Get it while it's hot! Read about my recent favorite meals on my AOL blog (weekdays through January 31).
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If you don't know by now, I love animals, namely my Sky kitty, who lived in a tiny cage for over a year before I adopted her. I consume a lot of Animal Planet and daydream about working with donkeys one day. Until then, supporting the ASPCA's Mission Orange campaign will have to do! I haven't been yet, but the new ASPCA facilities in Manhattan are supposed to be superb.
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The Southern New Year's Eve meal that I cooked for Jon and me, Hoppin' John and collards, turned out deliciously. Both dishes were pretty easy to prepare, once I got comfortable with the idea of opening the plastic casing around the ham hock (this former vegetarian has very little experience cooking meat). It would have been even easier if we had more than one pot!
But, cooking one dish at a time gave me the opportunity to concentrate on what I was doing, without getting stressed or having to worry about timing. The apartment smelled amazing when Jon walked in the door from his week-long trip. He eagerly ate almost the whole carton of sorbet before we moved on to the meal, which he said was better than anything he's ever cooked for me.
We filled our bowls with long-grain rice then piled everything else on top. The Hoppin' John had been simmered into a thick, slightly mushy consistency, and was smoky from the ham. The collards had just the right amount of heat from the red pepper flakes and acidity from the white vinegar. The ham, which was so tender it was falling off the hocks, served as the cherry on top of our Southern sundaes.
We ran out of time on NYE to make the calas, so we made them last night. They were simple to prepare and were like a rice-filled version of hushpuppies. The generous sprinkling of powdered sugar was the best part!