Southern New Year’s Eve

Submitted by Christi

New Year’s Eve . . . and a toast to the New Year. I was introduced to my favorite champagne by Sergio, a wonderful waiter at Brennan’s in New Orleans. Sergio was great and we miss him since he retired. He suggested Perrier Joet with breakfast and it was a match made in heaven. I have also found a much (and I mean, much much) less expensive champagne (actually sparkling wine) that is really good. It is Castillo Perelada Brut Reserva from Spain. It is just over $10 a bottle and is really good for the price. It makes excellent mimosas for New Year’s morning as well.

We will be having a quiet dinner at home tonight and then a traditional New Year’s dinner tomorrow. I like to leave the Christmas decorations up through New Year’s Day and then take them down and start new. I always love starting the new year. It is like a clean slate to write on.

Happy New Year’s everyone. I would love to hear what you are doing to bring in the new year.

Southern New Year’s Traditions

Submitted by Christi

Black -eyed peas for luck and greens for prosperity. When I was a kid I didn’t like black-eyed peas but my parents made sure that I ate at least one on New Year’s Day for luck in the new year. They weren’t superstitious but it was a tradition that they had always followed and so I would too. I still do. I also have the greens for prosperity. To tell the truth, I haven’t ever become a millionaire with this method but I’m afraid of what would happen if I didn’t have the black-eyed peas and greens. It’s too scary to contemplate so I just don’t tempt fate.

Actually, I like black-eyed peas now. I rarely make them anymore but I never miss making them for New Year’s Day.

Southern Black-Eyed Peas

I have left-over ham to use in this recipe. A ham bone or ham hock could be used as well.

1 lb. dried black-eyed peas, rinsed, sorted and soaked overnight in water
1 tablespoon, bacon grease, ham drippings or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped ham
1 cup chopped yellow onion
5 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves

Brown the ham in the bacon grease, drippings or oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic, cayenne, salt and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the black-eyed peas are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Serve with greens and cornbread.

Southern Reflections

Submitted by Christi

This is a week of reflections. Looking back at the past year before plowing into the new one. What went well this past year and what didn’t? As I grow older, I realize more and more that experiences, good and bad, are learning opportunities. The good experiences we should tuck away for good memories and the bad, we should learn the lesson and let it go.

There are so many things in life that you cannot control and I’ve learned not to fight life. Enjoy and be grateful for the good times. Enjoy the people you love and don’t waste precious life fretting over toxic people and toxic situations. Change the bad when you can and deal with them as graciously as possible when you can’t.

Okay, enough of the advice (although it is good advice). I had a late Christmas dinner with my family last night. We had baked ham, baked potatoes, roasted carrots, carmamelized andouille spoon bread and pecan pie. A little traditional and a little non-traditional. A good time was had by all. Today, I get to do a little shopping with my Mother. Life is good!

A Southern Table

Submitted by Christi

My family is coming for Christmas this weekend. Because they weren’t here for Christmas Day, I served kind of a non-traditional Christmas Day meal. We’ll have more traditional stuff this weekend. For Christmas Day we had herb roasted pork tenderloin, roasted new potatoes, roasted asparagus and hot rolls. This was an easy dinner to fix because it was all done in the oven without messing up a lot of pots and pans.

Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Preheat oven to 425 degrees farenheit

1 4-5 lb. pork tenderloin
5 tablespoons olive oil
fresh thyme, chopped fine
fresh rosemary, chopped fine
fresh parsley, chopped fine
fresh basil, chopped fine
Use 2-3 teaspoons of each herb. I grow my own herbs (the basil is inside now) so they are readily available. You can substitute dried herbs, just use 1 teaspoon of each.
zest from 1 lemon
4 or 5 garlic cloves, minced

Mix herbs, lemon zest and garlic with olive oil. Place pork tenderloin on a roasting rack. Rub herb mixture all over pork. Place pork in preheated oven. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn temperature down to 400 degrees and roast for 55 minutes more. Remove pork tenderloin from oven and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

I’ve got the table set for the weekend. Here it is:

The Southern Christmas Table

The Southern Christmas Table

A Southern Christmas Place Setting

A Southern Christmas Place Setting

Merry Christmas

Submitted by Christi

Luke 2:11

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

I am grateful for the Christ child who came to bring life and light to the world. I pray for those who do not know Him.

I am thankful for so many things. I am very thankful to have a roof over my head and a warm home. I pray for those who do not. I am thankful for food to eat. I have been baking cookies and goodies for when the family visits. I pray for those who are hungry. I am thankful for clothes and shoes to wear. I pray for those without. I am especially thankful for friends and family who love me and who I love in return. I pray for those who are lonely.

What are you thankful for?

Merry Christmas!

A Southern Santa

Submitted by Christi

It’s Christmas Eve. Is everybody ready for Santa? I just checked the Norad Santa Tracker and saw that he is in Australia right now.

My father used to grow a beard around Christmas and when he did he looked like Santa Claus. I remember when my nephew was young he thought his Papaw was Santa Claus. He knew he was his Papaw but he somehow worked it out in his mind that he could be Papaw and Santa at the same time. I’m not sure how old he was before he realized that his Papaw wasn’t Santa. How great would that be for your grandfather to be Santa Claus?

I’m so happy to have so many wonderful memories of Christmas Eve’s past. I am fortunate to have a wonderful family that helped make those memories. I hope this is a very Merry Christmas Eve for all of you and that you will make wonderful memories this year to look back on with joy.

Clowns in Columbus

Submitted by Christi

The South is famous for its hospitality. I think in all my travels, my experience in Columbus, Mississippi was a great example. I arrived in Columbus in the evening before I was to begin working with a local client the next morning.

