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Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day for Good Luck

By Marie Oser, Managing Editor
December 31, 2008
File under: Entertaining, Food, Holidays

Back-eyed peas are a dietary staple in the American South. Hoppin’ John is a bean and rice dish that has long been associated with good luck when served on New Year’s Day. According to the legend, if you serve this dish on New Year’s Day you’ll have plenty of pocket change in the New Year. If served with Collard Greens you’ll plenty of folding money, too. Many southern families toast each other with Champagne and a bowl of Hoppin’ John at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Black-eyed peas are cream-colored beans, with a slightly smoky flavor, smooth texture and a distinct black dot. Food historians agree that “Hopping John” is an American dish with African/French/Caribbean origins. African slaves, who worked the rice plantations, brought black-eyed peas to the U.S., and by the 1700’s they were growing extensively in the south,

Where did this dish get its strange name? One theory is that “Hoppin’ John” is a corruption of pois à pigeon, French for pigeon peas (as they are known there) when the dish was originally created in the French colonies of the Caribbean.  John Mariani, in The Dictionary of American Food and Drink suggests, “it derives from an old ritual on New Year’s Day in which children in the house hopped once around the table before eating the dish.” …read more of Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day for Good Luck here

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Green Holiday Activities

By Christie Nash
December 26, 2008
File under: Entertaining, Fitness, Food, Health, Holidays


The holiday season is upon us and festivities are abundant. While there is plenty of time to gather around the fire and drink some nog, the holidays are also about making new memories. So how do we make our holiday parties memorable while remaining kind to the environment?

Here are ideas of activities that are both fun and festive:

Kick-start your holiday party by getting some exercise outside.
Find some activities that the whole family can participate in. If you’re in a northern climate, skating, making snowmen, or tobogganing are all fun and free. If you’re not anticipating a white Christmas how about a day out in the park playing softball or street hockey. …read more of Green Holiday Activities here

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Greening Staff Holiday Parties

By Christie Nash
December 23, 2008
File under: Entertaining, Gifts, Holidays


If you are wondering how to make your staff holiday party more environmentally friendly and make sure that the spirit of giving is top of the agenda, then look no further.

The following are some ideas and tips to make this annual celebration a time to give back to the Earth and the community. Pre-Party Team Building: Start your party off on the right foot by giving time and energy to your community. Encourage your colleagues to host a soup kitchen, or support a local food bank by sorting food boxes.

Give Gifts that Give Back: Rather than giving and receiving $20 gifts, make donations to a local charity in someone’s (or your company’s) name, or buy some carbon credits for your office. …read more of Greening Staff Holiday Parties here

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Decorating Green for the Holidays

By Lauren Mangion
December 22, 2008
File under: Entertaining, Gifts, Holidays, Lifestyle


One of the most memorable parts of what was my absolute favorite holiday growing up, was decorating our house and tree for Christmas. Over the years, we accumulated 2 large speaker boxes as tall as we were, full of decorations that got dragged out and used year after year. Often my mom would try to swiftly discard some of the older members of the decoration box and update them with trendier and more stylish versions, but some strong sense of tradition in my brother and I always made for a good protest. Decorating is fun and seems to give new life to our homes, so here are some tips for doing the holiday home transformation in an eco-friendly way:

1. The Tree. Skip the artificial tree versus real tree conundrum and go for a living tree that you can enjoy year-round. A nice potted pine or even a fig tree is easily decorated, and has life beyond those two weeks of holidays. Decorate with old jewelry like long earrings, bracelets or restring old necklaces together for a classy and unique look. …read more of Decorating Green for the Holidays here

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Happy Healthy Hanukkah

By Marie Oser, Managing Editor
December 17, 2008
File under: Entertaining, Food, Holidays


Hanukkah, the festival of lights, begins this year when the first candle is lit at sunset on Sunday, December 21st. Celebrated by millions of Jews around the world, Hanukah is a celebration of victory over tyranny and the triumph of religious freedom. The eight-day festival is marked by the lighting of brightly colored candles in the menorah and commemorates the rededication of the temple in ancient Jerusalem. The story of Hanukkah centers on a small flask that contained only enough oil to light the temple menorah for one day but lasted eight days. This joyful holiday celebrates the “miracle of the oil.”

Holidays the world over, are observed with special foods, and on Hanukkah, Potato Latkes are essential holiday fare. Latkes are similar to potato pancakes, which also contain eggs and are fried in oil. The association with Hanukkah and Potato Latkes is not the potatoes, it’s the oil, and lots of it!  Traditional recipes call for the latkes to be fried in a cup or so of hot oil. Health conscious cooks will welcome this flavorful rendition that contains just a fraction of the fat and zero cholesterol. …read more of Happy Healthy Hanukkah here

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