Friday, December 31, 2010

For New Year's Day: Marinated Black-eyed Peas.


Southern tradition holds that one should eat black-eyed peas on January 1st to ensure good luck for the New Year. I've made this recipe for Marinated Black-eyed Peas for about 15 years and have given them as neighbor gifts many times. I think they are fabulous, and other people seem to enjoy them as well.

Happy New Year!

Marinated Black-eyed Peas
can be halved or doubled easily

6 cans black-eyed peas (without bacon), rinsed and drained
½ large onion, sliced very thin
1½ cups olive oil
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar (the woman who gave me the recipe emphasized that she used good quality balsamic; she told me to add a pinch of sugar for lesser-grade balsamic - I think I use good balsamic so I've never added sugar!)
3 garlic cloves, smashed or bruised
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons Cavendar's Greek Seasoning

Combine oils, vinegar and seasonings in a saucepan. Bring just to a boil. Pour over black-eyed peas and onions. Refrigerate for several days before serving, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic and bay leaves. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sweet sisters.


Dots has served as a peer tutor in Vivian's classroom this year. It has been a great experience for both of them. Vivian's teacher sent me this darling picture of the two of them.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Frog on wheels.


Will is playing for TCU club roller hockey team. He seems to enjoy it and has met some nice friends that way. We've gone to see him play once, which was a lot of fun. I've really missed all of the ice hockey that dominated our lives the past seven years!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My amazing dad, part II.

I have bragged on my dad's amazing athletic skills here before.

This is a video clip of my dad climbing a rope as a freshman gymnast at Georgia Tech in 1955 and earlier this month at age 74!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas visitor.


Look who was asleep in my parents backyard here in Jackson Hole this morning!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A rosy frog.


Guess who's going to the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day?!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas baking.

Cheese Drops, Cookie Press Christmas Trees and Gingerbread Boys

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

Last weekend the girls and I did some Christmas baking and prepared gifts for our neighbors.

Dots doesn't like red hots and preferred to decorate her gingerbread boys with French dragees

Dots was indignant that I didn't have a gingerbread girl cookie cutter. She improvised by making some pearl necklaces out of dragees and using extra dough to form ponytails for a few of the cookies

Vivian got in on the action and helped to decorate a few of the gingerbread boys

Vivian was very proud of the ones she did but wasn't happy that she had to wait until they were baked to eat one!

For my birthday a friend gave me this darling ribbon that I used to wrap our neighbor gifts

Ready for delivery!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Great gadgets: Harold Pie Crust Maker and Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peelers.

As I mentioned in my report on Thanksgiving dinner, I have never had any success with making my own pie crusts. The main problem that I've run into is sticky dough. I've ended up having to add so much flour in order to prevent the dough from sticking to my hands and to the rolling pin, that the dough became tough and not at all a desirable texture.

A year or two ago I read a review of the Harold Pie Crust Maker in Cook's Illustrated magazine. The author praised the pie crust tool, telling of much easier it was to roll out crust using it. The story sounded too good to be true, but the gadget was pretty inexpensive so I decided to order one for myself. It sat in my cupboard until a month or two ago when I made an apple pie for my Cooking Club.

The gadget essentially looks like a flat zippered sweater bag. You toss a tablespoon or so of flour inside, seal the bag and shake so that the flour dusts interior of the plastic disk. You then insert your refrigerated pie dough into the bag and seal it again. Taking your rolling pin, you now roll out the dough while it is inside the plastic. When you've reached your desired diameter, you unzip the bag and peel back one side. Then you invert the crust into your pie plate and peel off the second side. Voila! Perfect pie crust that requires very little handling.

The second gadget that came in handy at Thanksgiving was the Kuhn Rikon Swiss peeler. I recently took a cooking class at Sur la Table, and our instructor recommended these inexpensive little vegetable peelers. I bought one and can't believe how much easier it is to use than my old peeler. The Kuhn Rikon also removes a much thinner depth of peel, leaving more of the inside fruit or vegetable intact. At Thanksgiving I used the peeler for my apple pie, but I've also used it with potatoes and been equally pleased.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I hosted all of my family here for Thanksgiving - sixteen people (eight children and eight adults)! Everyone came in from out of town Thanksgiving Day so I did all of the food myself. I was very happy with everything turned out, and my family was most appreciative and complimentary.

On Monday I made my lists and timetable and did my grocery shopping. I made a couple of things Monday afternoon, and then spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday cooking the rest. Thursday morning I got up early to make the rolls and to get the turkey ready to go in the oven. My mom and sister did all of the cleaning up for me. That was a wonderful treat!

Grown-up Table (my sister, Marian, made the precious placecards - she's very creative with stamping and crafts; my mom gave me the fabulous Spode turkey plates as a Thanksgiving/Birthday present)

Kids Table

My brother, son and nephew ensconced in technology before dinner

Dinner is served!

Here was my menu:

Crab Bisque, served in mugs while I was getting the rest of the meal ready

Port Gravy
Southern Cornbread-Pecan Dressing
Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
Sweet Potatoes with Praline Topping
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans (Haricots Verts)
Squash Casserole
Homemade Rolls

Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie

I was most pleased with the dressing and the rolls. They turned out even better than I'd expected!

The ambrosia was a sentimental addition to the menu. I distinctly remember my grandmother sitting on the porch at our cabin sectioning and removing all of the pith from oranges and grating fresh coconut. I can hear my grandmother admonishing me, "Don't ever learn to make this! You'll be a slave to it forever!" Well, foolishly, I dug the recipe out of my great-grandmother's tattered copy of the aptly titled Southern Cooking by Mrs. S.R. Dull (copyright 1928). The ingredient list was simple: fresh oranges, freshly grated coconut, a little sugar and a few tablespoons of sherry - how hard could that be? Well... the oranges weren't terribly difficult once I sharpened my paring knife, but they yielded so little! I peeled and sectioned twelve juice oranges (you can't have any membrane or pith on the orange pieces) and ended up with a measly cup or two. Then I attempted to grate the coconut - what a stringy mess! I don't think I had anywhere close to the amount of coconut I was supposed to use, but I tired so quickly of grating it that I quit pretty early on in that process. I think the ambrosia tasted okay, but I'm not sure that anyone other than my mom and sister and me even tried it. I should have listened to my grandmother on that one!

I have never had good luck with homemade pie crust, but I have a new tool that is fabulous, and I was delighted with how my pie crusts turned out! I will write about that gadget tomorrow.

Will with my twin nephews Jed and Matt. I gave Will the choice of sitting at the kids table or with the grown-ups; he chose the former. Good thing, too, as I think the little boys would have been devastated had Will not sat with them! They love their big cousin

Dots with her cousins Guinn and Mary Grace

Vivian did not want to sit at the kids table (and she insisted on a
Madeline plate rather than a turkey one), but she ate a GREAT dinner and really seemed to enjoy herself

My mom, sister and brother-in-law

My brother, sister-in-law and dad

Me with my brother

Me relaxing with Tucker after dinner - we were both exhausted!

I am now busily preparing for Christmas. We took family pictures the day after Thanksgiving that I am using for my cards this year. I have never been so late starting my Christmas cards! I still don't even have my cards back yet, though I have ordered them and expect them to be ready any day. In the meantime you'd think I'd at least have my labels and Christmas letter set to go, but sadly, that is not the case either {sigh}.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!