Lest you worry, after reading yesterday’s blog post, that this new year has been only about sadness and seriousness around here, I offer photographic evidence to the contrary. This is a photo taken of Zach and me just before midnight at our friend’s outdoor party. Zach is wearing a fluffy hat fashioned after T-Rac, the mascot of the Tennessee Titans, and we’re both sporting 3D glasses. Our friends are “those neighbors”–the ones who shoot off illegal fireworks at midnight, terrorizing your nervous pets and spoiling your early bedtime. The fireworks package contained several pairs of 3D glasses that enhanced the light show.
I am devout in my belief that all self-respecting southerners and their brethren should fortify themselves with black eyed peas, cooked greens (turnips, collards, mustards, kale, etc.) and cornbread on January 1st. This Christian Science Monitor article offers a succinct explanation of the New Year’s Day tradition of eating black eyed peas to invite good luck and greens to attract more money into your life in the coming year. The article references Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, the James Beard Award-winning cookbook by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart.
I phoned my grandmother–whom I refer to as “Nanny”–to brag that I was cooking my first batch of black eyed peas after soaking a bag of the dried legumes overnight. Nanny, who is semi-retired from cooking except for preparing hot meals for her dog or special occasions, informed me that she only soaks and cooks pinto and Great Northern beans these days. Cranking open a can of Luck’s black eyed peas tastes good enough to her. Still, I was determined to follow the more rustic path.
This recipe from the Food Network served as a starting place for my black eyed peas. Instead of using bacon, hog jowl or fatback, I chopped up about six ounces of leftover smoked pork shoulder. I used water and low-sodium chicken broth instead of stock as my liquids, so I upped the amount of dry seasonings called for in the recipe. Mashing up the beans with the back of my wooden spoon helped thicken the liquid and give the beans a creamy consistency. I was pleased with the end result. We enjoyed a dinner of black eyed peas, rice, greens, cornbread and other homemade dishes that is sure to usher in only good things this New Year.