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30 December, 2008

A Southern Tradition...and...A Recipe for Collards

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Here in the South, we have a traditional New Year's Day dinner...black-eyed peas and collard greens. They are supposed to bring you good luck, good health and plenty of money for the new year. I've eaten them almost every New Year's Day since I was a little girl and it has become a meal that I really look forward to. But I'll bet your first question is...does it really work? Well, let's just say that the year I didn't have them was not a good one and I haven't skipped them since! Let me explain how it works. Let's start with the black-eyed peas. If you are from the South, you know that these represent the coins you will get in the new year. My money tree is shriveling, so I'm eating a lot of peas!


Ohhhhhh...alright!! Now here's what I really love...collard greens!! They are sooo good and good for you, too. No...really...they are. And besides, they represent the dollar bills you'll have next year. You can even add a well-scrubbed dime to the pot for additional luck. The person who gets the dime is considered extra lucky. Now some people say they don't like them and to that I say...no bragging here, but...you've never had my collards! I am a stomp-down good Southern-style cook...nothing fancy...just plain old fashioned country cooking. And since I am getting older and worried about my recipes out-living me, I'm going to give you mine.

The traditional recipe calls for ham hocks as pictured above. They are supposed to bring prosperity. But I'm sorry... I just have to draw the line here. I figure pork is pork. My secret ingredient is a HoneyBaked hambone. I checked online and they seem to have stores in every state. Now you can cut most of the meat off of your Christmas HoneyBaked ham and use the bone or you can buy one at their store for about $6.00. If you buy the bone, you will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of meat that's still there! You can even cut most of that off and use it to season your other veggies...maybe even have a sandwich!

New Years Collard Greens
Wash thoroughly and strip the stems out of 2 bundles of collard greens. Strip the greens by folding them in half lengthwise and just tearing out the stem. Some people eat the stems...I think they're tough. Next cut or tear the remaining greens into smaller pieces.
While you are doing this, put the HoneyBaked hambone in a large pot and fill 2/3 with water. Bring to a boil.
Add:
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic diced fine (or about 1 teaspoon of the already diced in the jar.)
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning ( I know...you're thinking...Old Bay in collards? But I saw this in Southern Living magazine and tried it. I really like the way it tastes!)
salt
pepper
Add the collard greens a double handful at a time. You will think the pot is too small, but don't worry. They will cook way down. I usually cook them about two hours. When they are done, remove the hambone and serve! It's that hambone that makes the difference!

The wonderful liquid in the bottom of the pot is called pot likker and it's really yummy with cornbread. Besides that, it's full of nutrients so it's good for you, too!
All of these foods have grown out of African traditions from the plantations in the South where the slaves had to do the best they could with the cast-offs from the kitchen of the main house. The saying goes...Eat poor on New Year's Day and eat fat the rest of the year.
You might poo-poo this whole thing, and it's OK if you do, but in this economy, I'm not taking any chances! I'm covering all my bases. As we say here in the South...I'm gonna eat me a whole mess o' greens!
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28 December, 2008

Bonnie's Cheese Ball...or...An Old Family Recipe

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I am going to share a recipe with you that we have had in my family for about 50 years. It came from my mother's friend Bonnie so we have always called it Bonnie's Cheese Ball. I honestly remember the first time I tasted it as a little girl. It's that good! I have never known anyone who didn't love it. It's a staple at my family's Christmas celebration.

Bonnie's Cheese Ball
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 (4 ounce) package bleu cheese
6 ounces grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (I use Cracker Barrel)
1 tablespoon freeze dried chives
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic salt (to taste)
chopped pecans
paprika
1 olive

Let the cheeses soften at room temperature. Mix together adding the chives. Add the garlic salt to taste starting with about 1/2 teaspoon. Mine usually wind up with about a teaspoon. Even if you think you've added too much, you probably have not. Drop the mixture onto wax paper and refrigerate until it is easier to handle. I usually divide the recipe into 2 balls because one is usually enough and the other one freezes great! Take them out of the fridge and form them into nice round balls. Roll them on a plate where you have put the pecans and the paprika until they are covered. I usually have to shake on a little extra paprika to make them pretty. Top each with 1/2 olive to decorate. I always serve them with Nabisco Sociables crackers.

