When I was growing up, the daughter of New Englanders in South Carolina, I never ate the traditional New Year’s meal. Heck, I’d never even heard of it. I know that sounds ridiculous and I have no idea how that happened, but I really knew nothing of it until I met my husband. He insisted that we eat it and I hated it. HATED it. I wasn’t a big fan of collard greens, I didn’t have much use for black-eyed peas and the pork? Forget it! The only part of the meal I might have liked was the cornbread and he didn’t grow up eating that part.
So we would try to get creative with it. For example, I attempted to make wontons last year, which was OK, except he was gone all day working on his car with a friend and got home insanely late, so all we both remember was how mad I was at him. Well, I remember it being stupid hard to make them too.
This year, he was baffled how we would make the traditional meal for two vegetarians and one omnivore. How could you make those dishes and NOT include the meat flavoring?
Piece of cake, actually. I started from this site. From here, for you non-Southerners, you can see the black-eyed peas are luck (Keith thinks they are supposed to resemble coins), the collards are cash and the cornbread represents community. Why that is the case I have no idea. Maybe because when you grow corn, you end up with a community of crows? Whatever the reason, I’m happy to have it with the meal.
The cornbread was first. I didn’t make it the way they specified here because I had been sent a package of cornbread mix from one of my tasting boxes at Foodzie. Foodzie is very cool and every month I get samples of stuff from around the country. Salted caramels, chocolate florentines, and lots of sweets, but stuff like farro or flavored salts or … cornbread mix! So, I used that. It is the Nitty Gritty Grain Company of Vermont and I followed the recipe, with the exception of using 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of applesauce instead of 4 tablespoons of oil. You know that trick, right? When baking quick breads? What? You DON’T? Use it. It cuts the oil in half and makes a really moist bread. (By the way, there’s also a few spots locally to get fresh cornmeal, including Haygood Mills in Pickens and Smith Brothers in Anderson.)
The hopping john was next. I soaked the peas this morning, since if you soak them too long, that is when they get you gassy. They start to turn into sugars or the like, so you’re best not to soak them TOO long. Then, I mostly followed the recipe you see here, except I didn’t use a Sazon package. Believe it or not, we have these, but if I’m cooking, I don’t use them. The main reason for this is the first ingredient listed is MSG. So, I just used fresh garlic and a fair amount of cumin and coriander, which are also listed on the Sazon packets. And, since I used brown rice, I simmered the beans for 40 minutes, then added the rice and simmered for another 40. Keith called these “edible” which he swears is a compliment because he says he hates black eyed peas otherwise. Plus, he gets irked when I use brown rice but he’s starting to grouse about it less and less.
Lastly, I made the collards. In this case, I didn’t follow the recipe whatsoever. Instead, I chopped up the greens (tossing the stalks), put them in boiling water with another huge clove of minced garlic and boiled for about 7 minutes. I then drained them and added red wine vinegar, a drizzle of good olive oil and dill weed, along with salt. The family approved.
The pork, although we didn’t eat any, was a huge chop covered in Corky’s dry rub and then grilled for 8 minutes a side, flipping every 4 minutes. He swears this is his favorite dry rub.
And! Bonus! Dinner is also ready for tomorrow. The pork is all gone, but he says he has leftover ham to eat as well.
OK, I’ll get back to book reviewing soon enough. Got distracted by work and well, some of these books have gotten longer too.