Monday, January 3, 2022

New Year, New Beginnings

Once again, a new year has begun and I’m making a resolution to try and flex my writing muscles and try to keep up this long-ignored blog. Who knows, maybe this year it will stick. Stranger things have happened… Like the “snowy mix” last night after a week of near-record highs and tornado warnings. Welcome to January in the South, where your day might start in duck boots and end in flip-flops (as long as both are monogrammed, of course).

I can’t say that I’m sad to leave 2021 behind. For me personally, it was actually a pretty good year, all things considered. The people I love are reasonably healthy, my job continues to go well, the Bulldogs had a great season and overall I’m pretty content with life, which is a good place to be as I continue to creep into my fifth decade. 

The world around us though, continues to get stranger. This COVID thing just doesn’t seem to end, the American political system seems to be in an ongoing metaphorical toilet flush, and I STILL haven’t figured out why people keep watching The Bachelor. 

But life goes on, and to (hopefully) help ensure luck, prosperity and progress in 2022, we followed all the Southern superstitions for New Year’s Day. 

Stuff I Cooked…

So pork for progress (because pigs root forward or something like that. We cook pork tenderloins fairly often around here – lean, easy to make and a small one is the perfect size for two people. We did a larger one today with our favorite raspberry-chipotle marinade

Greens are for money, so collard greens fit the bill. After years of hating cooked greens, I realized that I actually only hate them when they are cooked to bitter, olive-drab death. When braised until just tender and with a spoonful of sugar added, they can actually be pretty tasty. 

Cornbread is said to represent gold/prosperity. My mom made the best cornbread ever, with a special pan inherited from her sister that was well-seasoned, used for nothing else, and NEVER put into the dishwasher. When my father departs this earth, I expect a battle for possession of this glorious item between me, my brother, and a few cousins. But for now, I usually use a mix. I’ve decided I like the Krusteaz Southern Style mix better than Trader Joe’s, which I made on Saturday, but seemed a little too sweet.

Black-eyed peas are for luck. Dried or fresh peas, a little bit of bacon and the instant pot are all you need.

I read this year that round or ring cakes are also traditional in some areas for a “full circle of luck” for the coming year. Since I had some fresh strawberries from the farmers’ market, why not make my favorite, easy strawberry yogurt cake just to hedge my bets?

And while not representative of anything, Tim got me a potato ricer for Christmas. Now you might not think a potato ricer is a romantic gift, but let me tell you otherwise. He knew I’ve been wanting to try the Joel Robuchon method for mashed potatoes like I saw on Top Chef Legends, and he’s thoughtful that way. And even though I couldn’t quite bring my Paula-Deen loving self to use THAT MUCH butter, they were absolutely the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever made. I think the key is that when you boil the potatoes whole and then peel them, they are soft, but relatively dry when they go into the ricer. Then the only moisture comes from the milk/cream and butter. 

So hopefully, I’ve gotten the year off to a good start… we’ll see!


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