I hope you enjoy it! You can see that my family was well on their way to doing away with this one. I try to keep an extra one in the freezer. If you are invited to someone's house, just take it out about a day ahead and bring along some crackers...instant appetizer! I am going to serve it at my special Southern-style New Year's Day dinner. We Southerners have to have our black-eyed peas and collard greens. But more about that later.... Happy New Year!!

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25 December, 2008

How to Make the Best Omelet That You Will Ever Eat in Your Entire Life...or...Yum!

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Christmas morning omelets have long been a tradition in my family. My brother-in-law makes hands-down the best omelets on earth! Now, mind you, I have had omelets from some very snazzy restaurants, and they are put to absolute shame by my brother-in-law's omelets! This year he has agreed to allow me to photograph the steps for making them. I might add here that if you are a fat-free fanatic, you had better turn back now. And...hey!...this is once a year! 

He always makes two 3 egg omelets at once, so we start with 6 eggs and add some milk.

The eggs are then thoroughly beaten. He actually continued to beat them after this photo was taken.

Now for the part that might cause you to faint. He puts 1/4 of a stick of butter...not margarine...in each pan. In case you are worried about my cholesterol, we only do this once a year! He says that an important step is to let the pan cool a little while the butter melts. This, he says, is where most people go wrong. They have the pan too hot. You don't want the butter to burn.

While he is taking care of that part, let's choose our ingredients. Notice how nicely my sister has displayed them! She says she is "sucking up to the blog!" hehehe! Isn't it funny how our families finally get drawn in? I'll just let you scroll through and decide for yourselves since she has labeled them so nicely!










What did you choose? A few years ago my brother-in-law began offering half and half omelets...so this year I have chosen half  ham and half crab. Here he says that it's very important to cook them and fold them so that the halves stay separated. I might note that he is a perfectionist and that this omelet will not be less than excellent!

Next he adds the onions to the ham half. I have to 'fess up to having the most complicated omelet in the entire family! Everyone else has ham and cheese or crab and cheese, but not me! I might also add that mine is also the best omelet in the family! Note that the crab has had time to brown a little.

Now he adds bacon over both halves. Yes, yes, I know...but this is once a year...remember? Now the pan has to be pulled off of the stove and allowed to cool some because the eggs will be added next and we don't want them to cook too fast.

Now that the pan has cooled a little, he adds the eggs.

He says that you need at least 3 eggs so that the ingredients are all covered and the omelet will hold together.

Now it has to cook. At first, he lets it cook without turning the pan. Once the eggs have set a little, he lifts the pan off the stove and begins to rotate the pan in circles so that the omelet isn't sticking. That part was really hard to photograph since the pan is moving! (Imagine...swirling, swirling!)

Once the eggs are really cooking on the bottom, he lifts up the pan again and tilts it to the side so that the uncooked parts of the eggs go over to the edges of the pan. Once again...hard to photograph. (Imagine...tilting, tilting!) Remember this all takes place over relatively low heat and takes a little time.

Now that the eggs are almost done, he adds the cheese. I'm having cheddar on the ham half and aged Gouda on the crab half. If you are a lover of sharp cheese like me and you have never had aged Gouda...rush right out and buy some while it's available during the holidays. It is pricey...but the best cheese you will ever eat!

The cheese has melted, so he plates my omelet. At the very last moment, he uses the pan to fold it. Notice that it is still in two perfect halves!!!

And voilà...my half ham with cheddar, onion and bacon and half crab with bacon and aged Gouda omelet!! Now I bet you can't get one of those in your snazzy restaurants!!

My silly sister has put out a tip jar for the chef! (sucking up to the blog again!) Uhmmmm...you might notice that I am ...uhmmmmm...not a big tipper.


Here it is... the best omelet that you will ever eat in your entire life served with my sister's sour cream muffins! Looks like the cover of Southern Living magazine, doesn't it? Yummmm!! What kind of omelet are you having? Now if you'll excusrffg murgf.....yum!

