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.

Black-eyed Pea and Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Garlic Sauce and Carmelized Onions

Black-eyed Pea and Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Gar­lic Sauce and Carmelized Onions

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.

Chocolate Palette

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.

Palette Square Open

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?

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0 Responses to 2009!

  1. HaHa! I think I share your res­o­lu­tion to cut back on say­ing “like”– I thought it was just a Cal­i­for­nia thing! Glad to have stum­bled upon your new blog.

  2. jumbleberryjam says:

    I was a lot like you grow­ing up…I wanted my own house, my own voca­tion, my own fam­ily, etc. :-)

    Yep, ate my black eyed peas and col­lards on New Year’s. Never miss it. Sure hope their magic kicks in soon!

    Must try the quinoa in rice cooker! Thanks for the tip!!

    This year I’m pas­sion­ate about de-cluttering and Greg Mortenson’s work build­ing schools in Afghanistan (per most recent blog post).


  3. Jenn says:

    Thanks for the like, quinoa rice cooker tip. I like, really need to stop say­ing like, too.
    My dad used to have one of those hotel bells that he would bring to the din­ner table and ding every time one of us kids (or-horror-our friends) said like. Obvi­ously it didn’t really have a last­ing impact.

    Impres­sive choco­late collection!

    Happy New Year!

  4. Vegetation says:

    I too wished a lot of my teen years away, I couldn’t wait to grow up either (which I did with a shock at 20 when I had my first bub!). Now the years just fly by and I won­der where they went!

    I con­fess I didn’t eat my black eyed peas for New Years, until I started blog­ging I’d never heard of this tra­di­tion before (either I live under a rock or Aus­tralia doesn’t have this tra­di­tion :P). The quinoa and black eyed pea pat­ties look deli­cious though! And thanks for the tip about mak­ing quinoa in the rice cooker, mine so often comes out some­what of a boggy mess :( I can’t wait to try it!

    Good luck with your res­o­lu­tions! (espe­cially the declut­ter­ing one, I got into that one last year and now have a bag per­ma­nently sit­ting in the lounge­room, but I seem to refill my house with more stuff somehow!)

  5. jessy says:

    happy new year to you, too!

    i think your quinoa & black-eyed pea cakes look won­der­ful! lov­ing the creamy roasted gar­lic sauce and carmelized onions — and those brus­sels! mmmmmmmmmmm!

    isn’t it amaz­ing how much stuff we accu­mu­late? dan & i went through our attic back in novem­ber and donated half our stuff — felt awe­some. i hope to reduce it even more once it warms up a bit so i can spend some time up there going through all the junk. i’m also a “like” per­son. i blame the 1990’s and “my so-called life”! ahah­haaa — awesome.

    my new years res­o­lu­tion this year is to abstain from alco­hol until my birth­day in may. i loooooove wine, and i think it’s fun to chal­lenge myself — so no booze for a few months. yay!

    i looooove your res­o­lu­tion to become a choco­late con­nois­seur! looks like you’re off to a tasty start!

  6. Con­grat­u­la­tions on your cook­book offer! Celine at havecakewilltravel.com is always rav­ing about your recipes. I think you are so awe­some for want­ing to be a choco­late con­nois­seur. That has to be the coolest 2009 new years res­o­lu­tion I have heard. The res­o­lu­tion I’m really pas­sion­ate about this year is eat­ing out less. I have have become a expert at locat­ing spots were I can truly eat a vegan meal out… I have made lists galore on my com­puter. But I spend waaay too much money doing that, when I could DIY, save money, and still get lots of excit­ing groceries.

    Yay for the purge mind­set, too! I have become quite the min­i­mal­ist. Accu­mu­lat­ing stuff just makes me queasy and anxious…I hate the feeling!

    And those Brus­sels sprouts look delish!

  7. David says:

    On your 2nd resolution:

    I rec­om­mend going a day with­out speak­ing (inten­tion­ally). I don’t know if this is pos­si­ble or not, but I used to prac­tice silent days every now and again, and always found that I thought more clearly about my words afterwords.

    Thanks for the quinoa tip! Can’t wait to try!

  8. bazu says:

    I’m so happy to see you in the blog­ging world again!!
    Happy new year, and your res­o­lu­tions rock. You know, espe­cially that last one…

  9. Nick says:

    I like to con­sider myself some sort of choco­late con­nois­seur as well and I just received that 8-pack of choco­late form TJ’s for Christ­mas too! I have yet to dig in because I’ve got about 15 other dark choc bars to work on but I can’t wait

    I’m par­tic­u­larly pas­sion­ate about cook­ing with new and dif­fer­ent ingre­di­ents this year. I’ve never cooked with ingre­di­ents like lentils, parsnips, per­sim­mons or leeks and I intend to change that.

  10. Vegyogini says:

    I just went from a house to an apart­ment and lost over 1000 square feet, so I know exactly what you mean about purg­ing! It took a lot for me to set nos­tal­gia and sen­ti­men­tal­ity aside, but I did my best.

    Thank you for the quinoa tip; I’ll pass it on to my mom who I just intro­duced to quinoa and who just bought a rice cooker!

    Good luck with your resolutions. :)