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SASSY'S HOPPIN JOHN For New Year's Day 



Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1/3 pound bacon
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas, about 2 cups
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 heaping teaspoon Cajun seasoning
Salt
2 cups long-grain rice
Scallions or green onions for garnish

METHOD

1 Cut bacon into small pieces and cook it slowly in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Once the bacon is crispy, increase the heat to medium-high and add the celery, onion, and green pepper and sauté until they begin to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir well and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

2 Add the black-eyed peas, bay leaf, thyme and Cajun seasoning and cover with 4 cups of water. Cook for 30 minutes to an hour, or longer if needed, until the peas are tender (not mushy).

3 While the black-eyed peas are cooking, cook the rice separately according to package instructions.

4 When the peas are tender, strain out the remaining cooking water. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Taste the peas for salt and add more if needed. 

Serve the dish either by placing a ladle-full of black-eyed peas over steamed rice, or by mixing the two together in a large bowl. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serve with collard greens, kale, beet or turnip greens.

THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER 



On this day in 1940, one of my favorite authors, Carson McCullers (from Columbus, Georgia) published her first novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.

The Heart is often cited as one of the great masterworks of the Southern Gothic genre for its exploration of spiritually isolated outcasts in the American South. McCullers' primary message, however, is a universal one. As expressed by Tennessee Williams, "Carson's major theme is the huge importance and nearly insoluble problems of human love."

The misfits who populate McCullers' novels (The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe) are so compellingly real that I often think about them as if they are actual people I know personally today, rather than fictional characters I became acquainted with over 30 years ago.

If you haven't had the pleasure of reading McCullers, I recommend her wholeheartedly.

DIY MARDI GRAS KING CAKE 



INGREDIENTS
  • 1 can of cinnamon rolls, with icing
  • 3/4 cup of sugar, separated into 3 parts of 1/4 each food coloring
  • plastic baby (available at most party stores)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Separate the cinnamon rolls and roll them out by hand so that they look like hot dogs. Then attached them by pinching the ends together  into one long roll and shape into an oval by closing the ends together with another pinch. Place on a cookie sheet. Cook as directed.
  • While it is cooking, use food coloring to dye sugar. Make one part purple using blue and red, one part green, and one part gold using yellow.
  • When the cake is finished cooking, ice the top with the white icing.  Then sprinkle the different colors of sugars alternating as you go around the oval. Place the baby inside the cake after it cools. Enjoy!!

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