Hoppin’ John for the New Year!

Hoppin’ John is a southern tradition of serving black-eyed peas and collard greens to ensure good luck

for the  New Year.  Because of the weather, I decided to postpone it this year and will celebrate with

friends late.

 

I learned about  Hoppin’ John when I married a Southerner.   My late husband Tim Rpbinson was from

Dora, Alabama and I fell in love with Southern cooking after we met and married in New York.  I had a

mixed heritage of Slovak cooking on my mother’s side and English-Scotch on my Dad’s – so I was open

to adding more traditions.

 

According to Allyson Jones in The History of Hoppin’ John, the first written “receipt” for

Hoppin’ John appeared in “The Carolina Housewife” (1847), written by Charlestonian Sarah Rutledge.

The simple recipe called for one pound of bacon, one pint of peas and one pint of rice cooked in

a single pot.

 

Jones notes that the African roots of the dish can be traced to the antebellum rice culture of the

South Carolina Low country, where peas and rice have been cooked together for centuries.

Tradition dictates that a side of collard greens representing paper money be served with Hoppin’

John to ensure prosperity in the coming year. Several sources also suggest a penny or dime

should be placed under the plate or in the dish itself for additional wealth.

 

I still love to honor this southern tradition now that I am back with family and friends in

Michigan. In fact, my friend Bob, a small town Michigan country boy, is even helping with cooking. The

year 2020 promises a lot of controversy, but Hoppin’ John reminds me that cultures don’t have

to clash.  Happy New Year!

Read more and get the recipe at https://www.history.com/news/hoppin-john-a-new-years-tradition

Let it snow, let it snow…or not!

I have always loved the Christmas season and was delighted to celebrate it through the years, whether in  Michigan, New York or northern California.  As a child, I delighted in sliding down hillsides on my sled  or skating on Lake Erie with my brothers and cousins.

This year Michigan is expecting a warm Christmas – the warmest perhaps in many years.   No snow.

So when I watched part of the classic film White Christmas, one of my holiday favorite films as a youngster,  I realized that unlike Bing Crosby,  Rosemary Clooney, and their buddies in New England, I was actually happy this year for the heat wave (up to 50 plus some days).

I no longer go skating or sledding — and driving through ice and snow is rarely fun anymore.   So I am wishing my family and friends all the joys of the season – and don’t worry snow lovers, I hear that there are predictions of more flurries before New Year’s.  Happy holidays to all!

Investing in Detroit – Jamie Dimon of Chase on 60 Minutes

The failure of Detroit’s neighborhoods was a personal tragedy for me.  I grew up in a vibrant working class neighborhood on the Northeast side of the city.  My family home was sold in the 70s after my parents retired from their UAW jobs in the auto industry  and moved to Florida. The area gradually deteriorated and was bulldozed.

So it was heartening to watch a segment of 60 Minutes last weekend hosted by Leslie Stahl on how JP Morgan Chase is using data to invest more efficiently, helping entrepreneurs open businesses in parts of Detroit that most need their services.  She interviewed Jamie Dimon, the CEO of Chase, who told her that the idea grew out of his interest in changing the way the bank was engaging in philanthropy.  He wanted to try and tackle a major national issue, and focused on Detroit first.

Dimon explained that the Chase program (launched in 2014) is currently helping young Detroit entrepreneurs by building a database just for Detroit that identifies neighborhoods in the city ripe for redevelopment.  JP Morgan’s program also steers funds to minority businesses that wouldn’t otherwise qualify for them.  And now Chase is getting ready to commit half a billion dollars to take what it has learned in Detroit and export it to other cities like Chicago and Washington D.C.

Stahl pointed out that the financial crisis of 2008 decimated fragile economies like Detroit’s and Dimon acknowledged that “we owe back to society.”  For a summary of the 60 Minutes interview, visit this link at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jamie-dimon-jp-morgan-chase-ceo-makes-data-focused-investment-in-detroit-60-minutes-2019-11-10/

Six months late, the First All-female Spacewalk is Completed!

It finally happened in October – American astronauts Christina Kock and Jessica Meir conducted the first all-female spacewalk. It was originally scheduled for March 29th (during Women’s History Month) and cancelled when it was discovered only one spacesuit proportioned for the women could be found.  I posted the original announcement in my blog three weeks ahead of the event, and only discovered long afterwards that the walk had been postponed.

