Believe it or not, T and I accidentally stayed up past midnight last night. We were enjoying our annual viewing of Love Actually, and when it wrapped, T said, "Oh my god, it's 12:20. Is my watch right? We did it." First time in many moons! Oliver wandered into our room just after 3am complaining of a "bad nightdream" and immediately we were a bed of three. T started snoring, and Ol threw his leg over my back as he fell back to sleep so after a half hour of growing increasingly annoyed, I decamped to his twin bed where I was, quickly thereafter, joined by Nutmeg who was alternately wildly irritating and the best sleep companion ever. I was in the thick of a very odd dream when Percy bounded up the stairs needing to go outside to pee. I could NOT drag myself out of bed but knew if I invited him in, he'd hold things a bit longer. He eagerly joined the Nut and me and though he was happy to stay on his side of moi, Nutmeg's jealousy got the better of him and he started swatting Percy over my stomach. By the time I finally threw in the towel, I had only one sock left on and my hair was positively frizzy-huge. Suffice it to say I did not feel fresh.
After sucking down a quad espresso latte -Happy 2014!- the boys and I went to a friend's house to hang and play. She is one of my dearest pals, and I love her daughters so the whole thing would have been treat enough without her having also ordered a beautiful galette de roi to kick off this fine new year. This king cake was unlike those made in Louisiana during Mardi Gras season but the origins of the two must be similar. Both are round though the LA ones are just a ring versus a solid disk. Both have a baby (ceramic or plastic), the feve, hidden inside but the meaning varies for the finder: in LA, the winner must buy and serve the next cake; in C's French tradition, the winner is "king" or "queen" for the year and gets to choose a co-monarch.
Louisiana king cakes are dripping with sugary frosting sprinkled with dyed sugar in green, purple and yellow in honor of Mardi Gras. Today's galette was much more sophisticated looking, and its feve was decidedly higher brow. Oliver's wedge continued the babe, and he was beside himself with glee and satisfaction. With no delay he named Jack his co-king.
We finally made our way back home at which time I insisted upon taking a lengthy shower and then a short nap. T was very helpful. I realized I needed to get busy with our traditional New Year's meal of collards (really any southern green will do; turnip greens are lovely!), black-eyed peas, and cornbread, so Ol and I washed the greens and got things started. The greens symbolize wealth, the peas luck and the cornbread health (some traditions associate different meanings with each food though peas and luck have long been tied together). Even if I were bed-ridden with the plague I think I'd try to make this meal each year; the risk of bringing bad juju onto my family just isn't worth it.
I decided I wanted to combine the elements this year instead of cooking each separately and ending up with three distinct mounds on our dinner plates. Riffing on the collard cobbler I often make around Thanksgiving, I sauteed some shallots and garlic, added the collards which I'd blanched and chopped, some bacon, and a bit of chicken stock and milk and let that stew on low heat while I cooked the black-eyed peas until just tender. I then added those to the pot and let them steam while I made a cornbread biscuit top to lay over the whole mess. Into the oven and out forty minutes later, and my crew sat down to our first family dinner in quite some time (we ate early).
As we dined, we talked about what we were grateful for from 2013 and our hopes for this new year. Each person wrote one wish on a slip of paper, folded it tight to prevent spying and dropped it into a wish ball we received last year. As Ol cannot write but also didn't want to tell just one person his wish, we took turns listening to him whisper 1-2 words in our ears, writing those down, folding the paper and passing it to the next scribe. He seemed satisfied but naturally, once he was asleep, I had to look at his.
He wants to get the feve again next year.
As opposed to sweet Jack who wrote this:
Are you dying? I am! Both of them are so precious and dear. Even when my head is about to blow off, I know how lucky I am. That said, here's hoping that no one crawls into bed with me tonight AND I am excited that the kiddos are going to gymnastics camp tomorrow. Yee-ha!