Hoppin John is a Southern tradition. The peas represent coins, and the greens represent dollars… and serving with cornbread symbolizes gold. Eating it on New Year’s Day is believed to ensure luck and prosperity for the whole new year. This year Mark and I officially became Southerners with our first batch of Hoppin John! We made it the night before to enjoy it first thing in the morning.
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In the spring of 2018, we fell in love with this cool, refreshing bacon cauliflower salad. The crispy, curly leaves of Romaine lettuce provide a beautiful contrast, but we also love it with chopped broccoli florets. We lightened up the dressing with plenty of whole milk yogurt, which adds a pleasant, fresh tang. Hearty enough to serve as a main, it plays nicely as a side for steak or chicken. Versatility is a must in the Miller kitchen!
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No one enjoys dry braised pork loin, and yet many recipes call for a blazing hot oven that shrinks the flesh, leaving it mealy. I prefer a gentler approach, first searing on the stove top, and then covering for a gentle braise in the oven. We use seasonings that rev up the overall flavor while allowing for various condiment pairings. Our personal favorites are red pepper onion relish, orange marmalade, and Kansas City-Style barbecue sauce. The relish and the marmalade are particularly wonderful if warmed before dressing the meat. Decorative and delicious!
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Panzanella (pahn-zah-NELL-la) is a practical Italian dish transforming stale bread into a delicious salad. Traditionally it is made entirely from cold ingredients, but we like a roasted layer topped with a contrast of chilled. Mark said that it’s “like” salad, but without all the “boring” stuff. Ironically, a minute later he suggested it would be good over spinach leaves. I think I may be cracking his anti-vegetable platform.
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Roasted Kielbasa and Potatoes is one of our favorite inherited German family recipes. In the early 1900s, my grandparents and Mark’s great-grandparents all settled in the same tiny rural community of Paxico, Kansas. It was such a strong German/Polish immigrant community that many of the “old folk” never bothered to learn English. Hard work necessitated hearty food, and this one sure fits the bill!
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