Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Cooking with Chef Jo: Craving the Sweet But Not the Sugar

I spent a lot of years as a diabetic so sugar was a big FAT NO-NO. So were yummy things like bananas, pineapples, and apple products which are high on the glycemic table. Most items on the low or no added sugar shelves are loaded with fat to compensate. There was one dessert my father-in-law craved, banana pudding, but he had a heart condition which meant he was on a low salt and no fat diet.so I developed a tasty no added sugar (for me) and low fat and cholesterol version of his favorite dessert. With some forethought I came up with a low carb vanilla cookie recipe (below), a keto-friendly sweetened condensed milk recipe, and using a few store bought ingredients, I found a dessert substitute that satisfied his sweet tooth and still stayed true to our dietary restrictions.

Sweetened Condensed Milk
Makes 14 oz Can be made ahead and stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 1 week or frozen for 4 months.

What you'll need
1 pint Heavy fat free cream
3/4 c sugar substitute of your choice, I use Splenda
1/4 c butter, I use Country Crock vegan butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Putting it all together
  • Place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan or a double boiler.
  • Stir constantly to prevent milk from scorching on the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Turn heat to low and continue cooking and stirring for 45 minutes or volume is reduced by half.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place in a jar with a lid and place into refrigerator to chill completely (about 4 hours). The mixture will be as thick as any store bought sweetened condensed milk at this point.

Sugar-Free Vanilla Wafers

What you'll need

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (or carbalose)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c Country Crock vegan butter, softened to room temperature.
1 cup sugar substitute
1 egg
1 TBS vanilla

Putting it all together
  • Cream butter and sugar.
  • Sift together flour and baking powder.
  • Mix vanilla with the egg.
  • Alternately add flour and egg mixtures until both are combined in the butter mixture.
  • Using small scoop. scoop dough onto parchment lined baking sheet. 
  • Bake 350℉ for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.

With cookies baked and condensed milk made, you are halfway there. Now let's go shopping for the final ingredients.

What we'll need is 
2 fully ripe bananas
1 box Jello instant sugar-free banana cream pudding mix (8 servings)
1 pint skim milk
1- 16 oz container of No Added Sugar Cool Whip

Now rush on home so we can finish this dessert. Your keys are back in your purse? Yes. No speeding ticket, right? Nope. Okay. Whew1 Wipes my forehead. I was worried about that one!

The pudding

Place the pudding mix in your mixing bowl.
Pour in the pint of skim milk
Mic until combined.
Add 2 cups of Cool Whip into the bowl and combined.

Put a layer of cookies on the bottom and sides of a 8x13 baking dish. To help them stick to the sides a little dab of pudding will help.
Slice the bananas into 1/8" slices (remember they are high on the glycemic index-)
Add 1/3 of pudding mix.
Add a layer of banana slices.
Add another layer of cookies.
Add a layer of: pudding and bananas.

As a final touches crush 10 cookies into crumbs.
Putt remaining Cool Whip into a piping bag fitted with a star. Pipe around the border and sprinkle the crumbs on top. Refrigerate two hours before service.
My Pastry chef daughter borrowed this recipe from me because her husband's unit was approaching their yearly physical, but she needed a dessert for a cookout. All the guys groaned when they saw what she had brought thinking there would be no way they could eat it. When they found out they could eat a full cup and only had to give up only 1 beer, they cheered and lifted her up in the air. I do know Jenn has called me a few times to pick my brain over the years, but this recipe was the one most requested.
Y'all have a blessed day!
Chef Jo

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs: Added Security on the Homestead

Last year, I mentioned Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs. I thought to kick off the year covering this as it pertains to homesteading. The second level is Safety/Security Needs. Last year was rough for a lot of folks and this year may be rougher for a time.

As a people in general homesteaders think long and hard about security. For us, on our little homestead, we live 1/4 of a mile from our closest neighbor. Down in this hollar, our cell phones only work in the winter without a wifi connection. We are two sexagenarian widows living by ourselves on our homestead, but we are far from helpless.

We have dogs as a first line of defense. If nothing else, they are an early warning system. Not much can run faster than a dog on a mission. I wish we had game cameras set up around the property and some sort fencing, but the dogs, ours and the neighbors' dogs, do a pretty good job of covering the area. We live at the end of the road. We can hear someone hitting the top of our driveway...some 500 feet from our front door. At night if you approach and are not announced prior, you are met with a shotgun. We don't take chances.

