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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Friday, January 06, 2012

Jenny Is Having A Boy!

Jenny and Kyle had the ultrasound this week to find out she's having another boy! We are so excited! Here is the digital scrapbook layout I did of the news. When she called us, all our friends and family exploded in chatter on Facebook and I wanted to capture that too.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Hopping Johns and Collards

It's suppose to be lucky to eat Hoppin' Johns and Collards on New Years day as it represents coins and paper money.

The black-eyed pea, also known as the cow pea, is thought to have originated in North Africa, where it has been eaten for centuries. The peas were probably introduced to the New World by Spanish explorers and African slaves, and have become a common food in the southern United States. Hoppin' Johns consists of black-eyed peas (or field peas) and rice, with chopped onion and sliced bacon, seasoned with salt. Some people substitute ham hock, pork sausage or fatback for the conventional bacon; a few serve with chopped raw onions, green peppers or relish/chow-chow. Smaller than black-eyed peas, field peas are used in the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia. On the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" is called "Skippin' Jenny". This thriftiness brings hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the new year. According to Wikipedia, "one tradition common in the Southern USA is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to assure that the New Year will be filled with Luck, Fortune and Romance. Another tradtion holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of luck (or wealth) that the diner will have in the coming year." I don't think I'll be counting my peas but it might be a fun exercise to get kids involved in eating their black eyed peas.

Collards are greens cultivated for its thick, slightly bitter edible leaves. Plant in early spring for a summer harvest and again in midsummer for fall and early winter harvest. As you can see, they are available year-round, but many people believe that they are tastier and more nutritious in the cold months, after the first frost. For best flavor and texture, the leaves should be picked before they reach their maximum size. The plant is grown mainly in Brazil, Portugal, the Southern United States, many parts of Africa, Montenegro, Spain and Kashmir. They are often prepared with other similar green leaf vegetables, such as kale, turnip greens, spinach, and mustard greens. A mixed batch of greens is referred to as "a mess o' greens" in the South. They are generally eaten year-round here. Typical seasoning when cooking collards can consist of smoked and salted meats (ham hocks, pork neckbones, fatback or other fatty meat. Add diced onions, vinegar, salt and pepper, butter, or relish/chow-chow. Collards are considered to be a healthy food as they are good sources of vitamin C, soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties. Though greens did not originate in Africa, the habit of eating greens that have been cooked down into a low gravy, and drinking the juices from the greens (known as "pot likker") is of African origin. Pot likker is a highly concentrated, vitamin-filled broth left over from cooking the greens. The slaves of southern plantations were given the leftover food from the plantation kitchen. Some of this food consisted of the tops of turnips and other greens.

Hoppin' John
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
1 pound spicy bulk pork sausage
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups beef broth, homemade or canned
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups long-grained rice
    In a large saucepan, bring the peas and water to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, cover tightly, and let stand for 1 hour. (Or in a large bowl, combine the peas with enough cold water to cover by 3 inches, and let stand overnight at room temperature.)
    Drain well.

    In a 5-quart Dutch oven, cook the sausage, onion, and garlic over medium heat, stirring often to break up the sausage, until it loses its raw look, about 10 minutes. Pour off all excess fat.

    Add the drained peas, water, and red and white peppers. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, until the peas are tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

    Meanwhile, bring the beef broth, butter, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Fluff the rice and transfer it to a deep serving bowl.

    Pour the peas over the rice, mix well, and serve immediately.

    In my family, we didn't add the sausage (although that sounds delicious). We cooked the beans in the crockpot with a ham bone, ham, or some raw bacon and add the cooked peas to rice just before serving. We like to sprinkle chopped raw onions on top or add a little relish called chow-chow.

    Fresh collard greens, washed, chopped with thick stem removed (Keep in mind that greens can fill a pot when fresh but they cook wwaayy down.)
    Chicken or beef broth
    1-2 pieces of raw bacon (apple smoked Gwaltney bacon is good)
    Hot red pepper flakes to taste
    Salt to taste
    Apple cider vinegar to taste
    Sauteed chopped onions

    After sauteeing the onions, put all ingredients into your crockpot or a dutch oven pot on the stovetop. Add enough water to make sure greens are covered. Cook them covered, slowly for 3 hours.

    We serve them with butter, chopped raw onions, sprinkled with vinegar or chow-chow. You can substitute white wine for the apple cider. You could also add a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar if you like your greens sweet.

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