April is officially Made in Oklahoma month, and we will be celebrating the great foods that are grown and produced right here in our state. We have plenty to celebrate as restaurants and consumers are realizing the importance of buying local for quality and freshness but also to boost the economy of our state. We'll take you behind the scenes with producers and share recipes you will want to bring to your Oklahoma table.
We visited with Kerry Barrick, Made in Oklahoma Coalition coordinator, who shared some of the impressive statistics from the organization. An enthusiastic proponent of Oklahoma agriculture-based foods, Barrick is excited about the future of this growing organization of restaurants, producers and retailers who carry made in Oklahoma foods. By pooling their resources for advertising and promotions the sales of Oklahoma produced foods continue to grow.
It is easy to confuse the Made in Oklahoma Coalition focused on food with the Made in Oklahoma Program, which is designed to help Oklahoma businesses grow and develop.
If you have a product or an idea for a product, the MIO Program can help get it established in the market. The coalition and the program work together under the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
If you have a local agriculture-based food product that is already established, the Made in Oklahoma Coalition can help you grow and promote your product in and outside the state. If you want to be a farmers market vendor, check out the markets listed in the Made in Oklahoma program. Both the MIO Coalition and the MIO Program have websites worth checking out.
If you have a recipe you love made with an Oklahoma food, you'll be interested in this year's MIO Recipe Contest. There are $500 cash prizes in four categories and a $1,000 overall winner so that should inspire your creativity. The categories include: Blue Ribbon Dinners, Party Time Appetizers, Delectable Desserts and Small Bites (Kids' Cooking). Check out the MIO Coalition website for more details.
Keep in mind the recipes must be new, created by the contestant and use at least two MIO products. The recipes must be unpublished and cannot have previously won any award or prize. We have some creative Oklahoma cooks who will love getting paid for their creations so check out all those Oklahoma products and where to find them at miocoalition.com.
Download the MIO app that keeps a product list, recipes and restaurant list at your fingertips. We all have those food products we rely on, but I like to keep a lookout for Oklahoma foods I haven't tried yet. If you grew up in Oklahoma you were probably acquainted with the food icons of our state: chicken-fried steak, sausage and gravy, biscuits, black-eyed peas, squash, grits, barbecue pork, corn on the cob, cornbread, fried okra and pecan pie.
It's great to have food icons but for a springtime menu, I would opt for an herb-roasted chicken, steamed asparagus, new potatoes or black-eyed peas for the starch, and a fresh spinach salad. You can find Grandma Nellie's Roasting Chicken at Forward Foods in Oklahoma City, fresh asparagus and spinach at the OSU-OKC Farmer's Market and great bread to accompany them from Farrell's Family Bread in Tulsa, Big Sky or Prairie Thunder Bakeries in Oklahoma City. I would use cornmeal from Stone Stack Mills or Shawnee Mills to make spoon bread accented with fresh spring onions as my homemade contribution to the perfect spring meal.
I'll be sharing ideas for Oklahoma meals throughout April. It's a great time to sign up with a grower for a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
You may want to try the Oklahoma Food Cooperative as your way to bring more Oklahoma-grown and produced foods to your Oklahoma Table.
Springtime Oklahoma Spoon Bread
I created this spring version of spoon bread to incorporate the first spring onions or chives from the garden. Their fresh aroma wafts up from this steamy soft-serve bread. It is the perfect accompaniment for roast chicken, pork, ham or lamb.
1 tablespoon softened butter for preparing baking dish
1 cup cornmeal, Stone Stack Mill or Shawnee's Best
½ teaspoon salt
3 to 4 green onions sliced including stalks
1 ½ cups boiling water
3 eggs separated, Twisted Feather Farms, Fletcher's
2 tablespoons melted butter, Braum's, Highland or Wagon Creek
1 cup buttermilk, Braum's or Hiland
½ teaspoon baking soda
Sherrel's cooking notes: Other additions such as a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh herbs or even up to 1/3 cup raisins or chopped prunes can be added in lieu of the onions, but we love the simplicity of including only one ingredient. Any leftover spoon bread can be sliced and sauteed in a little olive oil.
Field's German Chocolate Pie Brownies
Kerry Barrick and Caryn Ross came by to visit at the NewsOK studios to share MIO news and a sweet, easy way to turn a Field's pie into a brownie. Here's that recipe, which is a great way to have your pie, cake and brownies, too, if you're a German Chocolate Cake fan.
1 (2-pound) Field's German Chocolate Pie, thawed and cubed
½ cup butter, Highland or Braum's
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature Braum's or Fletcher's
1 cup Braum's half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour from Shawnee Mills
1 teaspoon baking powder
Vegetable cooking spray
Pour the brownie batter into the prepared 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool and then cut.