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packing up our baby cheez-its, and other January activities

Note: Are you just looking for the recipe? It’s hiding at the bottom. Sneaky me.

Have you put away your Christmas stuff yet? It probably goes without saying that I dislike this part of the holidays, but I’m saying it anyway. I miss the cheery atmosphere around the house once I put away all the jingly bells and little crocheted reindeer. But all good things must come to an end, or something like that.

So today I’m boxing it all up, in the midst of a repair guy who’s here to “tune up” our big oil tank in the basement, whatever that means, and another guy who collected our donations to the Vietnam Veterans of America, my own sort-of belated Boxing Day celebration. I wish our country would get on board with this holiday! I love to give a big send-off to the old stuff we no longer need. Thank goodness for wonderful organizations that will come to your doorstep to take it off your hands.
I’m trying to get all the boxing up done prior to Vivi’s return from school, as she will almost certainly bemoan the loss of every single decoration, particularly her nativity. Did I tell y’all about it? I inherited it from my great grandmother via my aunt, and as it is my only possession of hers and holds great memories of my own childhood, it’s a cherished item. I love that the paint is peeling off and that each character has been glued back together in several places.

I enjoyed passing on the tradition of putting baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas morning, and I am kinda optimistic the nativity helped Vivi understand the meaning behind Christmas. Although, after reading the Bible passage and adding Jesus to the manger–always a touching moment–Vivi says, and I quote, “Mommy, Jesus rhymes with Cheez-its!” Oh well, I tried. (Yes, I’ve seen that episode of Modern Family, but I assure you Vivi hasn’t. Makes me wonder if the writer got the “baby cheeses” joke from real life).

I think I will take a page out of Suburban Snapshots’ book and find her a nativity she can actually play with, instead of her having to deal with me nearly fainting every time I see her wandering off with baby Jesus or the angel, her favorites. I’ve heard good things about the Little People set

Let’s see, what else can I report about our January happenings? Oh, I’ve decided to begin looking for a full-time job. While I’m enjoying my time at home with the girls, we have crunched the numbers and determined there’s no way we can afford to put Vivi in a full-time pre-K next year (or even 5 mornings a week, for that matter). September is my goal for having a job, and knowing that it takes people about a year to find a job in this economy–if they’re lucky–I feel it’s an optimistic goal.

I started the hunt on the interwebs last night and happened upon some unlikely humor. Looking into a health-related data collection aid called REDCap, I stumbled upon this glorious Wikipedia entry, which along with great laughter also unfortunately caused me to spew the sip of water I was drinking onto the laptop. Malevolent murderous dwarfs?! Where do I sign up? [Note: clearly the better definition would have gone with “midgets,” political correctness be damned. Alliteration is always the A-list achiever’s allocation].

And finally, I’m sharing a new Jacques Pepin recipe with which I’m enamored. Remember when I told you we opted to go with gwumpki on New Year’s? Well, I decided we just can’t start a new year without some black-eyed peas, so last night we rang it in with beans and greens. M. Pepin calls it “black-eyed pea and kale ragout,” but I prefer my less fancy schmancy name. Call it what you want, but don’t call it late for dinner! Yuk yuk. I adapted the recipe below.

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Jackie P’s beans and greens
serves 6-8 (pshah! serves 4)

1 lb. dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed (or 2 cans
1 tsp. salt
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped (spicier: chop it into rings and call it done
1 c. rind and trimmings from ham, or pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (we didn’t get our CSA meat yet, so I got “bacon ends and pieces” from TJ’s for $3. Not bad!
2 onions (about a cup), large-diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced (about 2 Tbs.)
2 bunches kale, collard greens, or turnip greens, cut into 2-inch pieces, large stems removed
Hot sauce (you need this for the acid; if you don’t like spice, use cider vinegar

If using dried peas:
Boil the peas in 6 cups water, the salt, and jalepeno pepper. Skim off the foam, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for about 45 minutes, until the peas are done. Set aside peas and remaining liquid (about a cup).

If using canned peas:
Drain and rinse peas and set aside.

Brown the ham or bacon in a skillet over medium-low for about 10 minutes. Add the onions and garlic [if using canned peas, add jalepeno now] and saute about a minute.

Wash the greens and add to the skillet, pressing down on the greens so they fit in the pan. Cover and cook until wilted and soft, about 10 minutes for kale, less for collard or turnip greens. Remove from the heat.

Add the peas and greens together [if using canned peas, add about a cup of water or chicken stock], stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the beans and greens with a dab of hot sauce or vinegar.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Wednesday Blog Hop, Real Food Wednesday, and Freaky Friday. Check them out!