Sunday, January 30, 2011

Culinary Smackdown Battle:Salmon

Spicy Salmon and  Corn Cakes with Mango Tarter Sauce


If I wanted to give this dish a glorious review (which I do), it would be the fact that I was not happy with my pictures, so I had planned on using the leftovers ---to retake some photos in better light.
I went home from work at noon the next day, intending on doing this, and found the Handyman eating them.

I couldn't very well scream at  him that I had plans for those leftovers   (I have done that before), so I just casually mentioned that I had planned on taking more pictures of them.   He looked at me and with his mouth full, he said  "well, if you don't want me to eat them, quit making them so good."
(that is the glorious review--and believe me, it was heartfelt)
This was not his reaction tho, when he heard the phrase  "mango" tarter sauce and especially not when he saw me put capers into the grocery cart.
(he says he is allergic to capers--that most men are)  (sigh)  (he found out that capers aren't all that bad)
My friend Brenda, at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen,  is hosting the
I love salmon.  But I am a pretty boring salmon cooker apparently.  I liked it baked or grilled with lemon.
In the spirit of the smackdown, I grabbed a cookbook on my shelf and was determined to make salmon in a new way.  Just for the Smackdown.
I found a ton of new ways in Paula Dean's,  "The Dean Family Cookbook."  It was hard to choose just one, but I finally settled on the Spicy Salmon and Corn cakes.


It's a great cookbook,  full of all kinds of recipes I now want to try.
I am marking this one (this cookbook) off as one I've used in  my own Cookbook Countdown, but I don't plan on putting it back on my shelf and not using it again.  I have bookmarked about 10 other recipes to try.

These were great little salmon patties. And the mango sauce was good too, but I would make these salmon patties (or cakes) and just use regular tarter sauce and they would be just as tasty.
This was in the appetizer section, but we had them for a late afternoon lunch.

Spicy Salmon and Corn Cakes with Mango Tarter Sauce

Tarter Sauce
1 cup peeled, diced mango  (1 large)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbls capers, drained and chopped
pinch of salt
pepper

Whisk together the mango, mayo, capers and salt in a medium bowl.  Add pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Salmon Cakes
1 14.75 oz can boneless pink salmon-drained
1 cup panko or dry bread crumbs
2 eggs lightly beaten
3 Tbls chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbls chopped red onion
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
pepper
1/3 cup cornmeal
vegetable oil for frying

Put the salmon in a medium bowl and break it up with a fork. Add the panko,eggs, parsley, onion, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
Form into 12 cakes and coat them with the cornmeal.

Heat 1/4 inch oil in large skillet over med-high heat.  Place the cakes in the oil, 5-6 at a time and cook until golden brown, 3-4 minutes each side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Serve immediately with the tarter sauce.



I am entering the Culinary Smackdown, of course.
Head on over to Brenda's sight for moe great salmon dishes.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snapshot Saturday

I think I am  probably going to get the bad mother/mother-in-law award here,  BUT in my defense, I've always loved this photo.
(bad mom award because they specifically said,  don't show our feet.  I think my son must have said that, because he had shorts on with his graduation gown.  He didn't wear shorts for the ceremony tho.  This was afterwards when I was forcing them to go outside so I could take their picture)



This is my son and daughter in law last May.   They had just finished  7 years of college and grad-school....their whole married life together  (they were married right out of high school, which I normally wouldn't recommend, but, 7  years and 4 degrees later...I would never tell anyone they were too  young!

This picture was taken right after the graduation week was over and behind the photographer (me) was a Budget truck filled with all their lives possessions and the start of their future.
I think they were filled with a sense of accomplishment, and pride and nervousness for what lie ahead:  finding jobs, a home, etc.
So, that's what I see when I look at this picture.     Their excitement and nervousness and hope all rolled up into one. 

This was taken on the Yale Campus in New Haven, CT.   (I miss New Haven SO MUCH!.....and I only visited there, I didn't live there)

**I am linking this to Snapshot Saturday hosted by Alyce from At Home With Books.   Stop by to see all the links to lots of great photos.

