Hoppin’ Juan

Another one from the 101 Things list: Here’s a new vegan recipe. (Does it count as “trying a new recipe” if I just make it up as I go instead of actually using a recipe?)

I don’t really know what to call this. It’s sort of like Hoppin’ John, sort of like chili, and sort of like posole. I guess I’ll name it Hoppin’ Juan. Anyway, here it is:

1/4 c. chopped onion
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (use more if you have it; I was running low)
1 can diced tomatoes
Chili powder to taste
Cumin to taste
Paprika to taste
Bacon Salt to taste (OK to substitute a little ground chipotle or a dash of smoke flavoring)
1 can blackeyed peas, drained
1 can hominy, drained
1 can chopped green chiles

Saute onions in olive oil. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and spices. Stir. Bring to a boil. Add blackeyed peas and Bacon Salt and bring to a boil. Add hominy and chiles and bring to a boil. Serve with tortilla chips and hot sauce.

Bacon Salt is, for the record, completely vegan. It is also laden with MSG, but I think that’s a small price to pay for salt that tastes like bacon. In this recipe, it helps make the blackeyed peas taste as if they’ve been cooked with salt pork.

Playing chicken

Life at the House of the Lifted Lorax is many things, but dull is never one of them.

I got off work this evening and went out to a great little nursery in Berryhill, where I picked up a mesh bag of barley seeds to help control algae growth in our pond.

When I got home, I put the dogs out, tossed the bag into the pond, and looked up in time to see Songdog and Scout barking furiously at a mysterious animal moving around in the compost pile.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that four of the hens had escaped the friendly confines of the chicken tractor and were happily sorting through the compost pile in search of worms, of which there are plenty. (Incidentally, I turned the compost last night and found conditions that would make any gardener’s pulse race just a wee bit: steam coming from the center, and red wiggler worms nibbling around the outside edges. Gorgeous.)

Anyway, I let the hens have their fun while I went to see how they’d gotten loose. As it turned out, the chicken tractor was on uneven ground, and one of the girls had scratched enough to dig out a large hollow area under one corner. Pushy, Solitaire, Plenty, and Elektra all seized the opportunity to stage their very own Shawshank Redemption, leaving a rather bewildered Maud alone in the chicken tractor. I had no idea chickens would tunnel their way to freedom if given the opportunity, but ours certainly did. If I had to guess, I’d say Solitaire probably dug the hole, and Pushy probably led the flock through it, but we’ll never know. This is another reason I really need to look into setting up a Webcam back there….

I moved the tractor to more even terrain, retrieved the hens, and planted half a flat of strawberries in the hay bales behind the back fence before coming in to work on less agricultural pursuits.

I intend to spend the rest of my evening enjoying a bowl of Jell-O with extra Cool Whip, framing some of Jamie’s artwork, and stumbling through a Spanish translation of Science and Health.

Life is good….


Oh, P.S.: I crossed No. 83 — “Try Halim and Mimi’s since it changed hands” — off my 101 Things list today. For the record, it was awesome. The new owners make killer baba ghanoush, and their tabouli — made just the way I like it, with plenty of parsley and lemon juice — is hands-down the best I’ve ever eaten.