See you next time! À la prochaine!
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24 December, 2008

~*~*Merry Christmas!*~*~

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To my dear new friends:
I want to thank you for being so welcoming and so kind to me, a fledgling blogger. You have come to mean so much to me in such a short time! I appreciate your friendship and want to wish you a Christmas that holds all that you hope for and a New Year that brings you all of God's blessings!
May the Peace and Joy of Christmas be with you now and throughout the New Year!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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23 December, 2008

A Merry Christmas Tag!

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I was tagged by Miss Janice at http://etiquettewithmissjanice.blogspot.com/with a Christmas meme. I am to answer the following questions:
1. What is/are your favorite Christmas movie(s)? A Charlie Brown Christmas
2. Favorite Christmas Song? The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) by Nat King Cole
3. Favorite holiday memory? My daughter's 2nd Christmas...paying more attention to wrapping paper and boxes than presents!
4. What is your favorite cookie/treat to make? Christmas sugar cookies with my grandson
5. Have you ever made an igloo? I tried as a child growing up in the mountains...no success!
6. Do you love Starbucks? Oh, absolutely!
7. What makes the perfect snowman? Packed snow
8. Best gift you ever received? I could not name just one.
9. What is the snowman's name on Rudolph? There's a snowman???
10. Silver or gold? Gold
11. What is your favorite Christmas decoration? A set of nursery rhyme ornaments
12. What's your Christmas decorating style? Traditional
13. Do you hang stockings? Yes. I still have my childhood stocking.
14. How many days do you celebrate Christmas? Two--Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
15. What was your favorite ornament on the tree as a child? Glass birds
16. Where will you be spending this Christmas? At my daughter's new home
17. When do you open presents? Only on Christmas morning
18. Real tree or artificial? Artificial.
19. Is there any chance you will have a White Christmas? No way!
20. Does your Church do a special service on Christmas Eve? No.
21. Do you send thank-you notes for Christmas gifts received? Oops! I only receive gifts from my family, so no.
I am not tagging anyone since it is almost Christmas!!!
Have a Merry Christmas!
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22 December, 2008

I Am a Godmother!!!...or...My New "Godkid"

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Your attention please!!! I am now officially a godmother and I would like to introduce you to my new godkid Christmas Cocoa, affectionately known as "CC." My sweet friend Peggy at Hidden Haven Homestead was kind enough to bestow the honor upon me. If you have known me very long, you know that I have always wanted a goat and can't have one because of my home owners association rules. Now I am very excited to be the godmother of this little cutie and I want to show her off! You can see more pictures of her and her mommy at Peggy's blog: http://hiddenhavenhomestead.blogspot.com/2008/12/christmas-cocoas-first-day.html
I understand that she is already showing her "goatitude" and is well on her way to making a mark in the goat world. Thank you sooo much, Peggy, for allowing me to godparent little Miss CC. I treasure this opportunity and will be keeping tabs on my godkid! Merry Christmas to everyone at Hidden Haven Homestead and a special Merry Christmas to little Miss Christmas Cocoa from her Naaaaanny!!
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Christmas in Dahlonega...or...Move Over, California!

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Welcome to Dahlonega, Georgia... home of America's first gold rush! Most people are not aware that gold was actually discovered here in this small mountain town about 20 years before the California gold rush. The official story is that it was discovered in 1828, although there is evidence that it was actually being mined illegally on Cherokee land for about 10 years before that date. Back then, the town was called Licklog.

The town is designed around a courthouse square like many small Southern towns. This building was the original courthouse for what is now Lumpkin County and is the oldest one in Georgia.

It now houses the Dahlonega Gold Museum, where you can see mining artifacts and find out all about this important part of Georgia history. There is even a gold nugget weighing more than 5 ounces on display! The discovery of gold in California in 1849 ended our Georgia gold rush as most of the miners headed west to heed the call...There's gold in them thar hills!


Each year, Dahlonega hosts an "Old Fashioned Christmas" and the town is decorated with wreaths, red bows and lots of garlands made of natural materials. You can take a little tour of the shops around the square. I think the photos of this charming little north Georgia mountain town speak for themselves.




















Thanks for joining me for this little tour of Dahlonega. Please come back again! Visitors are always welcome!

If you are interested in more information about the gold rush in Dahlonega, Georgia, please visit this site: http://ngeorgia.com/history/goldrush.html
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