by Gene Howington
Thanksgiving is (no matter what one thinks of the origins of the holiday) a time to do something many often neglect in their daily lives: reflect and be grateful for the good things in their lives. A mindfulness of what does more than bring simply pleasure in to our lives, but true happiness. It’s also time to chow down with family and friends. So in that spirit, I’m going to offer some things I’m personally thankful for this year and a recipe. I invite you all to do the same in the comments section.
One of the things I’m thankful for is all of my friends here at this blog, authors and readers alike, who have made FFS a satisfying and growing enterprise. Coming up on our first anniversary, our numbers are trending well beyond initial expectations. Although I personally haven’t had as much time as I’d like to write this year, the other authors here have all done an admirable job in keeping content fresh and timely and for that, I’m not only thankful, but amazed. This blog is truly a labor of love. It is good to know that the notions of freedom, justice and equity still have an audience; that people still have a concern for those matters beyond the political polemic of intractable partisan politics and the sway of big money. That happiness in my life springs directly from our fine contributors and excellent audience.
I’m thankful for feeling better. As the authors (and a few readers) know, I had a health scare last summer and a surgery to fix it. I feel better than I have in fifteen years. I’m not one to throw about the word “miracle” but the difference in how I feel now compared to before is hard to describe without thinking along that line. The old truism “you don’t truly appreciate your health until it is gone” is doubly true when you get it back.
I’m also thankful for my family and their support through what has proven in some ways a challenging year personally. They have all rallied and provided support in sometimes unexpected ways. I’m especially thankful for one cousin’s healthy new baby and another cousin we recently found out has a baby on the way. It would be easy for me to be bitter about family since – quite honestly – one side of my family isn’t worth a damn and are only family in the genetic sense, but the good nature, good character, good intent and good actions of the other side of the family make that irrelevant as they exemplify what family is and should be about. Not to mention the good senses of humor and good cooks and a fair share of good musicians.
Speaking of which, here’s a recipe we enjoy in our home. It’s great at Thanksgiving, but we like it year round. I hope you like it.
Black-eyed Pea Salad
3/4 pound dried black-eyed peas*
1 med. yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 pound of bacon, chopped
2 tbs. olive oil
1 cup diced ham (any kind will do, but I suggest tasso)
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 bunches green onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley (flat or curly, your preference), chopped
1 tsp. dry mustard (suggest Coleman’s)
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. white wine vinegar**
Put peas in a 4 quart pot with twice the volume of cold water. Add onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender (30-35) minutes. Test frequently towards end of cooking, you don’t want the peas over cooked. When done but firm, drain and spread out on a sheet pan to cool.
In a 12 inch skillet, fry bacon until almost crisp. Drain the fat, remove the bacon (a metal strainer works great for this). Set aside.
Add 2 tbs. of olive oil to the pan. Add ham, celery and red bell pepper. Saute for ~ 3 minutes. Allow to cool. Put in large bowl with cooled peas, bacon, green onions and parsley.
In a smaller bowl, make the dressing. Whisk the dry mustard with half (1 tbs.) of the olive oil until lump free. Add remaining oil and ingredients. Mix until emulsified. Fold dressing into the salad. Refrigerate 4-6 hours before serving, folding the salad a couple times while chilling.
* You can make this with canned peas, but I do not recommend it. Texture is important in this salad and overcooked peas (which canned often are) ruin the dish.
** If you like vinegars, you might want to experiment with different types in the dressing. A variation on this salad I’ve made before substitutes red wine vinegar, substitutes 1/2 cup of diced red onion in place of the green onions and adds 1/2 cup of diced or crumbled feta cheese to the salad for a more Mediterranean spin on the dish.
Note on dicing/chopping: This sounds like an installment of the old Phil Hartman “Anal Retentive Chef” skits, but when making a salad of this sort, I find that chop size matters. Try to get your dice to where the vegetables and ham are all about the same size as the peas. It sounds a little squirrely, but it makes for a better texture in the finished product.
From all of us at Flowers For Socrates, may you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Awh dang, here I’m ready to e- hug you all and this thread; and you end it with the .recipe.
