Hope for 2015

Hope you were able to observe your favorite New Years traditions. We observed a “new to us” New Years tradition that has deep roots in the Southern USA – along with the traditional fire-works we found that Hoppin John is the dish served for good luck in the coming year. A new culinary tradition? We were intrigued, enough so that we had to explore this dish rumored to bring health and wealth if it’s the first thing you eat on New Years. The lore surrounding Hoppin John turned out to be almost as delicious as the dish. Was it really named after a crippled black man who hawked this dish on the streets of Charleston, SC? Was it named after the obscure custom of inviting one to the table with a “Hop In, John”? Did all the children really hop around the table when the dish was brought in? Regardless most food historians agree that Hoppin John has African/Caribbean roots and was a staple of African American and Native American cooks. The first written recipe was published in The Carolina Housewife, written by Sarah Rutledge in 1847. Described as a “lady of Charleston” the book is an incomparable guide to Southern cuisine (as quoted by Time magazine). The book includes over 600 recipes and includes many native dishes such as Hoppin John, Seminole Soup and potted shrimp.

We explore black-eyed peas as a featured “veggie” for the New Year. A cowpea that originated in Africa, black-eyed peas are grown in all temperate regions and consumed world wide. They are a very economical source of protein and contain good amounts of vitamin A and calcium, both essential in the human diet. The variety of recipes explored from country to country is varied and interesting. Black eyed peas are like a lentil in that they do not need to be pre-soaked before cooking which definitely speeds up preparation. From desserts to fritters, black eyed peas are consumed in a vast variety of recipes – perhaps we can stimulate you to try one and add this nutritionally important legume to your recipe rotation. From desserts to fritters, black eyed peas are consumed in a vast variety of recipes – perhaps we can stimulate you to try one and add this nutritionally important legume to your recipe rotation.

Since we used “cajun seasoning” in the Hoppin John recipe, we’ll explore our favorite brands and of course offer some DIY recipes for this spice blend. Cajun or creole seasoning is designed to bring rich spice to a dish without incredible heat. Cajun seasoning is a useful spice blend to have in your kitchen as it can be used in many dishes besides the Hoppin John, try it simply sprinkled on cottage cheese for a taste treat, or a dash in gravy to give it depth. We offer two blends that you can make yourself for your kitchen, one is a measured for gift giving. Enjoy!

Eat poor that day, eat rich the rest of the year. Rice for riches and peas for peace.
Southern saying on eating a dish of Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day.

 

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