Monday, May 25, 2015

Last Night I Dreamt of Plumbago - Hoppin' John

Whoo Hoo, Barbecue Pitmasters is back on the air! The official start of summer.

Today is a day for fatigue, and I HATE it.  Muscle weakness - I can't open a package of cheese.  My hands got tired, and I had to give the spray bottle to Rob so he could finish spraying the hibiscus for aphids. Completely washed out. Go upstairs, fall asleep.  Same pattern for most of this week.

Today Rob and I made a trip to Home Depot so I could try to pick up the herbs I hadn't been able to find at Lowe's - Italian parsley and cilantro.  Obviously I want to be growing herbs that I use frequently when I cook, and now I've got them.  I also picked up dill, okra, cucumber, a single Roma tomato plant (gotta try it), zucchini and Japanese eggplant.  Should be interesting to see how they do once they're all planted.

When we were at Lowe's the other day, I learned the identity of the pretty blue flowers that tumble over the fence between our home and our neighbors on Clyde Street.

That's plumbago, my friends, and that left me with a chronic earworm that had actually started while we were on our last cruise, which had included a stop at Belize.

Last night I dreamt of San Pedro
Just like I'd never gone, I knew the song
A young girl with eyes like the desert
It all seems like yesterday, not far away
Tropical the island breeze

All of nature wild and free
This is where I long to be
La isla bonita
And when the samba played
The sun would set so high
Ring through my ears and sting my eyes
Your Spanish lullaby

Every time I look out of my kitchen window, which is fairly often, the ear worm bites. Nice ear worm, though,  Sounds like Madonna. A very young Madonna.

Okay, now about food - no barbecue, sorry.  I do have an idea for an easy stacked entrĂ©e that involves minimal work on the part of the cook, namely me.  My first choice for today's activities was to drive to Austin, Texas and eat barbecue at Franklin's.  I was outvoted by the man who would have to drive the 15 hours or so, and then first wait on line at Franklin's for 3 to 5 hours.  Fair enough.  Let's go to BJ's and Publix - I never get tired of that.  No really, I never do.  Besides, I need to pick up the elements for these stacks I'm dreaming about.

The bad news is that my weight went down a bit.  The good news is that I ate breakfast this morning and mirabile dictu, it stayed down. The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away.  I'm off to buy food.

Just as well we didn't head to Franklin's.  I couldn't have stood on line for 10 minutes, much less 3 hours. Here's the thing about this thing I have to live with - I can start the day feeling normal, no aches or pains, and a reasonable supply of energy to expend on chores and such.  But then all it takes is a ride in the car, a walk through Publix, putting away groceries, petting the cat, watering the herbs - any one of those things can suck the joy out of what I was hoping would be a productive day.  There will be no dreamy stacks today. Too much work, too much pain.  I did, however, manage to make something I suppose is like a Hoppin' John to use up 2 slices of bacon I was loathe to waste.  As you might have figured out, this wasn't one of my grandmother's specialties.  In fact, I never heard of it until I started reading cookbooks. I had a basic idea of what goes into a Hopping John, and then I figured out how I wanted to put it all together.  Very easy, and more important, very tasty.  Totally out of season, as this is traditionally eaten on New Year's Day, and well ...  I didn't get Cinco de Mayo right either.  I am punctuality-challenged, like Bill Clinton.  But I cook better than him.

Hoppin' John

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 baby bell red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Emeril's Essence
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup converted rice (Uncle Ben's)
1 1/3 cup water
chopped fresh herbs, kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne or Raging River

In a skillet, heat the olive oil and add the bacon. After about five minutes, add the onion, red pepper, and garlic.  Sprinkle generously with Emeril's Essence and continue cooking until bacon is done to your liking (it will not be crisp).  Stir in the black-eyed peas and the rice.  Add the water, and seasoning (I used some Raging River and a little chopped parsley and rosemary FROM MY OWN GARDEN! Also salt and a lot of black pepper.)  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.  At the end of 20 minutes, leave the cover on and move the pan off the heat for five more minutes.  Remove the cover and fluff the contents with a fork.

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