Country Kitchen: Foods of Our Country

Country Kitchen: Foods of Our Country

The foods of our country consist of a potpourri of nationalities, lifestyles, and heritage. Although I grew up in New York State, with a touch of New England thrown in, I became fascinated with the foods of other parts of the United States as my husband's career took us around the nation.
I began writing a newspaper column about the foods of our country when Jim was stationed at a military base in Texas. There I discovered recipes much different from those I'd grown up with. Then life and travels in other regions introduced me to an even greater variety of cuisines and culinary history.

Fruit of Colorado

On a recent trip through Colorado, we discovered foods of various regions, both modern and from earlier days. I'd not realized, until we drove along I-70, that fruit growing and wine making were so widespread here. As Jim and I traveled across the mountains and plains from Denver to Grand Junction, we found that the peaches in the Palisade and Grand Junction area were at their peak.

In addition, in season, you'll find cherries, apricots, plums, pears, apples, and grapes in these mountain valleys with their warm days, cool nights, and low humidity.

It was interesting to note that winemaking on the Western Slope of Colorado began in pioneering times, more than 100 years ago. However, with Prohibition, those vineyards were destroyed with orchards planted in their stead. Eventually, winemaking began flourishing again in this Rocky Mountain region of high mountains, verdant valleys, and colorful canyons.

Orchards in Utah

During our travels in Utah, we've often enjoyed fresh fruit in season around Brigham City, north of Salt Lake City. As we stop at fruit stands along Route 89, Jim and I've found delicious peaches, apples, other fruit and berries.

This visit, relatives also picked sweet green grapes in their back yard which we munched on the rest of our trip.

Family Foods

During our travels, we frequently visit relatives and learn about foods of various regions from them. In Utah, they often engage in Dutch Oven cooking in their back yards or when they attend rendezvous and Mountain Men reenactments. Here main meals and desserts are prepared in iron pots over coals in the ground.

Relatives in New England may have recipes flavored with seafood or dishes like Boston baked beans. Some of the family recipes come from days ago and others are more modern, those that are quick to make on busy days.

BEEF and POTATO BAKE is a busy day meal developed by a relative.

Arrange 4 cups thinly sliced raw potatoes and 2 tablespoons chopped onion in a greased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mix together 1 pound ground beef, 3/4 cup evaporated milk (or regular milk), 1/2 cup finely crushed cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, or rolled oats, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup catsup.

Spread this mixture over the potatoes evenly. Dot with more catsup, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour until potatoes are tender and meat cooked through.

(C) 2003 Mary Emma Allen

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