Thirsty Thursday
Super Bowl Special
The Healer

Well,now.  GO TEAM.

Except that my team has already gone. Home.

And the team that beat them is going to the Big Game.

Roughly half (I'm not an odds maker, but neither of the teams are the most reviled, or the most revered.  Just good teams, with loyal followings.) of the millions with eyes on the set this Sunday will be really, really happy. Those people need margaritas. Something fruity. Maybe something with a celebratory umbrella or football pick.

Those of us not so, um, cheerful, well, we'll need a little less elation.  A little less joy. A lot less confetti.

We're going to need some healin'.  And with whom better to lick our wounds than blues extraordinaire, John Lee Hooker?  Never has one made grieving so, well, cool.

I'm going to be pulling out that shiny new bottle of Texas Honey Liqueur, and drowning my sorrows in some strong, spiked coffee.  Like John Lee Hooker  would.  Cheers!

Or not.

The Healer
Drink up.

2 sprigs fresh mint, plus more for garnish
2 ounces decent bourbon
1 ounce honey liqueur
1 ounce coffee, brewed strongly (2T grinds per cup of water)
1 ounce cream

Lightly muddle the mint in the shaker. Add the bourbon, honey liqueur, coffee, cream, and ice. Shake for 5 seconds and pour into a Collins glass, (number 10, in the image, below), filled with crushed ice. Garnish with tall sprigs of fresh mint.

(recipe adapted from

Tips for Tuesday
Handling the Habanero

Behold the much-maligned Habanero pepper! 

Unabated, its assertive heat can be too much to handle, but with a little cautious prep work, the unique flavor profile of the Habanero can be enjoyed without the pain usually associated with this bright and robust chile pepper. 

  • Wash pepper, and cautiously slice in half lengthwise. (You may consider wearing gloves if your skin is sensitive to capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers.) 
  • With a sharp, small, paring blade, remove seeds, and white pith along the interior ribs of each half.  
  • Slice into lengthwise strips, and then slice across strips, yielding a mince that enhances, yet does not overpower. 
Read more:

Super Bowl Superstars
Fitness Favorite: Texas Caviar with Honey Habanero Lime Vinaigarette

I love football.  I LOVE football.  I LOVE FOOTBALL.

The Super Bowl, that crowning culmination of a season of the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, is almost bittersweet, as it means no more football. Weekends return to commitments more pressing, less entertaining, often.  Cars get washed. Laundry gets completed. beers remain in the fridge.

The Super Bowl is much like New Year's Day to me in so many ways that I postpone any discussion of resolutions until that day, after, and, I celebrate the event with black-eyed peas.  Like good southerners would any New Year's Day. And now that this southern girl has shifted a bit left, to Texas (I'll let y'all mull the political irony of shifting left to Texas, surely a move that's left me, perhaps neutral?), I'll be, like so many other Texan hosts, serving my peas Texas-style. And there will likely be few Texas big-game celebrations that won't follow suit.  We love our caviar down here, y'all.

Texas Caviar, it is said, was so named by the Driskill Hotel, where Helen Corbitt, who would go on to be food director of Dallas' Neiman Marcus, brought her beloved "Pickled Black-Eyed Pea Salad" to the Lone Star State Capitol, Austin. You can read more about its colorful history in this Dallas Morning News' Try Some Texas Caviar, and Ms. Corbitt, herself, in Texas Monthly's, Tastemaker of the Century: Helen Corbitt

Every traditional Texas cook has her favorite, often signature version of this cowboy-meets-Madison Avenue unlikely hybrid, as uniquely Texan as the New York expatriate, Ms. Corbitt, came to be. Take a peek at Ms. Corbitt's original recipe, and use it, as I have here, as a building block, adding and subtracting as you wish, making your very own signature Texas Caviar.


1T Dijon mustard
3T honey
1T apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
3/4 cup grapeseed oil (or any favorite neutral-flavored oil)
1t dried oregano, to taste
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1-2 Habanero peppers, de-seeded, de-pithed, (how-to's, below, and consider wearing gloves. The capsaicin in peppers is difficult to rinse from skin, and should you rub your eyes, or any other membrane, whoa Nellie  that's going to burn!)

16 oz frozen blackeyed peas, thawed (by running under warm running water in a colander)
About 1/4 cup, each, celery, carrot, red onion, red and/or green bell pepper

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, honey, cider vinegar and lime juice until well-blended. Slowly whisk in oil, in a drizzle, continuing until all is well emulsified. Stir in remaining ingredients, to taste, adjusting for personal preference. Don't forget the salt. It really perks these oil-based dressings right up.

Blanch thawed, frozen black eyed peas in boiling, salted water for roughly 5 minutes, removing to an ice bath to retard cooking and retain crispness, until cooled.  Drain.

To dressing, add peas and chopped vegetables, tossing to blend well.  Correct seasonings. Allow to marinate 8 hours, to overnight.  Serve cold or room temperature.  (And wait to you see what I've done with the leftovers later this week!)

Some tips:

  • All vegetables in this salad should be chopped uniformly, in about a 1/4" dice.  
  • Many cooks use canned peas, like the original recipe.  I have the fortune of having fresh peas from the summer's garden, preserved by blanching and freezing, and it's time to use last season's peas. Dried peas, cooked, can be used, but certainly this will make an easy, quick prep not so easy, and not so quick.
  • Feel free to substitute or add herbs, spices, and seasonings as you desire.  Any citrus, or none at all. Any vinegar, or not. How about cilantro, garlic, lemon, apple cider, wine vinegar, balsamic??  Yes, yes, yes, yes.  Brown sugar instead of honey?  SURE! THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER CAVIAR!
  • Scared of that hot chile, the habanero, lime vinaigrette? Heck, omit any or all. Truly, make this one your own. Use your favorite dressing, use mild jalapenos, don't use peppers at're the boss. (Well, not really THE BOSS. I mean you're very cool, but there's only one Bruce Springsteen.)