Pssst....don't tell anyone (book post)

I love Janet Evonovich's Stephanie Plumb Character.  I really, truly do love this series of books.  I love Joe Morelli and Ranger and Grandma Mazur.  I love Rex the hamster and Lola and cousin Vinnie.  I love the Burg.  I love New Jersey.
But...does anyone other than me think that sometimes, it's just the same old story?  YIKES!  I can't believe I said that, because I really love the books. I DO!
It's just that there is no "growth" in the characters.  But don't get me wrong, they are some of my favorite characters.  The books are a quick, fun, enjoyable read, but....  it must be my mood. 
There is no growth of characters as in say...Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series, or Julia Spencer-Fleming's Clair Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne seires.

(sigh)  And I think I've gained 20 lbs just reading the series.  Listening to what Stephanie can eat!

I have just been thinking about that as I'm reading "Sizzling Sixteen" --which I enjoy, but....I'm just thinkin'......
....okay this is a great lead in to  the Friday Coffee Chat questions.  Yes, I know it's not Friday, but I like the questions.
I read quite a few book blogs  (I am not a book blogger per se, because I don't review books as they do, I just like to read books.  And then talk about them) and two that I follow are  A Little Bookish  and Girls Gone Reading.  They both have a set of questions on  (most) Fridays for book bloggers to answer and then you comment write up a post about the questions and have a 'chat'.

Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading had these questions a couple of weeks ago:
1. What qualities make a comfort read for you?

2. What are your top comfort reads? What books do you cling to when you just want something to full up a snow day?

Well, I've  dedicated January to catch up with a lot of my favorite characters in mystery and suspense novels.  That is my comfort read.  And my snow day read. It's kind of like visiting old friends (and sometimes with friends we can get a bit annoyed and then we get over it because we love them.  That's how I'm feeling about Stephanie Plumb right now).   Old friends, old memories.  I like series books with recurring characters.  It's like coming home and catching up.
So, that's what I've been doing this January.....and I'm kind of sad that it will be coming to and end.  (maybe that's why I'm annoyed at Stephanie Plumb--it's displaced frustration :~)

Carin at  A Little Bookish had these questions last Friday:
•Are you a member of a book club?


•If so, what are your motivations for joining a book club?

•What do you look for when you join a book club? Do you seek out strangers to talk about books with (like on Meetup.com) or do you only do book clubs with friends you know and are comfortable with?

•What kind of books do you prefer to read with a book club?

•Do you like themed book clubs like romance, thriller, literary, chick lit, etc.?

•If you don’t like book clubs, tell us all why you prefer to read alone? Is it because you are shy or because reading is just private to you? Is there some other reason?


That's a lot of questions!
Yes, I am a member of a couple of book clubs.  I love my book clubs.  I love to be around people who like to read and I like to discuss books.   There are some people in my book clubs who I only see/know/get together with at our book club meetings.  I have loved getting to know them--thru books.
I think a themed book club would be great fun, but I don't have enough time to do another book club.  If I didn't have to work, I would probably join another book club, or maybe start a themed one. (sigh) Work gets in the way of so many things.
I also like to  read alone tho.....I mean, I don't ONLY read what is assigned in my book clubs.   I can read in a car, so I love going on road trips with my husband, because he drives and I am forced to sit for hours at a time and I can read, read, read!   We always take an audio book with us too.

I have a really bad habit of getting so excited about challenges (books and cooking) that I sign up for much more than I can possible handle.  Weekly ones are really  hard--I need more time--but I did love the questions, so thanks Jennifer and Carin.
Oh...and I'll have to check out  meetup.com ... this is the first I've heard about it.

Have a great day!



Friday, January 28, 2011

Miss Hot Dish

It all began two years ago.... when my book club was reading a book --I can't remember the name of it--but it  used the phrase "congealed salad".  Now I know that in the South they still use the phrase "congealed", and rightly so.    Anything made with Knox gelatin is, let's face it, congealed.
It just sounds funny to our Western ears.  In making fun of ourselves and to not offend our Southern friends--I will admit we are a little adolescent out here.  We laugh over stupid stuff--and congealed just sounds funny.  (yes, we probably need to grow up, but to be fair, we laugh at ourselves too.), so we had a book club meeting and  a congealed salad cook-off.   We elected a Miss Congealdiality--just for fun--gave her an old  "Joys of Jello" cookbook, a sash, and a great time was had by all.  (and some of the salads were YUM-MEE!)




Fast forward to last night.  We decided to have a "Hot Dish" party.  In honor of our Midwest friends who bring "a dish to pass" or a "hot dish" to a get together.  We in the west bring casseroles.
BUT AGAIN--a good time was had by all.  We elected a "Miss Hot Dish" and ate some good casseroles, and drank some wine, and at the end of all that we then discussed  "To Kill a Mockingbird"  for over 2 hours.  It was a great evening.  I Love my bookclub(s)!


