Judie’s Gear Diary – 2005-11-24

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I’ve got the turkey in the oven, the Hopping John on the stovetop, the stuffing and green bean casserole ready to heat up, and Sarah & I made the deserts yesterday!
I can’t wait to enjoy it all as well as the leftovers in the coming days, since
we made so much.

I hope all of you (that celebrate it) have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Now about
this "Black Friday" shopping and the whole Christmas gift buying frenzy…I just say

Call me the Grinch, but in our house we have evolved into the habit of
getting the things we want or need during the year and not waiting until retail outlets tell us
it is time to start buying. Obviously we still make sure there is something special for Sarah and the other kidlets
we love on special holidays, but what I like most is receiving or giving a really thoughtful card and
enjoying a wonderful meal together. That’s not to say that we don’t like
thoughtful surprises on special occasions, but we have removed the pressure
of saving the "big" gifts for Christmas and Birthdays – we do them
when opportunity strikes. It wasn’t always this
way, but as I said – we have evolved.

I have never enjoyed the holiday rush, I don’t want to get up at early
morning hours to fight over the latest "it" gift with panicked shoppers, I don’t
enjoy worrying that a gift will or will not be the "right thing", and I have a
problem watching people suffer from

I am not against consumerism per se. But I am against stress,
unrealistic expectations and possible disappointment when all hopes are pinned
on what gift is opened on one day out of 365.

I do enjoy surprising loved ones with items purchased throughout the
year that they want or need, I love spending quality time together with
the extended family when we can all be together, and I do enjoy knowing
that the pressure is off to find the one gift that will prove someone’s
importance to me and their worth in my life. After all, a single gift on one day
of the year can’t even begin
to convey what those who matter to me really mean.

My life may or may not end up looking like a Hallmark card in the end, but
we’re happy. :0)

Here’s the recipe those of you that were wondering:

Hopping John

1 (16-ounce) package dried black-eyed peas
2 large ham hocks (about 3/4 pound)
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
4 cups water
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 chicken bouillon cube
Hot cooked white rice

Bring dried black-eyed peas and water to cover to a boil in a Dutch oven; remove from heat, and let stand 1 hour. Drain.

Remove skin from ham hocks. Chop meat from ham hocks, reserving bones.

Sauté meat in hot bacon drippings in a large skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until slightly browned.

Combine peas, meat, bones, 4 cups water, and next 8 ingredients in Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, gently stirring occasionally,
1 to 1 1/2 hours or until peas are tender.

Remove and discard bones. Serve over rice.

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

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