Category Archives: Cooking with Betty Zing & Friends

Hoppin’ John

Hoppin’ John is a version of the black-eyed pea and rice soup/stew served in the South for New Year’s Day.  The idea is that eating black-eyed peas and rice at the new year will bring good luck, health and wealth.  I’m sure it was created long ago by enslaved African Americans and adopted, like so many other recipes, into “southern cooking.”  I picked up the tradition in Charleston in the mid-’80s.

a little tan dog snuggled-in beneath pillows and a blanket
This is Milo.

The only two required ingredients are the black-eyed peas and rice. Everything else is negotiable in any amounts according to your taste. This version uses meat. For a vegetarian version, substitute a smoked ancho pepper and/or smoky-flavored tofu for the smoked sausage; use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Adjust all amounts according to your needs and want.


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2-3 ribs celery, sliced
  • 1 large red or green sweet pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • Garlic, up to 3 cloves, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, and their juice
  • Olive oil
  • 1 good-sized link of smoked sausage (I have used either turkey or regular) or kielbasa
  • Vegetable or chicken stock ( up to 8 cups)
  • Black eyed peas ( 2 cans, or dried – pre soaked, 2-3 cups)
  • Rice (about a cup)
  • Seasonings. (All to taste):
    • 2 bay leaves
    • Thyme
    • Oregano
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, and/ or Worcestershire sauce

Optional: I add one canned ancho pepper and some of the sauce for an added kick.


  1. If using dry back-eyed peas, pre soak the way you usually do it. Cans, drain and rinse peas.
  2. Sauté onions, carrots and celery in olive oil till soft.
  3. Add sweet peppers and garlic, and sauté for a few more minutes. Don’t let the garlic burn.
  4. Add tomatoes and juice from the can, stock, black eyed peas, and smoked sausage (vegetarian variant — smoked poblano pepper and/ or smoked tofu).
  5. Add bay leaves, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper, plus any of the other spices you wish.
  6. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring and tasting occasionally.

*Note: I just noticed that if you threw in some shrimp at the last minute, you would basically have a version of jambalaya.

—Pam Clements

The Magic Soup Recipe

This bad boy will kick the crap out of whatever cold, sinus infection or flu the fates have visited on you.

Ingredients & Directions

2 quarts chicken or veggie broth
3 TBS shredded fresh ginger
1 TBS red pepper flakes
6 chopped garlic cloves, sauteed
1 cup shitake mushrooms
2 chopped red peppers
Combine all of these in a slow cooker on high for at least 2 hours. Then steam and set by:
2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets
2 cups of chopped carrots
Any other veggies you like.
Pour the broth over the veggies, eat like you mean it, and then spend the rest of the day sipping the broth and reading schlocky novels.

black and white dog with red lobster toy
This is Orfeo.

—Lauryn Mayer

Apple (Basset) Crumbly Pie

baked apple pie with basset hound decorations

I decided to make-up a recipe this year for our Thanksgiving Day apple pie.  Betty Zing was very interested in the process, probably hoping that I would drop bits of dough or apple onto the floor (by accident, of course). 

black basset hound eating apple peel
Betty Zing likes apple peels.

She did discover that she loves apple peels. This pie has a very crumbly crust, like an unsweetened vanilla butter cookie. 


  • Crust Ingredients
    • 1¼ cups unsalted butter, softened
    • 2½ cups flour
    • 1¼ teaspoons salt
    • 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extractblack basset hound eating apple peel
  • Filling Ingredients
    • 8 cups apple slices—I like to use a mixture, such as Granny Smith and Honey Crisp (sour and sweet apples)
    • ¼ cup granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Topping Ingredients
    • 1 cup butter
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 2 cups flour


The Crust

    • Mix flour and salt in a bowl.
    • Cut in the butter, until it becomes a crumbly/pebbly mixture.
    • Add enough vanilla to help form a ball, but not so much that the dough becomes liquidy.
    • The dough should form into a smooth ball, easily, and it should feel almost like pizza dough (but not sticky).ball of dough
    • Pinch off a handful of dough, form into ball, and set it aside for later.
    • Roll out the remaining dough between two pieces of wax paper.
    • Lay the dough into a pie pan.
    • Shape the edge of the dough: in these illustrations, I shaped it as I would for a regular pie crust, but this crust is so crumbly that I suggest it be shaped more like one does for a cheesecake.uncooked pie crust in dish, edges shaped and holes punched
    • Poke lots and lots of holes into the crust (with a fork), until the entire crust is filled with tiny little holes, enough to fill the Albert Hall.
    • Set aside.
    • Roll out the remaining dough and cut with a cookie cutter into shapes, such as basset hounds.
    • Set carefully onto wax paper and put into the refrigerator (so they’ll hold their shapes while you work on other parts of the pie).

The Filling

    • Peel, core, and slice apples.
    • Place the apple slices into a large bowl.
    • Add the other ingredients.
    • Mix well.
    • Set aside.

The Topping

    • Cream butter and brown sugar together.
    • Gradually add flour and mix until crumbly.

The Entire Pie Ensemble

    • Pre-heat oven to 400° F.
    • With a slotted spoon, scoop all the apples into the pie.  Save the remaining “juice” for a later option.*
    • Spread the topping evenly on top.
    • Peel the cookie-cutter shapes off the wax paper and arrange them on top of the pie.pie with filling and topping, and cookie cutter basset hounds (3)
    • Place the pie onto the center of the center rack.
    • Bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and there is slight bubbling from the filling.

slice of pie with whipped cream in a bowl with spoon

* Option: mix the pie “juice” with one egg white. Approximately five minutes before the pie is done, pull it out and “paint” the cookie-cutter shapes with this mixture.

It is not safe to feed any of this to your dog (the spices and sugar are not good for dogs), so maybe save one or two or three or seven slices of apple for your puppy to eat while you enjoy your dessert. 😉

Carol Robinson