The Old Year and the New One

Hell of a year, 2022. We started the year with concerns about another COVID-Carnival and we’ve ended it with a pretty hard freeze. In between we had a few storms, rising prices and the odd offhand comment from V. Putin to the effect, “Y’all know we still got bombs, right?”

It’s a new year coming up, though, and I’m optimistic about things. In the event that I’m wrong, I thought I’d share some tips on how food and cooking can help you cope with the idea that we could all die slowly if the power grid fails.

First, lots of people apparently took up gardening during the pandemic, when we were all lucky to be at home while we worked remotely. I have no data to support this assertion but it feels accurate: some of those people, but not all, continue to garden.

I say “well done” to those people, because there is nothing as satisfying as seeing something you planted grow from seedling to young plant to food for various caterpillars and/or inchworms, slugs, aphids and other bugs. It really brings home the phrase “cycle of life” as long as you accept that your part in the process is to feed bugs.

My garden was less productive this year than in years past, but I still had a good harvest of habanero peppers, beans I don’t really like and a cucumber. There is little to mourn from the freeze chez Peyton, is what I’m saying.

I did manage to save most of my herbs, and one of the gifts I gave for Christmas made use of those. I made a compound butter with roasted garlic, preserved lemon peel, sea salt and herbs like thyme, rosemary, marjoram, lavender and oregano. I thought it turned out well and I hope those who received it as a gift thought so, too.

Not long into the new year there will be a book signing at Saba, featuring books by Neal Bodenheimer, who will be talking about his new book “Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em,” and Robert Simonson will promote “Modern Classic Cocktails: 60+ Stories and Recipes from the New Golden Age in Drinks.”

I thought Cure was great when it opened and I still think so. Neal and his partners blazed some trails when they opened a destination cocktail bar on Freret Street, and I’ve always found the guy charming. Don’t know the Simonson fellow but the book looks interesting and you won’t go wrong at Saba. You can make a reservation for the event here.

I very much hope you all have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve, and that 2023 is at least as good if not better for you than 2022.

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