Iowa - The Hawkeye State
Updated: Aug 15
Unofficial State Slogan: Fields of Opportunities
Suggested Slogan: What's the Smell?
Two Truths and a Lie
“The Day the Music Died” was February 3, 1959, when a plane crashed in a field outside the town of Clear Lake, Iowa, killing all aboard: musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and pilot Roger Peterson.
The Recipe - Buttery Oat Crisps
With its gentle rivers, rich topsoil, and continental climate, Iowa is an agricultural powerhouse. The vast majority of the state’s land is cultivated. The state leads the nation in corn, soybean, pork, and egg production. But for this cookie, I am interested in another superlative. The city of Cedar Rapids is home to a historic Quaker Oats plant. Opened in 1873, it remains one of the largest cereal production plants in the world. I love oats and happily grabbed a canister of Old-Fashioned flakes for this recipe and toasted them before mixing to enhance their flavor.
Another superlative is the Iowa State Fair, a huge celebration that attracts more than a million visitors each year. One of the fair’s highlights is the “Butter Cow”. This is exactly what it sounds like – a 600-pound life-sized statue of a cow, made of butter. It’s been a thing since 1911 and only five sculptors have been trusted with creating the creamy bovines. I love butter, so I decided to highlight that as well.
I used just a half-pound of butter in my recipe, but I made sure to emphasize its flavor. First I browned the butter and let it cool to room temperature before mixing. Then I used a tip from “Food & Wine” and microwaved instant milk powder until it was golden and smelled like caramel. A spoonful of that in the dough highlights the browned butter flavor.
I made a simple dough resulting in a crispy, sweet cookie. I have made this recipe before, but I usually include dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate. Focusing on browned butter and toasted oats made these simple cookies sing. They’re a bit flat and don’t appear all that fancy, but give them a taste and you will be smiling. Thus they are a pretty great tribute to the Hawkeye State.
Want to experience Iowa for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...
My first job out of college was in Mason City where I worked for the newspaper and traveled to most of the small towns in the north, central Iowa. I really enjoyed the Hobo Festival in Britt. I also loved the atmosphere at the Friday night football games. Most of the town turned out to watch their boys play ball against an autumn sunset.
These days I hike in the Loess Hills on Iowa's western edge. Those rolling, oak-shaded trails make me feel like I’m strolling through Tolkein’s Shire. Also, I have particularly fond memories of biking on the Wabash National Trace. Every warm Thursday, hoards of cyclists bike 20 miles on crushed gravel to eat tacos and drink margaritas in Mineola, Iowa.
If you cannot make it to Iowa, I would read Bill Bryson’s memoir “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.”
Time for the whole truth
Iowa does not have an official state dance. If they did it would probably be square dancing. Square dancing is the official dance of Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. (By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)