Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Special New Year’s Eve Menu   My Arch always insisted we share Black Eyed Peas at the stroke of midnight...which was a new tradition for me. We had a big New Year's Eve party every year, usually with 30 to 40 of our closest friends. Arch and I would cook up a storm, making sure there were plenty of Black Eyed Peas for everyone.
The eating of the humble legume, to bring you good luck in the coming year, began in the south, and is now a common New Year's Eve and Day item on menus around the world. As with all regional cooking, there are variation....both in legends and cooking methods.
If you are planning to celebrate the New Year in the Southeast, it is most likely that you will be offered black-eyed peas in some form, either just after midnight or on New Year's Day. From grand gala gourmet dinners to small casual gatherings with friends and family, these flavorful legumes are traditionally, according to Southern folklore, the first food to be eaten on New Year's Day for luck and prosperity throughout the year ahead.

The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman's troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.

Today, the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for the New Year has evolved into a number of variations and embellishments of the luck and prosperity theme including:

Served with greens (collards, mustard or turnip greens, which varies regionally), the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money. In some areas cabbage is used in place of the greens.
Cornbread, often served with black-eyed peas and greens, represents gold.
For the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.
Black-eyed peas eaten with stewed tomatoes represent wealth and health.
Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot just before serving is another tradition practiced by some. When served, the person whose bowl contains the penny or dime receives the best luck for the New Year, unless of course, the recipient swallows the coin, which would be a rather unlucky way to start off the year.

During the week of Thanksgiving, I posted several menus and notes from my friends at Smithfield Foods. Today, I received this via their email weekly menu plans and recipes. If you love pork, ham and bacon, go to and sign up for their blog.

 Good Luck Soup
• 2 (10 ounce) packages Smithfield Country
Ham and End Slices (can substitute 2 cups
any leftover ham), roughly chopped
• 1 pound Black Eyed Peas, rinsed and soaked
over night
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 tablespoon ham base
• 5 dashes hot sauce
• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• Vegetable stock (64 ounce) (can substitute
chicken stock)
• 1 cup water
• 1/2 pound collards, cut into thin ribbons
• pepper to taste
Steps: In a large stock pot add olive oil. Stir in onions,
garlic, ham base, hot sauce, thyme and oregano. Saute
until onions are translucent. Add drained black eyed
peas, vegetable stock, water and chopped ham. Simmer
until peas are tender. Approximately 40-50 minutes. Add
collards and simmer an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
Pepper to taste. Serve hot.
Don't forget the cornbread and lots of butter!

Happy New Year to all of you! You have made my 2010 very special. I have loved reading all of your emails. I was glad to be given the opportunity to help you find a particular recipe, or help you plan a special menu. Thank you so much for supporting my little blog! I plan to carry on during 2011, unless the government decides to carry through with it's threat to start taxing blogs. Hopefully it is just another rumor.
A New Year's message from Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery
Join us for a New Year's Eve Afternoon Cigar & Wine Event at Somerset Ridge!

To help usher in 2011, we are having a very special event on New Year's Eve afternoon from noon to 5. Master cigar roller Corey Frisbee will be in the tasting room rolling custom cigars for your New Year's pleasure!
You can select from a variety of premium tobaccos and cigar sizes while watching a master craftsman roll your own custom cigars.
What better way to bring in 2011 than enjoying your own custom cigar with a glass of Somerset Ridge Tawny or Ruby port?
We hope to see you for this special event. If you have friends & family in from out of town, bring them by!
Winery Hours: 11-5 Wed-Friday; 12-5 Sunday. CLOSED THIS SATURDAY, NEW YEAR'S DAY.

A message from Lidia  to share with you

Dear Friends,
With the New Year just around the corner and resolutions being drafted, and ready to be put into action, I too, want to approach this coming year with a significant, and close to the heart, resolve.
My resolution for 2011 will be a conscious effort to not waste food. This effort will be made not only by myself, but by our employees in our restaurants and retail shops. I will also take the opportunity to share this message in the media, and my teachings throughout the year.

