My Georgia-peach grandmother used to cook black-eyed peas for "good luck" every New Year's Day (I don't believe in luck but I like the food anyway!). Our co-op delivery guy has asked me about three times if I need to order the traditional Japanese new year food and is shocked every time I tell him I make my own. Of course the Japanese meal is much more time-consuming to pull off (though prettier), but I really do miss my family and making food that they eat helps me feel a little bit closer to them. My grandparents don't have a computer, but they do have a very nifty Presto machine that allows them to receive emails and pictures. I just might have to send my grandma my black-eyed peas photo--wish I could share the real thing with her today.
I had a 1-lb. bag of dried black-eyed peas from the U.S. that I'd been saving, and I soaked them overnight last night to prep them for cooking and chowing today. I usually just boil them with some bacon, onions, green beans, salt, and pepper, but this time I also added some cayenne pepper for a bit of heat, and some garlic, seasoned salt, and chicken bouillon for extra flavor (inspired in part by a recipe on southernfood.about.com that I cannot locate now for some reason).
No black-eyed peas are ever complete without cornbread. My cornbread recipe is so easy I could do it in my sleep, and I just about had to this morning after two weeks of a teething baby waking me up at all hours every night. (He's darn sweet and I don't mind having extra quality time with him, but I do wish that tooth would come in and we could share our days together and not our nights.)
(From More With Less)
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. flour (I have used whole-wheat flour before and it worked out well)
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 T. brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 c. milk
1/4 c. oil
Mix the dry ingredients together, then make a well in the center and add the eggs, milk, and oil. Stir just until smooth, pour into a greased 9x9 inch pan (mine is 8x8 and it's totally fine), and bake 25 minutes in a preheated 400 F (205 C) oven.
I sometimes make a half-batch for 6 muffins (you will have to decrease the cooking time, though).
And if you've got cornbread and black-eyed peas, you must have turnip greens to go with. No ifs, ands, or buts. Southern cooking usually requires a hamhock, bacon grease, or some such heavy meaty flavoring (which I'm not averse to but I just didn't have), so I decided to lighten mine up with a joke (cue British hubby and his fun sense of humour). No, actually, I found this recipe for Italian-ized collard greens with tomatoes, and of course I did it MY way (I must be related to Sinatra). I didn't hanker after any Italian seasonings for a North American Southern-style meal, so I just wilted my turnip greens with some garlic, seasoned salt, a little bit of soy sauce (at hubby's suggestion--and it added just the right touch), two fresh chopped tomatoes, and a chicken bouillon cube that I smooshed over it all. Usually my grandma would have a plate of sliced tomatoes on the table that we sprinkled with Goya Adobo or Nature's Seasons, so I knew I had to have tomatoes in some form for this meal. I never thought of putting them in with the greens until I found the above recipe, but it worked, honey.
I'm grateful this year for new beginnings and the blessings of family, friends, and plenty of good food on the table. Happy New Year, everybody! May 2009 bring you laughter and joy like you've never known. (I'm so sappy that I'm going to cry now, so I'd better stop here, for safety's sake. I don't know how our keyboard would handle salt water.)