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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Encouraging fortune in the New Year with a bowl of Hoppin' John ...and reinforcing it with Skippin' Jenny

Thinking back to New Year's eve, what I remember as a kid is Dick Clark, the giant ball, and live music.  Well, live from the telley, at least.  We always cheered and toasted and enjoyed just being home to welcome in a new year.  We never went out to parties or even visited anybody, I don't think.  If memory serves and occasionally it does, I think I spent New Year's of my senior year at a friend's house.  And then there was college.  Well, now.  That is a whole 'nother story in itself.  But once that was out of my system, it was pretty much back to in-house celebrations for me.  Not always at my house, though until marriage and a slew okay, three of kids came along.  We pretty much just hang out at home and re-create the Dick Clark evenings of my past.  Only now I can drink as much as I choose.  Honestly though...I like it that!  I don't have to brave the crazies and drunk drivers. 

But whole point of talking about New Year's of years past was to ponder the fact that we never had any New Year's food traditions growing up in my house.  So, I just went ahead and made some of my own.  I suppose I didn't really make some of my own...I borrowed them from other people...but you know what I mean.  One I basically credit myself with is drinking Mimosa's all day on the first of the year.  That's a fun one.  As a matter of fact, I'm drinking one right now ☺.  The popping of a cork at midnight is an age-old tradition...but I like to make sure that I have another one or two to pop throughout the day, as well.
I also love the tradition of eating twelve grapes with the twelve strokes of the new year.  Make a mental note of any sour ones, as those may be an indication of tougher months.  But one I've grown to love is making Hoppin' John on New Year's Day.  People usually associate it with the Southern states...but I think it's spread pretty far and wide over the years.

It is traditionally eaten on New Year's Day...and of course there are variations, but for the most part it is a stew-like dish that consists of black-eyed peas, greens, and a smoked pork product.  Mmmmmm...smoked pork.  The black-eyed peas are symbolic of coins and symbolize good fortune in the new year.  By mixing in the greens, you're adding more wealth (green=money) to the pot!  By leaving three beans in the bottom of your bowl, a person can ensure luck, romance, and fortune in the new year*
I've tried a few different recipes, but I think I've found one I'm sticking with in the's a slow-cooker recipe (did you see my review a few days back?) which I love because I just had everything ready to go in the slow cooker and flipped it on low before we went to bed in the wee hours of New Year's morning.  It was ready for brunchin' on when we woke up!  I adapted it a bit and may change it around a little in the future, but it's a fantastic base recipe!

Hoppin' John {slow-cooker recipe}

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10 minutes + overnight soak fo
Cook Time: 8-12 hours
Keywords: slow-cooker entree beans greens sausage New Year American Southern winter

Ingredients (serves 10)
  • 1 lb. dry black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
  • 1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced on the bias
  • 1 lg. onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • ½ c. brown rice
  • 1 (10.5 oz) can diced tomatoes w/ green chiles
  • 12 oz. collard greens, washed and chopped
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 c. chicken broth or rich chicken stock
  • crushed red chiles
  • balsamic vinegar
Place the soaked black-eyed peas in the bottom of a 6 qt. slow-cooker. Add the sausage, onion, garlic, rice, tomatoes w/ chiles, and collard greens. Add salt, pepper, and some crushed red chiles to taste; pour the stock/broth over the whole thing.

Cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours, or until beans are soft and tender. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over each bowl at service.

inspired by and adapted from More Make it Fast Cook it Slow by Stephanie O'Dea
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Don't forget to eat a second serving on the day after New Year's.  By doing this, you're demonstrating your fantastic frugal sense... and hey, it never hurts to have an added layer of prosperity in your corner in my opinion.  Oh, but don't call it Hoppin' John anymore...because on the second day, it's called Skippin' Jenny (okay, I don't know if this is true...just heard it this year, I thought it was a fun piece of food lore)*.

How 'bout you?  Do you and your family have any foodie New Year's traditions?

*source: Wikipedia

Would you like to comment?

  1. This is a great post about New Year's Traditions. In Puerto Rico we do the eating of 12 grapes; it was one of my favorite moments during my childhood because we would try to stuff our mouth with all 12...LOL. I've never had blackeye peas for New Year's but I may have to try it next year. Happy New Year girlie. I look forward to another year of great recipes.

  2. i first had hoppin' john in north carolina many, many years ago. i loved it and made it part of my new year's tradition ever since. i actually used part of a ham this year. i have never done the grapes, but it sounds like a fun way to really ring it in...would 12 glasses of wine/prosecco be a suitable substitute? i might have done that! happy new year..looking forward to see what you have in store for this year!

  3. It's just not a New Years Eve celebration w/out Dick Clark, is it? I think I've watched him every year.
    Love your pictures with the scrabble pieces - super duper cute!

    Hoppin' John is the best way to ring in the year. Some of my very favorite foods in that recipe.

    Happy New Year Heather!

  4. I have my black eyed peas cooking now! Living in the south for the past twenty years I do adapt to southern ways. The pork is in the oven and the greens are ready for the pot! I like making our own traditions too. We do that on Christmas when we don't have family intown visiting us. So glad you're having a great start of the new year.

  5. Heather, my very favourite way to celebrate NYE is to stay home too! We had plenty of champagne (like you, more than one bottle :o), some homemade pizza, Scrabble (lol), and movies. A most excellent night. It looks like we celebrated in a very similar way except I didn't have any of your delicious Hoppin' John. This is a dish that's new to me, but by the sounds of it, it would be a big hit at our house. Thanks so much for sharing with Cookbook Sundays and all the best to you and your familly in 2011!

