Around here we follow that old Southern saying for our traditional New Years Day Meal….
Eat poor that day, eat rich the rest of the year. Rice for riches and peas for peace.
Over the years my husband and I have tried to dress up our grandmothers’recipes for Black-Eyed Peas, Corn Bread, and Collard Greens a bit because truthfully I never have liked the soupy kind of collard greens my mother fixed and plain old black-eyed peas were not very appetizing.
So why does my family continue the tradition by serving the staple ingredients when we could just as easily have steak or lobster? I think there is something special about remembering where you came from.
No, the past isn’t always pretty. It’s said Hoppin’ John originated from slave victuals and no one wants to glorify the conditions that slaves lived in, but the past I’m talking about is the extremely dirt poor Georgia that existed for whites and blacks between Reconstruction and the New South era of Henry Grady fame. That is the Georgia of our grandparents and great-grandparents.
Last Saturday I went to my father’s house in Cherokee County. It’s hard to imagine now but at one time his property was a working farm with planted crops and grazing animals. Most of what was eaten was grown or raised right there. There were no fast food trips or daily grocery runs and restaurant meals were out of the question. By today’s standards my grandparents were poor.
Most of the people I know would find it very hard to live the way they did, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask of myself and my children to remember how our forbears celebrated the first day of each year.
However, like I said, my husband and I have managed to find updated recipes for the old standards.
Here are two New Years Day dishes that will be served at my house on January 1st.
Pork Roast With Hopping John Stuffing
1 small onion, chopped
½ medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
2 T. vegetable oil
1 ½ cups cooked long-grain rice
1 ½ cups frozen chopped collard greens, thawed
1 (15 oz) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained (I like the Glory brand)
½ cup diced cooked country ham
½ t. sugar
½ t. salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (2 ½-pound) boneless pork loin roast
Saute onion and bell pepper in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5-7 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Add rice and next five ingredients; stir in egg. Set stuffing aside.
Butterfly pork loin roast by making a lengthwise cut down center of 1 flat side, cutting to within ½ inch of bottom. From bottom of cut, slice horizontally to ½ inch from left side; repeat procedure to right side. Open roast, and place between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to ½-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin.
Spoon 1 ½ cups stuffing evenly over roast, leaving a ½-inch border. Roll up; tie with string at 1-inch intervals. Place, seam side down in a lightly greased 11 x 7-inch baking dish.
Bake at 375 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in center registeres 160 degrees. Reheat remaining Hopping John and serve with roast.
Prep: 30 minutes, Bake: 1 hour
Hot Water Cornbread
This cornbread needs to be prepared at the last minute so you can serve it hot!
2 cups white cornmeal
¼ t. baking powder
1 ¼ t. salt
1 t. sugar
¼ cup half-and-half
1 T. vegetable oil
¾ cup to 1 ¼ cups boiling water
Combine cornmeal and next three ingredients in a bowl; stir in half-and-half and 1 T. oil. Gradually add boiling water, stirring until batter is the consistency of grits.
Pour oil to a depth of ½ inch into a large heavy skillet; place over medium high heat. Scoop batter into a ¼-cup measure; drop into hot oil, and fry, in batches, 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain well on paper towels. Serve immediately with softened butter.
Makes 8 patties
Prep: 5 minutes, Cook 18 minutes
Both of these recipes originated from Southern Living Magazine.
The pictures with this post were taken by my daughter on her grandfather's property. If the first picture didn't load properly click on it to see it all. It's a lovely photo looking up towards a huge oak tree and the old corn crib on the property.