The Hot Dish (Totally Lit Book Club) evening gave me a chance to use another recipe in my very own Cookbook Notebook ---recipes I've  been saving and collecting for over 30 years.   I can't bring myself to part with old recipes, even if I am never going to use them again, except in instances such as this.  They do bring back memories tho---memories of when we were young and had no money and had 3 kids to feed---ahhhh, those were great times (we just didnt' know it then.)
The casserole I made has no name.  I received it from a friend, Susie Taylor, about 25 years ago.  I'm sure she took it from the back of  a Hillshire Farm's Smoked Sausage package.  It has all the ingredients of a traditional "hot dish",   noodles, soup, sour cream--comfort food at its best!  I haven't made it for at least 15 years.  Hmmm, and it took a book club for me to dust off the recipe card and bring it back.  The Handyman couldn't even remember which casserole I was talking about, until he tasted it and said,  "oh yeah, I remember now.  It's good, I like it."

So, here it is  (and I'm not saying that it's the best thing ever, I'm saying it's a blast from my past and it was good),  the 10th runner up out of 12 hot dishes  (I really don't know where I placed, but there were a lot of good hot dishes there)......
....Debbie's Hot Dish.

Oh wait, you want to know who won? Who is Miss Hot Dish of the Totally Lit Book Club?    Our own,  Miss Jean Pfarr with her mom's homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole   (with some tomatoes on top). 
Or maybe it wasn't her mother's recipe, because Jean used Gruyere instead of the basic cheddar, and added the tomatoes.  She updated and old classic and won!  
 Jean, a nutritionist by trade (I wonder how she reconciled eating all these soup, sour-cream, cheese laden casseroles this evening? ) was given her sash and we sang the  the traditional  "There she is--Miss Hot Dish"  song to the tune of Miss America.  And, as I said, a GREAT time was had by all.



And now.... Debbie's Hot Dish....from her very own collection of recipes scribbled on the back of envelopes found in her purse, torn out of magazines in doctors offices, and discovered in the bottom of her grandmother's  junk drawer.



Sausage Hot Dish

1 package curly noodles --cooked according to package directions
1 can  cream of celery soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Swiss cheese--grated
1 cup sliced zucchini
1 lb Hillshire farm smoked sausage--sliced
1/2 tsp dill
salt and pepper

Mix all together and bake at 350 until hot...about 30 minutes.

************************************
Photo Gallery

Miss Congealdiality 2009,  our friend Cindy  Ulch. 
Her winning dish?  Tomato Aspic.  Full of shrimp and all kinds of spicy goodness.





and The Congealed Salads!



January 2011--Miss Congealdiality takes her final walk--around the kitchen--before giving up her title. 



The anticipation of waiting---who will be Miss Hot Dish?


(oops--picture taken after Miss Hot Dish has her sash on....so, not the anticipation, but rather the disappointment of being losers :~)


Our 2011 Queen of the Kitchen--Miss Hot Dish, Jean Pfarr!



(and the sign said,  when I said to bring a hot dish, I didn't mean the green bean casserole!)



And our 1st runner up, who, if for any reason Jean cannot fulfill her reign as Miss Hot Dish,  will accept the duties and responsibilities that come with the sash,  Di An Putnam!!  With her Chicken Tortilla Casserole.



The Hot Dishes



(yes, my friends are all HOT DISHES)

and now the food....









The end.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last night

Last night at my Totally Lit Book Club, we elected a "Miss Hot Dish"  AND discussed  "To Kill a Mockingbird"   (It was our classic read.)  
I will explain more about our  Hot dish later today, when I do the complete post.  I just know you'll be on pins and needles waiting to hear!

But what I wanted to mention is that, I took a little poll last night and of the 12 of us,  4 owned Nooks,  4 owned Kindles, 1 owned an Ipad, and 3 have not made the transition to the electronic age.
That is just interesting to me, to see the trend.    Also to see the Nook people vs the Kindle people.  It's a bit funny, because there is some loyalty there.
I think I'm going to poll all of my book clubs....just to see.  I know it's not a passing fancy,  it's the way of the future, (and  I am a recent convert)  but I am interested in how fast it's moving.

