New Year’s Meal Nirvana

My goodness, I love traditional Southern US New Year’s food. I also love cooking it. Today has been the best day all year so far (ha) because all I did was cook easy food in a relaxing manner. Then I got to eat it.

The chickens got to enjoy collard green stems. They preferred the chicken food, but eventually ate ir.

I made fresh black-eyed peas, for luck. I cooked them with some mystery sausage and onions. They were so good. I cooked them all day. Yum.

My favorite pea.

Then I cooked two bunches of collard greens. The secret is to cut out the thick ribs (and feed them to chickens) and cook them with tasty meat. You can use bacon, ham hocks, andouille sausage, or pork of some sort. Mmmm.

Collard greens with pork loin (leftover)

I do so love collards. They aren’t so bitter and just have a mild, soothing flavor. They go great with cornbread. So if course I made that. Leftover collards and gravy (pot liquor) served over cornbread was my mother’s favorite.

Cool pattern on the cornbread.

My sister made deviled eggs courtesy of our chickens.

Very yellow yolks!

And in my family, you have to serve the peas over rice. Just one of many possibilities in the US. Here’s dinner.

Yes. I like eggs.

The most fun part of the meal was that I decided to make a lemon cake. I just took my favorite cake mix and added some lemon juice in the water. I put in an extra egg and half a cup of sour cream. That made it really rich and moist.

Lemon cake

I put a orange marmalade between the layers then frosted it with store bought lemon frosting. I added colored sugar for fun.

Gingerbread cake

Dang, it was so good! Plus, my sister made gingerbread cake, another favorite of mine. It was also moist and tasty. So, yep, I’m full. But, so what? We had a wonderful meal and a very pleasant day. At least so far 2021 is just fine.

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce Bread Pudding

I made lots of cranberry sauce this year. I think I used too much liquid (fresh orange juice and mango juice that was lying around), so I strained the liquid out and ended up with a chunky sauce and a few cups of smooth sauce. What to do with it?

I also bought more bread than dainty little Anita and I could eat. So it was sitting there. What to do?

What a good idea!

Since I happened to have a dozen eggs, a quart of whole milk, and some butter, I declared it bread pudding time! (It’s my favorite dessert.)

Ingredients (approximately)

  • Enough bread cubes to fill a 9×13 pan. I had wheat mini loaves. Trim crust if desired (I did not)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 cups whole berry cranberry sauce (preferably homemade; see link above)
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 cups whole milk (adjust liquid if needed by adding smooth cranberry sauce or more milk)
  • 1TBSP vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar (optional if sauce is very sweet)
  • 1/4 cup sugar for topping
Pudding before putting in the oven. Cheerful.

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut bread into cubes and place in greased 9×13 baking dish or whatever baking dish you want — just fill the pan.

Drizzle melted sugar over bread.

Spoon cranberry sauce over bread and mix it up however you would like to.

Mix eggs, milk, vanilla, and optional sugar until well blended.

Pour mixture over bread and let sit for 30 minutes to soak. Mmm.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over soaked pudding. I forgot this, but it would make the pudding sparkle.

Place pudding in oven and bake at least an hour or until a knife comes out smooth.

It puffed up nicely in the oven!

Let cool a while and serve warm with ice cream or a sauce. Tell yourself what a good job you did using up leftovers.

Time to eat! It’s oh, so good.

Recipe: Cranberry Orange Sauce with Ginger Bits

Here’s the sauce I insist on making every year, whether people want it or not. Since I could eat it all myself, that’s no problem. It’s simple and delicious. (I will add a photo when I find one.)

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of cranberries (regular size, not the huge ones)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, with some orange pieces if desired
  • 1 cup sugar (I have used Stevia or Splenda when serving diabetics)
  • 1/4 cups candied ginger, cut into small bits (or some fresh ginger; don’t use powdered)

Method

In a sturdy, medium-sized pan, combine all ingredients. Cook on high, stirring to mix in the sugar well, until the cranberries start to pop. Lower the heat and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, 5 minutes or so.

Let the sauce sit a while to cool off, then pour into a bowl and put in the refrigerator. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.

Serve in a beautiful dish, which it so rightly deserves.

Recipe: Suna’s Cornbread Oyster Dressing

A friend asked me if I had found an oyster dressing recipe when I was in South Carolina last week. No, but I make it every year at Thanksgiving! So, here, in my general and not-for-real-cookbook fashion, is how I make the dressing every year. Back to introspection soon.

At right are two large pans of dressing. One omits oysters, for the squeamish. ZZZZZ.

