I haven’t been such a hot blogger this year – what with one thing and another there were some long dry spots between posts on my end. I haven’t been able to read blogs as regularly as I’d like, either.
Makes me feel especially guilty when I consider what I have gained from you all while I have been slacking. When we lost our good Gina girl in July and had a scare with Ginger shortly after, the support you all offered touched my heart and kept me going. When I did get my head above water long enough to post, you were still there to read and comment. And when I wondered how Jerry and I should celebrate the New Year, you all told me exactly what to do.
So many thanks to one of my favorite bloggers, Lydia at The Perfect Pantry. I always learn something about food when I read her blog, but this week, in a really lovely post, I also learned about the tradition of seeing out the old year by welcoming the First Light of the new one.
She and her friends build a bonfire in a field and toast each other with coffee as the sun rises on the 1st of January. What a lovely idea! So this morning, early, we poured coffee into thermoses, bundled ourselves and the dogs into the car, drove across the bridge to St. George Island, and stood and saluted the sun as it came over the horizon. It was a heartwarming welcome to a new day and a new year.
On the way back, mindful of my lesson last year from another favorite blogger, Lisa (The Homesick Texan), we stopped at the Piggly Wiggly for black-eyed peas and collards. Lisa reminds me yearly that eating black-eyed peas on the first brings good fortune in the new year. Last year wasn’t free of grief or sorrow or hard luck, but it was a very good year overall and I am sure it was those peas. This year I followed, roughly, the recipe Lisa adapted from Gourmet, but I don’t have a Texas tummy so I reduced the chipotles and the garlic a bit.
Instead of ham, I used some outstanding smoked sausage from Bradley’s Country Store in Tallahassee that was brought to us by some new friends who are also, indirectly, blog-related. I “met” John when he read my blog post about a restaurant he was interested in and it turned out we had both politics, food and a couple of friends in common. He and his wife came down to Apalachicola one night last week to try out the restaurant with us, and they came bearing sausage. Who says you should beware the people you meet on the Internet? (When I posted this I couldn't get the store's web site to load for me. If it doens't work for you, try this. It looks like a terrific place -- one we will try to visit before we head back north this weekend.)
Now John and his wife echoed what Lisa has posted several times – the appropriate accompaniment to black-eyed peas is cornbread, baked in a cast iron skillet. The only hitch was that I didn’t own a cast iron skillet. I think, because I’d never seen anyone in my family cook in one, that I was a little intimidated by the whole “seasoning” mystique. Time to be over that! So when we drove to Panama City today to get a ladder my husband wanted, I found a cast iron skillet as well. It wasn’t old and it was preseasoned – two strikes against it (a third was that it had Emeril’s name on the label) but I followed Lisa's recipe and it worked like a charm -- the cornbread was wonderful, full of corny goodness and crackly on the bottom!
So we ladled up the rich smoky pea stew and dunked our cornbread in it and said a heartfelt thanks for good friends, cyber and otherwise, who made this last year such a good one. Here’s to all of you – happy 2008!
How did the rest of you welcome the New Year?