I started my walking program this morning  (or re-started it, I should say).  It was a cold 25F  walk at 5:00am.    But I did it.  Along with the  Handyman.   It felt good to get moving again. 

I will leave you with these couple of pictures from last night's Totally Lit Book Club  (cuz I know that  at least these friends, are awaiting my post).

The ladies gathering around their "hot dish"  (or casserole, as the case may be).



And the winner is.......


You'll have to wait until later on in the day to find out!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hoarfrost or Pogonip?

Hoarfrost or Pogonip, that is the question.  What do you call it?  I grew up with my dad calling it hoarfrost.  I had never heard the word pogonip until I moved to Nevada.   I think, but am not sure, that pogonip is a regional native-American word.    But what do I know?
When we were kids, my brother and I just laughed to hear my dad say hoarfrost.  All we heard was WHORE.  We got the biggest kick out of that, because we weren't accustom to  hearing 'bad' words (boy has my life changed.  Not only do I hear them now, I also use them.)   Another saying of my dad's that could send us into fits of giggles was   "a whore in church"......  my dad would use that phrase to describe someone who was nervous or fidgety.   "That kid's as nervous as a whore in church!"

It didn't take much to amuse us.

Hoarfrost or Pogonip?  Last week it was all over the bushes and trees in my back yard.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Coming Clean and Banana Cake



I am coming clean.  (sigh)

Here goes....

I've been very vocal about my position on  e-books.  I don't like them.  I like real books. I like how they feel and smell and sound (flipping the pages....) I don't want the world to become so techno that is looses sight of really good stuff!! I don't want libraries without books!! I love book cover art. I love when people have bookshelves all over their homes. You can learn so much about someone from their bookshelves! And then there was that issue with Amazon telling Macmillan (or some publisher that I can't recall at the moment) what price they could charge, and that publisher said "Amazon, you're not the boss of me!" So Amazon boycotted all of that publishers books, which means you and I were forced (if we had a Kindle) to boycott them too (very complicated issue).
I like books.
I even took the pledge to read the written word --I used to have the badge on my blog. 

But--but--but my mom got me a Kindle for Christmas.

I didn't want a Kindle.   I like books.  And bookshelves.  And bookstores with rows and rows and rows of books.
So when I opened it on  Christmas morning, and sat there dumbfounded  (my mother had also suggested only to exchange very small gifts this year--she's a sneaker, that one!!), my daughter-in-law, Sadie  knew how I felt and she began telling me all the positives about electronic readers.  For the record, she doesn't own one either, she kind of felt the same way I did. Either that, or they just ended  7 years of college and grad school, had preemie twins, who spent 6 weeks in the NICU, and decided that  the purchase of an e-reader could wait a while.  
But I digress... She was really selling that product to me, because she could tell I was dumbfounded as to why my mom would get me one, when I didn't want one.  But slowly as I sat there, watching my grandchildren open their gifts, a feeling of gratitude came over me--it was a gift, after all, a heart felt gift.   And my mom was so excited  (I talked to her on the phone), how can one not be thankful.

(my dad, on the other hand said this:
My dad.... "do you like it?" Me..."yes, I do".....dad..."Well, you're not a real reader then! I told your mother, real readers like books!" (he's a real reader... I just think he's jealous now. LOL )


So, I was okay with it.... I had a new gadget that I might use once in a while, when I traveled.   I'm not much for gadgets. But I got a nice gift. I was okay. Or trying to talk myself into being okay when  the Handyman leaned  over to me and said   " You don't want to be one of those old curmudgeons who don't like and won't use anything new fangled, do you?"



HELL NO, I DON'T WANT TO BE ONE OF THOSE OLD CURMUDGEONS!!!


That's always been a pet peeve of mine...old cranky people who won't flow with (accept )the times, won't learn anything new..... and there I was....on the verge of becoming one.

~whew~ Just goes to show....your mom can teach you lessons in life for as long as you live!!

And guess what?   I LOVE MY KINDLE!!  I.  Love. It.   While I still do love a good paper book, there is something to be said for the conveinence of having access to practically any book I want, at any time I want it, or any newspaper or magazine, or....I could go on and on.  That and I can make the print as big as I need it to be  ~grins~.



And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my confession...my  "comming clean" if you will.

