Monday, December 29, 2014

It’s Not New Year’s Without Black-Eyed Peas (Allergy-Free!)

By Kelley Lindberg

My grandmother always said, “Be careful what you do on New Year’s Day, because that’s what you’ll be doing all year long.”

I don’t know if she was right or not, but I always try to do things on New Year’s Day that I wouldn’t be ashamed/annoyed/mad/tired of doing all year. So I generally avoid cleaning house, and I try to avoid arguing with my son. On the positive side, I always try to do some writing (even if it’s just a sentence or two), and have a nice day with my family.

The other thing I have to do every New Year’s Day is eat black-eyed peas. My family is all originally from Texas, so eating black-eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day is mandatory. No questions. No resistance. You WILL eat black-eyed peas. You WILL have good luck whether you want it or not. Fortunately, I happen to love black-eyed peas!

I know other parts of the South also like collard greens (for money), but in my house, it was always about the black-eyed peas. Sometimes called Hoppin’ John when they’re served with rice, black-eyed peas are easy to make, and they’re delicious topped with chopped onions and jalapenos, and served over rice or cornbread. (The non-sweet kind – here’s my favorite recipe for Albers® Corn Bread. Just use soy or rice milk and your favorite egg substitute like Ener-G, and leave out the sugar). Black-eyed peas go great with ham, a beef brisket, chicken, seafood, or just about any main dish, really. And if you like the idea of greens representing money, saute some collard greens, Swiss chard, spinach, or kale in a little olive oil and safe margarine, along with some chopped garlic and salt and a bit of water to steam them.

So if you’re in the mood to have a really lucky year, be sure you put some black-eyed peas on the table. Just please don’t used the mushy, flavorless canned ones. Yuck. They’re so easy to make from scratch, so try my grandmother’s recipe instead (below)! (Of course, they’re even better if you use fresh peas, but frozen works fine this time of year.)

My son hates peas and beans of all types, but he learned early on that he wasn’t allowed to leave the table on New Year’s Day until he’d eaten at least one—count ‘em, one—black-eyed pea. That’s all I ask. Now he eats it without complaining (mostly), so I know he’s going to be okay for another year. Somewhere up there, my grandmother is looking down on him and smiling.

Have a Happy and Lucky New Year!

Black-Eyed Peas

3 slices bacon, diced (or you can use diced smoked pork or ham)
1 bag frozen black-eyed peas
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Chopped onion and/or jalapenos (optional)

Fry bacon in pan. Pour off grease. Add black-eyed peas and enough water to cover about 1 inch above peas. Add salt. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Serve over rice or cornbread, and top with chopped onion and/or jalapenos.

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