This is actually my mother’s recipe with a few little tweaks by me.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter, or more
  • 1 large onion, diced or cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup or more of sliced celery
  • 1 9-inch cornbread, made however you like, though best to omit sugar
  • 2 cups bread stuffing; I use the seasoned kind
  • Additional herbs that you like: rosemary, sage, tarragon, poultry seasoning, etc.
  • Options: 1 cup of nuts (I like pecans) or diced tart apple.
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 pint raw oysters and juice
  • 1 box chicken broth (you may not need it all)
Yum. The 2014 dressing.

Method

Melt butter in a large pan. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until onion is clear. Smell it. MMM. Smells like Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, crumble cornbread into a large bowl. Add breadcrumbs (or just use two cornbreads). Add seasonings and other optional dry ingredients. Mix completely.

Add onion mixture, eggs, and oysters, plus all the “oyster water” (gives flavor). Stir gently, and add chicken broth until evenly moist, but not soppy wet. Sprinkle paprika on top to make it pretty.

Spoon dressing into a large greased (PAM) baking dish, or smaller ones, whatever you have.

Bake 45 minutes to an hour at whatever temperature your oven is on for other stuff you are baking. If all alone, do 375 degrees. Dressing is done when it browns along the edges.

Here’s the dressing from 2010! Thanks, Facebook memories.

Weekend Ranch Excitement

It’s been a fun weekend here at the Hermits’ Rest. I managed to go horseback riding twice, which is rare, and Apache and I had lots of fun.

Sara is setting up our cone obstacle course.

Sara set up cones, so we got to ride in patterns. He did way better on Day 2, like he figured it out. I also prevented him from eating thistles unless it was my idea.

Today we went into the pasture where a lot of cattle were. Spice did a great job herding them, and Apache managed not to panic when a big mama came toward him. Baby steps.

The new veggie garden at the cabin. Tyler hopes it will be chicken free.

Meanwhile, Fiona was “helping” Tyler work on his new vegetable garden. And hee-hawing. He has patiently built a fence and covered it, to keep the chickens out. That’s nice of him.

Let me out of this car.

Even more exciting was the fact that the sheep’s owner had come to pick them up to shear them. She got the male in her SUV but the ewe would NOT be caught. She thinks she’s a cow, dang it. In the end, they let Sheep Man back out. That’s one for them!

Ooh! Carrots and celery! Thanks!

As for the chickens, they were excited this weekend by food fun. I got them some dried mealworms, which they love. They’re sort of creepy, though, because they look sort of alive when you pour them. Plus, they got even more excited when I bought them veggie leftovers from the dinner I was cooking.

One of these eggs is not like the other!

The it was my turn to get excited! The chocolate brown eggs have started! It’s amazing how tiny pullet eggs are. I want to save the shell!

Homemade chicken and dumplings. Comfort food rules.

Now to eat my chicken and dumplings. Dumplings are secretly flour tortillas cut up. Chicken is not from my hens!

More Dewberries

sauce
Dewberry sauce with many, many spices and seasonings. It went perfectly with the roast venison.

I hadn’t intended to write up two dewberry posts, but other than a couple of fun bird sightings (dickcissels and Eastern kingbirds!), the dewberries were the nature highlight of the weekend for me.

This week there were way more of them than last week. I picked three quarts in just a five-yard stretch along our arroyo. Some of them were as big as fancy blackberries. They must have liked the rainy winter a lot.

From those berries, I made yet another cobbler, and also a really interesting sauce, from a recipe by Jess Pryles for blackberry sauce. There are many interesting ingredients in that there sauce (star anise, whole cloves). I served it with delicious venison backstrap roast, and both my sister and spouse declared it a gourmet triumph.  I’m glad the neighor recommended this recipe, because just the salt/pepper/nutmeg rub on the beef made it worth checking out. Her new cookbook, Hard Core Carnivore is available now, so check it out (she’s also been on lots of book tours lately).

Continue reading “More Dewberries”

Dewberry Time!

dewberries
Just look at that deliciousness (and puppy)

Dewberries are the unofficial plant mascot of Cameron, Texas. They are truly abundant here, judging from all the photos I’m seeing. Cameron even used to have a Dewberry Festival, which featured all sorts of delicious things made with these perky fruits. I miss it.

Here’s what our friends at Wikipedia have to say:

The dewberries are a group of species in the genus Rubus, section Rubus, closely related to the blackberries. They are small trailing (rather than upright or high-arching) brambles with aggregate fruits, reminiscent of the raspberry, but are usually purple to black instead of red. Unlike many other Rubus species, dewberries are dioecious, having separate male and female plants.

That male and female plant part explains why I keep seeing bushes with no fruit! Aha!

We are lucky to have lots of dewberries here at the Hermits’ Rest, though I’d never really done much with them before, other than snack on them. That’s because I never went out looking for them when they were completely ripe. This year, after all that foraging talk, I vowed to do better.

Continue reading “Dewberry Time!”