If you ain't invited, you ain't welcomed. Some of this post is common sense, but most of us homesteaders are prepared security-wise. We have rifles for shooting game, hand guns, BB guns, and heck. even sling shots to ward off predators that threaten us or our livestock. Our property is posted with "No Trespassing" signage. There are a few cutesy signs like "My dog can make it to the fence in...," Forget the Dogs. Beware the Owner," and "This property is protected by Smith and Wesson." We have no qualms about maiming or killing ANY predator be it no legged, four legged, or two legged. I was a former police officer and Mel has lived on her own for quite a while. We have firearms and know how to maintain and use them most effectively.

Being a small homestead, everything has at least a dual purpose. Knives. A machete can clear brush down to a pocket knife to cut a multitude of small things are a necessity on homesteads, but they can also be used for self defense. Even kitchen knives work for in close combat and do the job they are meant for. Don't discount gardening tools also. Even a blunt edge tool will ring someone's bell if swung hard enough. Go on and ask me how I know this, or been accidentally smacked in the face by a shovel or hoe handle while working. 

Now, I've got you looking around you looking at things differently and thinking, I'm going to change tracks. I'm going to cover other security issues like financial. Most of us homesteaders are debt-free or as debt-free as we can be. Last year, we faced lock downs where businesses were closed or access was limited. Some even experienced curfews. Now, while recovering from months of this, things are getting back to a new normal of limits and/or conditions. Financial security issues have us holding onto cash as much as possible within reach and in our homes possibly making us easy targets for unsavory characters. Most of these are opportunist criminals or snatch and grabbers. They'll swipe a wallet or purse and run. How would you protect it?   

My mother had a neat idea of wrapping stacks of cash like meat in the freezer. I knew she did this, but no one else did. She also had a secret way of marking the packages with cash in it. Being an urban homesteader, her freezers were mostly full all the time. (She did rotational purchases of bulk meats also like I do. Wonder where I learned that trick) 😉 When she died, I told my father about it. We searched her two freezers and found nearly $20,000 disguised as meat. No thief would take the time to go through and open every package of meat. He might get lucky and find a couple worth about $200, but that's it. Bet if you think about it you could think of several ways to stash cash safely.

Your important papers. Things you want to keep safe like birth certificates, marriage licenses, deeds, ownership papers, etc. Do you keep these things in a water tight, fire-proof lock box like most folks do? I don't. I keep all important papers in a ziplock bag in my household freezer. It's a quick grab as I head out the door. But I go one step further. I scan all of it to a thumb drive. I keep it on my key chain and every point of egress from my home. All my thumb drives are a 13-keystroke password protected. It would only take 5-7 years for a super computer to break it. What I scan...
  • Birth certificates (including parents)
  • Passports
  • Deeds and proof of purchases
  • Mortgage and outstanding debt.
  • Utility accounts
  • Documentation and pictures of anything of value
  • Stocks, bonds, certificates of deposits
  • Banking information
  • Social Security cards
  • Immunization records
  • Health/Medical information
  • Marriage licenses (including parents)
  • Divorce papers
  • Death certificates (including parents)
  • Insurance papers
  • Registrations
  • Picture IDs
  • etc. Anything you deem important.
Having to evacuate in a hurry many times over the years from natural and manmade disasters over the years, I've learned that having proof of these things is very important to establish who you are, where you are from, and ownership. While scans may not be viewed as certified copies, you at least have documentation and a reference point to search for certified copies to replace them. My drives even include my children's and grandchildren's information too just in case. I update these every two years. Sound like overkill? Try losing everything to a house fire, tornado, or flood. You'll be thankful to have it. Been there, done that.

More financial matters. Last year taught us to be prepared for layoffs, business failures, unemployment, and a few more really nasty downfalls. Maybe you were lucky and had an essential job, many were not. I try to keep at least 1 to 3 months of expenditures in reserve for this eventuality. It's no fun getting caught with your pants down around your ankles, is it? The better solution is 3-6 months worth, or the best is 12 months. I don't always make it. Two years ago, I was hit on all sides and was stuck. It happens like that sometimes unfortunately. The virus caught everyone off guard as do most things that happen like this. What was supposed to be a two-week stay at home stretched months and still not over yet for 10 months so far as we adjust to a new way of being. 

