Monday, January 4, 2010

Beans & Greens for the New Year- a southern tradition

Please note: There isn't much of a recipe for the way I make my beans & greens so I've put the discription of what I do in purple down at the bottom.

If you've taken a look around this here blog of mine you may have noticed a distinct lack of posts related to the part of the country in which I live. There is a reason for that... I like to try new things! Sometimes though, it is good to give in to tradition and have those familiar foods from one's childhood. New Years Day is just one of those occasions. In my family we always had black eyed peas, collards & rutabaga for New Years Day dinner. Now I don't think the rutabaga was for any other reason than that my daddy just likes them. There are many reasons why you eat beans and greens on New Years Day and many stories for what they stand for. Here are the reasons that I was always told:

The beans represent your coin money and if you want to have some coins jingling around in your pocket for the new year you better eat yourself some beans on New Years Day.

The beans are always cooked with pork (duh what does a southerner not cook with pork?) and that represents several things. First, you want to live high on the hog and second, it is physically impossible, or so I have been told, for a pig to turn its head around and look behind it. Therefore, it is always looking forward just as we should not worry about the hard times of last year but look forward to the good times in the new year.

The greens represent your paper money and I think we all want to be having some of that in our wallet. It is said that the more you eat the more money you'll have.

For more info please see The Southern Plate: for your history lesson (I always learn something new there!) and her reasons for eating your beans on New Years Day.

Instead of black eyed peas I make pinto beans at the request of my husband. I would prefer the black eyed peas but since I want us both to have some change jingling in our pockets I make pinto beans so he'll eat them too.

I like the one hour soak method just because.

Put your beans in the bottom of a large pot, cover with water to one inch above the beans, bring to a boil uncovered, cover, remove from heat and let sit an hour. Drain the icky water off of them.

Now, the water that I actually cook the beans in I like to simmer all day with the ham hock in it. I don't cook my beans all day. Once they've been soaked they only need to cook for about an hour. If I just put the ham hock in with the beans for an hour the beans wouldn't pick up as much of the ham flavor. So I simmer the bone in the water that I'm going to cook the beans in all day, then I take it out, remove the ham and then put the ham and the water in with the beans to simmer about an hour. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cornbread for sopping up the juices.

Now to a southerner greens usually mean collards (although turnip greens also pass) but well, here's the thing, I don't like them! I do like Spinach though and last time I checked it was green. So I just take a handful, remove the steams and throw them in a little skillet with a drop of two of olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a grind of pepper. I just wilt them down a bit and they're done in a matter of moments.

So there you go, that's what we ate for the New Year!

No comments: