My Musings on Life

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone! 2014 is here, and I hope everyone had wonderful, safe celebrations for New Year's Eve!  I also hope everyone had a chance to cook traditional New Year's Day meals.  I just wanted to share some symbolism for the traditional foods eaten on New Year's Day, shared by a dear friend's Aunt:

" Fire-up the stove!

As the southern adage goes, “Peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold… Eat poor on New Year’s Day, and eat fat the rest of the year.”

• Black-Eyed Peas (In the South, eating black-eyed peas shows humility and thus invites good fortune.); • Collard Greens (Greens are considered lucky because they look like greenbacks.);, • Cornbread (A side of cornbread represents the glories of gold); • Pork (Because of its fat, is served to bring a New Year rich with happiness.); • Doughnuts: (Foods in the shape of a ring are thought to bring good luck, possibly because they symbolize coming full circle.) • Beer (helps you get lucky and eases the pain from the previous night).

Foods to avoid: Lobster should not be eaten on New Year’s Day because the lobster moves backwards, symbolizing setbacks. Also, the chicken scratches itself backwards, which is said to bring upon regret or dwelling on the past."

In my family, we always have cabbage and black-eyed peas.  I switched it up and had dino kale instead of cabbage, cuz greens are green, and money is green!  Also, this simple, "clean" dinner was a perfect way for me to start 2014.

dino kale and black-eyed peas

What are some New Year's Traditions in your culture?

Thanksgiving Day Feast!

Image I am so grateful to have spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family in Baton Rouge.  It was my first Thanksgiving with family in four years.  In college (and law school), I always went home for Thanksgiving----never missed one.  But, when I went to France in 2010, I was fortunate to be able to have Thanksgiving dinner with friends.  Thanksgiving truly is an American holiday, so we didn't have the day off, but I had a lovely time with my new friends.

In 2011 and 2012, I was in New York because I had just started new jobs each of those years.  I went to my childhood friend's house, and we had amazing Southern dinners. Her husband even fried a turkey in their apartment.  Luckily, no fires ensued! (And it was indeed delicious!)

This year, I had a very traditional Thanksgiving with my family.  For the first time (ever), I spent the day with my entire immediate family (which includes the sister-cousins and brother-cousin).  We had the most delicious, beautiful meal.  I have been cooking ALL week, but in a way, I got off kind of easy with Thanksgiving dinner itself.

mr. turkey

The Dinner Menu: Turkey with gravy, Cornbread Dressing, Aunt Hester's Rolls, Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Sauce gelled with fruit, Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Broccoli with cheese sauce, Peas, Candied Yams, Macaroni and cheese, Sweet Tea, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sweet Potato Pie for dessert.

some of us (i really need a tripod!)

I made a homemade cranberry sauce. Normally, we have my Aunt Albia's cranberry mold----cranberry sauce gelled with fruit and nuts.  We typically use the cranberry sauce from a can, but I decided to make a homemade cranberry sauce this year. Let me tell you--we've been duped! Anyone who has  EVER purchased cranberry sauce from a can has been duped!  Cranberry sauce is the easiest, most simple, quickest, most delicious dish to make. Plus, when you make it yourself, you're cutting out the additives and you have total control over what goes in it. I simply made a simple syrup (boiled water and sugar), added fresh cranberries, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. That's it. Voila. Plus, you can cook the cranberries in spices (cinnamon sticks, wholecloves, etc) or wine or liqeur.  I highly recommend that you try homemade cranberry sauce for your next holiday meal.

I also made the cornbread for the cornbread dressing.  We used a new cornbread recipe that was probably too delicious to put in the dressing, but alas, we did. The last thing I made was sweet potato pie.  I made a homemade crust, and my mom (finally) taught me her sweet potato pie recipe since she makes the absolute BEST sweet potato pies.  It was a lovely dinner and a lovely day.

mini pies that we gave to neighbors and friends

I can't wait until Christmas!


lots of us.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe:

Ingredients: 12 ounces fresh cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water.

  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add fresh cranberries and stir.

  2. Simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a dish.

  3. Allow to cool completely at room temperature. Cover and store in refrigerator.

Come Back to the Middle

There's so much to say about Bordeaux that I'm not sure where to begin! First things first, I'm a wine girl.  That should be obvious since I'm braving freezing cold temperatures to prance around the region like it's spring.  I think it's safe to say that anyone visiting the Bordeaux region in January is an oenophile (lover of wine).

My oenophilia began at age 19 when I spent the summer in Burgundy, France.  Burgundy--home to the BIG red wines.  My love of wine started with some serious, complex wines.  However, my return to California, and the 7 subsequent years that I spent in L.A. erased my love of reds.  I became a sweet white wine drinker (gasp!).

I needed to come back to the middle.

Of the many things I accomplished during my Bordeaux weekend, I have a renewed appreciation for red wine.

Viva les rouges!

Christmas 2010 Bake-A-Thon

I was so very fortunate to spend Christmas in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with my wonderful family! Here are some photos of goodies we baked! (in addition to the buche de Noel)

This is the same apple pie recipe that I shared on my other blog.  My mom prepared the crust and I prepared the pie.

I wanted to try something new, so I decided to bake a pumpkin pie.  Normally my mom makes sweet potato pie, but we always like to try out new recipes.  The pumpkin pie was quite tasty with a cup of cafe au eggnog!

I also made a pecan pie. There must have been at least a bushel of pecans!! No, seriously--you can find SO MANY pecans in south Louisiana, so why not put them in a delicious southern-style pecan pie? :)

Pecan pie AND pumpkin pie are seriously easy.  You just stir all of the ingredients together and them put them in a partially-baked pie shell. The only judgement call you make is when to take the pie out of the oven! Check out my other blog for the pumpkin pie recipe, photos, and tips.

Pecan pie recipe, photos, and tips!