New Year's Day is approaching! A time for new beginnings, moving forward, setting goals to prosper and improve our health and hope that it will be an even better year than 2015.
So, tradition dictates our meals on the first day contain certain foods to ensure we achieve our goals in 2016. Here is a list of foods you should include so 2016 is exactly what you want it to be!
Greens for dollar bills
We want lots of those in the coming year. The type of green varies from region to region. In the South, collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens are the most common greens cooked on New Year's Day. In the North, they eat cabbage as their green food. Those of German descent eat sauerkraut. An old saying says to "eat sour cabbage on New Year's Day for a sweet year." Up until about nine years ago, I would not touch a leafy green except cabbage; I made a layered salad so I could get some green into my pocket for the coming year.
Black-eyed peas for coins
The peas supposedly look like coins, but I have a hard time seeing the likeness myself. Peas also are round and are a symbolism for completeness. Dried peas represent plenty because they swell in volume and size when they are cooked. Frozen peas or canned peas might get you coins, but if you're looking for plenty or an increase in 2016, only dried peas will do. Because we live in the South, we have to eat our peas over rice. This combination is fondly known as Hoppin John. Apparently, some make their children hop around the table before eating to add to the luck. Rice, like dried peas, also increases in volume when cooked so it may add to your luck in the new year to combine the two! A silver coin is sometimes added to a bowl of peas and the person who finds it will get an extra dose of luck for the year.
Cornbread for prosperity
"Eating gold-colored food will bring money to your pocket." In the South, we choose cornbread for our gold food. Some even put corn kernels in the cornbread to represent gold nuggets. I've always served cornbread to sop up the pot-liquor from the greens - I didn't realize it was lucky, too!
Pork for luck
There are numerous reasons to eat pork. Pigs root forward representing progress or moving forward as the new year begins. Pigs are commonly associated with plumpness which represents having plenty to eat. In Europe, hundreds of years ago, wild boars were caught in the forests and killed on the first day of the year. Killing a boar or a pig on the first day of the year will provide food for a year. Hog jowl was the desired pork for our ancestors. It was sliced, fried like bacon and served with the meal. Today, we usually just use hog jowl for seasoning our greens and peas and serve a ham instead. Fish is also considered by some to be lucky. In the northwest they eat salmon for luck, so if you're not into pork, choose salmon for your luck.
Bad luck meats
Chicken and fowl is considered unlucky to eat on New Year's Day. Chickens scratch backward and you don't want to go backward or "scratch for a living" in the new year. Eating fowl may cause your money and luck to fly away. Lobsters swim backward so they are also considered bad luck, too!
So now you have it - the recipe for a successful year! I hope that 2016 brings you more than you even hope for. Happy New Year!
Teri Bell is co-owner of Miss Sophie's Marketplace at the Mighty Eighth in Pooler. Go to sophiesmarketplace.com.
CABBAGE & KALE
If you're just not fond of collards and turnips, try this dish to work in those greens.
Â½ head of cabbage, coarsely chopped
2 small bunches of kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
6 slices of bacon, diced
Â½ stick of butter sliced into 4 pats
Salt and pepper
In a large skillet, over medium heat, sautÃ© bacon until crisp. Do this slowly so you can render as much fat out of the bacon as possible. Add the onion and sautÃ© until translucent. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the cabbage and kale and toss in the bacon grease. If your skillet is overflowing, place a lid on the top and wait for the greens to cook down a little, stirring often. Cook until the cabbage and kale are wilted, but still a little crunchy. Stir in the butter pats one at a time. Season with salt and pepper to tastes.
Always soak your peas overnight or use the quick soak method on the bag. Soaking peas removes the complex sugar that causes buildup of gas and the socially inappropriate release of same. It also makes the beans easier to digest. Always discard the soaking water and rinse the beans before cooking.
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
1 large ham hock, hog jowl, or a couple of pig's feet.
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Â½ teaspoon salt
Â½ teaspoon pepper
4 cups water
Wash and soak peas as directed on package. Bring water, salt, pepper and ham hock to a 5-quart pot. Bring to a boil and cook 20 minutes. Taste water and add more salt or pepper as needed. Water should taste like you want your peas to taste. Add peas to water bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed. Tip: Cook your peas a day in advance, cool and refrigerate overnight. They always taste better the second day!