Resolutions


So I usually only give resolutions a passing thought. Honestly, the main one I always seem to make is to lose weight but since I never seem to put any effort into that it isn’t going to happen. And I’m not really all that concerned with it anyway.

So this year I am trying goals instead of resolutions. I have 3 main goals for the coming year.

1. Professional goal: I want to finish my level 3 dossier and get my application for the Phd program at NMSU completed. These are just a matter of doing them and I know that my principal is going to be pushing for the first one anyway.

2. Writing goals: I really want to get more disciplined in this. I tend to write when I have nothing better to do. It needs to become more of a real focus for me. I am challenging myself to use this blog daily, if for no other reason than to make myself think writing every day. I have the new novel that I want to get written, even if its only a page or two a day. I also need to think professional publication in support of the application for the phd. I would also like to pull my cookbook idea together. I have the general idea down for it and have been trying lots of recipes, but again it requires a little more effort than I have been giving it.

3. Personal goals: I need to get better organized!!!! I have this started by doing the work in my office, but its not finished. I want to pursue all my hobbies but have no space until I get those rooms finished.

Anyway, there it is. My plan for 2011. And maybe I can lose 30 pounds too. HA!

I am gonna give this a try


I’m Posting every day in 2011!

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now. I will be posting on this blog once a day / once a week for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.

Coff:)

Hoppin’ John


One tradition that I have always wondered about but never questioned was the eating of black eyed peas on New Years. We had them every New Years Day for dinner because eating them brings good luck for the coming year. This year I decided to look up the tradition behind eating them and share it with you. Additionally, I have added a recipe for Hoppin’ John. Enjoy!

Eat poor that day, eat rich the rest of the year. 
Rice for riches and peas for peace.
– Southern saying on eating a dish of Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day.
 
Hoppin’ John is found in most states of the South, but it is mainly associated with the Carolinas. Gullah or Low Country cuisine reflects the cooking of the Carolinas, especially the Sea islands (a cluster of islands stretching along the coats of south Carolina and northern Georgia).
Black-eyed peas, also called cow peas, are thought to have been introduced to America by African slaves who worked the rice plantations. Hoppin’ John is a rich bean dish made of black-eyed peas simmered with spicy sausages, ham hocks, or fat pork, rice, and tomato sauce.
This African-American dish is traditionally a high point of New Year’s Day, when a shiny dime is often buried among the black-eyed peas before serving. whoever get the coin in his or her portion is assured good luck throughout the year. For maximum good luck in the new year, the first thing that should be eaten on New year’s Day is Hoppin’ John. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, many southern families toast each other with Champagne and a bowl of Hoppin’ John. If it is served with collard greens you might, or might not, get rich during the coming year.
There are many variations to traditional Hoppin’ John. Some cook the peas and rice in one pot, while others insist on simmering them separately.
Most food historians generally agree that “Hopping John” is an American dish with African/French/Caribbean roots. There are many tales or legends that explain how Hoppin’ John got its name:
It was the custom for children to gather in the dining room as the dish was brought forth and h op around the table before sitting down to eat.
A man named John came “a-hoppin” when his wife took the dish from the stove.
An obscure South Carolina custom was inviting a guest to eat by saying, “Hop in, John”
The dish goes back at least as far as 1841, when, according to tradition, it was hawked in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina by a crippled black man who was know as Hoppin’ John.

Hoppin’ John
Ingredients:
1 pound dried black eyed peas
2 small smoked ham hocks or meaty ham bone
2 medium onions, divided
3 large cloves garlic, halved
1 bay leaf
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 can (10 to 14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with chile peppers, juices reserved
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced
2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 green onions, sliced
Preparation:
In a large Dutch oven or kettle, combine the black eyed peas, ham bone or ham hocks, and 6 cups water. Cut 1 of the onions in half and add it to the pot along with the garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until the beans are tender but not mushy, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove the ham bone or hocks, cut off the meat; dice and set aside. Drain the peas and set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaf, onion pieces, and garlic.
Add 2 1/2 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and simmer until the rice is almost tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Mince the remaining onion then add to the rice along with the peas, tomatoes, and their juices, red and green bell pepper, celery, jalapeno pepper, Creole seasoning, thyme, cumin, and salt. Cook until the rice is tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the sliced green onions and the reserved diced ham. Serve with hot sauce and freshly baked cornbread.
Now you can make this using canned black eyed peas. Just added chunks of ham and cook it until it comes to a boil. Then you can add the rest. Also, those of you who know me…NO I do not add celery to mine!!!!!

Information found at http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/HoppinJohn.htm

Thoughts on the new novel…and the old one.


I am going to leave Shadows as is… I just can’t bring myself to change it at all. I tried but just can’t do it. Anyway, I found a contest in one of my writers mags that is looking for shorter novels so I am going to enter it. We will see what happens.

The new novel, tentatively titled “Anywhere But Here” is starting to take shape. I am approaching it in a much different way than I did Shadows. With Shadows, the story just came out…mostly fully formed. This one is taking shape in fits and starts.

The story as I see it right now: My main character, Shelly. is a drifter traveling the country in an RV. She has dropped out of mainstream life due to being beat-up/possibly raped by her father and some of his friends. She hasn’t been home in over ten years, but gets a call from her best friend from childhood who needs help. She goes back to New Mexico to find her friend is missing/ possibly killed. She gets together with another childhood friend to solve the mystery of what has happened to her friend and to make peace with her past.