There’s 3 things that (even as an old fart) I will fight tooth and nail not to touch my nose or tongue.
Liver Cantaloupe n black eyed peas
Now I’ve got a pink elephant (black eyed one) haunting me today.
Thank you for creating this new salon and giving me the freedom to write what I want and interact with smart people. To our expanding blog family, thank you for hanging with us and your continued support. As for my recipe it is easy and hopefully delicious. This year instead of turkey I’m making brisket as my mother taught me. It ain’t barbecue but I love it.
5 lb. Brisket, 2nd cut (the fattier kind)
2 pkg Lipton’s onion soup
4 cubes of beef broth
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/8 cup onion powder
1/4 cup paprika
Two large red onions sliced
1 lb baby carrots
4 cans of round potatoes
1 large casserole or foil pan
Slice onions into disks.
Cover bottom of casserole with the onions and carrots.
Place brisket fatty side down over vegetables.
Fill with water up until 1/2 way up brisket.
Add spices all around covering the top with the paprika.
Bake covered in preheated 375 degree oven for three hours.
Remove cover, add potatoes and bake for another 1 to 2 hours until brisket end is so tender it cuts easily wit a fork.
I wasn’t aware of your health issues. I hope your improvement continues.
Wishing everyone good life as 2014 draws to a close.
Having to deal with the recovery phase of heart valve surgery – and now the chaos in Ferguson might make one discourage – however, I just had the pleasure of reading:
I’m Staying with My Boys: The Heroic Life of Sgt. John Basilone, USMC / With the Old Breed / Helmet for My Pillow by Jim Proser
It was a little scary. When I presented at the ER, the docs told me straight out I had a one in five chance of dying. Any time your odds are less than Russian roulette, it can be a bit unnerving. But, knock on wood, all is well now. I hope you and yours have a fantastic holiday season and I’m really glad you’re in the audience here.
Alrighty now……… I’m glad to see that not many people have been reading this thread because I screwed up the recipe. I realized that since I just put my Brisket up and had to adjust. Firstly, braise the meat in a large skillet until both sides have browned. Secondly, double all the spices I mentioned. Third and most importantly cook with the fatty side up, NOT down, so the melting fat permeates the meat and seals in the flavor. Gene, Elaine, Blouise and SwM are really the cooks around here, but usually I get the meat right if I don’t screw up, like I just did today. :).
My kids like my roasted brussel sprouts with shallots.
I’m busy making stuffing for which I can not provide a recipe because it’s all taste and add as you go. The basic recipe has been hands down through many generations with mother teaching daughter.
Today is our 48th wedding anniversary and I’m thankful I am able to share that with all of you.
Happy 48th Blouise and Tex and many, many more!
Happy Anniversary, Blouise and Tex!
May you have 48 more.
Happy 48th anniversary, Blouise! Hope you and Tex are well.
Happy 48th! And Happy Thanksgiving! Most of my recipes are by taste too. That’s why I haven’t posted more of them at FFS. Fortunately, my baking is now done. All I have to do is assemble my Muscovite cake. It’s a family favorite.
Give my best to Tex.
Happy 48th to you and Tex. I’m sure your stuffing is merely one of the countless reasons that he is a very lucky man.
Happy Thanksgiving to all here,those of you who have made this layman feel at home and amongst friends.To be honest it’s like going to school here for I learn something each time I log on whether I post or not.Gene continue the ride.
Lang may yer lum reek.
Scottish Shortbread Cookies
(Stanley family recipe)
1 cup butter. Use real creamery butter, not margarine or low fat. If label says “lightly salted” that will work fine.
½ Cup granulated sugar. The finer the grind of sugar, the better, but don’t use confectioners sugar.
2 ½ Cups sifted all purpose flour.
Let butter stand out at room temperature until it softens enough to work with.
Use mixer to cream the butter and sugar. Whip until fluffy and light. Stir the flour into the blended butter and sugar until the ingredients are mixed well.
Divide the wad of dough into two balls and place in bowls. Cover bowls with foil or cling wrap. Chill several hours, preferably overnight. That allows the sugar grains to fully dissolve and blend with the butter and flour. The mixture will also become quite firm.