The fact is you can prepare you and yours' security now. The good news is human beings are adaptable. We've proved it time and time again. We survive and fight our we fight our way back up the Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs until we are secure again, or as secure as we can be.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Cooking with Chef Jo: Cooking While Recovering

 I recently got some bad news or maybe good news depending on how you look at it. My right carotid artery was clogged so it had to have the similar procedure on my right paralyze/spastic side as I did with my left last year. I thought I was done with this but I'm not. It means cutting my throat cut again. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Canned soup and sandwiches will only get you so far. But rolling out doughs will be a no-no with surgery. What does rolling out doughs (think breads, pastries, dumplings, noodles, pizza crusts, cookies... to name a few) have to do with neck surgeries? Well, you lean forward and stretch with you shoulders that in turns pulls your neck muscles. The same thing goes for a lot of movements you do while cooking. I'll have a weight lifting restriction of ten pounds for the first two weeks, and then twenty for the next six weeks. Anything that involve bending forward and backwards, shaking seasoning on meats or in a bag (anything that jars the neck and may put tension on the internal stitches) is prohibited. I must admit it was harder to do when my left carotid was done. I mean, I wouldn't want to bust a major artery open in my neck or leg and bleed to death in minutes. I don't push these doctor's orders.

So what's on the menu when you take canned beef stew, canned chili, and soups off the menu for easy to fix dinners? That usually makes up about half of our wintertime cuisine. I could throw lightly seasoned meat into the air fryer instead of man handling the cast iron skillets. The skillets hang behind the stove (stretching-not allowed) lifting the weight of the skillet (5-7 lbs) above my head (weight lifting and stretching- not allowed). But, I've got four pans of lasagna in the freezer from batch cooking it. The same goes for spaghetti, and a few other dishes I make in bulk, but that will only carry me so far before my palate fatigue sets in. I decided on a simple meat and two vegetables for dinners. It suits Mel just fine because that's how she always used to eat. But the chef in me wants to do better than that, but in a pinch it will nourish the body without any fuss. 

It's not forever, I keep telling myself. It's only until I heal. The idea of buying bread and all the rest just rubs me raw. Once a scratch cook, always a scratch cook. Nothing else satisfies you or as good as you can make it. I do know going back into commercially prepared products will make my allergies worse again. Sigh! But at least the quail and vegies are mine, and most of the meats are farm raised.

One dish comes to mind,.. Shepherd's Pie.  Of course mine is not the Shepherd's pie you usually get. I don't use wine, I use dark Guiness and I don't top mine with white mashed potato either, I use sweet potato for a nutritional punch. These ain't yo' momma's mashed sweet potatoes neither. I'll make these up in 3x5 foil tins (2 servings) and put them in the freezer as well. Don't y'all love cooking once and eating many times. Did you know shepherd's pie is made with ground lamb or mutton? When it's made with ground beef it's called "Cottage Pie."

Jo's Shepherd Pie
Serves 4

What you'll need
1 lb ground lamb or mutton
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced small
1 small onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs of celery, diced small
1 lb mushrooms, chopped crimini or portabellas work best
1/2 cup peas
1/4 tsp cayenne powder, more to taste
1 tsp fresh rosemary, if using dried decrease amount to 1/2 tsp
1 tsp fresh thyme, if using dried decrease amount to 1/2 tsp
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
                                                  1 bay leaf
                                                  3 oz tomato paste
                                                  1 TBS Worcestershire sauce                                                                                                                  12 oz bottle of Guiness Draught
                                                 3 TBS flour or corn starch

                                                2 large sweet potatoes
                                                1 TBS butter
                                                1/4 tsp cayenne powder
                                                1/4 tsp salt
                                                1 TBS heavy cream