I was in my hotel room when my phone rang. It was the front desk telling me that I had visitors and asking if she could send them to my room. She assured me that she believed it would be safe for me to accept these visitors. Safety, of course, was a consideration for a woman traveling alone. I agreed to see them out of curiosity, if nothing else. When they knocked, I opened my door and was greeted by two clowns. Yes, clowns! They came in my room and did a little skit welcoming me to Columbus and then left. I stood there thinking, “What was that?”

The next morning, I arrived to work with the client (a local Baptist church) and discovered that one of the ladies that I was to train that week was a clown in her free time and it was her and her friend who had visited me the night before. They laughed and laughed the night before wondering what I thought of their performance. What a welcome!

One of the other ladies at the church offered to take me to see the Waverly Plantation and then have dinner with her. The plantation was incredible. We were given a tour by the lady of the house. She was fixing supper when we got there. She put it on the back of the stove and proceeded to give us a great tour. The dear lady who took me to the plantation asked the hostess about the ghost in the plantation. She had grown up in the area and knew about how the plantation had stood vacant for 50 years before it was restored. She said when she was a teenager that the teens would go to the plantation but they never did any damage because they were scared off by the ghost. Our hostess said that, in fact, there was a ghost of a little girl and that she was a friendly ghost but that she was protective of the home. What a fascinating place.

What a wonderful group of people the people of Columbus are. If you get a chance, definitely visit Columbus, you’ll be glad you did.

Southern Christmas Pecans

Submitted by Christi

I’m watching the squirrels raid my pecan tree, carrying their treasures away to both eat and hide. I hope they leave me some. I remember picking up pecans with my mother. We would take them to a place in town that would crack them for you. All you had to do then is pick out the meat. We would have pounds and pounds of pecans. Like most Southerners, I love pecans. We use them to bread fish and meat, in our wonderful pecan pies, in congealed salads. At this time of year I find that I cannot have too many pecans. It seems like every other holiday recipe I want to make calls for pecans. Here is one of my favorites for the holidays:

Garlic & Pecan Cheese Log

One of my favorite childhood Christmas memories was my parents, annual Christmas caroling party. We would all get together and caravan to homes of selected people and sing Christmas carols. After caroling, we would all gather at our home and have the after-caroling party. These garlic pecan cheese logs are one of the things that were always served with Ritz crackers at the after caroling parties.

2 3 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
2 lb. grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 – 2 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
¼ teaspoon Tabasco
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder

Mix cheeses, mayonnaise, garlic, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce together.
Fold in pecans.
Mix paprika and chili powder together in a separate bowl
Shape the cheese mixture into 2 logs and then roll in the paprika/chili mix.

Refrigerate. Serve on crackers.

Being Dead is No Excuse

Submitted by Christi

I collect two things, cookbooks and etiquette books new and old. One of my favorite books is a combination. It is called “Being Dead is no Excuse – The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral” by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. This is no small thing. Really, funerals are one of the things we do really well in the South. As the aforementioned book says:

“Friends and family begin arriving with covered dishes, finger foods, and sweets as soon as word is out that some body has died”.

This is why all good Southerners keep a can of cream of mushroom soup in the pantry. You never know when you will need to make a covered dish casserole for a grieving family.

After my dear Daddy’s premature demise, my Mama remarried another wonderful man who happens to be a Baptist minister. They have great funeral stories. When the hearse wouldn’t start for the ride to the cemetery at one funeral, they took it in stride. They loaded the loved one in the back of one of the pall bearer’s new red pickup truck and with pall bearers on either side they led the rest of the bereaved to the cemetery.

When we were leaving the church after my Daddy’s funeral we noticed three elderly women in the foyer crying their eyes out. We didn’t think that was strange because Daddy was a wonderful, well-loved man. However, later when we were talking about it, we realized that none of us knew who the ladies were. Daddy was buried in our home town but we had all moved away long ago so we were not familiar with the current professional funeral goers but we appreciated them showing up to show Daddy their respect just the same, bless their hearts.

I have had some great times at the home of the deceased, laughing and remembering the loved one and catching up with people I hadn’t seen in ages. Although these are sad occasions, they are rarely without some moments of levity. I recommend the “Being Dead is No Excuse” book to anyone, Southern or not. Of course, if you are not Southern, some of it may make no sense to you. If you are Southern, you will probably be nodding your head and laughing out loud.

Southern Catfish and Remoulade

Submitted by Christi

I was recently reading Julia Reed’s “House on First Street” which tells about her New Orleans experience pre and post Katrina. It is a good read and I definitely recommend it. You will get hungry reading it. At one point she talks about eating catfish with remoulade. I thought “yum!” I make a pretty mean remoulade. This is my version of catfish with remoulade.


Use in amounts that suit your tastes

  • Zatarains creole mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Red chili sauce (not much)
  • Horseradish
  • Worchestershire sauce (a dash)
  • Garlic

Mix together. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.


  • Cut catfish into strips
  • Season catfish with Cajun seasoning (Zaterains, Tony Chachere’s, Emeril’s Essence, whatever you like)
  • Place a couple of cups of flour in a pie plate and add some Cajun seasoning.
  • Break an egg into another pie plate and add some milk
  • Dredge fish in flour then egg mixture and then flour again
  • Fry fish in hot oil until done.

Serve with remoulade sauce.

Magical Times

Submitted by Christi

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a magical time. It is when we turn our thoughts from our everyday lives and reflect on our blessings. It is when we make an effort to spend time with friends and family. It is when we decorate our homes with trees and lights and ribbons. It is when we become like children again believing in wonderful things, like, God as the Christ child, peace on earth, love for one another and hope. It truly is a time that we should keep in our hearts year round.