Saturday, January 30, 2010

Down Home Pinto Beans

Comfort Food means many things but one of them is Down Home Pinto Beans. I love making pinto beans in the winter. They are so good and good for you. I don't use a recipe per say as I make them as I feel each time but here is my generic recipe and how-to.

For this pot I soaked 2 lbs of pinto beans in cold water for 4 to 6 hours (I can't remember!). Make sure you sort your beans first and remove any bad ones or little rocks from the bag. After they soaked I rinsed them well. I threw them in my slow cooker along with chunks of ham. The ham had been leftover from Christmas and was in the freezer for just such a use as this. I also chopped up an onion and added that. We love onion at our house so we always use more than most people would. I added salt and pepper, a dash of cayenne, a couple of shakes of chili powder and some garlic powder. I then covered the beans up with chicken brothe and water. You see the pot of beans below right before the cooking commenced.

And here are the beans at the end of the cooking spell. You can cook them on high or low or whatever. The beans are very forgiving. I like to go low and slow. So, if it is the weekend I soak them Friday evening. Put the beans on low right before I go to bed and then they are ready for Saturday lunch. But high and fast is ok too or even less time on low than I did for these.

This gives you a better idea of the finished product. Look at those yummy beans, chunks of ham and onion. Mmmm, mmmm! You can see the bowl of beans above. I love adding raw onions to my serving. A lot of raw onions. Muah!

These may not look pretty but I guarantee you that this is southern down home cooking at its' best. These are so dadgum tasty! I am always asked for my recipe and everyone wants seconds and thirds.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hugs and Kisses

Aren't these two adorable? :) I was so excited to show them to you that I brought them home and snapped their picture. I haven't even had time to press them up. These are so so so cute! I haven't decided where they will actually spend their Valentine season but they will be previous no matter where they land. If you want a set or two of these for yourself then get on over to your local Cracker Barrel!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Blooming Patience

For me, a Christmas miracle is coming a little late this season. Even with a late appearance it is nonetheless joyful!

I am a longtime admirer of the Christmas cactus plant. For years I have ooh'd and ahh'd beautiful - and blooming - Christmas cacti. I remember being a teenager and gazing upon my mother's plant in full bloom and feeling a happiness.

In due time I set up housekeeping as a young adult. I asked Mother for shoots of her Christmas cactus and she willingly obliged. I nurtured this plant, and with the feelings of an expectant mother, I anxiously awaited Christmas. The holiday came and went but my little plant never bloomed. In fact, year after year, it never bloomed. It would hang out, drink water, look pretty, but it never bloomed! Years came and went and finally I re-homed the plant (aka trashed it). I could not take the "rejection" every Christmas when my plant would not bloom. I mean, I really felt as if I was some sort of unfit parent. (I never said I was sane).

Finally, this past year I decided to give it one more try. I got another shoot off of my mother's longtime friend (the plant has now become a part of her circle of friends; fitting since they have been together all these years). I was quite sure that this wasn't going to work (again) so I selected one of the ugliest pots in my potting shed.

If there is a PETA for plants then I should be turned in. I was not very good to the plant this year. I either over watered or under watered it and I certainly didn't talk to the plant. It has not been a lush green like other Christmas cactus I see gracing glamour magazines. Ok, just kidding about the glamour magazines. But I have seen some pictures online of some pretty plants. In short, my cactus has looked a little pitiful.

Again this year my Christmas cactus didn't bloom. I didn't really expect it to. But seeing as it was the holiday season I didn't "re-home" the plant. I didn't have the heart.

About a week and a half ago I noticed that things have gone terribly haywire. A little scary actually. The dadgum cactus had little buds appearing! Lawsy Mercy!

I have taken pictures every four days or so. I am not quite sure why I am doing that. Perhaps to prove to myself in future years that I really did have blooms once. (gotta plan ahead, it could be another 25 years until it blooms again for me)

Today I woke up to my very first, full fledged bloom. The picture you see here is one of a gazillion I have taken so far. I am going to have to add memory to my computer just to hold all of the bloom pictures.

My lesson for today is patience. Even though it took over 20 years, I finally got a very sweet Christmas miracle.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Beginning

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

It is difficult to believe that not only is it a New Year but it is a New Decade! I think of all of the things that have been accomplished in the past year and decade and all that was not. I hope that this wisdom will enable me to make better choices in the future and seize all of the opportunities that will enrich my life and those of my loved ones. What we have is today and we should all seize each day as its' own new beginning. I wish each of you a Happy New Year!