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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: A Happy New Year To You!

By Sherrie Norris

In just a few days, tables around the world will be filled with more traditional holiday foods as various cultures hold to the belief that what is served on January 1 will bring luck throughout the coming year. Many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes “coming full circle,” completing a year’s cycle. For that reason, the Dutch believe that eating doughnuts on New Year’s Day will bring good fortune.  In many parts of the United States, and especially the south, many of our families celebrate the New Year with black-eyed peas typically accompanied by either hog jowls or ham, cabbage and cornbread.  Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been considered good luck for centuries. The hog, and thus its meat, is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. Cabbage is another “good luck” vegetable, its leaves representing paper currency. In some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on January 1. 

I’ll take a little of it all, please, if it means a better year than the last.

But with all that aside, I do wish you the happiest, healthiest and most prosperous new year possible. A new, unblemished calendar does seem to give us renewed hope as 12 empty blocks represent so many opportunities for us all. Let’s step forward with the best of intentions and try to make pleasant memories to last a lifetime.

Hoppin’ John

1/8 pound streaky bacon or salt pork, cut into half-inch cubes

1/3 cup diced carrots

½ cup finely chopped celery

2/3 cup finely chopped onion

About 2 cups prepared (fresh, frozen or canned) black-eyed peas

1 whole garlic clove

1¼ cups water

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

Salt to taste

¼ tsp. dried hot red pepper flakes

1 cup rice, cooked


1 ripe tomato, cored and cut into ¼ -inch pieces

¼ pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup finely chopped whole scallions

Fry bacon or pork in a pan until crisp. Add carrots, celery and onion and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add peas, garlic, water to barely cover, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and let simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Remove from heat.

Arrange the hot rice in the center of a platter. Spoon the pea mixture, including liquid, over the rice. Garnish by arranging tomato chunks around the platter and sprinkling grated cheese and chopped scallions over the top.

Southern Fried Cabbage

¼ pound bacon
1 large head of cabbage
1 large onion
Salt and pepper to taste

In large skillet, fry bacon. While it is frying, core and chop cabbage into bite size pieces, 

then chop onion. Add to skillet, frying on medium heat until tender. 

Simple Southern Cornbread 

1½ cups yellow cornmeal

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

1 egg

1½ cups buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients. Add egg and buttermilk. Pour into greased and heated muffin tins or 8-inch iron skillet. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until done.

Rice with Collard Greens Relish

1 large bunch collard greens (about 2 pounds)

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

2 Tbs. olive oil

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 pkg. (8.8 ounces each) ready-to-serve long grain rice

Remove and discard center ribs and stems from collard greens. Cut leaves into 1-in. pieces. In a Dutch oven, cook onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.

Stir in water, tomatoes, curry powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add collard greens in batches; cook and stir until they begin to wilt. Reduce heat; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, 10-15 minutes. Prepare rice according to package directions. Serve with collard greens.