Happy New Year and Lucky Hoppin John


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Black eyed peas are a traditional southern dish that are eaten for good luck for the new year. Every year since we have moved to KC, I have made a huge cauldron of Hoppin John: a spicy, smoky black eyed pea stew-ish thing. Stew-ish things are so creamy and comforting. And while I lounge all day in stretchy pants, this black eyed pea stew just simmers away and brings a soul-warming smell to every corner of my home. You could easily throw everything into a crockpot as well and let it cook, cook, cook away while you get to be as lazy as you want.

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As this lucky black eyed pea stew simmers away, it gives me time to reflect at how lucky I am. Maybe it’s all the black eyed peas that I have consumed over the years, or maybe I have just been blessed to be surrounded by amazing people.

It is very rare to find true friendships in life, much less multiple times.  I have been so blessed to have met a several strong and amazing women in my life. Women that I look up to and that give me the strength to move on during incredibly hard times in life. Women that I consider my sisters. Days, weeks, months may go by that we don’t speak, but as soon as we do, it’s as if no time has passed at all. These are friends and moments that make life amazing. We have share hugs and tears that cure heart aches, provide hope for the future, and heal wounds. I cherish these times.

I am the lucky one to be a part of your life. I love you.

Cheers to hope and love and what may come in 2014.

Hoppin John

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, small diced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, small diced
  • 3 ribs of celery, small diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas (if dried you will need to soak overnight in 6 to 8 cups of water; if fresh, add them straight to the pot)
  • 1 smoked ham hock or ham bone
  • 1 cup of leftover ham (if you were lucky to wrangle some from your family from Christmas ham or other dinner)
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon cajun or blackened seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large Dutch oven or kettle, heat oil and add the ham hock and sear on all sides. Ad the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and cook for 4 minutes. Add the soaked black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaf, and thyme.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently for 40 minutes to an hour. If you don’t soak the beans overnight, you can add unsoaked beans to the pot but will need to cook for 2 to 3 hours.  Peas will be creamy and tender. If liquid evaporates, add more water or stock.
  3. Remove the ham hock bone and cut off the meat. I usually add leftover ham from the holidays that I freeze.
  4. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  5. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash some of the peas against the side of the pot until the stewed peas have some body (slightly thick). Add the cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. I like to top this with tabasco and green onions. Serve over brown rice or cauliflower rice
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