This is still in very rough outline form. I have a few paragraphs written down and a lot more working itself out in my head. Mixed all up in the story is a lot of research I have done on rving, bluegrass and rodeo. LOL! Not sure exactly how its all fitting together but I am excited to finally be working on the writing again.

Let me know what you think!

Merry Christmas!


Christmas is such a beautiful holiday. There are many different ways to celebrate the season. Most important is the birth of our Savior. The act of giving gifts, which stems from the Nativity, is another wonderful tradition. The looks on the little children’s faces on Christmas morning make all the work worthwhile. Spending time with family and friends is another reason for all we do. Baking and cooking for everyone makes the house smell wonderful. I really truly love this time of year! Have a wonderful holiday season and Merry Christmas to all!

Danish Pecan Kringle


DANISH PECAN KRINGLE
For the pastry:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cold butter
1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (110 – 115 degrees)
½ cup warm milk (110 – 115 degrees)
1 egg, beaten
1 egg white, lightly beaten
For the filling:
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
1 cup packed brown sugar
dash of salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
For the icing:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 to 2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons chopped pecans
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Dissolve yeast in warm water; stir into flour mixture with warm milk and egg.  Beat until smooth (dough will be very soft).  Cover and chill at least 2 hours, but no more than 24 hours.  Combine filing ingredients in small bowl before forming kringles.  Lightly flour a pastry board to prevent dough from sticking.  Divide dough in half, cover and return remaining half to refrigerator while forming first kringle.  Roll dough into a 6 x 18 inch rectangle.  Spread a 3 inch strip in the center with half of the beaten egg white.  Spread pecan filling over the egg white.  Fold one side of the dough over the filling, then fold over the other side, overlapping to cover filling.  Pinch dough to close the fold.  Pick up kringle carefully and arrange in an oval on a greased baking sheet, seam side down, pinching ends together to meet.  Cover with a towel and repeat for second kringle.  Cover kringles and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes (until slight indentation remains if you press gently with finger).  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.  While baking, beat powdered sugar with water to desired icing consistency.  Cool kringles for 10 minutes, then drizzle powdered sugar icing on kringles and sprinkle with chopped pecans.  Cut in wedges to serve.

A little bit more … “Anywhere But Here”


As I drove down the road shaded by towering trees, I couldn’t help but smile. Early
fall was the best time of year in New Mexico. Warm days, cool nights, the smell of roasting chile on the air. I chose the best time to come back this way, even though the season had never crossed my mind.

I turned onto a dirt road that wound around past a huge old cottonwood and an adobe house with no glass in the windows. Someone had been keeping this road up, it was smoother than the pavement I just left. A mile down the road, I came to the turn in to my destination: an antique mobile home park. Just inside the entrance sat several rusted out cars. I took a right turn and drove past several 70s vintage mobile homes. I pulled up beside a faded red and white house surrounded by chain link and dirt bikes.

He came out to the porch before I had even shut down the engine. He just stood there and watched as I shut down and climbed out of my dusty old RV and walked to the gate.

“Hey Bobby.” I opened the gate and walked toward him.

“Hey Shel. How you been?” He smiled and it was like the sun had come out from behind the clouds. He walked down the steps and wrapped his arms around me. “I’m surprised to see you here. You said you were never coming back.”

“Carrie called last month. She sounded scared, said she needed my help. I was in the middle of something up in Maine but got here as quick as I could. But she isn’t answering my calls and no one is home.” I looked up in time to see his face go dark. He looked down at me with sorrow in his eyes and I knew my worst fears had come true.

“Carrie’s dead, baby. She was shot in her own kitchen. The funeral was last week.” He tightened his arms around me as I buried my head in his shoulders and cried. Tears for my best friend and sister in crime, Carrie and for all of us and our turbulent past. Tears for Bobby, standing watch over the legacy we left him. Tears for my destroyed youth and wasted life.

“Bobby.” I looked up at him. “Do you know what happened?”

“It was related to work. She had stumbled on something strange, probably what she called you about. She told me she had gotten a couple of weird threatening phone calls and her boss had tried to pay her off. But I hadn’t seen her for a while before she died. I thought maybe it had blown over. The police don’t have a clue and they don’t seem to be looking very hard.” He stepped back and turned toward the door. “C’mon in, You can stay in my spare room tonight if you want or I can run an extension cord out to you.”

I followed him up the stairs and into the house.

The force of memories as I crossed the threshold nearly pushed me back outside. “I don’t know if I can do this, Bobby.”

He turned back to me and took my hand. “Just try for tonight Shelly. I’m here. I won’t let anything happen.”

I knew he was thinking back to the night I left. Carrie and I had gone out partying with some friends. It was way late when we got back to my house. Usually we would have called and made some excuse and I would have crashed at Carrie’s or called Bobby and he would have come and gotten me. That night, I was drunk and just wanted to go home. My dad was still up and my uncle and his friends were playing poker. Carrie drove off as soon as I got inside. By the time I got back out, I could hardly stand. I stumbled my way down to the corner and called Bobby from the pay phone. I swore I would never come back to New Mexico and in the ten years since, I had never been back.

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