did not support the signing of the Constitution unless the addition of the bill of rights was also signed. It wasn’t until the Constitution was ratified by nine other states and Rhode Island faced taxation on her exports that she finally ratified the Constitution and became the 13th state in the Union. The bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, were not added until four years later, at the end of 1791.
Rhode Island is steeped in history and interesting stories. Today, as we celebrate the Ocean State, let’s explore a few of those slices of history in more detail.
The oldest indoor mall in the country can be found in Providence, Rhode Island. The mall itself was built in 1828. Over the years, it has been closed for renovations several times. Then in 2013, after a closure of 5 years, Arcade Providence reopened to début 48 small but charming “micro-lofts” on its second and third floors. The lofts are fully occupied, but not by the shop keepers of the restaurants, stores and salons that are open to the public below. These are the private residences of people who just happen to like the novelty of living in a micro apartment above a mall.
In 1883 a farmer named George Brown in Exeter, Rhode Island lost his wife to a mysterious illness. Six months later, his daughter, Mary Olive Brown, also fell ill and died. Then his 19-year-old daughter, Mercy Brown, was the next victim of this mysterious illness. When his son, Edwin, a healthy lad earning his way as a store clerk, suddenly became frail and sickly, the village doctor informed George that “consumption” was taking his family one by one. However; the less educated country folk of Exeter had other ideas. They believed a vampire was at work. So the bodies of Mrs. Brown and both her daughters were exhumed. Both Mrs. Brown and Mary were, as the examiners concluded, “property decomposed”. However; Mercy’s body seemed better preserved. The only way to save Edwin would be to “kill” Mercy again. The villagers preformed a ritual that was common during the New England vampire panic of the time. They removed Mercy’s heart and liver, burned them to create a tonic from the ashes. This was then given to Edwin to drink in an attempt to save his life. Unfortunately, Edwin succumbed to his illness two months later. We now know that the Brown family died of tuberculosis and not of a vampire’s bite.
Camelot began in Saint Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The Kennedy Camelot, that is. John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier were married on the morning of September 12, 1953. The wedding was attended by 800 guests and dignitaries. The ceremony was preformed by a friend of the Kennedy Family, Archbishop Curhing; the Archbishop of Boston. Before the mass, a special blessing from Pope Pius XII was read to the couple in private. Thousands of people lined the streets outside Saint Mary’s to wish the newlyweds their best.
There are more pizzerias per person in Rhode Island than any other state in the union. With approximately 37 pizzerias per 100,000 Rhode Island residents, there is no shortage of pizza options. While New York and New Jersey have the largest overall numbers of Italian-Americans in the country, Rhode Island and Connecticut have the highest percentage of Italians-Americans. Which is the perfect opportunity to share with you a delicious Chicken Breast Recipe just dripping with Italian inspiration. Happy Rhode Island Day everyone!
Italian Chicken with Mushrooms and Tomatoes
2 large Chicken Breasts
8 oz Brown Mushrooms
14 oz Grape Tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried Oregano, divided
1 teaspoon Salt, divided
1 teaspoon Black Pepper, divided
1/2 cup Flour, more for later
Olive Oil as needed
2 tablespoon Minced Garlic
2 teaspoons Flour for sauce
1/2 cup White Wine
3/4 cup Chicken Stock
Handful Baby Spinach
Cut chicken breasts lengthwise to create 4 thin cutlets. Set aside. Clean, trim and slice mushrooms. Set aside. Cut tomatoes in half, set aside. Cut lemon in half. Reserve half for another purpose. Set remaining half aside.
Pat chicken cutlets dry. Season on both sides with 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Coat the chicken with the flour; dust off excess. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet with a lid. Brown the chicken about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate, keep warm.
In the same skillet, add more olive oil if needed. Add the mushrooms and sauté briefly on medium-high for about a minute. Add the tomatoes and garlic. Season with remaining 1/2 tablespoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle 2 teaspoon flour over vegetables.. Cook for another 3 minutes or so, stirring regularly.
Add the white wine, cook briefly to reduce just a little. Squeeze juice of half a lemon into the skillet. Stir in chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil.
Return chicken to the skillet. Cook over high heat for about 3 minutes, turning chicken once. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for 8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Add spinach, cover and let wilt. Serve and enjoy.
Delicious with warm bread, a toss salad and plenty of crisp, late harvest wine.