Posts Tagged ‘black-eyed peas’

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Black-Eyed Peas, Droid Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2011, photo © 2011-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

We are just about to dive into our rice and Southern black-eyed peas. A bowl of good luck to celebrate the New Year. It’s the anniversary of two couples that we know (Happy Anniversary!) and the birthday of our feline, Kiev. She was born January 1st, 1995 and turns 18 years old today. She will celebrate with her own tin of Fancy Feast Ocean Whitefish & Tuna Classic. Kiev is named after the city in the Ukraine and is the sister cat to a friend of Liz’s whose male cat was named Moscow. May he rest in peace.

Mr. Stripey Pants is sitting in a thunderbolt of sun, a zen-like state that makes me feel peaceful just looking at him. He is recovering well from his surgery. Happy New Year to red Ravine readers and people all over the world who are celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, and new beginnings. Peace, abundance, and prosperity on the journey through 2012. I hear it’s the Year of the Dragon. Does that include dragonflies?

Mane - 215/365

-posted on red Ravine, New Year’s Day, January 1st, 2012, Happy Birthday, My Familiar!

-related to posts: Dragonfly Wings — It Is Written In The Wind, Eye Of The Dragon Tattoo, Dragonfly Revisited: End Of Summer

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Say Goodbye To Tungsten Light, Golden Valley, Minnesota, December 2011, photo © 2011-2012. All rights reserved.

I burn the Christmas lights long after the day has passed. The soft warm glow of tungsten soothes me. I grew up on film photography, old school, and loathed florescent and LED. Say goodbye to tungsten; the last 100 watt bulb rolled off the DEC 2011-12-18 19.40.22assembly line in December 2011. We lost poet Ruth Stone in 2011 and singer-songwriter Phoebe Snow. They leave behind a rich legacy–their poetry. We lost Hope, the world’s most famous black bear, to the long arms of a Minnesota hunting season. Did they choose their lives, or did their lives choose them?

Goodbye December, January awaits. I look forward to the New Year. In setting goals for 2012, I can’t help but think of the things I will leave to 2011. I never heard back from my father, yet I feel glad I wrote the letter. It is one less thing I have to wonder about. Mr. Stripey Pants had surgery on Monday, December 12th. Bone rubbed on bone in his lower jaw when he chewed his food. We tried to be upbeat that morning, saying he was on his way to breakfast at Tiffany’s (the name of his surgeon). A few weeks later he is almost back to normal. The scar tissue that had formed around a puncture wound near a back tooth has been removed; it was not cancerous. I am grateful for good vet care and the resources to pay for it.

Minnesota leaves behind the 86 inches of snow from last Winter, an unfair trade for the tawny grasses and 50 degree days in the Twin Cities last week. I don’t miss the shoveling, but wonder how the Art Shanty Project will take place on Medicine Lake in January. Where is the frozen Minnesota tundra of 2011? I leave behind a broiling sweaty Summer where I did little gardening. The cedars look limp and brown. Fall 2011 was 1323477165415one of the driest on record. Rain, rain, come and play, don’t wait another day. I have grown to miss the rain.

I leave behind a year of no travel, unusual for me. My large extended family lives in Pennsylvania and Georgia, so I often plan vacations around flying back East. I missed visiting with them. In 2011, I attended no out of state writing workshops. I did not take a vacation outside of Minnesota. There was one trip to North Dakota, but not for pleasure (though it had its moments). I leave behind all the angst and sorrow created by the greed and selfishness of others. You sometimes learn the most about people when things go awry. It’s not over yet. The law requires patience, and the resources to carry through over the long haul.

Dear December, there were days you left me nostalgic and somber. But I vow to enter 2012 with optimism and gratitude. Long line for A Christmas Story at Riverview!I will long carry the joy of my brother’s visit to Minnesota the week before Thanksgiving. I carry two healthy cats, Kiev and Mr. Stripey Pants. I carry the love of a caring partner, close friends, and family. I carry excitement at the prospect of celebrating Liz’s birthday in January, and a trip to Wisconsin for a self-propelled writing retreat in February, what used to be the dead of Winter. I leave behind anger, resentment, regret; I release what is no longer helping me be the best person I can be. What people, places or things do you leave behind?

The pantry is stocked. The black-eyed peas soak in the pot, ready to bless the place I call home with good luck and cheer. I am grateful for those who stick with me in times of uncertainty. I am grateful for those who come to the aid of all HOLIDAYsentient beings in this world, not just humans. I am grateful that we do not inhabit this planet alone, that there are ancient burr oaks, Southern live oaks, slithering snakes, hairy spiders, playful black bears and white winter squirrels. I am grateful that the decisions that matter most are not left in the hands of humans.

December, I say goodbye to you tonight with gratitude and anticipation. I am thankful for your rituals. It’s the night before the New Year. What will my yearly practices be? It will be around the last fire of 2011 that I choose goals for 2012. Thank you, December, for having the courage to let go.

