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. :)