Eat Your Black-eyed Peas

Christmas may be over, but the celebrating isn’t; New Year’s is less than a week away. If you’re in the southern United States, you can bet that black-eyed peas will be on the day’s menu. All good Southerners know that if you want to have good luck in 2012, you’ve got to eat at least a spoonful of black-eyed peas.

The traditional dish, Hoppin’ John, consists of rice and black-eyed peas seasoned with onions and pork (bacon or a ham hock), but these days pretty much anything goes from black-eyed pea cakes to black-eyed pea salsa. At the Garden Home Retreat you’ll find us eating salt pork black-eyed peas, turnip greens and cornbread. The turnip greens ensure wealth in the New Year and you’ve got to have cornbread to soak up all the good sauce.

Here’s a recipe for salt pork black-eyed peas. Top them with a tomato relish, hot sauce or some folks even like their peas with catsup.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups dried peas
  • 6 slices of salt pork
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Water

Directions:

Soak the peas overnight and drain.

Place salt pork in a medium sized pot and cover with water. The water line should be about 1 inch above the pork. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 1 hour. You’ll know it’s ready when the water looks oily.

Add the prepared peas, onion and crushed red pepper. Again, the water line should be about 1 inch above the peas. Cook for about 30 minutes and then check for doneness. They should be tender, but not mushy. The fresher the dried peas, the quicker they will cook.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot.

Winter Solstice

If you’ve been suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD), take heart because the winter solstice is tomorrow. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the shortest day of the year and marks the start of winter. It also signals the beginning of more daylight hours, which is certainly reason to celebrate!

To mark the day I like to get my hands in the soil. Weather permitting, I’ll putter around the garden or I’ll plant something indoors like paperwhite bulbs or some sweetpea seed for placing in a cold frame. At dusk I’ll watch the sunset, turn on the Christmas tree lights and make a mental note that spring is just 90 days away.

Hobby Farm Dreaming

I was delighted to receive a copy of Julia Rothman’s book Farm Anatomy, The Curious Parts & Pieces of Country Life from Storey Publishing.

You may be familiar with Julia’s illustrations, wall papers, notecards and pattern designs. She has been featured on the blog Design Sponge DesignSponge.com and in magazines such as O At Home, ReadyMade, and Domino.

This book is right up my alley. Not only does the subject matter interest me, but it’s a visual treat. Whether she’s discussing plants to use for
natural dye or how to plow a field, Julia relies on illustrations with just a bit of text to convey the information. This makes otherwise complicated
topics pretty darn easy to understand. Makes me wonder why other books aren’t written this way.

Of course, the clincher for me is the spread on heritage turkey breeds. How can I not love a book that includes heritage turkey breeds?

So how about a copy of Farm Anatomy for your library? Post a comment about what you would raise on a farm for a chance to win Farm Anatomy. A winner has been selected. Thank you to everyone who participated! Love the comments!

Check out more of Julia’s illustrations online at
juliarothman.com & read her book blog at book-by-its-cover.com

Excerpted from Farm Anatomy, text and illustrations (c) by Julia Rothman, used with permission from Storey Publishing.

*Winners limited to the continental U.S.

Rustic Christmas

 

Every year I pick a Christmas decorating theme drawing inspiration from everyday items or materials from the garden. For instance, in 2010 I went all orange and chartreuse using tons of clementines and this year old fashioned tin ornaments will be my guide. One of my favorite muses was a magnolia leaf. The glossy green top and velvety brown underside sparked the idea to decorate in chocolate browns, white and silver.

Every year I insist on cutting my own fresh tree. The prerequisites are it has to be really large and evergreen. Sometimes getting it from the driveway to inside my back parlor gets a little tricky, but once it's up I can't wait to get started decorating it.

Brown is one of my favorite colors to start the palette when decorating my tree. It is a natural color that blends well with the colors of my cottage. This year I chose white, silver and gold to highlight my tree.

Huge brown velveteen ribbons, silver starburst and beads, glittery snowflakes, golden glass pinecones and homemade white salt dough ornaments lend a rustic feel.

Three silver glass trees highlight a collection of natural evergreens, pinecones and glass ornaments on my buffet. A wooden bowl with ivory candles and green apples intertwined with silver beads rests on my coffee table.

Magnolia leaves with their dual coloration are a beautiful display in a silver vase.

Brown pine cones, silver beads, and frosted ornaments in an antique dough trough add visual interest and carry the theme through to my dining table. It's a great conversation starter for my guests.

How do you decorate for the holidays? Do you stick with a time honored theme or do you change it up every year?