While Christmas seems so very far away now, it’s definitely not if you’re a traditional observer. Today is the 6th day of Christmas — as in 6 Geese A-Laying, right?
The 12 days of Christmas is the period that in Christian theology marks the span between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi, the three wise men. It begins on December 25 (Christmas) and runs through January 6 (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings’ Day). The four weeks preceding Christmas are collectively known as Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on December 24.vox.com
above: “The babies” in their $1 ARC Christmas outfits for 2019.
Our tree, then, stays up until the Wise Men come on January 6, otherwise known as Epiphany–or the beginning of the church season of Epiphany. We are happy to enjoy it long after other houses have consigned their tannenbaums to the garage or attic and are pursuing or perusing Valentine’s Day decorations at Target. Years ago we gave up a live tree; it was useless attempting to keep it healthy that long, though there’s also the possibility of not even raising and decorating it until December 24, which gives you a lot more leeway. There was, however, also the two weeks of sneezing and blowing noses that have since been dispensed with, thank goodness. Dave and I have both had that this year–even without the real tree. (Sigh.)
below: facebook meme from Episcopal Church
Epiphany, also called Feast of the Epiphany, Theophany, or Three Kings’ Day, (from Greek epiphaneia, “manifestation”), Christian holiday commemorating the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, and the manifestation of his divinity, as it occurred at his baptism in the Jordan River and at his first miracle, at Cana in Galilee. Epiphany is one of the three principal and oldest festival days of the Christian church (the other two are Easter and Christmas). Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and other Western churches observe the feast on January 6, while some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Epiphany on January 19, since their Christmas Eve falls on January 6.britannica.com
above: Our Christmas dinner table set with my German Waechtersbach dishes, which I began collecting when we lived in what was then West Germany in the late ’80’s. Thanks to generous friends and family, in particular my mother-in-law, I now have quite a collection.
below: Our Christmas dinner menu with guests and me chiming in to bring lovely additions to Dave’s beautiful main course—the traditional Roast Beast.
below: daughter Emily and I with sweet photo bomber and friend Kimber Ann. Below that: the decorated chancel at our church just before the 5 o’clock service began on Christmas Eve
And while the reality of Christmas continues each year, New Year’s Eve pokes its head around the corner demanding attention with its flashy parties and Champagne. Over the years, we’ve done New Year’s just about every which way but loose. There were years with kids home and pizza ordered in, others with parties and sitters, a few fancy pants dinners, and even some that included visiting family. Staying up until midnight seems very much a chore these days, but we mark the event one way or the other even if only by waking up to the midnight fireworks on Pike’s Peak. New Year’s Day, though, has become a tradition of pea or bean soup, card games, movies, college football, and more. After all, it’s a day at home with food and activity–what more could I want?
This year, I took one of my favorite black-eyed pea soup recipes and updated it for the Instant Pot or Multi-Cooker. I love black-eyed pea soup so much that I put it in my soup cookbook and have changed it up more times than I can remember since then. This version is simple, fast, and only needs a pan of corn bread–or perhaps a pot of greens if you’re inclined or feel terribly Southern. Some folks might add a scoop of white rice to the bowl–buttered, salted, and peppered, naturally. The fun part about making a meal like this in an electric pressure cooker is that, number one, naturally it’s fast, but number two, you can add all the ingredients and tote that baby to someone else’s house. Make it at home first, if you like, or turn it on when you get there. Voila! Hot soup. Don’t forget the green onion garnish; it just makes this soup. Hand a bottle of Tabasco around the table because, “Some like it hot!”
INSTANT POT: Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Ham
- Instant Pot or other Multi-Cooker
- 1 EACH: medium yellow onion, medium unpeeled carrot, medium unpeeled parsnip
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 cloves garlic
- Handful fresh parsley
- 1- pound dry black-eyed peas, rinsed and sorted
- 32 ounces 4 cups EACH: low sodium chicken broth and water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 shakes hot sauce or to taste
- 1 teaspoon EACH: dried thyme and oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup diced smoked ham
- Thinly sliced green onions–garnish
- Place onion, carrot, parsnip, celery, garlic, and parsley in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until finely chopped. (Alternately, chop all vegetables by hand.)
