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Traditional Southern New Years Day Dinner

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Cook up some history and make Black-eyed Peas, Greens and Cornbread on January 1, 2009!

Since moving to the South, we decided to try the traditional News Years Day fixins! While I know where my hope lies, we enjoy the tradition and fun of this meal! The Traditional Southern New Year’s Day meal has black-eyed peas, cornbread and greens and we have some terrific recipes for you at the end!

Depending on who you read, the black-eyed peas represent good luck or money because they swell when cooked (and you want your funds to swell). Others think the black-eyed peas look like coins. Some folks cook a dime in with them, and whoever gets the dime is said to have good luck that year and be headed toward prosperity. We would probably break a tooth in our family, and would stress on how to clean the dime properly, so have skipped it so far!

My favorite story on the black-eyed peas goes along historical lines, hearkening back to the Civil War, and why they symbolize good luck. “The one I have heard most is that when Savannah was burned to the ground, the people suffered great deprivation, and then, luckily, a huge barrel of black-eyed peas was discovered and the black-eyed peas kept the population from starving until more food could be had.”

The greens represent garlic (the Southern California girl is coming out in me) but in the regular South, they symbolize money or prosperity on New Years Day, and true Southerners say you gotta eat a lot! Some even say you have to keep eating them all day. The longer I live in the South, the more I love greens and will take them any way, collard, turnip, kale, you name it – sautéed with garlic, we eat them by the bucketful! They also represent maximum nutrition, but that is my modern representation of the utter nutritional wealth of greens!

Finally, the Pork represents, believe it or not, a symbol “of progress and prosperity because the pig is the only animal that eats while it is moving forward.”

The cornbread is just yummy, and gluten free if you make our GF recipe!

You will be amazed at what a kid pleasing fun tradition can be born out of this Traditional Southern New Year's Day Meal. My younger daughter insists we make it each New Year, and she is clear to remind me to make the “white Black-eyed Peas one, not the dark one.” I guess I gave it a tomato base one year and traumatized her for life!

Seriously, enjoy this! As a true Southerner would greet you on New Year’s “Did you eat your black-eyed peas and greens yet??” and not talk to you until you had! <!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Black-eyed Peas for Emily

1 onion chopped and sautéed in olive oil
1 T of dried hot peppers ( we like it hot)
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of dried peas
8 cups of water
1 Country ham hock or fat back

Rinse, then soak your black eyed peas in fresh water. Add a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar to soak overnight (New Years Eve if you are making the Southern New Year's Day Traditional Meal)

On New Year’s Day, take a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Sauté the onion, garlic and dried hot pepper. Add drained black-eyed peas and 8 cups of water and the pork. Bring to a boil, boiling for one full minute. Turn off and let sit for 1 hour.

After that hour is up, turn the heat up to medium-low and cook the black-eyed peas on medium low heat for 3 hours. If the peas start to dry out, only add boiling water to the pot. Cold water will cause the peas to crack and turn to mush. I always add the salt to taste at the end.

Black-eyed peas will freeze beautifully for lunches (dinner in the South, honey) later on!

Emily loves this Traditional Southern New Year's Day Dinner served in heaping bowls with cornbread and greens and plenty of iced tea (unsweet for us!)

Collard Greens with Garlic (Southern California Style!)

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->1 bunch Collards, Turnip Greens or Kale in package

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->or 1-2 bunches of Collard greens (cut out the tough stems, lay flat and
cut a whole stack into one inch squares.)

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->3-6 cloves of garlic minced

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Optional: Sea salt, cracked pepper and hot pepper flakes

In the bottom of a large pan or better yet, a black cast iron skillet, sauté the minced garlic in a dollop of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. When the garlic is just starting to sizzle and turn light golden brown, add greens. Stir until you coat the greens with the garlic, and the greens start to get a nice dark green color (nutrition!) Then add about 1/4 cup of water, or broth. This is purely optional, but I like to salt lightly with pure Sea Salt, cracked pepper and throw at least ¼ teaspoon of hot pepper flakes on them. Yum! Put the lid on and allow the greens to steam for around 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring after 5 minutes. Congratulations, you have just prepared greens but left all of the delicious nutrition, vitamins and minerals, and pumped up the volume with garlic!

True Southerners that want the greens with some pork fat, feel free to cook up bacon first, and then cook the greens in some bacon fat. I have read that the bacon fat actually helps you assimilate the vitamins and minerals in the greens (Weston A. Price Foundation)

We cook our greens like this when we find them on sale, or friends give us too many bunches to eat at once. In assembly line, I cook them, one batch after another, then throw them in the freezer and eat them later on! Works beautifully and great for an emergency meal later on!

Buttermilk Cornbread ~ Skillet Sizzled

This was adapted from the Skillet Sizzled Buttermilk Cornbread recipe in the Dairy Hollow House Soup and Bread book by Crescent Dragonwagon. I found this jewel of a book, in the library, and devoured it in a few days. Dairy Hollow House is a bed and breakfast in beautiful, romantic Eureka Springs, ARK. We honeymooned in a similar B&B, just down the road and never forgot that wonderful slice of perfection, honeymooning in the Ozark Mountains. As always, use as many organic ingredients as you possibly can for your families health! This recipe is for Hope.

  •  1 cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup stone ground FINE wheat flour (or GF use two cups of cornmeal and skip flour)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 ts salt
  • 1/4 ts baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or 2 Tbsp of vinegar/lemon to make 1 1/4 cups milk -let sit)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2-4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 vegetable oil
  • 2-4 Tbsp butter 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 inch cast-iron skillet with non stick spray. Throw a couple of pats of butter into it, and let the butter melt, sizzling in the skillet! Yummy! Take out.

In a large bowl, combine your dried ingredients: cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar. Mix.

In a small bowl, beat the buttermilk, egg, vegetable oil together. Add to the dried ingredients, stir gently to combine. Pour the thick, rich, buttermilky cornbread into the sizzling skillet.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. 

This recipe doubles beautifully in a 9x13 Pampered Chef stone and works well. I skip the melted butter when cooking in a stone!

So there you have it, a Traditional New Year’s Day Dinner from the South to start 2009 off right.

Didja eat your black-eyed peas yet?

Happy New Year in 2009! May the Lord bless you and keep your family!

All recipes can be found at www.ThePrudentWife.com

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