Thursday, December 31, 2009
This "Pea" Stands for Prosperity
Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day brings good luck for
the entire year!
It wouldn’t be New Year’s in some parts of the country without black-eyed peas. Many families eat them on New Year’s Day for good luck. My husband's family is from the south and the smell of a big pot of these faithful little peas, simmering on the kitchen stove, always takes me back to my mother-in-law's kitchen. Even though we live in Minnesota, we've adopted this fun tradition.
The "good luck" part of eating the black-eyed peas goes like this: if you start the New Year dining in humility (eating the peas), you will become more prosperous as the year progresses. Actually, black-eyed peas aren’t peas at all but legumes, a member of the bean family. Some serve the peas with greens and cornbread. According to tradition, the peas represent coins, the greens symbolize paper money, and the cornbread stands for gold. I've heard that some cooks add a penny to the cooking pot; the person who gets the dished up coin will be showered with good fortune all year long.
And finally, it's the last day of 2009 and the last day of December, which means I've achieved my goal of posting something on my blog every day for a month. It's been fun and rewarding for me. Hope you, my wonderful readers, have enjoyed it, too! And I hope you’re cozy and warm this New Year's Eve, wherever you are. It's bitterly cold here. My blog will officially be one year old in January. I never expected to have a blog, let alone post on it for an entire year. I have amazed myself!
Remember that the new year is a chance to start over with a clean slate. That's such a wonderful, positive opportunity! 2010 has potential- like the seeds of a cottonwood. All new beginnings do, and we shouldn’t wait until a new year to make change happen. Why not September? Or May? And when we make mistakes, why not be forgiving to ourselves, get back up and start again?May 2010 be peaceful, prosperous and happy for each one of you!
Traditional Black-eyed Peas Recipe
1 package of black-eyed peas (about 2 cups)
1 ham hock
a pinch of salt and pepper
Rinse peas in large pot. One package of dried peas is about 2 cups (4 cups soaked)
Sort out any pieces of grit, hard or misshapen peas, or anything that looks like it just doesn’t belong! Let stand overnight (at least 8 hours)
Drain soak water, rinse peas in fresh cold water. Add 6 cups of hot water (or enough to cover the top of the peas). Add the pork or a ham hock. You can add fatback, a little bacon grease, or bits of bacon. A ham hock is a good choice because most of the flavor comes from the bone.
Cover peas. Simmer gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached (1 1/2 or 2 hours).
You can serve the peas over white rice. Some people prefer brown. You can also spoon them over cornbread (and include the juice). I've read that you can add Goya ham-flavored concentrate to your black-eyed peas and ham hock to spice them up. It’s like a ham bouillon. Just keep adding water to the peas if needed to avoid them turning to mush.
I'll add chicken broth and an onion to my peas, along with garlic, celery, carrots and tomatoes. I'll toss in spinach at the end. Should make a lovely hearty soup to start the year out right!