Eat Good Luck for your New Year!
There was an idyllic snow on Christmas eve, and after walking home from a Norwegian Jule dinner on quiet streets in the falling flakes, we awoke to more snow and a perfect day for a beginning-of-season ski on that slippery powder. As we skied through the woods we watched a gorgeous orange sunset through dark silhouettes of bare trees—but I forgot to take a camera! So no photos from me, but here is a link to incredible snow art by Simon Beck—-wow is all I can say.
Back to the beans…
A few of the reasons why it’s considered lucky to eat blackeyed peas on New Years:
- In both ancient Egyptian and Hebrew tradition it was believed that eating humble food like black-eyed peas showed humility before the gods, and you would be blessed.
- In the South during the civil war blackeyed peas were one of the few foods left after Sherman’s army raided supplies, and people survived on them through the winter.
- The Emancipation Proclamation went into affect on New Years Day—January 1, 1863—and since blackeyed peas were a staple of their diet it was food the freed slaves ate to celebrate.
- The peas are symbolic of coins, and sometime a dime is cooked with the beans or placed under bowls when serving.
Why the name Hoppin’ John?
This is from the website What’s Cooking America:
Most food historians generally agree that Hoppin John is an American dish with African/French/Caribbean roots. There are many tales or legends that explain how Hoppin’ John got its name:
–It was the custom for children to gather in the dining room as the dish was brought forth and hop around the table before sitting down to eat.
–A man named John came “a-hoppin” when his wife took the dish from the stove.
–An obscure South Carolina custom was inviting a guest to eat by saying, “Hop in, John”
–The dish goes back at least as far as 1841, when, according to tradition, it was hawked in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina by a crippled black man who was know as Hoppin’ John.
The flavors in this recipe are similar to the Red Beans and Rice you might eat at Mardi Gras with thyme, allspice, bay leaves, and hot sauce. There are other versions of Hoppin’ John that are much simpler in their seasonings.
Blackeyed peas have an earthy flavor and hold up well to the strong flavors of a hot sauce. I like to use either Louisiana Hot Sauce, Crystal Hot Sauce, or Frank’s Red Hot Suace—all of these are a fermented chili/vinegar condiment that are very similar to each other, and all of them are less spicy than Tabasco, giving the flavor without as much fire.
Hoppin’ John can be served either on top of rice or mixed into the rice like a pilaf or jambalaya.
Every day there is art on my window.
The Best of Luck to you and yours!
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: a few hours to soak; approximately 1 hour to cook the beans; 10 minutes to saute and simmer the rest
Soak for a few hours:
1 cup Blackeyed Peas
Simmer together in a pot:
the soaked Blackeyed Peas
3-4 cups Water or Chicken Stock
1-2 Bay Leaves
1 Garlic Cloves
Ham hock (optional)
Add more liquid if needed, and cook until beans are tender.
Remove the Bay Leaves.
Canola Oil, Olive Oil or Lard
1 small Onion, diced
1/2 Green Pepper, diced
1-2 stalks Celery, diced
1 cup Bacon or Ham, diced (optional if you want to keep it vegetarian)
1 Tablespoon (or more) Louisiana Hot Sauce, Crystal Hot Sauce or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Cider Vinegar
1/8 teaspoon Thyme
1/8 teaspoon Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt (this will vary if you use ham or bacon, or have heavily salted beans)
Pepper to taste
Mix in to the vegetables:
1 1/2 cups cooked Blackeyed Peas, or 1 x 12 ounce can of cooked beans, drained
Simmer 5-10 minutes.
Taste and adjust—if you used canned beans they will have less flavor and you may need to add more spices.
Serve alongside or mix like a pilaf with:
Basmati or Jasmine Rice
Chopped Green Onions
More Louisiana Hot Sauce!
Sauteed greens (turnip, mustard, collard)
Ham or other Pork