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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Conway

Indiana - The Hoosier State

Official Slogan: Crossroads of America

Suggested Slogan: America at its most basic

Two Truths and a Lie

The Recipe - Desperation Pie-kies

I struggled with this recipe. Geographically and culturally speaking, Indiana is similar to other Midwestern states previously covered. The state’s most beloved dishes are starchy diner classics like breaded pork tenderloins and biscuits with gravy. Those don’t translate into cookies very well. I was excited to learn that Hoosiers enjoy a seasonal pudding made of wild persimmons, but I couldn’t figure out how to get wild persimmons in Nebraska. Popcorn is a big deal in Indiana so I was tempted to make homemade caramel corn. It would have been delicious but not a cookie by any stretch of the word.

Sugar Cream Pie has been nominated though not officially approved as a state symbol. This beloved pie consists of a shortcrust pastry and sweet custard filling. Modern bakers flavor the custard with nutmeg, cinnamon, or vanilla. Food lore states this pie originated in the nineteenth century with the Shakers. They baked this pie in the spring when they still had eggs and dairy on hand but had run out of apples. Its nickname is Desperation Pie. To honor the pie, I made sandwich cookies with cream filling. I hated them, my pastry was thick and tough and the cream was chalky and overwhelmingly sweet.

At this point, I was desperate for inspiration. I remembered baking with my mom as a child. She made quiche at least once a month, it was very trendy in the 90s. I hated the quiche because it contained spinach, but I loved her homemade dough. My sister and I rolled out the leftover pieces and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar to make our very own “pies”. I remember eating every crumb still warm from the oven. I decided to make a more refined version of that childhood treat. I made shortcrust pastry and cut out thin triangles, brushed them with butter, and sprinkled sugar over the top. I added cinnamon and nutmeg to all but one side of each triangle. I crimped that edge in order to make my treats look like slices of Sugar Cream Pie.

This was the best shortcrust pastry I ever made. It was flaky and delicious, a total redemption from the soggy bottom I served everyone at Thanksgiving. I was nervous these simple treats would be better in my memory than in real life, but I was wrong to worry. They were slightly sweet, beautifully spiced and so rich. I ate half a dozen in one go.

Want to experience Indiana for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...

I have been within 7 miles of Indiana, but with Chicago traffic, that was probably a solid hour away. So I have never visited the Hoosier State, but I can recommend a touching young adult novel by John Green, “The Fault in Our Stars.” “Stranger Things” is probably the biggest TV show set in the state, but I have the fondest regard for “Parks and Rec.” Leslie Knope made millions think warmly of the state and all its quirks.

Time for the whole truth

Basketball was invented in Springfield, Massachusettes.

(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)

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