Here in the south there are some things that just define the culture...
Some of those being the humidity (take note, southern women don't sweat, we "glisten")
The dialect (hun-neh and pah-dun, included)and especially important, the food.
And be quite certain there "ain't" no one that can serve it up like someone's momma or grandmomma. Those of you that were not lucky enough to be born in the south can cook like one, with the proper instructions, mind you.
Today we are going to examine some of those essential and defining southern dishes. Pretty soon, you will be serving up a slice of cornbread and sweet tea like a southern belle.
Ok, almost....we still need to work on that drawl.
In the meantime....the food....
From grand gala gourmet dinners to small casual gatherings with friends and family, black eyed peas are traditionally, according to Southern folklore, the first food to be eaten on New Year's Day for luck and prosperity throughout the year ahead.
This from About.com, "The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman's troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.Today, the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for the New Year has evolved into a number of variations and embellishments of the luck and prosperity theme including:
Served with greens (collards, mustard or turnip greens, which varies regionally), the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money. In some areas cabbage is used in place of the greens.
Cornbread is also a MUST and it is often served with black-eyed peas and greens, represents gold.
Black-eyed peas eaten with stewed tomatoes represent wealth and health.For the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year's Day."
Eat up! For luck. For health. For a Good New year! Happy New Year friends!
Southern Turnip Greens
4 to 4 1/2 pounds turnip greens
1 pound salt pork, rinsed and diced
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
a dash of crushed red pepper, optional
Cut off and discard tough stems and discolored leaves from greens. Wash greens thoroughly and drain well.
Cook salt pork in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp and brown.
Add the turnip greens, water, onion, sugar, pepper, and crushed red pepper; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 40 to 45 minutes or until greens are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with vinegar or pepper sauce and cornbread.
*My friend Diva likes to add cut tomatoes to her turnips greens and stew them along with the greens. They add a bit of color to the dish.
1 lb. pkg black-eyed peas
2 quarts water
1 ham bone, piece of salt pork or several slices of bacon
salt and pepper to taste
Wash peas and soak overnight or at least 5 hrs. in cold water. Drain. Put peas in large pot with 2 qts. water. Add ham bone or bacon. Simmer for about 2 hrs. or until peas are tender. Add water if needed while cooking.
Leigh's Five Generation Cornbread Recipe, click here.
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