Happy New Year!
When I was growing up I couldn’t stand being a kid and I spent most of my adolescence wishing it away. I could not wait to grow up, because then life would really start. Time moved forward at a crawl’s pace. I remember actually getting bored with summer vacation and looking forward to school so that I had something to do. Now a long weekend flies by faster than a single work day and my pen can’t keep up with the year. If you could see how many checks I’ve written that I had to void and rewrite in the last year, you’d shake your head.
Did you remember to eat your black-eyed peas on January 1st? Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s is a southern tradition stemming from the late 1800s. During the Civil War northern troops would raid fields of food in the south, but overlooked black-eyed peas, thinking that they were cattle feed and not suitable for eating. Those hardy beans were a staple for survival in the war-ravaged south. They symbolize good luck and wealth in the new year and are traditionally eaten with ham and greens.
2009 looks to be a rough year with the economy and all, so I figured a little luck wouldn’t hurt. Besides, I love black-eyed peas because they are neutral enough to go in virtually any recipe, require no pre-soak and are just plain delicious! I made up some black-eyed pea and quinoa cakes that I lightly fried and served with a creamy roasted garlic sauce and carmelized onions. I simply cooked up some black-eyed peas, quinoa and some minced onion, mashed the peas, mixed them together with some dried basil and salt, formed them into patties and lightly pan fried them. For our greens, we bypassed the collards and went with some garlic roasted brussel sprouts.
P.S. If you have a rice cooker and have not yet made quinoa in it, you must! It is fluffy and absolutely perfect! Instead of the regular 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water ratio I use 1 cup quinoa to 1 2/3 cups water and it comes out perfect everytime! Always remember to rinse off your quinoa first.
I am not one much for convention or following tradition, but there’s a certain appeal to setting New Year’s Resolutions. Have I ever actually kept one? Well, maybe, but I usually forget what they were come March. This year, however, I’m feeling determined, so here goes.
1.) Purge. I’m getting rid of my stuff. It’s incredible as you go from occupying a room to an apartment to a house that you can find so many things to fill your space with! I’m paring down to only the things I really need and keeping sentimental mushiness to a minimum. So far I have 2 garbage bags full of clothes and 2 large rubbermaid totes full of stuff, and that’s only from sorting through my dressers, my side of the closet and our Christmas decorations. Goodwill will know us well this year.
2.) Stop using the word “like”. Yes, I am one of them. One of those people who says “And then I was like blah blah blah and then he was like blah blah blah”. I also use it as a filler word when I am grapling for my next though. Any ideas on how to stop it? So far I’ve thought of wearing a rubber band on my wrist and snapping it whenever I say it, like when a smoker is trying to quit or putting X-amount of pennies in one pocket and everytime I say it, I put one penny into the other pocket to make myself aware. Any thoughts?
3.) Exercise. C’mon now, stop laughing. I know we all say it, but I’m serious here. My pants are getting tight from working on the cookbook and my metabolism is starting to slow down. I have four new workout DVDs coming from Amazon to mix it up.
4.) Become a chocolate connoisseur. That was actually one of my goals from last year, but this year I’m taking it quite seriously. I know, chocolate connoiseur may not make sense after exercise, but really good dark chocolate only requires a small square to satisfy a sweet tooth, so no guilt here. And yes, I know that eating chocolate isn’t exactly something most people have to work towards, but I want to really know it. The process, the differences, the blends of beans. Semisweet, bittersweet, dark, I want to understand it beyond “This tastes good”.
I’m starting off with this wonderful Dark Chocolate Palette from Trader Joe’s that Jim bought me for Christmas. It has 8 squares of dark chocolate of differing cocoa amounts from unique origins.
So far we have sampled the first 5, with Peru and Tanzania being our top picks. Did you know that cacao trees can only grow within 20 degrees from the equator? The closer to the equator, the harder the cocoa butter and therefore the harder the chocolate.
I am learning a lot about chocolate right now due to some new books I received this holiday as well. Once the manuscript is off to the publisher this spring I plan on personally trying my hand at creating some confections, which I will document, of course.
Does anyone have any New Year’s Resolutions they are also feeling passionate about?
Squirrel’s Vegan KitchenGo back in time to my original blog: Squirrel’s Vegan Kitchen!
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