Honoring Traditions, It's a New Year.

Honoring Traditions, It's a New Year. Today's Post is for Mom.

It's a southern thing, if you were, are, or have ever been, around anyone from the south on new years day, you could bet a million bucks that they will be eating black eyed peas with ham hocks today. It's a tradition that dates back to the 1700's, when armies of men ravened the southern countryside for everything they could steal and pillage from people, meanwhile, they say "to every-one's luck" left the cattle feet, peasant food, also known as black eyed peas. This soon became a symbol of hope, prosperity, and good luck for the coming year. An excellent start for new beginnings and the pending three hundred and sixty five days we're facing.

I am not hugely into new year's resolutions, but this is a tradition that I've grown up with, and while I didn't really care for it growing up. It's become a staple to my year, it doesn't seem complete without the end and beginning consuming this simple peasant meal made in my beloved dutch oven. I can almost feel my grandparents enjoying it with me at the table, it's a special, and even spiritual moment of my year. We all have few moments in which we really hold fast to our roots and appreciate and honor the people who've shaped us and given us their long standing cultural traditions... so Mom, Grandma, the women who've shaped my life. Today, this one is for you.

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right." - Oprah Winfrey


Black Eyed Peas and Ham

1lb bag of Black Eyed Peas (sold in the bean section)
1 cup of Chicken Broth
1/2 cup or so of White wine
2 Cups or so of Water
1tablespoon of Garlic
1 medium Yellow Onion, roughly Cut
1 Ham Hock (center bone)
1-2 Cups of Cut up Ham
1 Jalapeno, Sliced and Seeded
Salt and Pepper to taste

Soaking Beans, Add on bag of beans to a dutch oven and completely cover in water, bring water to a rolling boil and then remove from heat, leave covered for 1 hour or until soft. Strain the beans and rinse thoroughly, before returning to the pot.

* Interesting fact: If you soak your beans, and soften them yourself, you release the gaseous enzymes that cause intestinal pressure, and this will significantly decrease your "after effects" of eating beans.

* Ham Hocks, Most people use the left over ham from the holidays, you generally want to cut most of the meat away from the bone and cut into bite size portions for the ham intended for being a part of the meal, the hock, is for seasoning, and adding the savory richness to the dish.

Return rinsed beans to the dutch oven and add ham hock, chopped up ham, one roughly cut onion, White wine, broth, water, garlic, and top with Jalapeno.

Set the beans to simmer for 2-3 hours with the Lid on, the idea here is to blend the flavors, and slow cook the savour out of the center of the bone. Yum. It's worth the wait.

Jiffy Mix Corn Bread

2 Boxes of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
-Cooked in a Cast Iron Skillet

You will want to preheat your cast iron skillet of your choice (muffin, pan, sticks, wedges - whatever) in the oven. EXTRA hot is the best way to go... the real Southern way.... heat the cast iron skillet till it's extra hot, then pull the rack out of the oven with the door open and add oil (fairly generous amount) to the bottom of the skillet till, popping. It's at this point, you want to add the cornbread mixture. Doing it this way, makes it deep fry the bottom of the bread, giving it a crispy crust, which is AMAZING, and frankly, the best possible way to consume corn bread.


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