Category Archives: Recipes

New Year’s Day 2014

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Every New Years Day, when I was growing up, my family made Black eyed peas and Hog jowl. We served it with Heinz catchup and I remember dreading having to eat it. I did eat it though because the thought of having bad luck for a WHOLE year just because I didn’t eat the peas didn’t seem worth the risk. I continued the tradition once I moved out on my own. In college I changed the recipe from Hog Jowl to bacon. I figured it was part of the same animal so it still counted. I remember going out to Wegman’s in Ithaca, NY at 10:30 pm on New Year’s Day desperately searching for a can of black eyed peas to cook and consume before midnight. Brian thought I was crazy and also hated the taste but he stuck with me and always has eaten them as well. Once I started cooking Christmas dinner, which involves a huge ham in our house, I started to use the leftover ham instead of the bacon. I wised up and bought dried peas which I rehydrated on New Years Eve. They tasted SO much better than the canned!!! Finally, this year I’ve expanded to spices and now we’ve turned a humble dish, that we all used to dread eating into a dish that Brian just got seconds of! SECONDS!!! The approximate recipe is below.

1 lb Dried Black Eyed Peas
1/2 to 1 lb Cooked Spiral Ham sliced into bite sized pieces.
1 Bay Leaf
3 Tbsp Fresh Parsley plus extra for garnish
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 Tablespoons of ground mixed peppers

Soak dried peas overnight per package directions. Drain the peas and rinse in fresh cool water the next morning. Slice up the ham and add both peas and ham to a large pot. Add enough water to cover the peas and ham. Add the parsley, bay leaf, pepper and lemon juice. Simmer on medium low heat for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally until the peas are very soft. Do not add salt. There is enough salt in the ham to flavor a large amount of peas. Serve warm garnished with additional chopped parsley. Eat on New Year’s Day to set you up with good luck for the New Year. Happy New Year 2014 everyone!!!

What Has Me Seeing Red

This week I’ve seen a lot of the color red. After 13 years and 260,000 miles I’ve made the decision to retire my little white Chevy S-10. That truck and I have been through a lot together. I started driving it after the retirement of my first car, an ’87 Toyota Corolla with 300,000 miles and a bad water pump. It’s driven in almost every state on the east coast and run all over California. At one point, on a particularly snowy day in Ithaca, I drove up Highway 13 almost sideways at 5 miles per hour in that truck. Long story short its taken pretty good care of me so in its retirement I had to find a car that was reasonably up to filling the huge job that is being one of my cars. My only three requirements? It must be a manual transmission ( why yes, I DO like to actually drive a car), have room for a car seat in the back seat and above all it must be fun to drive.

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This seemed to fit the bill pretty well. A 2011 BMW 328i. It’s red. I mean really red. The color makes me a little nervous but so far I’ve been able to console myself with the incredible handling.

The other red I’ve been seeing is from cranberries. I made my first batch of cranberry sauce tonight. It’s very easy but beats the stuffing (no pun intended) out of the store bought.

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Nova’s Cranberry Sauce
1 12oz package of cranberries (about 3 cups)
1 cup of water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 shots of Cointreau or other orange liquor (orange juice or zest can be substituted)

Bring water, sugar and Cointreau to a boil. Add cranberries and stir while returning to a boil. I normally wear an oven mit while stirring because shortly the cranberry skins will begin popping and they are HOT! Reduce the heat and keep stirring until most of the skins have burst watching it to make sure it doesn’t boil over. The longer you cook, the smoother the sauce so cook less for a chunky sauce and more for smoother. After the desired consistency has been reached remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once cool it can be refrigerated overnight to gel together. It is excellent after 24 hours chilling.

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!!

Week 4 – Perfect Weather for Grapes and Pears

You can’t get much more beautiful weather than we have had in Napa over the past two weeks; particularly if you are growing wine grapes. The nights have been cool with lightly foggy mornings and warm sunny afternoons with highs in the upper 80s everyday. It is shaping up to be a wonderful harvest so far. The two tanks of Pinot Noir I have sitting in the winery looked nearly perfect analysis wise and tasted great when I tasted the juice this morning. They are in the cold soak period right now but already they are starting to exhibit color extraction.

This video is of our first pump over on the first Pinot tank of the vintage. Already you can see the juice turning darker after only a few hours in the tank yesterday.

At home, pear season is coming to a close and we are left with around 40 pounds of very ripe Bartlett pears after giving away close to 100 pounds, eating lots and baking with even more. I’m starting to feel a little bit like Bubba from the movie Forest Gump when I talk about pears. Fresh pears, dried pears, canned pears, puréed pears, pear sauce, pear tarts. You get the picture. Still I am always open to more tasty pear ideas so if you have any suggestions feel free to let me know. This is my favorite pear tart recipe. It’s super easy and delicious. I make a TON of them this time of year.

Next week I anticipate that things will really start rolling with harvest so this weekend I’m going to try to get all my loose ends around the house tied up.