Growing up in southern mid-west ensured every January 1, our dinner would consist of black-eyed peas, hog jowl and a side of greens. This was the meal every New Year’s Day without fail. Why? Tradition, of course! And, we obviously wanted the best outcome for ourselves and our loved ones and chowing down on this scrumptious meal was guaranteed to bring the best the coming year had to offer!
Behind the tradition and the good luck, the hog jowl symbolizes health while the black-eyed peas represent good luck and the greens (could be cooked cabbage but more usually was mustard or collard greens) symbolizes money.
This tradition is found mostly in the Southern United States, though it has spread throughout the country. The idea black eyed peas bring luck goes as far back as the Civil War. At that time, Northern troops viewed them as suitable for animals but not human consumption. Thus, after a raid, the black-eyed peas were one of the few foods which remained. Some further traditions suppose if you cook the beans with a new dime or penny, the person who gets the coin in their bowl will receive extra luck in the coming year.
What on earth is hog jowl? The jowls are the cheek of the hog. When they’re cooked, they resemble (and taste) like bacon. They’re usually used to season the black-eyed peas or can be fried and eaten alone, much like bacon. Because it is a cured meat, it was easier for Southerners to store and use all winter. Not only that, but hogs and pigs were the cheapest food for everyone and that is why almost all the hog/pig can be used for consumption.
When it comes to the greens, well, in the United States, that is the color of our money. Eating them on New Year’s Day was to guarantee wealth in the coming months. Any greens will do for this meal, but the most common are collard greens, turnip greens or mustard greens. These are usually cooked with salt pork to flavor them, though it isn’t necessary. Tradition states you will receive $1,000 for every bite of greens you take on New Year’s Day.
Now, black eyed peas recipes vary from state to state, where in the Carolina Lowcountry, black eyed peas are cooked with rice and onion and are called Hoppin’ John. Leftovers are known as Skippin’ jenny and eating them symbolizes frugality and increases your chances of prosperity.
Not only could this delicious meal bring you many blessings for the coming year, but as chilly and nippy as it can be on January 1, this is a marvelous dish to warm your belly, heart and soul.
4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, sorted and rinsed
2 medium celery stalks, sliced (1 cup)
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried savory leaves
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers (2 ounces)
These have always been a favorite in our family! Every Christmas we would bake up a batch of these and snack on them for the next few weeks leading up to Christmas!
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups softened butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
Additional powdered sugar to roll the cookies in and store them in!
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Take a large bowl and mix 1 cup powdered sugar with the butter and vanilla. Next, stir in the flour, nuts and the salt until dough holds together.
Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Then place them on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart from one another.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but NOT brown. Roll the cookies in additional powdered sugar while they are still warm. Cool them completely on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
Finally, roll the cookies in powdered sugar again. Store them in an air-tight container.
1 1/2 cups softened butter (unsalted)
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Take your butter and eggs out a few hours prior to making your cookies. Provided your kitchen is warm, the butter will soften enough to cream with the eggs. Allowing the eggs to come to room temperature will make the cookies tastier. Take a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover with Saran wrap and chill the dough for at least one hour or even overnight. When you're ready to roll out your cookies, go ahead and preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out the dough onto a floured surface. You want the dough to be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Keep an eye on them as you don't want them to be brown. Golden is fine. Cool completely and then remove them from the cookie sheet. As the cookies cool down and the next batch bakes, you can prep your icing.
1 lb powdered sugar (about 4 cups or 450 grams)
4 egg whites (or 1/2 cup liquid egg whites)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Optional: food coloring in desired colors
Beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Then switch to low speed and slowly sift the sugar into the egg whites. Then add the lemon juice and beat on high speed until the icing is very thick and forms stiff peaks, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Separate your icing into individual bowls and just stir in the coloring you want. So, if you want white, red, green, blue icing, then you will need 4 bowls. Remember as well, liquid food coloring will blend to become a lighter version of that color. If you want a deep red, it's best to buy the food coloring paste. Those will make a very striking and truer color. If you have leftover icing to use, put it in an airtight container and put it in the fridge.
If you don't have anything to decorate the cookies with, you can make the frosting thin enough to paint with paintbrushes. Or, you can spoon the frosting into a baggie and snip the tip. This will work only if the frosting is thick. If it's too thin, it will run straight out.
Is it too thick? Thin it out with some water.
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