Putting it all together
  • Bake sweet potatoes in 350℉ oven until until soft and fork tender. 
  • In a skillet, add meat, onion, celery, carrots, rosemary, cayenne, thyme, bay leaf and garlic, and cook over medium heat.
  • When onions are translucent and the meat is no longer pink, add tomato paste, salt and pepper, and flour/corn starch. Stir well to coat everything.
  • Add Guiness. Stir well and reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally.
  • It will thicken into a thick gravy and coat the lamb/mutton.
  • Making the topping- the sweet potatoes should be cool enough to touch. Peel them and chop them up in a bowl.
  • Add butter, cream and salt.
  • Mash sweet potatoes until smooth.
  • Spread the meat mixture evenly into a buttered casserole dish, soufflé cups or ramekins for serving size you desire.* 
  • Top with dollops of mashed sweet potato.
  • Spread sweet potato mash so the meat mixture is covered.
  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper and sea salt on top of the mash.*
  • Bake 375℉ for 10 minutes.
*For just us, I divide it in half at this point.
* For the pan going to the freezer, I'll cover it and mark what it is, and baking instructions before I put this into the freezer.

Now, when I make this I'll double the recipe so I end up with three meals going into the freezer and have one for dinner. It's a yummy break from the ordinary. Next time I want this dish, it's just a thaw and bake meal ready super quick. Enjoy!

Y'all have a blessed day!
Chef Jo 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs: Personal Well Being

 Last year, I mentioned Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs. I thought to kick off the year covering this as it pertains to homesteading and life in general. The bottom level is Psychological Needs. Last year was rough for a lot of folks and this year may be rougher for a time. Notice how each level gets smaller as it climbs up? The greater the size, the more larger the need. No matter what level folks were on or thought they were on before last year they were knocked back a rung or two. Many falling back to this first tier.

So what is meant by your psychological needs?  These are basic needs that man needs to survive like food, water, air, shelter, sleep, and to lesser degrees (in my humble opinion) clothing and reproduction. 

Having a homestead, we will never go hungry. We grow our own poultry and rabbits. We also have the luxury of having neighbors within ten miles to obtain lamb, mutton, goats, pork, and beef without having to grow it ourselves. There are plenty of lakes and streams to obtain fish and crawfish, and deer abound in these hills. Vegetables and fruits are just a stone's throw from our front door or bartered for from surrounding farms. It might not be everything we want but we do fairly well. As for shelter, most homesteaders have a home or shelter. Being from a survivalist background, I know how to build a shelter from resources around me if needed. It might not be a mansion, but it will keep the rain and snow off. Yes, sleep is important. But having food and shelter takes some of the worry that causes some sleepless nights. You can't put in a full day's work if you start the day exhausted.  Now, the air up here is fresh and clean with very little pollution causing industries within 30+ miles. We've got our own deep well and a spring fed creek on our property so water is not a concern.

As far as clothing and reproduction goes, clothing we can make our own. We grow flax for linen and have an abundance of wool to make into clothing. Yes, we know how to spin, weave, and do needlework. As for reproduction, we as Mel puts it, "We've already done our part for God and country, and we're done with all of that. Thank God!"  So as homesteaders, even on a small homestead, our psychological needs are met. Lord knows we have enough to keep us busy.

That's another thing that homesteaders do not have to worry about. During the lockdowns with the virus, folks were going stir-crazy and suffered from isolation. There's always something to do on the homestead. Most times it's too much to be done. We have to-do lists upon to-do lists. It's only January and the outside temperatures hover just above freezing here, but we are frantically buying seeds and planning our spring garden. Somethings need to be started next month. Already, we are sorting through potatoes to chit for planting in March. We have the advantage of being able to talk to each other and the

animals so socialize isn't a problem. Just because we don't speak rabbit, quail, chicken, or dog and cat doesn't stop me from talking to them. Mel on the other hand is an animal whisperer. She speaks all languages with full comprehension. People, she not so great at, but animals...fuhgeddabouit, she's Dr. Dolittle. So there's plenty for us to do without taking on any new projects...like that will ever happen.

So there are advantages to homesteading. Even suburbanites are jumping on the bandwagon now. They are planting their lush, green lawns to grow vegetables, and raising quails, hens, and rabbits. So much so that seed and gardening equipment were sold out through many distributors last year. I ordered seed the first week in January this year and still I was having to order from several sources because seed was selling out so fast for 2021! I'll be saving more of my own heritage seeds this year so next year won't be a problem. I was saving some but not near enough for the garden I'm planting this year. I'm even buying seeds for things I want to grow in the future.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Canning with Chef Jo: Does Canning Season Ever Stop? Nope!

