Happy 2008!

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I haven’t been such
a hot blogger this year – what with one thing and another there were some long dry
spots between posts on my end. I haven’t
been able to read blogs as regularly as I’d like, either.

Makes me feel especially
guilty when I consider what I have gained from you all while I have been slacking. When we lost our good Gina girl in July and
had a scare with Ginger shortly after, the support you all offered touched my
heart and kept me going. When I did get
my head above water long enough to post, you were still there to read and
comment. And when I wondered how Jerry and I should celebrate the New Year, you
all told me exactly what to do.

So many thanks to
one of my favorite bloggers, Lydia at The Perfect Pantry. I always learn
something about food when I read her blog, but this week, in a really lovely post, I also learned about
the tradition of seeing out the old year by welcoming the First Light of the
new one.

She and her friends
build a bonfire in a field and toast each other with coffee as the sun rises on
the 1st of January. What a
lovely idea! So this morning, early, we poured
coffee into thermoses, bundled ourselves and the dogs into the car, drove
across the bridge to St. George Island, and stood and
saluted the sun as it came over the horizon. It was a heartwarming welcome to a new day and a new year.

On the way back, mindful
of my lesson last year from another favorite blogger, Lisa (The Homesick
Texan
), we stopped at the Piggly Wiggly for black-eyed peas and collards. Lisa reminds me yearly that eating black-eyed
peas on the first brings good fortune in the new year. Last year wasn’t free of grief or sorrow or
hard luck, but it was a very good year overall and I am sure it was those
peas. This year I followed, roughly, the
recipe Lisa adapted from Gourmet, but I don’t have a Texas tummy  so I reduced the chipotles and
the garlic a bit. 

Instead of ham, I
used some outstanding smoked sausage from Bradley’s Country Store in Tallahassee that was brought to us by some
new friends who are also, indirectly, blog-related. I “met” John when he read my blog post about
a restaurant he was interested in and it turned out we had both politics, food and
a couple of friends in common. He and
his wife came down to Apalachicola one night last  week
to try out the restaurant with us, and they came bearing sausage. Who says you should beware the people you
meet on the Internet? 
(When I posted this I couldn’t get the store’s web site to load for me.  If it doens’t work for you, try this. It looks like a terrific place — one we will try to visit before we head back north this weekend.)

Now John and his
wife echoed what Lisa has posted several times – the appropriate accompaniment
to black-eyed peas is cornbread, baked in a cast iron skillet. The only hitch
was that I didn’t own a cast iron skillet.  I think, because I’d never seen anyone in my
family cook in one, that I was a little intimidated by the whole “seasoning”
mystique. Time to be over that! So when we drove to Panama City today  to get a ladder my husband wanted, I found a
cast iron skillet as well. It wasn’t old and it was preseasoned – two strikes against it (a third was that it had
Emeril’s name on the label) but I followed Lisa’s recipe and it worked like a charm — the cornbread was
wonderful, full of corny goodness and crackly on the bottom!

So we ladled up the
rich smoky pea stew and dunked our cornbread in it and said a heartfelt thanks
for good friends, cyber and otherwise, who made this last year such a good one. Here’s to all of you – happy 2008!

How did the rest of you welcome the New Year?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Lydia says:

    Christine, I’m so glad you could put your own spin on the First Light celebration this morning! We had a wonderful bonfire (I did take pix, which might get to my blog some day), followed by a potluck breakfast with those with whom we saw in the new year. The sun came up… and quickly retreated behind cloud cover. A few hours later, the snow arrived! But for those couple of hours out in the field, the air was clear, the fire was hot, and it was another beautiful First Light.

    Like

  2. Alanna says:

    Lydia’s post made me remember going to sunrise Easter services when my family was in Florida every year, apt, yes, since both signify new beginnings.
    PS I did skillet cornbread last night too!

    Like

  3. Welcome to the wonderful world of cast-iron cooking! If you search garage sales and antique stores, you’ll probably find pieces without Emeril’s name on them–though I’ve heard nothing but high praise about his line of cookware and actually have my eye on his cast-iron stove-top smoker. Happy new year–sounds like y’all are off to a great start!

    Like

  4. molly says:

    I just stumbled across your blog and this beautiful photo made me instantly hungry. I can’t wait to try it, thanks.

    Like

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