- Add the chopped vegetables and the remaining ingredients (except green onion garnish) to the pot and stir. Secure lid on the pot. Close pressure release valve.
- Select MANUAL and cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Use a natural release to depressurize. Stir; taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot in warmed bowls with a tablespoon of the sliced green onions for garnish. When done serving, press CANCEL.
- Whoever gets the bay leaf does the dishes.
IF YOU LIKED LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT LIKE MY:
ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKING COOKBOOKS I USE:
If you’re looking for a pressure cooker cookbook, you might check out the following choices–my current favorites– listed in alphabetical order by title. There may be a great newer one or two if you search. At this point, four is enough for me!
COMFORT IN AN INSTANT: 75 COMFORT FOOD RECIPES FOR YOUR PRESSURE COOKER, MULTICOOKER, + INSTANT POT-– (Clarkson Potter, 2018, 160p)– Melissa Clark’s second and newest tasty and entertaining hardback addition to the ever-growing list of books available on the subject. While it still Includes basics like buying tips, “Getting to Know Your Pressure Cooker,” and a slew of yummy chicken dishes, this newer book also goes upscale with recipes like, “French Beef Daube with Olives” and “Breakfast Polenta with Dried Apricots + Cinnamon,” and “Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake,” for those who’ve moved past the first base or two of electric pressure cooking. Each recipe can be made in 60 minutes, start to finish. Captivating photographs by Christopher Testani. Included on the list of Best Cookbooks of 2018 from NPR.
DINNER IN AN INSTANT: 75 MODERN RECIPES FOR YOUR PRESSURE COOKING, MULTICOOKER, AND INSTANT POT-– (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 160p)–Melissa Clark’s first foray into the field of pressure cooking books, this attractive and accessible hardback book thoroughly covers the basics: how to use an electric pressure cooker, making boiled eggs, and why make yogurt? It then solves the ubiquitous, “What’s for dinner?” problem neatly and quickly with lots of recipes like “Creamy Macaroni and Cheese,” “Middle Eastern Spiced Chicken and Rice with Eggplant,” and “Classic Beef and Bean Chili,” with some directions for slow cooking, as well. Christopher Testani, photographer. “There may already be plenty of Instant Pot cookbooks on the market, but none of them were crafted by a cook with Clark’s blend of approachable adventurousness—and her flat-out skill in the kitchen.”–Epicurious
INSTANT POT MIRACLE: FROM GOURMET TO EVERYDAY, 175 Must-Have Recipes (Houghton-Mifflin, 2017, 304 p., Paperback) Authorized and licensed by the company that makes INSTANT POT and printed with full-color photographic illustrations, this book might be considered a sort of dictionary of electric pressure-cooking. Available in warehouse stores like COSTCO, as well as on amazon.com, it may have been the sister to many an INSTANT POT Christmas gift. Easy to look things up in, dependable for answering questions like, “How long do you cook _________?” and complete with Pressure Cooking Charts, it’s full of down-to-earth recipes, some of which were written by bloggers!
MULTICOOKER PERFECTION: COOK IT FAST OR COOK IT SLOW, YOU DECIDE, by the Editors at America’s Test Kitchen. (America’s Test Kitchen, 2018, 182 p., Paperback) From the famous group of well-known perky testers, their easy-to-read and understand book features instructions for both pressure cooking and slow cooking for every recipe. Coming after a large number of electric pressure cooker books had been published, this all-purpose volume includes necessary and well-written information like, “Why you should own a multicooker,” “Getting to Know Your Multicooker,” as well as their testing notes on several models. The recipes themselves are divided into simple categories like SOUPS, STEWS, AND CHILIS, EASY SUPPERS, SIMPLE SIDES, and so on. While cooking vegetables is not always at the top of my list of things for my INSTANT POT, there’s a pretty good selection of them here. One of the book’s big claims to fame may be deciding on a name for the appliance: MULTICOOKER!
I’m in great hopes your holidays have been or will be all that you need them to be. They aren’t always easy; I know. Keep the cheer flowing in the kitchen, though, no matter what and make my Black-Eyed Pea with Ham Soup,