 It's January! Canning season on our homestead slows but never stops entirely. This week, I've canned dry beans and beef stew. It's an ongoing process to fill and refill my larder. In the winter, fruits like citrus goes on sale. This month, I'm focusing my canning on these fruits. My pantry was lacking orange marmalade, citrus salad (navel & blood oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit combo), and I also can fruits singly like mandarin or clementine, lemons and limes, oranges, etc. I usually do this in November, but I was still finding last year's harvest in the grocery stores so I delayed purchasing those citrus fruits until now. I can them in 5 lb batches. I can my citrus salad without grapefruit and add it separately. It interferes with my blood thinners, although I do love grapefruit too.

So I thought I'd share how I can these fruits with you.

Canning Citrus Salad
Makes 12+ pint jars
What you'll need
5 lb bag of pink and/or white grapefruit
5 lb bag navel oranges
2 lb bag blood oranges
5 lb bag mandarins/ tangerines/clementines
3 lb bag limes
3 lb bag lemons
4 Pomegranates, seeded (if desired)
1 TBS honey
Boiling water

Putting it all together
  • Zest all fruits. Combine all zests in a bowl and set aside. This is easier to do if the fruit is at room temperature.
  • Peel the fruits. Mandarin/tangerines/clementine are the easiest just destring and pull off any pith left after peeling them as much as possible.
  • Slice the fruits 1/2" thick as shown in the picture. For large slices you may half or quarter each slice as necessary to fit in the jars. Remove seeds as you find them.
  • Place fruit into sterilized  jars with equal portions of each fruit.
  • Add honey.
  • Pour boiling water to 1/2" head space.
  • Wipe rims, lid, and ring jars.
  • Water bath can for 15 minutes.
To prepare Citrus Salad

What you'll need
2TBS orange juice
1 TBS lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
2 TBS canning liquid
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil 

Putting it all together
  • In a small bowl, whisk juices, mustard, honey, canning liquid, salt, and pepper together until thickened and combined.
  • Drizzle in olive oil slowly while whisking.
  • Continue whisking until olive and juices are emulsified.
  • Pour over salad.
Building the Salad
  • Thinly slice a red onion and separate into ringlets. Slice a cucumber if desired.
  • Arrange fruit and onion ringlets on a platter.
  • Pour dressing on top and let stand up to 30 minutes before serving.

This dish goes well with any meat, but especially well as a side for roast pork. Or, add canned chick peas for a light refreshing lunch. It's yummy in all seasons. And now by canning it in the winter while the fruits are in season and cheaper, you can enjoy it year around. Enjoy!

Y'all have a blessed day! 
Chef Jo

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Pups are Gone!

I'm really late in  posting this. I advertised the puppies on Craig's list December 21st. "Free to Good Home, 8 Pit Bull Mixed Puppies."  I included about five pictures of the ones I've posted here before of them at 5-6 weeks old even though they were almost just shy of 8 weeks old. I couldn't believe the response! Within five minutes of posting them I had four calls, text messages, and emails inquiries. Within 45 minutes I had to delete the ad. I had ten inquiries to sort through and six more I had yet to sort through.

The selection process was simple. No, I wasn't charging a rehoming fee and no, the pups had not had any pf their shots yet, wormed or anything yet. On the call backs, they each answered the questions I asked. Yes, they understood that these would be 75-100  lb dogs when fully grown, yes, they had room for them (full grown) to run and play in, and yes, they had raised/had big dogs before. What kind of life could they expect living with them? Vet? Feeding? Environment? Who would be around them? etc. Puppy mill type calls or suspected were immediately deleted. That wasn't what we wanted for our puppies. We'd rather keep them than go that route.

Mel and I went through the likely candidates and picked four. All but one had acres of land and that one that didn't had a double lot in her subdivision equaling a quarter of an acre. .All the puppies were going to families with a child(ren) or stabile home lives. In fact they were Christmas presents for them. 

All said my post was an answered prayer. This was not a requirement but it didn't hurt. All had made an appalment with their vet or TSC and bought what the pup(pies) needed before pick up. It was not a requirement, but we liked their proactive quality. They even called me and told me before they picked up the pup(pies). They were all enthusiastic and excited about their new family member. This also wasn't a requirement, but it reinforced our ease with the owners we picked.

