16 November 2010

16 November - Leonids; Oklahoma

Astronomy: The Leonid Meteor Shower peaks in the early hours tomorrow morning and on the 18th as well.  Best viewing is after the gibbous moon sets around 3:30 am, so set your clock to get up early, bundle up (it is chilly outside, at least here in the Smallest State), and look toward the south in the predawn.  Some years are spectacular, some not so much.

The constellation Leo is one of the easiest to find and recognize, and the meteors will appear to be springing from the Lion's head.  The Leonids have their own website here at Leonid.org.


 We know we belong to the land,
And the land we belong to is grand!

Today in 1907, Oklahoma, formerly known as Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory, and prior to that as The Nations, was admitted to the Union as the 46th state.

You can read about Oklahoma's history here, and more personal history accounts here.

Lots to do here.  Oklahoma has wineries (now that would be an interesting tour!); guest ranches, if you want to explore your inner cowboy; art museums, if you'd rather explore your inner artist... and lots of shopping, in case your wife isn't interested in either your inner cowboy or inner artist.

Among the museums are the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (mark your calendars! The Cowboy Christmas Ball is the 17th of December); the Pioneer Woman Museum, the Spiro Mounds, a prehistoric Native American archaeological site; and a museum dedicated to Route 66 ('get your kicks...').

And a whole lot more listed on Oklahoma's Official Website.

In a couple of places, I have found that the official state meal is: fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken-fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas.  Now, I am not sure if that is one entire meal (in which case, I would start dividing it up into courses) or a list of their official favorite foods, nor does it matter.  This is rib-sticking food.  So I am going to offer BISCUITS WITH SAUSAGE AND GRAVY, which is good for breakfast or dinner.

You can find any number of recipes, plain and fancy, for this dish online, because it is really simple and basic, and people are always experimenting with different flavors.

  • Make your own from scratch, if you have a favorite recipe, or
  • Bake a batch of those 'whoppin' biscuits, as we called them; 'whop' being the noise the biscuit can made when it was opened.

  • Crumble about 1/2 pound of pork sausage into a skillet and brown.  Just brown.  Don't overcook.
  • Eyeball the amount of drippings in the skillet (I tip my skillet slightly, let the fat run down to a puddle, and judge from that).  Sprinkle an equal amount of flour, one tablespoon at a time, over the sausage and drippings, stirring each spoonful until smooth and bubbly, before adding the next.
  • Now add milk (whole milk!) a half cup at a time, stirring constantly to incorporate.  I end up using between 3 and 4 cups of milk.  Continue stirring as it cooks over low heat until it is thickened. 
  • Season with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.
Place a couple of biscuits on your plate, spoon a nice amount of sausage-studded gravy over them, grab a fork, and tuck in!