Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year- Black Eyed Peas

I have yet to meet a Southerner who doesn't like love bacon.
Then again, I never met a Northerner who doesn't love it either...

This, however,  isn't about bacon, or Southerners or Northerners for that matter.
Well, actually that's exactly what this is about. More specifically this bacon-loving Northerner cum Southerner.

As 2010 winds down I can't help but think of Ferris Bueller and his poignant observation, 'Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it'.
So right you are Mr Bueller.

The past two years have held amazing (pretzle) twists and (hairpin) turns. I went from living a cozy life in New England, surrounded by good friends and family, with 3 boys to living in the heart of the South, detached,  with an additional two.

I felt scared.
I felt lonely.
I felt powerful to change.

This past year, in particular,  holds within its fist an incredible transformation. Like finding a long forgotten, favorite, well worn, ear marked dusty old book tucked away on a shelf,  I have rediscovered a passion which has ignited in me a curiosity to look at life as a series of small details; little treasures waiting to be found.

I have taken the time to realize that seemingly mundane tasks like cooking dinner is not mundane at all.
But in actuality, a celebration of life, food and family.
All of which I am generously blessed with.

The South has many traditions steeped in food and my favorite is New Year's Day. A customary meal consists of black eyed peas which swell when cooked and so symbolize prosperity, collard greens- money, and pork because pigs, when foraging, root forward and so in that same direction must we follow. 
Plus Southerners LOVE bacon (did I mention that already?)
Interestingly, there is a similar tradition in the Jewish faith...sans pork...I'm assuming.

And so I offer up this Northern girl's interpretation of a classic Southern New Year's Day dish: Black Eyed Peas.
True Southerners enjoy this with chopped red onion and spicy vinegar.
My husband, N, won't kiss me if I eat that.
So I omitted it.

Black Eyed Peas

black eyed peas*
chicken stock

Cook up some bacon and drain the excess fat. In the remaining fat flavor saute chopped onion, carrots, peppers and celery until soft. Add drained beans and cover with stock. Simmer until beans are soft. If you haven't eaten all the bacon by this point, crumble some on top.

*i have become a huge legume lover and have found the BEST way to prepare them is by boiling them for 1 minute, then allowing them to sit in the hot water for about an hour. The trick is to generously salt the water. The beans will take in the salt at this point. Salt brings out flavor. If you try to do this later you'll never get them salty enough.

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