We all agreed to do the hand offs of the puppies at the local McDonald's in Gainesville (about halfway for all the new owners to meet with us).  They all were not local. One person drove from Atlanta wanting four puppies for his nieces and nephews for Christmas. They lived in a 20-avre farm west of Atlanta. One decided not to get her puppy at the last minute, but the guy west of Atlanta gladly took that extra pup for his cousin. He was the person that reserved four prior to the listing. He got Bruiser, Star, and two others, he was also the last to arrive because of the traffic in Atlanta.  

.Another lady took two puppies for her twins boys. The boys (7 y/o) had been asking for a dog for a year and she couldn't afford the bulldogs they wanted at the pet shop even though the boys compromised and said only one puppy for the both of them. She explained to me that they had lost their father in the Middle East a little over a year ago. Yes, they had been a military family. When I told her she could have two picks of the litter that weren't already spoken for, she cried happy tears over the phone. In fact she texted me eight times prior to picking them up the next day filled with news about her preps for the pups. She was so excited about her puppies that she was waiting for us when we arrived. Her enthusiasm and happiness was infectious. She actually drove almost 100 miles to get them. She took Frankenbaby and Bully because out of the eight, they looked the most like bulldogs. She kept thanking Jesus and us for answering her prayer.

Now, sweet Baby Girl went to a lady that had mourned for her last dog, 17 year old German Shepherd, for the past six years until she saw this puppy's picture in the ad. She was my first caller after I placed the ad... only 3 minutes after. She just went on and on about that puppy, and how she had to have her. When I called her back and told her she was hers, she immediately went to the store and pick up everything she would need for the puppy, and then some. Her young-ish children picked out the name Rory for her after the character in Gilmore Girls. Baby Girl/Rory started licking her face and wagging her tail furiously when I handed her to her, and I knew I had made the right decision.

In checking with the new owners the next day, all was fine with the exception of Baby Girl/ Rory. It was a day and night full of firsts for her. Her first car ride, her first new owner, first time in a strange place, first time dealing with children, and the first time she'd been alone without her siblings. According to her new owner, she had a fitful night until she brought her to bed with her. She snuggled next to her under the blanket and finally slept the night through. We had warned the new owner that this might happen.

As of that morning the pup ate a bowl full of food, did her business outside, and was now playing with the children, and getting to know her new surroundings. I think she much prefers the children to the chickens because they won't steal her food and they will interact with her. I did warn the new owner about making her a lap dog.  She said, "Oh I know that! My Sadie was all the time trying to get in my lap. All 100lbs of her."

As we breathed a sigh of relief after gave away the puppies, we realized how strange the house will seem without the puppies, It's so quiet! There are less chores to do three or four times a day. We can walk without swarms of puppies clambering up our legs or tripping us up. In some ways we miss it, but not enough to have them all back. For now we'll just kee)p busy cleaning up the mess they've left us. with ..tearing up the carpeting in the formal dining room (we'd planned to do this anyhow) and scrubbing down the back porch.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Cooking with Chef Jo: Cooking for Health, Wealth, and Happiness in 2021

Usually, for the past 25 years, I've cooked a traditionally southern style New Year's Day feast of Ham, collards, black eyed peas, rice and cornbread. Since last year is carrying on into this year the focus has been global, I'm going global with my New Year's Day feast. It can't hurt, can it? Well yes, my waist line will definitely take a hit so soon after the indulgences of November and December pig outs. But, I'll work it all off, and then some come spring and summer climbing up and down through the garden several times a day, won't I? I'll keep telling myself until it's true. LOL

So come along with me as I plan my New Year's Day meal...

