New Year's Luck

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Just as the days of 2011 are disappearing, so are cans of Black-Eyed Peas at your local grocery store. As New Year’s Day is less than 72 hours, this is the perfect time to start making your favorite Black-Eyed Pea recipe!
Now, if you didn’t grow up in The South, Texas, or happen to be from somewhere foreign, like Bulgaria, you may wonder why everyone born south of the Mason-Dixon Line makes sure to a least get a bite of this funny little legume on the 1st of each year.
The story that I was told of the origin of this tradition dates back to the Civil War, when Union troops invaded the South and destroyed everything in their path;  including all stored food, crops, and livestock.  At that time, the Yankees considered “field peas”  suitable only for animal feed, and did not steal or destroy this humble food.  Thus, our noble Southern brethren were only left with “Hoppin’ John”  to subside on – and we eat this dish on New Year’s Day as a reminder of their “luck” to not starve to death! (Author’s note: I did grow up in The South, and this is the version of History that I was taught by my Great Aunt, who was as Southern as they come.)
Now, I don’t really like the traditional “Black-Eyed Pea” recipe; so I thought I would introduce a few variants for you to enjoy!
TEXAS CAVIAR

2 cans black-eyed peas, drained
1 can white hominy, drained
1 bottle Italian dressing
2 tomatoes, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno peppers, chopped (or more if you like it spicy)
1 small. onion, chopped
1/2 c. parsley, choppedCombine all ingredients, except the salad dressing; mix well. Pour salad dressing over mixture, then cover and let marinate for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator. Drain mixture and serve with tortilla chips.

black-eyed-pea-salsa-dip-b-1-602x399

Black-Eyed Pea Casserole
1 can Plain Black-Eyed Peas (do not drain the juice)
1 can Jalapeno Black-Eyed Peas  (do not drain the juice)
1 medium onion (chopped)
2-3 slices bacon chopped up
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 1/2c. cooked white rice
Salt & Pepper to taste
Pepper Jack Cheese (or whatever kind of Cheese you like)
Cook bacon and save the drippings, set bacon aside. Cook onion in the drippings until translucent.  Mix everything together (except the cheese) and bake at 350 for 30 or so minutes, (I usually throw in leftover Christmas ham, and it really adds to the flavor of this casserole!). For last 5-10 minutes of baking,  add the cheese on top to melt.
If Black-eyed peas aren’t really to your taste, other “lucky” foods include cabbage, collard greens, & ham or corned beef! Enjoy, and good luck in 2012!

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