02 January 2013


Miniver, my quality control inspector (and black cat).
Very superstitious, writings on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders ‘bout to fall,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don't understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain't the way

I thought of this old Stevie Wonder song today, because I am ritualistic when it comes to the first day of a new year. Somebody once told me that whatever you do on New Year’s Day, you’ll do throughout the year, so I have become careful about what precedents I am setting.

Therefore, I started the day with some judicious exercise (a medium-long walk around the neighborhood), followed by a healthy breakfast. I did a little reading today, but not too much; I have a tendency to read my life away as it is, I didn’t want to push it. I did a few small chores, so that good habits would be represented. And I drew and painted.

I thought, on and off, while I was walking and doing dishes, about what I wanted to paint, and inspiration didn’t strike. Then, around 3:30 I turned on the TV to catch a bit of the Rose Parade. I never really cared about watching it, but to my mom, it was a tradition to get up early and watch the whole thing, start to finish, marveling over what people could make out of flowers. Thinking about my mom made me think of her New Year’s superstition, which was an old southern wives’ tale that if you ate beans (or, if you want to be really specific, black-eyed peas) on New Year’s Day, you’d have good luck for the rest of the year. So that decided the dinner menu.

I chose Bonanza Beans (mostly because I had all the ingredients), and when I double-checked the recipe and assembled everything, I thought, what could be more lucky than to paint the fixings before I made the dish? So here is a photo of the ingredients (minus the beans), and my drawing and painting. I also had a little help from Miniver, who was fascinated with the paintbrush moving in and out of the paint, and who overlooked things, purring all the while, as I created on the couch, with the Rose Parade droning in the background. At some point, I realized that I had to deconstruct my still life in order to put on the beans, so I carefully removed the bag from the grouping and started cooking them while painting the other ingredients before it was time to add them. A very interactive project!

Maybe, as Stevie says, “superstition ain’t the way,” but...it got me to draw, paint AND cook this New Year’s Day! Hope yours is lucky...

Here’s the recipe for Bonanza Beans:

1 lb. (1 bag dried) small red beans
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup catsup
1/2 cup water
1 T. molasses (or you can use brown sugar)
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (hickory flavoring)
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 T.. each chili powder and salt

Cover the beans with water and simmer, covered, about 2 hours, checking at regular intervals and replenishing water as needed. About 30 minutes before the two hours is up, heat your frying pan, add olive oil, and saute onions and green pepper until tender. Measure out your water in a large glass measuring cup, add catsup and the other ingredients and stir. Add this mix to the skillet, cover and simmer 10 minutes to marry the flavors. Add contents of skillet to beans, simmer another 30 minutes to 1 hour. Add salad and cornbread!

(By the way, the fuzzy, soft quality of these pictures is because I haven't yet replaced my computer, which means I have nothing to which I can attach my scanner, so my only option is to take photos with my Droid. Not great, but it's that or don't post. Hoping to remedy this soon--waiting for the contractor to make things more secure before I go buying new equipment.)