  • In Spain they eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, but they'll grace my morning oatmeal as a side dish. It won't be at midnight so I'll lose 4-5 hours of luck, wealth, health, and happiness. .But 
  • In Mexico, they eat tamales, and a tripe and hominy soup. I'll pass on the soup. Tripe is a major no-no for my heart health. But I'll make two tamales. A heck, for all that work, I'll make some up for a freezer meals.
  • In the  Netherlands, Oliebollen, or fried oil balls, are sold at street carts during New Year's celebrations. I'm wondering where I can get fish fat to make these. I can always call my brother-in-law whose originally from there. I have a mental picture of me cutting open fish oil capsules from my medicine cabinet, or worse, buying cod liver oil. Do they still sell it anymore? After I called him and asked him about the fish oil, and when he stopped laughing, he explained they hadn't used fish oil in hundreds of years. Olibollen was a Dutch donut hole.
  • In Germany and Austria, they create little piggies out of fresh marzipan. This I will be doing because it's my heritage. Putting almonds on my grocery list.
  • In Japan, soba noodles on New Year's symbolizes longevity, great health, nights of full sleep, and wealth. Definitely doing this one too. Again, it's my heritage. I'll even pit a link to my recipe for this here.
  • In France, they enjoy galette des rois, or King Cake as it's known here. I think I can find a baby new year at the store to put in it.
  • In Italy, it's a lentil and sausage (cotechino) casserole. Wondering where I can find cotechino? It's too late in the game to make some. Granted it only fifteen minutes once you have all the ingredients, but would take a hour of prep work for me and then it has to boil for two hours. I'll have a little less luck,
  • In Poland and Scandinavian countries, Pickled herring is served. I've actually bought some in cream sauce two weeks ago.
So my New Year's day menus are shaping up. To eat all of this will take all three meals plus snacks to eat it all. I've added the comments and actions I'll be doing while eating all this food on New Year's day just for fun. 😏

12 Grapes
and a slice of King cake
Two very strong cups of hot tea,
Because I spent the last two days in prep and cooking!

Mid morning snack
3 Oliebollen
Another 2 cuppers of hot tea,
Because already it's been one of those types of days!
My Favorite Wintertime Soup
Lentils and Cotechino
Another slice of King cake
Extra helpings can't be a bad thing, can it?

Mid afternoon snack
Creamed Pickled Herring on toast points
Can I stop eating yet?

The transplant duo (us) demanded a southern traditional meal.

The tradition states you have to eat 365 black eyed peas to be lucky, 
healthy, & wealthy.  I've never eaten that many before! 
I even used the meat from the smoked hog jowl instead of baking a ham.  
God HELP ME! I managed to eat 209 peas. Yes, I counted.
Collard greens
I finally managed to make them like my step mother does, 
but I could only manage two bites, WAAAH!

Buttered carrots and corn
Meant to bring wealth- coins and gold nuggets. A single bite 
of each.  I stand up trying to force the food down into hollow legs.
 It worked as a child, but not now.

A paper thin sliver. I didn't butter it, but sopped up the butter 
from corn and carrots. I was so ever thankful when half of it fell into 
crumbled mush with the butter.

OMG! There on my plate sat a untouched, steamed Tamale!
My stomach made an ominous rumbling sound and 
the skin stretched way too tight was threatening to 
explode! I unwrapped it with trembling fingers. I had 
intentionally made them 2- bite size. My mouth refused to 
open and the  fingers went slack. The tamale dropped 
back onto my plate. I was done! I called for a wheelbarrow to 
roll me away from the table.

Fours later, I was getting ready for bed that I remembered the German  Fresh Marzipan Piggies! 
I waddled to the kitchen and there they were on a plate grinning at me. They were positively daring me to eat one!  I  grabbed one and viciously bit its head off, SO THERE! In reality, the head equaled about 1/4 tsp of marzipan. I even managed a very small bite of a Tamale. I wanted all the bases covered. I was done with NINE countries New Year traditions for wealth, health, and luck for 2021 to head off my doom and gloom Sunday's post,

I went to bed. New Year's Day was almost done. If things are bad next year, I think I'll do five four, er um, three new countries plus the southern traditional. As I finished my nightly prayers, I added...
God, Thank you for helping me get through a mountain of food and the resources to buy what was needed.  May the traditions claimed come true for us this year. Now, someone pass me some Tums. Amen and Amen!
Back to real time. I'm busy grinding almonds for the marzipan for the Germany recipe. The tamales are made and awaiting the steamer basket. Most have been vacuum sealed and in the freezer for a couple of "TV dinners night. Two are wrapped in plastic wrap to keep them moist before steaming. Japan's soba broth is chilling out in the refrigerator.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Chef Jo