Ever wonder about all of those crazy New Year’s traditions? If you live in the South, you have no doubt heard of eating Hoppin’ John and collard greens as your first meal of the New Year. If you live elsewhere and are reading this blog, why not shake up your New Year’s celebration by adding a little Southern flair to your party? So, what exactly IS Hoppin’ John, you ask?!
Although Hoppin’ John is found in most Southern states, it is mainly associated with the Carolinas. Gullah or Low Country cuisine reflects the cooking of the Carolinas, especially the Sea islands (a cluster of islands stretching along the coasts of South Carolina and northern Georgia). Hoppin’ John is a rich bean dish made of black-eyed peas simmered with spicy sausage, ham hock, or fat pork, and rice. Although some people cook the beans and rice separately, and with many variations, the Hoppin’ John to which I am accustomed contains rice cooked in the same pot with the beans.
Although it does not contain what most would consider the “must-have ingredient” of ham hock, here is Paula Deen’s recipe for this Southern dish:
From Paula’s Home Cooking/Savannah Country Cookbook
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Paula Deen House Seasoning
Garlic powder to taste
2 cup cooked rice
1 small onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
2 cup black-eye peas cooked
2 tablespoon butter
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic powder, to taste, and cook for 5 minutes. Add peas and rice and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook; this dish is best if the bell pepper and onion still have a crunch to them. Add House Seasoning, to taste. Garnish each serving with sprig of parsley.
And here is a little background information about this dish to sharpen your trivia edge:
Throughout the coastal South (YES, I live in Myrtle Beach, SC, so this is speaking directly to me!), eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and a dime is usually added to the pot. The person who finds the dime in their meal is predicted to have guaranteed prosperity in the coming year. In our area, collard greens are also critical components of the New Year’s Day meal! I have always been told that collards are green like the color of money, so that is why, according to tradition, eating them in abundance as the first meal of the new year encourages more “green” throughout the rest of the year! I say, “Bring it on”!!!
As much as I would love to give my Southern roots full credit for creating Hoppin’ John, there is actually a much longer history involved. During the late Middle Ages, there was a tradition of eating beans on New Year’s Day for good luck in parts of France and Spain. Black-eyed peas are thought to have been introduced to America by African slaves who worked the rice plantations.The European tradition mixed with an African food item became what we now observe as our modern-day Southern tradition.
Ok, so there’s our Southern tradition…. how about some other “lucky” New Year’s foods?
In Spain, it is tradition to eat a dozen grapes at midnight. Every piece of fruit represents a month of the the coming year. Each sweet grape predicts a month of prosperity, whereas every sour grape foretells of bad luck. (Note to self: make sure you get a VERY sweet bunch of grapes before serving them to yourself or your guests!). You can incorporate this Spanish tradition by threading grapes onto skewers, and serving each in a glass of Champagne just before the countdown. Kids can even participate in the eating of grapes!
Circular shaped foods are thought to bring good luck, because they symbolize “coming full circle” Some examples are doughnuts, bagels, cookies, pineapples, sliced olives, and calamari! So, get creative! Perhaps, you could even create an entire circular theme (and menu!) for your New Year’s celebration?
“COINED” CHOCOLATE MARBLE BREAD WITH GANACHE!
You can bake a coin into any bread, but this recipe just sounded so delicious, that even if you don’t find the coin in your portion, you still will not be disappointed! Compliments of Martha Stewart.
Makes one 8 1/2-inch loaf
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Cornbread represents the “glories of gold”. (Cornbread is very commonly found in Southern New Year’s day cuisine as a side item to Hoppin’ John and collard greens!)
In Italy, lentils are often eaten on New Year’s Day, because the tiny seeds are thought to represent wealth.
Here is a recipe for VEGETARIAN LENTIL SOUP (for all of you vegetarians like me out there!):
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 carrot sliced
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- dash salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until lentils are soft, about 45 minutes. Remove bay leaves and stir in lemon juice before serving. Makes 4 servings of lentil soup.
Nutrition Facts One serving provides approximately:
Calories: 230, Calories from Fat: 27
Total Fat: 3.0g, 5% Saturated Fat: 0.7g, 3%
Cholesterol: 0mg, 0%
Sodium: 852mg, 36%
Total Carbohydrates: 33.0g, 11%
Dietary Fiber: 15.6g, 62%
Vitamin A 37%, Vitamin C 12%, Calcium 5%, Iron 28%, Based on a 2000 calorie diet
What are YOUR luckiest New Year’s foods? Send me an email or drop me a comment with your thoughts and ideas!
NOW, GO HAVE AN ”It’s So Fabulous!” DAY!
IF YOU WOULD LIKE HELP WITH MAKING YOUR HOME EVEN MORE FABULOUS, PLEASE CONTACT ME FOR AN IN-HOME OR ONLINE CONSULTATION AT KIMBERLY@KNOTTINGHILLINTERIORS.COM
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