Wow. It’s 2015. Happy belated New Year, everybody. It seems — somewhat unintentionally — that I have taken a hiatus from making posts here. I must have needed a break I guess. Which is odd because I certainly didn’t take a break from cooking. The end of 2015 saw a flurry of cooking for Chanukkah — soul-food Chanukkah dinner for 22 — and then a flurry of soups — squash and chicken all around — and then yet another flurry for New Year’s Eve.
But regardless: I’m back. And I’m ready to cook. And I’m ready to write. And though I don’t really — as a rule — make New Years resolutions, I’m back with a couple of New Years resolutions for the blog.
Write more: I feel like I’ve really let my productivity here slip in the last few months, and I intend to remedy that. I know, you’re saying to yourselves, there were actually a lot of Twice Cooked posts in 2014. But a lot of them were short notes or photographs that I took at the Philadelphia Zoo. Recipe production has been down. And posts about politics are next to nil.
Write less: This one doesn’t contradict the previous one. One of my goals for 2015 is to spend more time developing recipes, and less time on long preambles that address where the food comes from, how I came to enjoy it, or what snarky thing Sarah said about it before she tasted it and decided she liked it after all. There will still be headnotes. The folklorist part of me can’t not. But they’ll be sleeker and get to the point faster. Which I think will better serve goal number one.
Write smarter: My intention is to have shorter headnotes, perhaps, but it is not to have the blog devolve into a recipes-only sort of endeavor. In 2015, you can still expect prose and prose and prose, but somewhat more separated from the recipes and recipes and recipes. I have some stuff in the blogging queue about kitchen techniques (how to sharpen knives, anybody?), a few things about politics, a little about kitchen-adjacent domestic issues (sorry for the vagueness on this one), and — I hope — more on causes and organizations that I support and think you should support too.
So that’s — let’s say — a manifesto for Twice Cooked for 2015. In the meantime, while I figure out how to make all that happen, I thought I’d kick the new year off right with a little bit of good luck in the form of black eyed peas. 2014’s first post, as I recall, was this recipe for black eyed peas with ham hocks. This year, I’ve decided to go the vegetarian route.
A couple of months ago, thanks in no small part to Sarah and her own experimentations in the kitchen, I rediscoverd the umami wonders of miso. She started roasting vegetables that had been tossed with the stuff, and I kind of fell in love.
Here, I’ve taken that idea and run with it. Instead of something like ham or bacon as a savory flavoring, I’ve tossed in a healthy tablespoon of white miso, let it brown with the vegetables at the bottom of the pot, and then cooked my legumes on top of that.
Vegetarians: rejoice. This is rich and flavorful and has all the down home warmth you could want in a pot of beans. Omnivores: rejoice, too. You can go ahead and feed this dish to your vegetarian friends — or eat it yourselves! — and not feel like you’re missing out on any of that meaty goodness I know you all love.
Black Eyed Peas, Vegetarian Style
3 cups Black Eyed Peas
5 cups Liquid (at least half vegetable stock and the rest water)
4 Carrots, diced
5 Ribs of Celery, diced
1 Onion, diced
1 tbsp White Miso
1-2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Dried Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
To a well oiled five-quart dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed pot) over medium heat, add the diced onion and a little bit of salt. Let it cook for about five minutes, until it just begins to soften. Add the carrot and celery and cook for a minute or two more, then mix in the miso, thyme, and oregano, and allow the mixture to cook, stirring periodically, until it starts to brown and leave a crust on the bottom of the pan.
When your vegetables are well on their way, add the black eyed peas and bay leaves and give it all a stir. Then add the liquid. You might not need all the liquid. Just enough to cover the peas by about an inch.
Let the whole thing come to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium low, cover, and allow to bubble away for about half an hour, checking on it and adding more liquid as needed. At the end of that time, season liberally with salt and pepper (you’ll need to determine the salt level by taste).
You may serve it hot off the stove, or make it ahead and reheat with no ill effects.