Sunday, January 1, 2012

What are you doin' New Year's day?

Celebrating New Years in the South holds many traditions. Of course it does, it's the South. These traditions have questionable backgrounds so here's the way and why we ate black eyed peas and cabbage January 1st in the bayou by ME.

1. Black Eyed Peas "Luck" 
In the South black eyed peas have symbolized luck since the Civil War. When Union troops raided the Southern supplies they refused to take the salt pork and black eyed peas. Northern soldiers wouldn't dream of eating such peasant food that they used for horse feed. The confederate soldiers considered themselves extremely lucky to have something to eat through the long winter. Luck and the Black Eyed pea were inextricably linked from then on.

2 tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tbs minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
2 ham hocks
1lb dried black eyed peas (soaked and rinsed)
1qt chicken stock
1 cup cold water
Salt Pepper & Cayenne to taste
In a heavy stockpot heat the oil and cook onions for 2 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaves and ham hocks. Add the peas, chicken stock and water. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook for 20-30 minutes until the peas are tender adding water if necessary.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne as needed. 

2. Smothered Cabbage & Pork "Prosperity" and "Money" 
Who doesn't want the New Year to bring prosperity and wealth? Cabbage or collard greens both represent the greenback and either can be found on the Southern New Year's table. Tradition states that each bite of greens will get make you &1,000 so eat up. Pork in the south represents wealth in it's ability to feed many on the fattened pig. May you live high on the hog.

Ma's Smothered Cabbage 
2 tbs bacon fat (bacon bourbon fat)
2 heads of cabbage (shredded)
1 yellow onion diced
3 links of andouille sausage (in 2in pieces)
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 cup chicken broth
pinch cayenne
salt & pepper
Melt bacon fat in a cast iron skillet. Saute onions, garlic, and cabbage with cayenne and s&p until translucent. Add chicken broth and andouille and enough water to cover the cabbage.  Simmer for 1-1 1/2 hour until tender adding more water if necessary. 

3.) Cornbread "Humility"
Your cornbread should be baked in a cast iron skillet lined with bacon grease. The bread reminds us that we came from humble beginnings. And the fat reminds us not to forget where we came from.

2/3 cup bacon grease                  
2 eggs        
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder & 3 tsp baking soda
2 cups corn meal
1 tsp salt
Put oil in bowl with eggs and milk then beat until foamy. Sift in dry ingredients. Put in a bacon greased cast iron skillet and bake at 475 for 20 minutes. 

Resolve to eat this meal to ring in the New Year.
Welcome to 2012 Ya'll!

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