Let me state the obvious – it is a new year. Another obvious fact – it has been quiet here. The truth is, I’ve struggled to find my voice, to find inspiration, to be motivated. To take the time to photograph a recipe’s preparation and document the teaspoons, cups, temperatures and cooking times. We’ve eaten well, don’t get me wrong, but I haven’t shared. I’ve tried. Looking through my photo files, I’ve amassed quite a collection of fragments of recipes. Spices in a mortar and pestle, mise en place of veggies next to a steaming pot, pans of roasted chicken pieces, searing short ribs – I could go on. But I didn’t. And I’m not sure why.
Even in the simple act of admitting this, I struggle to find the right words. Call it a giant case of writer’s block combined with a lack of creativity. I’ve experimented so little this year with my own recipe creations, instead relying on my giant collection of bookmarked recipes on Pinterest. Even WordPress had to stifle a chuckle when providing me with this blog’s 2012 stats. Maybe it is due to our small, rented kitchen and a lack of a garden. I’m sure a lot of it is due to my health struggles from earlier in the year and the slow recovery time before I felt like a glimmer of myself once more. And I’m sure some of it is just plain apathy and laziness.
It is a day of making goals, resolving to do things differently in the new year ahead. I have a rather succinct list for myself, a tidy little plan for 2013. One of those items is to find myself here more often, chatting with you and sharing a view into our kitchen. I promise the recipes won’t all be show stoppers or JB’s Pour House originals, but they will be good meals worthy of a night on the couch watching re-runs of the Big Bang Theory or entertaining new friends. Because that’s what we will be doing. We’ll be opening a bottle of bubbly on a Tuesday, because why the hell not? If there’s a lesson I learned in 2011-2012, it is to celebrate life’s little moments.
So we kicked off this chilly start to the new year with hope for a little good luck. I figured we could use all the help we could get this year, and a dish rooted in tradition with promises of prosperity wasn’t a bad way to start. And I took pictures. From start to finish. Happy new year friends, and I’ll see you soon.
Hoppin’ John Soup with Garlic Rubbed Toasts
Adapted from Saveur
16 oz. dried black-eyed peas
2 meaty smoked ham hocks or 1 ham bone + 1/2 c. chopped cooked ham
1/2 – 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. canola oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped + 1 clove garlic, peeled
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 bay leaf
2 bunches collard greens, stemmed and leaves roughly chopped/torn
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. – 1/4 c. hot sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring black-eyed peas, ham hocks/ham bone, and 8 c. water to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove ham hocks/ham bone and set aside. Remove 1 c. cooking liquid and set aside. Drain black-eyed peas and wipe stockpot with a paper towel. Return stockpot to medium high heat and add canola oil and red pepper flakes. Once fragrant (do not let red pepper flakes burn), add carrots, celery, onion and bay leaf. Saute for about 8 -10 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Meanwhile, remove fat from ham hocks and dice meat, reserving bones. Set aside. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add 12 cups of water, reserved cooking liquid, ham bones, ham, drained black-eyed peas and collard greens. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and partially cover. Simmer for 1 hour or until collard greens have softened. Stir in vinegar and season to taste with hot sauce, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low until ready to serve.
Preheat broiler. Slice ciabatta into 1 1/2 inch thick slices. Cut individual slices lengthwise into thick strips. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season lightly with salt. Toast to desired color. Remove from broiler and rub garlic clove across craggly surface of toasts. Serve with Hoppin’ John Soup, preferably dunked happily into the broth.
Wishing you luck and prosperity in 2013,
All content and photographs © 2010 – 2013 jb’s pour house