  6. I did Hoppin' John for the first time this year, but with a more West Coast take. Happy New Years' girl.

  7. what a wonderful new year's dish, as well as tradition. i've never even heard of this, but it looks so rich and flavorful, as well as healthy!

    happy new year!

  8. Crap, I didn't know the whole leave 3 beans thing. But I do plan on eating it tomorrow and the next day (made a big, big pot), so that should count for something.

  9. I love the idea of starting new family traditions, especially when those traditions revolve around food! It was so fun reading this except now I'm SUPER hungry! Happy new year Heather!

  10. It's great to know some of your New Year traditions... ours is polka dots!Happy new year!

  11. Happy New Year!

    My canned beans served with bacon and worcestershire sauce can't hold a candle to this recipe. Still, it's the black-eyed peas that make it lucky, right?

  12. As always, this looks delicious! :) I was reading your about me section and I saw that you went to culinary school. Do you have any favorite technical cooking books that you could recommend?

  13. That Hoppin' John looks really great! I've always eaten black eyed peas on new years, but I've never heard about leaving three in the bowl. I've learned something new!

  14. Heather, I loved reading about your new year's past and learning about different traditions - Hoppin' John is definitely going to make it onto the new year's plate of my future (not that I'll be waiting a whole year to try it).

    I've definitely become a stay-at-home girl on New Year's Eve, and this year I was actually home alone since my partner is on the other side of the world - kind of weird, but we whiled away the evening skyping!

    Happy new year to you :-)

  15. Now this is a lovely new year's dish ~ so flavorful, well done!

  16. I'm like you and love to stay home New Year's eve. I've never heard of the 12 grape tradition, though, and will have to remember it for next year.

    As a Canadian, I'd never heard of the black eyed pea tradition before this year but think it seems quite wonderful. Going to make your recipe for dinner tomorrow.

  17. I work on New Year's eve, watch others celebrate. But I do love tradition. I've never heard of the grapes, either, but I like that. Here's to a wonderful new year, my friend.

  18. That's my type of super food!
    Happy 2011!

  19. Great post Heather. Dick Clark was always part of my New Year's Eve as a kid and into my teens. I don't think we ever went anywhere. My NYE Tradition is Osso Buco, then Sauerkraut and Pork on NYDay.
    Happy New Year.

  20. I love the grape thing! Whatever it is, this recipe always make Black Eyed Peas so tasty. Happy 2011!

  21. I am with you - I hate going out on New Year's. Much more fun to drink at home! I like this hoppin' John tradition, I think I'll adopt it next year. This year I made pasta noodles on NYE, kind of adopting the Asian tradition of long noodles symbolizing long life and prosperity. Happy New Year's!

  22. Heather, great post! We have no real traditions around here. I like to make potato pancakes morning after, but didn't this year.

    As always, I do enjoy stopping to visit when you post. It's been a wonderful year and looking forward to 2011.

    BTW, you have your pulse on the blog community. Do you know if anyone does a pizza roundup?

    Looking forward to 2011... And I think the second photo with just a bit of out of focus letters is by far the best. your photography has sure taken a giant step forward


  23. Lovely posting about New Year traditions for a good year! I was going to do hoppin'johns and then the ice came and I didn't ever make it to the grocers - so we had a lentil salad - the Italian tradition. I do wish you all good things in 2011!

  24. Nope, no New Year's traditions. Well, unless you count champagne?? ;)
    I've never actually had black eyed peas... but recently seeing a couple of recipes, I'm intrigued! Beautiful pics too!

  25. Hi Heather! Just popped in to say Happy New Year!

    Love the traditions and the dishes, scrumptious as always.

    A very Happy, Healthy, and Safe New Year to you and yours! Louise

  26. Its fun to learn these little things about different cultures..
    Have a great n prosperous 2011 dear Heather!

    US Masala

  27. I always say I am going to make Hoppin' John for New Years and never do. This looks delicious and what a fun tradition. Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays.

  28. I got this crazy tradition thanks to my mom. i clean the house. Somehow growing up we will paint the house, have something new for the house like: new curtains or bedding. Or maybe a well needed piece of furniture. Some people still like to clean their houses even using a lot of water and soap to wash their tile floors. But, for me I just like to start with a very clean house. There are a lot of traditions in Mexico I just posted about the old man in blog blog. A tradition of the south.

    Happy new year and keep creating traditions.

  29. Happy new year dear. That beans recipe sounds delicious (minus the meat as I am vegetarian) :)

  30. This sounds great and nice photos. Will have to try soon. Thanks for sharing!

  31. I have heard so much about Hoppin' John and still have never tried it! I would love to make it, perhaps for the next New Year :) Best wishes in the 2011!

  32. fun post happy new year Heather love this dish

    hugs Rebecca

  33. We loved our hoppin' john this year and yours looks fantastic but I have to say your Scrabble pictures are FREAKING GENIUS! Use that idea for the cover of your first cookbook.

  34. This year, I made some black-eye peas before New Year's Day and lentils on New Year's Day. The lentils are an Italian tradition. And in the region of Italy where I come from, there are special lentils. I like the addition of collard greens. Thanks for your contribution to MLLA.

  35. It's only been recently that I've been introduced to the tradition of having black eyed peas and greens for New Years. This looks really good!