Behold the much maligned habanero pepper. Unabated, it's assertive heat can be too much to handle, but with a little cautious prep work, the unique flavor profile of the habanero can be enjoyed without the pain usually associated with this bright and robust chile pepper.  Wash pepper, and cautiously slice in half lengthwise. (You may consider wearing gloves if your skin is sensitive to capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers.) With a sharp, small, paring blade, remove seeds, and white pith along the interior ribs of each half.  Slice into lengthwise strips, and then slice across strips, yielding a mince that enhances, yet does not overpower. 

So, why a fitness favorite?  Well it's the fiber, primarily, an important element of a healthy diet, and one too often lacking from our own, that  makes this little black-specked legume so attractive. One half-cup serving of black eyed peas provides roughly 15% of the recommended dietary intake of fiber, with only 70 calories and that's just the beginning. Discover the additional health and fitness benefits of the south's favorite legume from Fitday's Nutrition of Black Eyed Peas.

And, what, you may ask, just IS this Fitness Favorite? Well, friends, welcome to the newest feature on Notes From Maggie's Farm-- Fitness Favorites. Beyond merely meatless, Fitness Favorites are those go-to deceptively delicious, yet healthy and satisfying options that do their diligent duty to keep the continuing fight for fitness interesting and tasty. I'd love to hear what you think, and how these dishes may fit into your own healthy eating plans.

All that said, let's cut to the chase. Who ya like? The 'Hawks or the Broncos?  Do you have a horse in this race?  A dog in this hunt?  Or will you be skipping the whole thing altogether (GASP!)?  

And what are your snacking plans?  We'll have more, later this week on Notes From Maggie's Farm

Y'all, it's great to be back.

Change is in the Air:
New Directions From Maggie's Farm

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” -unknown*

Well, hello there.

Remember me? It's been a while, hasn't it? I've missed you!

And so much has happened during this brief hiatus. Okay. You've got me there. Not so brief.

If you've been around here for a while, you'll know I'm not often at a loss for words. Not even a shortage.

I suppose there is a first for everything.

But this post was just so hard to get out!  I kept writing it in my mind, and lo and behold, as soon as I had it all tidy and pithy and eloquent, something new would come along to rattle my bearings and it would need rewriting.  I wanted it to be light and funny.  I was having a hard time making it all light and funny.  Because it's really not been all that light and funny.

Simply put, it's been a wild ride.

Friends, there have been a lot of changes in Maggie's world....lots.  Lessons learned, losses endured, the highest of highs, and, occasionally, the lowest of lows.  It was one of those years.  You've probably had a few of them, yourself.

Some changes, good, some changes, challenging.  Loss both public (Goodbye fifty pounds! Hello fifth decade!) and private.

I'm not being purposefully vague, although I can see it may appear that way. But it's all so, so, well so MUCH. So let's just cut to the chase and I'll tell you what's going on NOW, and, perhaps, little by little, I'll be sharing what's happened along the way in blog-sized bits.

The NOW part, after all, is the EXCITING part.

This little country mouse is now a sassy city mouse!  I'm excited to be working in support of local farmers, here in Austin, and the surrounding Texas counties.  I'm thrilled to be traveling by foot, bike, car, bus and rail with my bestie-- the trusty Nikon, capturing the sights. I'm absolutely stoked to be visiting the restaurants, cafes, kitchens, food trucks, dive bars, holes in the wall, specialty shops, wine trails, community gardens, farmers' markets and more in this fair city, state, and occasionally when wanderlust gets the best of me, beyond.

Watch for some changes here, too. There are plans for this little blog.  And plans for another, less food-centric, more personal-window-on-the-world blog, too. (There's a little sneak preview of the mood of my new project at the end of this post.  I'd love to have you join me there, soon!) I'm exhilarated by it all. Of course I'll keep you informed all along the way.

Sharing my window on the world.

Will I be in the kitchen?  Heck YEAH, I'll be in the kitchen. I've expanded my catering operations, resumed cottage food production, and the few days a week I formerly spent cooking at a University of Texas sorority grew, last semester, into meal preparation for anywhere from 70 to over 250 chapter members and guests, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as many as 6 days a week. That's a lot of meal prep. And a lot of sorority girls.

I've been at it in my own little kitchen, too; my new sweet spot in the center of the city, only blocks from downtown, right in the thick of things. I've fed the frat boys next door endless bowls of pasta and sauce. I've baked, and broken, bread for my newest neighbors. I've been abuzz and a-bike, collecting ingredients from local markets and specialty shops and generally doing that thing I well, feed well, hone my skills,--sharing that special kind of culinary care the best way I know. I can't wait to share the domestic alchemy with you.

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.  Delicious Ambiguity.” 

― Gilda Radner

You know they say that no matter where you go, there you are, and though, outwardly, the world as I've known it for a while has experienced a tectonic shift, I'm still here. Some of my best cheerleaders and partners in crime have passed on. Animals I'd come to love and cherish are now being loved and cherished away from me. The idyllic peace (mostly), and traffic-lite country highways are now displaced by rush hours and public transportation. Yet, here I am. Perhaps a bit road-weary, but dust me off a little, and really, I'm the same Maggie I've always been.

Taking the moment and making the best of it.  Never really knowing what might happen next.

Celebrating Delicious Ambiguity.

(Gilda always did get it right, didn't she?)

A little peak at my newest project in the queue, Through the Lens of a Late Bloomer.

*This quote, often attributed to Marilyn Monroe, has no clear source upon research.
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