**********************************************************

Even tho I read 2 books right away on my new Kindle  (Pillars of the Earth and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand--both very good, although very different from each other.  I would recomend them both),   I wanted to catch up with some of my favorite mystery characters this cold winter month  (In the Bleak Midwinter) and I have a bunch of them in my TBR pile, so I grabbed a Laura Lippman book to see what Tess Monaghan was up to.
In Big Trouble is only the 4th in the series--I  like to savour, okay--but I love Tess so much!  I love reading about 'her' Baltimore.  I love seeing how she solves the muders and how her relationsip with her boyfriend grows.  As I said, I have catching up to do... a lot of catching up, as in 10 books, (TEN BOOKS) since the Girl in the Green Raincoat just came out (it's the 14th in the series) and I am seeing lots of reviews on it in the blogging world.    I need a lot more  bleak midwinter days!  Days to curl up with my book AND....some homemade banana cake.



Yes, that's right---I made banana cake.  And then proceeded to eat half of it over the next 3 days.  The Handyman ate the other half.  It WAS NOT a 13x9 pan, but rather an 8x8 pan.  It was a snack cake!   And I snacked--more than I should have.

If you recall, I decided not to do any challenges this year, any blogging challenges that is  (except Cookbook Sundays--which is once a month and helps me with my own personal goal of working thru my cookbook collection).
But on Sunday, as I was looking thru my cookbook notebook (which consists of recipes from other people and/or magazines, I've collected over the years), I started thinking maybe I should just work my way thru my own  recipe collection notebook(s).   But then I thought better of it.   Or did I?   I can't make up my mind.
But I dont' want to bore you with my decision making process, so I will just leave you with this recipe for banana snack cake....the one I ate half a pan of while reading a great mystery novel.  But not all in one sitting, mind you.  It was  a 3-day read.

Banana Snack Cake
(from my friend Kathy Calkins in Grapevine, Texas.  It was scribbled down years ago on an old piece of computer paper--that old paper that was fed from holes in the side. Do you remember that? The continuous feed paper?)



We like this cake because it's just a bit denser than banana bread.  I don't frost it.  I just bake it and it's moist and thick and good, so we all grab a piece as we walk by and before you know it--it's all gone!

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sour milk
3 mashed bananas

Mix first 4 ingredients, then add the next 4 ingredients.  Mix.  Add, alternating sour milk and bananas.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes in an 8" greased and floured pan.


 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Soup Party at my house

Every winter for the past 10 or so years, I've hosted a 'Soup Supper'.  It started out as something to do in the bleak midwinter, and  has evolved to.....a lot of fun.
Would I be so smug as to say that my soup party is the party to be at?!  Why yes I would (at least in January---in our small town. Among my group of friends.  lol  LOL -- LOL)
Okay, so I don't know if it's "the" party to be at, but I do know that its fun.   
I have a confession to make....I really do like to entertain....which is really puzzling because more than anything  I  love to curl up in my jammies. warm slippers and read a good book.   But I LOVE to throw a party.  But then I need my alone time, then a get-together, then a solitary stretch..... see?  It's a mystery.  

I belong to 2 book clubs which I attend regularly, so I decided to invite both of my book clubs, and their husbands to this year's soup supper.  The Lit Wits and Totally Lit.   It was fun to see them mix and mingle.  It was a bit slow going at first, as they tended to hang with you they knew, but by the end of the evening...and a glass of wine or two, everyone was old friends.

I had every intention of taking great pictures thru-out the evening.  We had 12 soups  (when I send the invite, it says to bring a pot of soup or some homemade bread to share---and then it ends up being like a taste testing of some kind) so....we had twelve soups.  Did I take a picture of any soup?  NO.  I did take a couple pics of breads.....and a couple of the handwritten soup label/descriptions.  And a few of my friends here and there, but no soup.  Not one.

The Handyman is a great helper after we have a dinner party....he begins picking up and loading the dishwasher , taking out the garbage, even if it's midnight when the last party goers head out the door. As with any gathering there is always some residual party stuff left over the next morning...all the wine goblets that don't go in the dishwasher, a bread bowl, a game left out and open, a chair or two out of place.  And that is where my house still sits--with the lingering party bits and pieces scattered around. 
I don't care.  It's a lazy Sunday at my house.

This is my living room...notice that it is empty.  And yet, I had 17 couples in my house, so that is 34 people.  Where are they?



Why do people always congregate in the kitchen?




And...there was a football game on the TV in the other room, so the men gathered there...for a bit.


