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Hoppin' John

New Year’s day hosts the most important meal of the entire year for Southerners. Deeply rooted in tradition, superstition, and hope for the future, we have definite, "must-have" dishes which even those of us who might not be as superstitious as others, dare not shirk on this day.
Back in the days of civil war, Union troops swept through the south, confiscating crops and livestock to use as provisions for their troops. Southerners who weren’t off fighting were left with precious little, save for peas and greens. You see, Union soldiers considered “field peas” and greens to be fit only for animal fodder. These dishes became cherished and appreciated as what saved many a family from starvation during those times and the tradition of celebrating these dishes on the new year was born.

There are two things every southerner must eat on New Years day, black-eyed peas and greens. Black-eyed peas are said to bring luck in the coming year, with many traditions holding that you must eat at least 365 of them. We never had a number, but the more you ate, the more luck you were supposed to have so I always make plenty!

Greens can be either turnip, collard, or a mix of greens (a “mess”, as we call them). They are said to bring wealth in the new year and as with black-eyed peas, the amount of wealth you have is directly proportionate to how much of them you eat!

This year for New Year's I made Hoppin' John to fulfill the black-eyed pea tradition and sweet and spicy collard greens. 2012 sure looks to be starting off right because I ate until I was sick.

Ingredients: Black-Eyed Peas
Dried black-eyed peas
1/2 Tablespoon of salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon black pepper
  1. Sort peas and soak overnight OR you can bring peas to a boil for 2 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit for an hour.
  2. Drain off soaking water and pour into pot, covering with water and leaving enough extra to prevent peas from cooking down. Add all other ingredients and cook for two to three hours, or until tender. Drain.
Ingredients: Hoppin’ John!
Black-eyed peas, fully cooked
1 cup uncooked rice
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs margarine
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp liquid smoke
Hot sauce
  1. Combine broth and seasonings, cook rice in this until tender.
  2. In a saute pan, saute onion in 2 Tbs margarine until tender.
  3. Place rice, peas, and onion in large bowl. Stir to combine.
  4. Add 2 Tbs of hot sauce and liquid smoke, stir again.


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