Tennessee - The Volunteer State
Official Slogan: Agriculture and Commerce
Suggested Slogan: Hot Chicken and Whiskey
Two Truths and a Lie
Tennessee, home to the Grand Ole Opry, has ten official state songs. “Tennessee Homesick Blues” by Dolly Parton is arguably the most popular one, it is played before every home football game at Tennessee University.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is made in the town of Lynchburg where local spring water reportedly gives the whiskey its special flavor. Despite being home to the nation’s oldest distillery, Lynchburg lies in Moore County where alcohol is prohibited.
Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment in August of 1920. State senators were evenly split on the issue and it appeared doomed until 24-year-old Harry T. Burns changed his “nay” vote to an “aye”. Burns had been conflicted by the anti-suffragist rhetoric of his constituents and a letter from his mother urging him to support women’s rights. “I knew that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification,” he told reporters later.
The Recipe - Homemade Moon Pies
A moon pie is a confection made with two graham crackers, marshmallow filling, and chocolate coating. The Chattanooga Bakery in southern Tennessee sold them for a nickel each in the 1920s. They have experimented with doubledecker options, new flavors, and mini-sizes, but the treats remain as popular as ever. Sadly, I have never seen a moon pie for sale in Nebraska. They sounded so delicious I decided to make my own.
I started with a cookie base. I probably should have just made the graham cracker recipe from my Utah tribute, but I insisted on trying something new. Tennessee has a large population of English settlers so I made a British classic - a digestive biscuit with raw sugar and whole-grain flour. They turned out a bit hard and better for dunking than moon-pie making. Undaunted, I crushed those cookies into a powder and added it to a second cookie dough mixture with brown sugar, cinnamon, and Steen’s cane syrup. These twice-baked biscuits were soft, crumbly, and full of flavor.
I could have followed Trisha Yearwood’s advice and opened a jar of Marshmallow Creme, but I was determined to make my own. Homemade marshmallows are surprisingly easy to make. (Presuming one has made Italian meringue before) The steps were simple, patience was needed more than anything. It took a while for the syrup to reach a soft ball stage and then even longer for the merengue to cool back down to room temperature. I flavored the marshmallows with vanilla bean seeds and a shot of whisky. (absolutely divine, licked the whisk clean).
After another long wait for the sandwiches to chill, I dipped these lovely creations in chocolate and waited once more for the coating to set before I could enjoy a taste.
These were the most time-consuming of any state bake thus far, but they are delicious. I don’t know if I would make them all over again, but I really loved the marshmallow layer. Traditionally these are served with RC Cola, but that sounded like a stomachache waiting to happen. I paired them with hot black coffee instead and it hit the spot.
Want to experience Tennessee for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...
Sadly I have not visited Tennessee. I really would love to go and dance to country music, dig into fried chicken, and hike along the Smoky Mountains. Maybe someday I will get my chance. In the meantime, I’ll continue to read “Swamp Angel'' by Anne Isaacs whenever my daughter requests. If you have never seen this Caldecott Honor book, check it out.
Time for the whole truth
Dolly Parton did not write any of the 10 official state songs. I was disappointed when I realized this.
(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)