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New Year’s Eve

Thursday, 1 January, 2009

The day did not start well. I intended to have a day of cooking. Specifically making loads of rice and beans which I can then nuke up, sometimes with a little veg or some eggs, for the next several days. I washed, chopped and so forth and had my first batch of beans with lentils in the rice cooker when something on the radio reminded me that this was New Year’s Eve … and what that covered bowl on the table was about.

I am really getting scatter brained. It’s worse actually. I was going to brew up some black-eyed peas with greens to serve that night and had done little more than secure, wash and soak the actual beans and buy a big ol’ can of Margaret Holmes Seasoned Mustard Greens. Firstly, I did not know how many people I was feeding. This one 27 oz. can didn’t seem like enough if anyone other than the usual denizens of our upstairs get togethers turned up. Secondly, you can’t really just cook up black-eyed peas. They need something. I had no chili powder, lard or anything. Thirdly, Margaret Holmes was a new product to me.

Afternoon rush hour was in full swing and I was left to work out which grocery would be least painful to access. My fundamentally unwise choice was Central Markup. Because I am not the kind of white person who counts, I don’t know how to find anything in that store. I managed somehow to collect an onion, a clove of garlic, a 9-inch pan of cornbread the existence of which I had completely forgotten, and I readily gave up the quest for Louisiana Hot Sauce or something similar.

The BEPs came together with a generous proportion of fresh crushed garlic, a diced onion and a couple of hours in the rice cooker. Forgetting anew the dilemma of the mustard greens, I dumped a can of sliced carrots and let that concoction simmer on low heat for however long it took for the beans to do their thing.

As the folks assembled, I cut the cornbread into sixteen pieces with lots of cubed butter and let it sit in a 250-degree oven for about ten minutes. Although the beans were bland by my standards, the greens and carrots brought out their good qualities. I opened a magnum of my wine of the month. Let’s see. Tommy, his fiancee Cedar (I’m telling you I thought I had misheard her name, and too much time had passed to ask.), Kitty, Heather and Emmett, BJ got on the wrong bus and just stopped by upon finding herself in the neighborhood, the corner girls had dates for the evening and were planning on staying in, but a shindig broke out.

No wonder the wine didn’t last.

I served around eight in the evening to considerable praise, more from the surprise that this lowly batchelor can actually cook than the overall quality of the meal. Although Heather and Emmett retired uncharacteristically early, we were still carousing at midnight which is when at least four bottles of sparkling wine suddenly appeared in one or another hand …

Thinking about it, I probably put away at least a third of the Merlot-Cabernet myself. Then not less than four glasses of various sparklers. I have not experienced hangover in quite some time. It is especially painful when one is out of practice. The world has not changed with the passage of a single day, but many days remain in the year.

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