Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year Eatin'... Dixie Style


Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day seem to be more filled with traditions, superstitions, and folklore than any other time of the year... and every culture in every country has its own... from wearing brightly colored underwear in some South American countries, to throwing dishes onto doorsteps in Denmark. Here in the U.S. many of us watch the ball drop in Times Square, whether in person or via TV... we light fireworks and make lots of noise... a tradition which began by making noises to scare away evil spirits. It seems most of our New Year traditions are to give us any and every chance at having a good, prosperous, peaceful, happy year. We want a fresh start, a clean slate... it's a brand new year... time to make resolutions, begin again, and strive for the lives we want... bigger and better things... love... happiness... peace... 

In the South we have many traditions and superstitions surrounding the New Year... Mama always said "whatever you do on New Year's Day, you'll be doing all year long." We always had to clean the house (I suspect she made that one up so we'd all pitch in and help) and the sink must be empty so our year will be filled with good luck and happiness. We shot fireworks and firecrackers... but we also shot the shotgun at midnight... and you must have someone to kiss at midnight to ensure your year will be filled with love and affection. Mr. Granny brought to our little household his own traditions... the New Year toast, whether it be with champagne, spumanti, or just sparkling grape juice... and he has added to the New Year meal tradition...

Growing up we always, always had black-eyed peas, hog jowl, and collards... Mr. Granny always had those things too... but also candied yams and ham... So we've melded our lives and our traditions together...

This New Year's Day, we started cooking our traditional meal first thing in the morning...


I put the dried black-eyed peas into the crock pot so they could cook all day. I added eight cups of water to the one pound bag of dried peas...


A little salt...


And some diced up pieces of hog jowl (in the past I HAVE used bacon, fatback, or ham hock). I turned the slow cooker on low and let them cook the entire day. I also put the ham on... I simply wrapped it in aluminum foil, placed it in a large baking pan, and put it in a 250 degree oven to cook for the whole day.


In the afternoon, I began preparing my collards (in past years I have substituted other greens... mustard, turnip... but since we are now living in South Carolina where collards are the state vegetable and readily available in every grocery store, roadside stand, and even on tables in some folks front yards... collards it was to be!) First I diced up another nice piece of hog jowl (again bacon, fatback, or ham hock could be substituted)


I rinsed my greens well... then rinsed them again... and again (collards can trap little particles of sand, so it's a good idea to rinse them several times.)


I diced up an onion and added it to a large saucepan along with the diced jowl... I sauteed the pork and onion combination on low heat, stirring occasionally until the onion was tender... meanwhile...


... I began chopping the collards... I removed the tough stems (the compost pile is gonna LOVE these... if you have chickens, pigs, goats, or rabbits, they'd love the New Year treat as well)


Then I rough chopped the greens...


... and added them to the pork/onion mixture in the saucepan...


I added a bit of salt...


... and fresh ground pepper...


... and just enough water to keep everything from sticking to the bottom of the pan and to allow the greens to steam... (maybe a cup?)... then I turned the heat to low and allowed the greens to simmer for 3-4 hours, checking and stirring occasionally.


Mmmmm... looking good... greens cook down A LOT!


Now where did THIS picture come from???? LOL! While waiting on our feast to simmer, I crocheted a dish towel and a couple of dish cloths... we also took a drive along some back roads we'd never been on before and I learned that Mr. Granny's car can, indeed ford a small stream when necessary... it was a beautiful warm day in South Carolina...


Back home again after our little adventure, I started the yams/sweet potatoes... I used canned yams and simply poured them into an aluminum foil pan...


... sprinkled the top with a little brown sugar...


... and a sprinkle of cinnamon (some folks like a marshmallow topping and sometimes we do... also chopped pecans can be added to the topping)... then I removed the ham from the oven and set it on the back of the stove to keep warm... upped the oven temp to 350 degrees and popped in the sweet potatoes to cook for about an hour... 


With about 20 or 30 minutes left to go before time to eat, I started the cornbread... Mr. Granny LOVES the top of the stove skillet cornbread I make (it's an old Southern tradition!) so I decided to make it... I started by heating some olive oil and butter in my cast iron frying pan on medium/low heat...


I mixed up the cornbread batter... a half cup cornmeal, half cup flour, an egg, a teaspoon of baking powder, a half teaspoon of salt and enough milk to make a thin batter (think pancake batter)


Once the oil and butter in the frying pan was good and hot, I added the batter to the pan...


I cooked it on low heat for maybe 3-5 minutes, then...


... once it was bubbly and almost done through...


... I flipped it over and browned the other side...


We served it all up... slices of ham, a wedge of cornbread, a spoonful of candied yams, a generous portion of black-eyed peas, and those lovely collards with a dash of my home-canned hot pepper vinegar...

Traditionally, the greens are for wealth in the New Year, the hog jowl is for health, the peas are for good luck... the cornbread is said to attract gold... and the rest rounds out a traditional meal that is good, simple fare and takes us back to years of traditional, good, simple fare that we've enjoyed our whole lives...

Happy New Year!



7 comments:

  1. Looks delicious!!! I love collard greens.
    Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh how wonderful! I wish I was a guest at your dinner as it looks so tasty~

    Happy New Year

    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  3. Come on over Jennifer, there's plenty left over! Happy New Year! ~~Granny

    ReplyDelete
  4. It all looks & sounds so yummy. My sweet man wanted to cook part of todays meal, He cooked a cast iron pt of spicy beans & I did the griddle cakes. Made for 1 of our niceness New years.
    Happy New Years to you & your Family
    Charlotte

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a sweetie you have... Happy New Year to you and yours Charlotte. ~~Granny

    ReplyDelete
  6. FYI, a small trick to save time when cooking greens. Go ahead and cut the stems out and rough chop them, then put them in a sink full of cool water. Swoosh them around a few times and all the sand and dirt sinks to the bottom of the sink. It's a whole lot easier than rinsing them whole several times and gets all the grit every time!

    ReplyDelete

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