The world produces 120% of the food it needs, and yet there are people still hungry. We are all concerned about being "green," but according to some of the latest statistics that I read, one third of the world's gas omissions are produced by wasted food. The actual waste of the food, coupled with all the energy, labor and materials used in producing this food, are all contributing to this serious problem.

The solution seems rather simple, and all of us have it in our power to make a difference! So let's start a movement as a nation, and rekindle an old saying "Waste Not Want Not", which has much relevance today, and for our future.

Commit with me in this movement by joining my Community Table. Share in the discussion of how you will make a commitment to not waste food in the coming year- what you will do to help! You can also write to me about how you will become a part of this mission at

Spread the word far and wide amongst friends and family- we all have the power to make a difference by not wasting food. It starts with us, in our own homes, and at our own tables.

I wish you all a very healthy and Happy New Year!    

Warmly, Lidia

May I add my warmest wishes for a Happy and Safe New Year!

Kay Tucker
 I took a tumble on Christmas Day….Somehow, it seems so unfair to be attacked by pork….after all, is there a more loyal pork lover in the world? I think not! But yet, a tiny little piece of ham fat on my hardwood kitchen floor did me in!

So, I’ve been stuck at home, in my chair with the heating pad on my knee and my massaging pillow on my right hip, and a bottle of Alieve by my side. I have watched every movie ever made, consumed way too much Coke Zero, read 2 books (which is good!) and taken a catnap almost hourly. I have reached BORED! And then some.
Last night I could not stand the idea of sitting another moment. I asked myself what would make me happy…it had to something I could do at home. It had to be something that did not require a lot of physical activity…..then the light came on! I was going to bake bread!
When my children were in grade school (many moons ago) I went through a phase where I baked bread once a week. I loved it! Big plump loaves of white bread; fragrant, sugary loaves of cinnamon bread; I even tried my grandmother’s salt rising bread recipe. A big hit was the cheese bread By the time school was out, the kitchen table would have 8 loaves of bread cooling on racks. Then the door would open, the kids would rush in and…..within 10 minutes, the count had dwindled to 6 loaves. After dinner there would be 4 or 5…after breakfast the next morning….zip, nada, niente, nichts. It was non-stop bread eating at our house.

With that decision made, my next move was to see what I had on hand in the kitchen. Then I had to choose a recipe. This was fun!

Finally at 7pm, I made my decision….

No-Knead Three-Cheese Semolina Bread (because of my fall, I chose no-knead because of not wanting to stand there for 10 minutes while kneading)

This is a King Arthur Flour recipe, as so many of my bread recipes are. If you are a baker, check out their web page,

2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup semolina
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon Pizza Dough Flavor, optional (a King Arthur product…definitely worth ordering!)
2 tablespoons garlic oil or olive oil
1 cups lukewarm water (1 to 1 1/8)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup diced Provolone cheese, smoked or plain, mild or sharp
1 cup diced or coarsely crumbled Asiago cheese, mild or sharp

1 Combine everything but the three cheeses, and beat on medium speed of an electric mixer to make a soft, smooth dough. It may or may not clear the sides of the bowl; either way is just fine.

2. Add the three cheeses, and mix till well combined.

3. Put the soft dough in a lightly greased bowl or 8-cup measure, cover, and let rise for about 2 hours, till very puffy.

4. Lightly grease a 14" to 15" covered stoneware baker. Or lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment. Sprinkle semolina into the pan, or onto the baking sheet. I used a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Gently deflate the dough. Divide the dough in half, shape each piece into a loaf and place both halves on the prepared baking sheet.

6. Tent lightly with greased plastic wrap (spray wrap with olive oil spray), and let rise for about an hour, till noticeably puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

7. Take the plastic off the bread. Mist top of bread with water, and use a sharp knife to make three diagonal slashes in each loaf.

8. Bake the bread for 40 minutes, till the bread is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers about 190°F to 200°F. If you're baking smaller loaves, check to see if they're done after 30 minutes.
Turn the bread out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
But don’t forget ….there is nothing like a shamelessly thick slice of warm, fragrant bread, fresh from the oven and slathered with sweet creamery butter. That first bite is truly a religious experience!
My house smells heavenly! Enjoy!

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker