Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Today is 1-1-11. Doreen Virtue says the calendar date of 1/1/11 in Angel Numbers means: "Keep your thoughts positive, as this is a gate opening of energy for the fruition and manifestation of your dreams. Only think about what you desire and intend." You can call upon the angel of beauty and beautiful thoughts, Archangel Jophiel, to elevate your thoughts to Love.

What better way to keep your thoughts positive than to go vegan! And one of the best ways to start off your new vegan year is with some Hoppin' John!

Hoppin' John

3 c. cooked rice
1 T. olive oil
dash of Liquid Smoke
One green pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 c. cooked or 3 cans black eyed peas, drained
2 T. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1/2 t. onion powder
2 T. Braggs aminos
10 oz. box frozen chopped collards

Saute green pepper, red onion and black eyed peas in olive oil and Liquid Smoke. Add seasonings and collards. Heat through. Add rice and Braggs. Let heat on low - medium until everything is nicely mixed and hot. Top with some Bacos for a smoky crunch. Serve with some good old fashioned, homemade cornbread. Enjoy!

Throughout the coastal South, eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls. Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale etc. along with this dish are supposed to also add to the wealth since they are the color of money. On the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" is called "Skippin' Jenny," and further demonstrates one's frugality, bringing a hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year. During the late Middle Ages, there was a tradition of eating beans on New Year's Day for good luck in parts of France and Spain. The European tradition mixed with an African food item to become a New World tradition.

One tradition common in the Southern USA is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to assure that the New Year will be filled with Luck, Fortune and Romance. Another tradition holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of luck (or wealth) that the diner will have in the coming year.

Where does the name come from? There are almost as many theories as to how Hoppin' John got its name as there are ways to cook the dish. One story attributes the name to the custom of inviting guests to eat with, "Hop in, John." Another suggestion is that it is derived from an old ritual on New Year's Day in which the children of the house hopped once around the table before eating the dish. Whatever its origin, it was definitely a staple for many in the early South, and remains an important dish today. Etymologists suggest the name comes from a Caribbean dish of rice and peas and salt pork called (in French) pois a pigeon, which is pronounced something like "pwahahpeejawng." 

The Oxford English Dictionary's first reference to the dish is from Frederick Law Olmsted's 19th century travelogue, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States. "The greatest luxury with which they are acquainted is a stew of bacon and peas, with red pepper, which they call ‘Hopping John’." There is also a recipe for Hopping John in The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, which was published in 1847.

One suggestion as to why people eat Hoppin' John on New Years Day is the thought that the black-eyed pea is lucky originated in the Jewish Talmud, and has been believed by some that Jewish settlers in the South spread their beliefs to the locals. Some scholars identify it as a strictly West African dish carried to the colonies by slaves from the Congo.

Whatever the origins of the name or how it came to be associated with New Years Day, the dish quite definately was a staple of the African slaves who populated southern plantations, especially those of the Gulla country of South Carolina. And regardless of who or how or why, it is still an New Years Day tradition for m any, including my family. We eat it every New Years Day and continue to love it and look forward to it!

I hope it becomes a tradition for your family!

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