Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Eats

It is funny how drastically our plans for New Year's Eve have changed over the years.  While living in DC, we went to a gala each year dressed to the nines.  I loved shopping for a ball gown and getting gussied up.  As we moved away, we had less formal gathering with good friends and now we simply stay home.  Babysitters are hard to come by on NYE and to be honest, it is kind of nice to have a quiet evening snuggled up with the hubs.

2012 NYE Table for Two
One thing that has not changed over the years, however, is our New Year's Day meal.  Being a southern girl, I adhere strictly to the pork, greens, black eyed peas and cornbread insurance policy for a happy, healthy and wealthy New Year.  I am not a superstitious girl but there has only been one year in my whole life where I did not have this meal on New Year's Day.  In 2011 I was in the hospital recovering from a C-Section; and well, I lost my father and my dog later that year.  So I won't make that mistake again!  Fortunately, my sweet son was born in 2010 so I don't associate him with my "terrible awful" year.
Pork = Luck
The more pork you eat on New Year's Day means the more luck you will have.  I pick up a Honey Baked Ham that we can enjoy for the day, use for ham sandwiches later and then finish it off in a yummy soup.  I also use fatback and/or bacon in most of my side dishes to ensure extra luck.
History says that greens equal bills and black eyed peas equal pocket change.
2 pounds fresh collard greens
2 ounces salt pork, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Break off large collard green stems below the leaf and discard yellow or wilted leaves. Cut out the vein. Wash well by plunging greens into water - rinse several times to get the dirt off.  Drain well and cut in half
Combine 2 quarts of water, salt pork, salt and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add greens; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. 
*Serves 4
Black Eyed Peas = Wealth
There are several ways to prepare black eyed peas but I prefer the low country style of serving it as a perlou with rice and tomatoes.  This is helpful since rice is said to bring good health.
Hoppin' John
2 cups cooked black eyed peas (cook according to package)
* don't cheat - canned peas with make this more of a mush
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Grated cheddar cheese to taste and bacon
*Serves 6
Heat the peas and rice separately.  Combine lightly in a saut√© pan, sprinkle with chopped tomato and scallions then season with salt and pepper.  Cover and heat through.  Top with grated cheese and bacon.
Cornbread= Gold
I cheat with my cornbread and use the Jiffy cornbread mix.
Why do southerners eat this meal?  It is said that as the Yankees were marching through and raiding plantations, they took everything but greens, black eyed peas and sweet potatoes.  As such, southerners learned to live off these "staples of the south".  While we may be a polite and gracious bunch, we are unforgiving and will never forgive those Yankees for stealing Aunt Boo's silver and the such.  But you can bet your bottom dollar we will serve this meal (or a variation of it) on January 1st as a nod to our ancestors who rolled their sleeves up and carried on after the war of Yankee aggression.  We put more stock in what we eat on January 1 than any other good intention throughout the year.  And this southern belle is convinced of its power.
So now that you know my traditional recipes, let me tell you how excited I am to tell you that this year, I will not be slaving away in my kitchen.  Bring on the Bloody Mary's and football because I have a quick and simple solution.  If you read the other day, hubby got me the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook (love, love, LOVE him for this).  In it is a recipe for a one pot dish that includes all items mentioned above.
New Year's Day Casserole
How amazing does this look?!?!  Get the recipe here.  I don't usually share recipes before I tried them so be warned.
I wish you all a healthy, happy & prosperous New Year.

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