Thursday, January 1, 2015


Happy New Year! 

Do you have a tradition for New Year's Day? Growing up Mother always made sure we had some blackeyed peas to eat. She said it brought you good luck for the year. I continued the tradition even after I married. My husband said they didn't have that tradition even though he was raised in the south also. My older son's wife, Sara, has a tradition of eating waffles with cherry pie filling and whipped cream. (I have to admit I missed that tradition this morning....we often are celebrating our Christmas with them over New Year's.)

When Friend Lynn surprised me last week by sending me three "older" cookbooks, this recipe for Hopping John was one I found. Immediately, I knew I would have to try it today. It is in a cookbook entitled Southern Cookbook *250 Fine Old Recipes*. 

The narrative above the recipe states:
     Originally a native of South Carolina and now relished throughout the South, this blackeye pea and rice mixture is a traditional Carolina New Year's Day good luck dish. "Eat peas on New Year's Day to have plenty of everything the rest of the year." There are those who think it was named for a Charleston hotel waiter who served it to his fashionable customers.


1/4 - lb     piece of bacon or salt pork (I used 4 strips of bacon)
6              cups cold water
1              cup dried blackeye peas 
1              cup uncooked rice (I used brown rice)
1/2           teaspoon salt, optional (I did omit)
1/4           teaspoon pepper

(The recipe didn't say so, but I soaked the cup of peas overnight in a bowl of water. They swelled to about 2-1/2 cups of peas. Drain when ready to add them.)

Put the bacon or salt pork into a large saucepan (or dutch oven). Add the water and bring to boiling. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, sort and thoroughly wash the peas. (I did this last night before I started to soak them.) Add gradually to bacon and water so boiling will not stop. (I had to turn the heat up to medium to have the water boiling with the lid off the dutch oven.) Cover the pan and simmer about 1-1/2 hours, or until peas are almost tender, stirring occasionally. (I just let them simmer for the length of time. I did add some boiling water to the pot.)

Gradually add the remaining ingredients so boiling will not stop. (Once again I had to turn up the heat when I removed the lid for the water to boil.) Cover (reduce heat) and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until a kernel of rice is soft when pressed between fingers. (Since I was using brown rice, I cooked it 45 minutes.) If necessary, add more boiling water during cooking. (I did so after I added the rice.)

Remove bacon (I cooked the bacon while I was draining the mixture in a skillet to make it a little crispy.)
and drain pea-rice mixture thoroughly in a colander or sieve. (I also served it right away so did not follow the next directions. I am including it just in case and for the uniqueness of the recipe.) Cover colander with a clean cloth; set over hot water until ready to serve. Slice the bacon and keep warm.

To serve, turn the pea-rice mixture into a warm serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Accompany with the sliced bacon.

I decided to finish off the Hopping John with a pan of biscuits. I made a couple fatter because my husband likes them that way. I like mine thinner and crustier so it works out just fine. You can find my "original" recipe for them HERE. It took me a few years to finally get them "just the way we like them".

Here is a picture of the cookbook. Don't you just love it?

Best to you and yours in 2015. 

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