The South is steeped in tradition and many of those traditions revolve around food. Two of the dishes that have been prepared through the years as we ring in the new year are Hoppin’ John and greens.
Hoppin' John is a black-eyed pea dish. The peas symbolize coins. A shiny dime, thrown into this black-eyed pea and rice dish, is said to bring good luck to the person who finds the dime in his serving. Of course, if the recipient bites down on the dime, then the good luck only comes to his dentist.
Turnip, or other greens, are another traditional Southern dish which is often served along with the Hoppin' John. They make a great pair. The color of the greens represents money and is said to bring a prosperous year. There could be more to having a prosperous year than eating greens but I'm willing to give it a try.
I like the following recipe because it's made in the crock-pot and can be started the night before. If, for some reason, it seems hard to get out of bed on New Year's Day, you'll have at least one thing already going for you.
• 2 cups dried black-eyed peas (sorted, rinsed and drained. You may ask, "Why do I need to sort through my dried peas?" Because, they may have small rocks in them. I don't know who puts them there but you need to get them out.)
• 4-5 cups chicken broth or water
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 ham hock or ham bone ( Pigs prefer that you call them hocks. Who knew?)
• 1 large onion, chopped
• ½ cup celery
• 3 cloves chopped garlic (better), or equivalent of garlic powder (easier)
• salt and pepper, to taste
• cooked rice
The evening before, place washed beans and broth into crock-pot, turn on low.
Next morning, whenever that starts for you, brown onions and celery in a little olive oil. Big news: You can skip this step if you want to. I'm easy.
Add all ingredients except rice to the crock-pot.
Add more liquid if necessary. You want the dish to be a little mushy but not like soup.
Turn crock-pot on High for 2-3 hours, and then down to Low until you're ready to serve.
Serve over prepared rice.
Here's my secret recipe:
For many years I've cooked turnip, or mixed greens, in a variety of ways and have enjoyed them. But, about five years ago I discovered Margaret Holmes canned (Hate to admit it.) seasoned mixed greens. They are yummy! Two years in a row I put them in my crock-pot (Again with the crock-pot.), added nothing (My favorite ingredient.), heated them on High for a couple of hours and got rave reviews. You can heat them on top of the stove if you prefer.
"Can I have your greens recipe?" several people asked. "These are so good." There is the dilemma. Are you going to cough up your 'secret recipe' or keep them guessing? I always tell because I'm so proud of my latest find. But you don't have to. Your secret's safe with me.