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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year...and don't forget your black-eyed peas

That's what my mother would say to me every New Year's Day after I married and left home.

I don't know if it's a New Year's Day tradition where you live, but here in Texas where I grew up, everyone eats black-eyed peas on January 1st for good luck.

I'm 62 years old, and I can't recall missing a single New Year's Day eating my lucky peas, and since I've had a pretty darn fantastic life, I can attest that they work. When I was a kid growing up in the 1950s and 60s, my mother always made them the traditional Southern way, boiled with onions and salt pork and served with homemade cornbread.
Traditional Southern Black-eyed Peas

Sort through a 1-lb. bag of dried black-eyed peas, removing any rocks or stems, as well as any discolored or shriveled peas.

Rinse peas. Drain and add 6 to 8 cups of fresh water.

Add one smoked ham hock or one piece of salt pork, scored to the rind. Heat pot on medium. Bring peas to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low.

Cook peas at a simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Towards the end of the cooking time, you can add two crushed cloves of garlic or half to a whole chopped onion if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The peas are ready when they are tender and the surrounding liquid is thickened. If the ham hock or salt pork is meaty, pull off the meat and add to the peas. Discard the bone or rind.

These days, I usually have my peas in what is commonly known as Texas Caviar. It's delicious and a lot less time-consuming to prepare.
Texas Caviar

1 (15.8 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained
1 (15.8 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
2 fresh medium jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 small onion, diced small
1/2 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced small
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl; cover and refrigerate 2 hours or up to 2 days. Before serving, adjust seasonings to taste, adding extra vinegar, salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.

I don't know what it is about the holidays that makes you want to talk about food, but the holiday season is officially over, so I'm done with the recipes for a while and back to talking about other aspects of mid-century living.


  1. My buddy makes Hoppin' John and I just had to drop by and beg a bowl to take home with me. We went out for a nice dinner and joined said buddy for a few drinks out, but got home by 10:30 to avoid most of the drunkies.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Part of the Hoppin John tradition, if I'm remembering correctly was to always soak the Black Eyed Peas the day before and throw a penny in the pot while they're cooking. The lucky "winner" who found it in their bowl was guaranteed a prosperous New Year These days, serving it to guests that way would probably result in a lawsuit. :-D
    I like the Texas Caviar idea a lot better than doing it with a Ham hock, though. (old hippie veg that i am.)

  3. My SIL is very fit and phases in and out of being vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan...whatever he feels his body needs at the I'm getting pretty good at adjusting my recipes. (You haven't lived till you've tried my tofu "cheesecake.") He's actually eating grass-fed meats these days, but I'll probably make Texas caviar anyway.

  4. I'd never heard of the black eyed pea tradition until I became good friends with some Texans. I will have to try the Texas Caviar dish, sounds good! I love a chopped veggie & bean dish.

  5. @monogirl: I made Texas Caviar today, and it was soooooo good. I think you'll like it.