Monday, December 29, 2008

Hoppin' into the New Year

My husband and I were talking tonight about what we would eat on New Year's Eve. We've decided we are staying home. Last year we had French Onion Soup and Seven Layer dip and we are going to have the same thing again this year.

We have a lot of food traditions in our family. We have the same meal on each holiday each year for Easter, St Patricks Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We've sometimes had seafood on New Years Eve but it's never become a tradition like corned beef and cabbage on St Patricks Day; ham, cauliflower salad, and hot cross buns on Easter; prime rib, spinach salad, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes and cheesecake on Christmas; Turkey on Thanksgiving and appetizers on Christmas Eve. We do everything the same down to the side dishes for our holidays. I've tried to change things occasionally but everyone seems to want things to stay the same. It is a nice family tradition.

This year we are having Hoppin' John for New Years Day. I understand it is a southern tradition and is made with black eyed peas and rice. I'd not heard of it until last year someone mentioned having it on New Years Day. When I looked up the history of Hoppin' John I found this old southern saying:
"Eat poor that day, eat rich the rest of the year. Rice for riches and peas for peace."

I found Hoppin' John is that it is supposed to bring luck for the rest of the year.

Apparently it is tradition to serve the dish with a dime mixed in with the peas before serving. The lucky person who got the coin was assured good luck for the rest of the year (assuming the Heimlich worked). I'll be leaving the coin out.

It isn't known why the dish is called Hoppin' John but several theories are told around the south. One interesting story is that it was originally sold in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina by a crippled African American man who was known as Hoppin' John. The dish has African or Afro-American roots as the black-eyed pea is the seed of the cowpea which is treasured in North Africa.

The Hoppin John I'm going to make will come from the allrecipes site; it's a soup. I've copied it below. While I don't believe it will bring me luck for the year, it looks tasty so perhaps it will become our newest food tradition

1 pound sage pork sausage
1 (6 ounce) package uncooked long grain and wild rice mix, with seasoning packet
2 (15 ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
2 cups water
salt to taste

Crumble sausage into a skillet over medium heat and cook until evenly brown.
In a large pot, mix the cooked sausage, rice mix with seasoning packet, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, broth and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Season to taste with salt.

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