-posted on red Ravine, New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2011

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Cookin' Up Some Good Luck, Minneapolis, Minnesota, New Year's Day 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  It’s New Year’s Day. And it wouldn’t be New Year’s without black-eyed peas. Black-eyed peas aren’t peas at all but legumes, a member of the trusty bean family.

My family makes Traditional Black-eyed Peas every New Year’s Day for good luck. And black-eyed peas are also the prime ingredient in Hoppin’ John which spices up the peas with lots of onion, hot sauce, sometimes chili powder or jalapeno, and adds the rice right into the pot.

Like its tasty counterpart, Southern grits smothered in butter and grated cheddar cheese, the reputation of the black-eyed pea seems to lie on the tongue of the beholder. Those who did not grow up eating black-eyed peas are prone to think they have an earthy taste (some might say like eating dirt!). But I love the taste of the funny looking bean, and the smell of a big old pot simmering on the kitchen stove takes me back to my grandmother’s kitchen.

Black-eyed peas are related to the mung bean (according to the Library of Congress) and have been cultivated since prehistoric times in China and India. They were brought to the West Indies from West Africa by slaves around 1674. And the ancient Greeks and Romans preferred them to chickpeas. Black-eyed peas were considered field crops to the Northerners in the War Between The States and were often left behind in the fields. They became associated with being a humble food and fed many of the Confederate troops.

Black-Eyed Peas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, New Year's Day 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Black-Eyed Peas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, New Year's Day 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Black-Eyed Peas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, New Year's Day 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Black-Eyed Peas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, New Year's Day 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Wherever the origins of the black-eyed pea, the Good Luck tradition has been carried down from generation to generation. The idea is that if you start out the New Year dining in humility, you will only become more prosperous as the year moves on. Some cook the peas up along with greens and cornbread. According to the myth of fortune, the peas represent coins, the greens symbolize paper money, and cornbread stands for gold.

I imagine the sales of black-eyed peas skyrocket this time of year. A friend called last night to wish Liz and I a Happy New Year. When I told him I was cooking up a pot of black-eyed peas, he said, “Hey, did you add the penny to the pot?” “Penny? What penny?” Liz asked. It wasn’t part of the tradition in our family, but some would add a penny to the pot of black-eyed peas and the person who received the dished up coin would be showered with good fortune all year long.

My mother makes the simple, traditional recipe. And that’s the one I’m including below. I talked to her on the phone yesterday and am dishing up all the little tidbits she mentioned. If you’d like to read more history and recipe variations for black-eyed peas, I’m including all the research links at the end of the post.

I hope you’re warm and celebrating the New Year. It is a time of humble new beginnings, a chance to start over with a clean slate. May your New Year be prosperous and plenty. And full of rich family traditions.

Black-Eyed Peas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, New Year's Day 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Black-Eyed Peas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, New Year's Day 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Black-Eyed Peas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, New Year's Day 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Black-Eyed Peas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, New Year's Day 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Traditional Black-Eyed Peas

Shopping List:

1 package of black-eyed peas (about 2 cups)
1 ham hock
a pinch of salt and pepper

I doubled my recipe because I bought in bulk and had soaked way too many peas. (You should have heard Mom laughing!) The ham hock was from the Wedge Co-Op and ran about 1.46 lbs.

In our family we serve the peas over white rice. Some people prefer brown. You can also spoon them over cornbread (and include the juice). Whatever you prefer to eat with your peas, you’ll need to include that item in your Shopping List.

Cooking Instructions:

  • Rinse peas in large pot
    One package of dried peas is about 2 cups (4 cups soaked)
  • Sort out any pieces of grit, hard or misshapen peas, or anything that looks like it just doesn’t belong there! Bad peas usually float to the top. In the old days, peas from the field had to be sorted for worms and other field critters. This is less of a problem these days.
  • Let stand overnight (at least 8 hours)
    Drain soak water, rinse peas in fresh cold water
    Add 6 cups of hot water (or enough to cover the top of the peas)
  • Add the pork. In our family, this is a ham hock. But you can add fatback, a little bacon grease, or just bits of bacon. We use a ham hock because most of the flavor comes from the bone. Some families saw off pieces of bone from a cooked ham and use that in their black-eyed peas.
  • Cover peas
    Simmer gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached (1 1/2 or 2 hours)
  • If you forget to soak the peas the night before, you can do something called a Quick Soak:

         Add a pound of peas to six to eight cups water
         Boil 3 minutes, remove from heat
         Let stand one hour

My sister said she adds Goya ham-flavored concentrate to her black-eyed peas and ham hock to spice them up. It’s like a ham bouillon. She said to keep adding water to the peas if needed to avoid them turning to mush.

She also follows the Northern New Year’s tradition of making a pork loin rolled in sage, rosemary, and parsley and adding sauerkraut. I guess she’ll have double good luck this year!

Happy New Year!

-research links: Seeds of Knowledge Holidays – Black-eyed Peas for New Year’s Day by Brenda Hyde, The Free Lance Star – Fredericksburg, Virginia – This Pea Stands For Prosperity by Marcia Armstrong

-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

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