Just Like Mom Used to Make
Just when I needed it most, my daughter came over and gave me a kiss. She got up from the dinner table and came around for a mid-dinner smooch. I've been kind of down in the dumps, what with work and all (read: my job sucks), so I was really on the lookout for any hint of positive reinforcement.
I had been feeling really bored with my dinner repertoire and completely uninspired for my foray to Fairway Market, so I started going through my collection of recipe clippings to find something new. Who knew? Back in December 2000, Mark Bittman shared a recipe for black-eyed peas in his Minimalist column in the New York Times. As The Girl said at dinner tonight, "I love black-eyed peas," and she comes by it naturally.
Her Great-Grandma Gertrude, The Husband's Grandma —who unfortunately she never met, introduced me to black-eyed peas when I first had Christmas eve dinner at her house about 20 years ago. For a while she grew her own, then later she got them, pods and all, at a farmer's market. Eventually I tried to reproduce her recipe and had a heck of a time tracking down her secret ingredient:Liquid Smoke. I also had to substitute green beans for the black-eyed pea pods. Even though it wasn't absolutely authentic it was pretty good.
Tonight's blackeyed pea recipe hit the spot from a number of angles. It was easy—very few ingredients. It was cheap, if you (like me) happen to have some kind of ham, lying around your fridge.
To round things off, I pulled that cute little box of Jiffy corn muffin mix out of the pantry. This is what my mom made when she was really cooking something good. Looking at the box, you wouldn't think it could possibly taste as good as it does. Add a third a cup of milk and an egg to the mix and you've got a sweet little corn bread muffin.
And it not only got me a hug and kiss from The Girl, but The Husband even reached over and planted one on me too. I know I've been kind of pathetic lately, what lamenting about work and all, but I really think it was the black eyed peas and corn bread.
Here's how to make Bittman's Black-eyed Peas, which he calls South in a Soup.
Quickly sauté 2 oz of ham in 1 T of olive oil. Throw in a chopped medium onion and cook until it begins to get a little golden. Add 2 C of black-eyed peas. [He recommended frozen, which only took 30 minutes to get nice and tender.] Cook them with 4 C of water until tender. I let the water drain down a bit so that it was a bit thicker. Add in 2 C of greens. I used watercress, so that didn't take very long at all to wilt and cook down. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dash with Tabasco. Serve.