Saturday, January 1, 2011

new years n food

“Another fresh new year is here . . .

Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give (live)

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!”

William Arthur Ward

What do you eat for new years and why?

We are having us a hillbilly version of haluski with bits of pork and apple in it , black eye peas and corn bread. We eat it because manthing says it is what we are supposed to eat. Where I am from, we typically had roast beef on New Year's because it was a special occasion and the only time we could afford it. For many though what is eaten is steeped in tradition. Some of the ones that I have heard are as follows.
Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year's in different countries because their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune.

There are several stories revolving around the civil war and eating traditions in the South. There are some who believe in eating one pea for every day in the new year. This all traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.

Many say the origin of eating Black-eyed peas on New Years day started during the Civil War. The Northern soldiers raided the South’s food supplies one New Year’s Eve night and took all the food except for the dried black-eyed peas and the salted pork. On New Years day, all that the southern soldiers had to eat were the peas and pork to keep them alive.

The custom of eating pork on New Year's is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. There is an old saying: “Eat poor the first of the year, eat rich the rest.” In the South it is said to go back to slavery and that the worst cuts of hogs were given to the slaves on new years to eat.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

dehydrating sour dough starter

Sour dough breads and baked goods have been the norm around here for the past few years. While I love using it, I hate that I have a half gallon jar of starter hogging up space in the refrigerator. It does not seem like much space but it is and, I have vowed that once this fridge dies, I will no longer have one. Learning to make do without one is a goal that we have for ourselves over the next couple of years. Getting the sour dough starter out of there is a good start.

I remembered reading about dehydrating sour dough starter back when I first began using it regularly again. I had since forgotten where the information was on it so a few weeks ago I asked some net friends about it. After following instructions given to me, I have since dehydrated all of my starter and now use powdered starter for all my needs. It is much less mess, and for me much easier to remember to make into the sponge for baking needs. I can mix up the powder, let it sit and not think of it again until I am ready to create something. I do not have to worry about bringing the starter to room temp, mixing the sponge and then adding to the starter. I also know that I have approximately 60 recipes that can be made from one jar. It will be easy to know when I need to dehydrate more and that it too can be made from the powdered starter. The powder makes it much easier to store long term or to mail to friends or even take on camping trips to use while there.

When I dehydrated my starter, I made it very thick first so that I could spread it like a thick paste onto my drying sheets. I simply used large cookie sheets with plastic wrap covering them and then smeared the starter on the cookie sheer to about a 1/4 inch thick. I also tried wax paper but, again, that stuck to the end product and was not fun to peel off. I slid my trays under the wood stove and allowed them to dry slowly over the next couple days. Once dry, I put the pieces in to the food processor, ground them into flakes and put in to airtight containers for storage.

To use them, put one tablespoon of flakes with one tablespoon warm water to dissolve.Then stir in 1 cup room temp water and 1 and 1/4 cups flour and mix well. The end result should be like pancake batter. Cover lightly (not air-tight) and leave out on counter. Allow to sit for 24-48 hours. You should see the normal bubbles covering the surface and the volume will have increased slightly as well. This is your working, fed sponge so use it as you would in any sour dough recipe.

Monday, December 27, 2010

three days of snow!

It has been snowing here for three days straight here! Mind you, it is not a snow of three inches an hour so our total is only about ten inches or so but it is still enough to keep us snow bound here in the South.

On Christmas morning we awoke to nothing and were a little saddened by the lack of snow. Just before day break however, it started to fall and within an hour or so the ground was covered. The Christmas day snows were very heavy and wet so it laid on the trees nicely and made perfect snow balls. Manthing and I took a nice walk in the morning, and built a big ol snowfeller in the afternoon between feasting sessions. Unfortunately, immediately after the picture taking session, the dogs knocked him over dead.
I do not cook on Christmas Eve, or Christmas day. We instead have easy to make and eat finger foods of various sorts. Even though we do not exchange gifts or make a big deal of the holidays, I am still not going to ruin them by becoming a slave to the kitchen. This year we had cinnamon rolls, crackers, cheeses, ham, cheese balls, cookies and confections. I usually make a Waldorf salad and a veggie tray too but with just us it seems a little much.
Just as it was getting dark , the power went out and stayed out until the middle of the night. We cranked up the candles and played us a game of scrabble before going to bed. It was one of the nicest Christmas days that I can remember and one of the prettiest too.
The snow continued lightly all day yesterday adding another few inches of light fluffy snow on top of the heavy wet snow. It is very pretty but is working on dangerous as the heavy wet once walked or driven on turned to slush then refroze. The road in front of us has about an inch of ice covering it and is barely passable even in a four wheel drive. After writing to an Atlanta news channel about our weather and having no travel advisories for our area all day yesterday another county resident wrote to say that they had called the county about it and were told there was no sand n salt to do anything with the roads. It is very likely that it will be the end of the week before being able to make it to the main highway and who knows how long before our driveway will be passable. It is all good though, we are enjoying it all! Maybe a little too much perhaps but hey... they are calling for 50-60 for New Years and we really have no where that we need to go. The picture below are the neighbors grandies enjoying their first white Christmas. Our hill is a slick sheet of ice because of it but they were sure having fun. They were flying!
Here are a couple short videos from being out and about in our snow. I made a longer one however uploading them has been an issue the last couple days. I think everyone is uploading weather videos. Hard to believe its Ga in the first one! Here is a link to some more of our winter photos. You do NOT have to be a facebook member to see them.