So for those who saw my first blog and thought  it was a done deal, my apologies!  For detailed coverage of the actual event on October 18th and the controversy about  the lopsided ratio of women in space (only 32 percent or 12 of the 18 astronauts currently eligible to fly for NASA are women), you can read an article in the Houston Chronicle at https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/space/article/NASA-s-first-all-female-spacewalk-has-officially-14543988.php

For more on the controversy over spacesuit- design bias against women, read https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/21/20920790/nasa-first-all-female-spacewalk-christina-koch-jessica-meir-spacesuit-design-bias

Oh my, gender bias is not only on earth!

Detroit Youth Choir Shines Bright!

When I was in grade school, I was selected to be part of a district chorale in Detroit – one of my happiest memories while it lasted.  So I easily related to the excitement when the Detroit Youth Choir was named runner up on NBC’s  America’s Got Talent, even though there was no cash reward for second place.

A big surprise came when the Choir returned to the Motor City and Mayor Mike Duggan made a major announcement as hundreds turned out to cheer them at Campus Martius – the Choir will be receiving $1 million after all.

As the CEO of the Skiliman Foundation Tonya Allen told the returning heroes, “We are incredibly proud of what the Detroit Youth Choir achieved  during their time on America’s Got Talent and we look forward to what’s next for them.”   Skillman was one of the charitable partners who helped fund a $1 million endowment.  “This fund is a way for Detroiters to celebrate and grow the genius of our children.”

In addition, the Mayor gave the DYC a key to the city and each member got replica keys to have in their own homes.  “In your life, you’re going to go far and wide and you’re going to accomplish great things,” he said.

Choir director Anthony White was at a loss for words after all of Friday’s developments. “This is hard work, sacrifice.  I can’t even talk,” he said.  “I appreciate every donor and sponsor.  This is amazing,”

The announcements keep coming.   The choir will perform with season 14 winner Kodi Lee in Las Vegas Nov, 7-10.  The two acts will be at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, along with fellow finalists comedian Ryan Niemiller, V Unbeatable Dance Crew and violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa.  Finally,  it was also announced the choir will serve as grand marshal for the 2019 edition of America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit.  This year’s theme is Detroit Shining Bright and yes, thanks to the incredible talent of the Detroit Youth Choir, the city is truly shining bright!

An August to Remember

August was a month of both musical love and precious, renewed friendships.  Most importantly, I celebrated my 55th Cass Tech High School Reunion this month with former classmates – opening with dinner and a program at Sinbad’s Restaurant  in a room overlooking the river on the first night, then lunch and a bus tour on Belle Isle,  and finally at a Tiger’s ballgame (oh my, they even won for us!).

My friend Bob Allen was my guest in the fun put together by an incredible committee led by Jeff Crockett that included Ocie, Jacquelyne, Trey, Morry, Susan Patricia, Helen, Sarah, Mildred, John, Anne and Jacquelin.  I was lucky enough to be active on the committee in the early planning.   We had about 90 active participants over the two days, many from out of town who stayed at the Atheneum Suite  Hotel on Brush Ave. and many took a sightseeing bus tour as their opening event.  I am so grateful that I got to experience my high school years with these incredible comrades and hope more good times lie ahead.

The first dose of musical love this month was at DTE’s evening concert with “Heart” (with sisters Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson) on the band’s “Love” Alive tour —  including opening acts Joan Jet & the Blackhearts and Elle King.  I had first seen only Ann on tour a few years ago at a Detroit waterfront festival.  But I had always loved their music – and the crowd seated on the DTE hillside around us went crazy as Heart ended their set with their biggest hit, “Barracuda.”  I shared in the exhilarating experience with my friend  Bob, and we joyously stumbled when we arrived across more of his friends.  They already occupied a large space on the grass and shared their blanket for seating on the hillside as they used folding chairs behind us.  Amazing.

I also got an exhilarating dose of musical “love” from the 60s by watching PBS’ American Experience documentary “Woodstock”, a chance to remember three days of peace, love and music in upstate New York.  I was just graduating college and starting my journalism career when that musical milestone in upstate New York produced 400,000 fans and four days of musical history that miraculously stayed peaceful and produced many signature musical moments, including the unforgettable Jimmy Hendricks, Santana,  Joan Baez and Janis Joplin – plus many more evolving superstars.   What an August!