Press the chilled dough balls onto ungreased cookie tins. Make a sheet of dough about 1/2” thick. Press by hand. Never, ever, try to roll shortbread dough with a rolling pin. Pressing the dough into the cookie tin will be difficult, but gets easier as you work the dough and the butter warms.
In order for the dough to bake all the way through, it will be necessary to prick the dough all over with a fork. Stick the fork into the sheet of dough all the way through to the cookie sheet, usually in rows no more than an inch apart.
Preheat oven to 300º F. Bake 30 minutes. The baked cookies should be light colored with no toasting. If they are left in the oven long enough to take on a brown tint, they will be rock hard.
When removed from the oven the cookie dough will the soft and pliable. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into squares about 1” to 1½” in size. Let the cookies harden before trying to remove them from the cookie tin, or they will fall apart. Use a spatula to lift the cookies off the cookie tin.
NOTE: If a ‘shorter’ cookie is desired, they can be made ‘shorter’ by removing a small amount of flour (about one teaspoon) and substituting the same amount of rice flour.
All the Best, Blouise, to you and Tex!
There’s nothing like going to the ER and they look at you incredulously and say “you drove yourself here?” Didn’t know you were down though, glad it turned out okay.
Tex sounds like a smart man. Happy anniversary.
Right now I am thanking fortune that I lack the baking gene. If I could make those, I’d weigh #900 by next Thanksgiving. 😀 There is nothing – I repeat nothing – better with coffee than shortbread cookies. You could serve them in mud on a flip-flop and they’d still be awesome.
My great aunt trained as a baker before immigrating from Inverness. Her shortbread recipe is exactly the same as yours except that I was never allowed to use a mixer. She gifted me a heavy, high-fired ceramic mixing bowl and special blending fork to be used only for shortbread. The bowl is always to be held in the lap. I got the gift for my twelfth birthday and the following week my baking lessons began. The recipe ingredient weights change with the weather as humidity plays havoc with the dough/batter.
My shortbread literally melts in your mouth.
I only use the mixer for frothing the butter and sugar. They mix better and faster than by hand. However, blending and mixing in the flour is with my Armstrong brand mixer. I don’t have a bread kneading gadget, so I not tempted to use it. I have been known to break the handle off wooden mixing paddles and spoons. Also, done right, good shortbread does melt in the mouth. I like Walker’s, but it is commercially made and so misses the texture and taste of fresh-made shortbread.
Have you ever tried the rice flour trick? Just take a spoonful of wheat flour out of the bowl, and replace it with exactly the same amount of rice flour.
No, I have never tried rice flour in any amount. My great aunt taught me that displaced body temperature was the key to shortbread which is why all mixing is done with the bowl in the lap.
For festive occasions we’d sprinkle colored sugar on top of the formed dough right before putting in oven. There was no noticeable change to the consistency of the finished product but there was a slight sweeter taste. For my great aunt, baking shortbread was a religion full of ritual. Always, I stress always, when all the baking was done and the kitchen cleaned and bordered, we made hot toodies (black tea, honey, lemon, whiskey) and would retire to the parlor with our cups and a plate of cookies.
A really good friend of mine used to work in a small coffee shop in Kansas City. They carried shortbread cookies made by a local woman and they were the best I ever had. All she made was shortbread to my knowledge, but when you achieve that kind of perfection, why mess with it?
Happy Thanksgiving to all and Happy Anniversary to Blouise and Tex. Just made dressing from memory, but lately I have been buying the shortbread cookies. The other day I bought short bread cookies with salted caramel icing….. …
All of these thoughts on food and today being Thanksgiving I came across this interesting article from some not so usual suspects:
“Rapper Rick Ross has eaten a pear. And the pear was good. It was glorious. In fact, he attributes his recent weight loss (100 lbs and counting) in part to the benefit that pears impart.
“I eat pears now and [expletive] like that,” he explained to DJ Tim Westwood in an interview this year. “Shout out to all the pear.” That line, captured in this magical Vine, has gone viral, boosting the profile of this often overlooked fruit.”
Help! I have been attacked by a late Thanksgiving dinner and am being stalked by a large food coma!