Eventually, we co-mingled, ate some soup, mingled some more, tried more soup, ate some cookies, more soup, bread and...WINE or other beverages.
Then we had to play "Battle of the Sexes", where the women had to bring back the gold!  Last year the men won, and have been holding it over our heads every since.

THE WINNERS!!
(my bff bookclub friends!! I love them.)
(some of us are making the 'W' sign for WINNERS)



THE LOSERS!!   So shamed they couldn't face the camera.
(some of them even ran back to the room with the TV, they were so shamed)



In closing......can you see how big this bottle of wine is?  I had to finish it this afternoon!  Wine goes bad you know if left open in the fridge for too long.
(at midnight, I made Mitzi and Shelly pose for a photo op....I wanted to show how big the bottle was)



It is hard to pour if you're by yourself....as I am this afternoon.  But no worries (sigh), I figured it out!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Resolutions and Cookbook Sundays



I have been missing in action for a few weeks.  Sorry 'bout that.  I just needed a blogging break.   Saying that makes me feel so lame, because there are many of you who blog almost daily.  You accept every challenge and round-up and event that appears in the food AND book blogging world.  You are my  heroes, let me tell ya!  I admire so much your effort, your commitment, your passion.

But the truth is....that is not me.  Right now anyway.   Right now, I want to feel free to blog when I want and not when I feel obligated to.

So, having said that  (and the most important part is that YOU are my HEROES) my New Year's Resolution  (besides, sending everyone I know a birthday card on time,  losing 25 pounds,  being more organized,  etc etc etc )  is to not accept any challenges this year.  Or maybe this next 6 months, or the next 3 months....or for a few weeks anyway!    I'm just going to cook and blog and read and blog and maybe just blog about nothing in particular.

Whew.... I felt I had to get that out of the way.

Now...having freed myself from my obligations....I am participating in Cookbook Sundays!!  ( I know, I know....I'm  LMAO too)  But Brenda has taken Cookbook Sundays to 'once a month'!   Ya gotta love  her for that.   I do!    I'm feeling like I have time now, to really search thru my 218 cookbooks and find something I really want to make, and not the easiest thing I come to, just to meet my obligation.  So, I'm excited about the move to once a month.  YAY!

For this week's Cookbook Sunday, I used Mary Engelbreit's 'Tis the Season Holiday Cookbook' and I made something I've never made before..... Hoppin' John.   It's a Southern thing.  I'm a north-westerner.  But I'm always intrigued by Southern cooking, so I thought I'd give Good Luck a chance and begin our new year with this southern tradition.



The Handyman and I have never had Black-eyed peas before.  They were.....good.  But....because I have no emotional attachment to this tradition, it probably isn't one we will adopt.  (I like pinto beans and ham better....or a good  Ham and bean soup, but the black-eyed peas were good too)
And this recipe had rice in it.  I'm not seeing a lot of rice out there in the food blog world, when it comes to Hoppin' John.   I thought there was a bit too much rice in this dish.   This recipe had us garnish the bowls with  green onions and parsley and chopped tomatoes... I really liked the freshness of the toppings.

Whether you are a yearly Hoppin' John eater or someone new to the tradition, I wish  you a Happy New Year filled with good luck  (which, for those of you who don't know, is the purpose of eating the Hoppin' John).

Have a great day and go check out Cookbook  Sundays and link up  (you have a whole week to do so)

the classic 
Hoppin' John

2 cups dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
8 cups cool water
1 smoked ham hock
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
2 cups long-grain white rice
1 tsp salt
chopped tomatoes, green onions and fresh parsley for garnish

In a large Dutch Oven, soak the black-eyed peas in cool water to cover by 2 inches, overnight. 
In a colander, drain the peas.  Rinse the Dutch oven.
In the Dutch oven, bring the 8-cups water, ham hock, onions, bay leaves, thyme, and ground red pepper to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes.
Add the peas, return the mixture to a boil over high heat and skim off any scum from the surface.  Reduce the heat and cook at a bare simmer for at least 1 hour, or  until the peas are tender when pierced with a fork.   Remove ham hock and shred the meat and add it back to the peas.
Add the rice and salt, making sure there is enough liquid to cover the rice.  Stir gently, and simmer, uncovered, over low heat for 25 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Serve the hoppin' john in bowls garnished with chopped tomatoes, green onions and parsley.


My Big Backyard (usually on Wednesdays, sometimes Thursdays)

Because I'm a nerd, I want to see how my backyard changes throughout the year. So! I'm going to take a few pictures of it eac...