Good Luck food for 2019

Here’s wishing everyone out there peace, happiness and much good luck in the new year…. including mister gardener and me!

We decided to celebrate the end of 2018 in a style that’s quite rare for us. It’s usually a cozy night at home and an early evening, but we upped the ante with dinner at a local upscale eatery, the Epoch, with a six course New Year’s Eve meal. Oh wow!

Epoch Restaurant

We thought it’d be a terrific time to treat ourselves while marking the end of an up and down year and celebrating the beginning of a new year full of good cheer and happy plans.


We loved all the courses… new tastes for us like Arpege Egg, a soft-boiled egg with maple syrup, sherry, and a coriander floret, and for mister gardener, a favorite of tender bay scallops, but the highlight for me was Hoppin’ John soup. Not the Hoppin’ John recipe I grew up with, which is whole black-eyed peas served over a bed of rice, but a creamy rich soup topped with sprigs of water cress. Yum!

Epoch Inn 'Hoppin' John Soup

It was so good that today I tried to make my own version of the Hoppin’ John soup using ingredients I have at home. No watercress. No cream of celery soup. Not sure included in their ‘Trinity’ they printed on the menu but I could guess it was the Trinity of celery, onions and bell peppers found in Cajun cooking. No bell pepper in our refrigerator.

I began by sauteing onion and celery in bacon grease until tender, then added chicken stock. I scraped up all the pan bits, added the peas, a chopped potato and seasonings and simmered until done.  I threw in a handful of spinach leaves and with the immersion blender, I made a pureed soup that passed the taste test. A dollop of sour cream and voila!


Hoppin' John Annie

It doesn’t taste exactly like Epoch’s tasty soup but my version is good enough. I may never eat traditional Hoppin’ John black-eyed peas over rice for good luck on New Year’s Day again.


End Of Summer Party

I love our neighborhood. On a peninsula of land surrounded by 3 different named bodies of water, our neck of land is tied closely together by space restrictions. We have one road in and out, one county store and post office where we meet and catch up on each other’s lives, good news, bad news, buy our groceries and get our mail. There isn’t much that happens that we don’t know about and get involved in.  And when it comes time to celebrate, we do that together, too. Today we will gather to celebrate the unofficial End Of Summer and send her off in grand style.

Our contribution to the edibles will feature what we can salvage from mister gardener’s vegetable patch.  Tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, green-yellow and red peppers gave us some basic ingredients for Black Eyed Pea Salsa that screams, “I’m from the South, y’all…”


4 c. black-eyed peas, cooked and drained
5 T. chopped jalapeno peppers (to taste)
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, skinned, chopped and drained
3 small green peppers, chopped (yellow, red, green)
1 15-oz. can of corn
salt, pepper
Cool peas and mix ingredients. Pour the dressing over, mix, chill and serve with garlic and butter pita chips. Salsa is best made one day ahead.
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (to taste)
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
Happy Labor Day!
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester