Jonita Mullins is a unique purveyor of Oklahoma history and heritage. Working in the genres of both fiction and nonfiction writing, the field of historic preservation, and as owner of Okie Heritage Tours, she brings the important history of our area and state to life. Her recent nonfiction work, “Oklahoma Originals” (The History Press, 2019), tells the tale of the diverse individuals who confronted the challenge of life in the Twin Territories in its early days.
Told in sections ranging from explorers such as Washington Irving, to soldiers and law enforcement officers such as Bass Reeves, to well-known tribal chiefs, “sheroes” and politicians, the book gives us an organized path through Oklahoma’s courageous and sometimes downright ornery folks. Here is the story of forced removals, missionaries, immigrants, cattle and oil empires, and rapscallions told not on the grand scale of history, but in the microcosm of each individual’s character, good or bad.
Oklahoma is a place like no other, and Mullins tells its story with the perspective of a person who loves our state and all its people. Entered at number two on the Oklahoma nonfiction bestseller list, “Oklahoma Originals” is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in understanding the people who helped our state become the “most American state” it is today.
Oklahoma’s culinary traditions fall into the Southern foodways that included Native American, African American and European dishes. Around statehood, new food styles and tastes were introduced as modern recipes and conveniences were developed. For example, the height of transatlantic travel brought cosmopolitan fare to the hinterlands of the West. One of the Oklahoma Original “sheroes,” Helen Candee, was a survivor of the Titanic, which was rescued by the Carpathia. Two other Oklahoma originals, Grant and Carolyn Foreman, also traveled on the Carpathia around the turn of the last century. Carolyn jotted down new taste treats she enjoyed on a Carpathia notecard. Tea sandwiches included chicken salad with celery and almonds, toasted cheese, brown bread and marmalade, and stuffed olives with cream cheese and mayo. Try the following updates for your next book club gathering.
Carolyn’s Carpathia Chicken Salad Update
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/3 cup red apple, diced
1/3 cup grapes, sliced in half
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 stalk celery, diced
1/2 cup mayo, more as desired
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken in large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Serve on croissants, brioche buns or hearty bread. Cover leftovers tightly and refrigerate. Use within 2 days.
Smoked Quinoa Arancini with Apple Ketchup
Served on the July set menu at the Carpathia Champagne Bar and Restaurant at 30 St. James St., Liverpool, original home of the Titanic. Arancini, meaning “little oranges,” are small rice or quinoa balls stuffed with mozzarella.
1 package ready-to-serve quinoa or quinoa-rice blend
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, divided use
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs, divided
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 cubes part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 inch each)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Stir in one egg, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oil, basil and seasonings.
Divide into 6 portions. Shape each portion around a cheese cube to cover completely, forming a ball. Beat remaining egg in shallow bowl. Place 1/2 cup bread crumbs mixed with smoked paprika in separate shallow bowl. Dip quinoa balls in egg, then roll in bread crumb mixture. Place on parchment lined baking sheet; spritz arancini with cooking spray. Bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Serve with apple ketchup below.
1 1/2 cups Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and finely sliced
3/4 cup sugar
5 ounces cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ajwain seeds or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
To make the ketchup, place the apples, sugar, ajwain seeds (or thyme) and vinegar in a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and cook the apples until they are very soft.
Drain the apples, reserving the liquid in the pan. Place the apple mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Add the lemon juice and enough of the reserved cooking liquid to maintain a thick ketchup-like consistency. Store any leftover ketchup in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or so, if desired. Adapted from https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/quinoa-arancini and https://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/spiced-rice-quinoa-balls-recipe.