Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Day foods

Do you have New Year's Day food traditions for good luck? We do. And my immediate family hates the prescribed food so this year, not willing to forgo the promised luck brought about by eating appropriately, I decided to make a different "good luck food." Now being of German extraction, we have always eaten pork and sauerkraut. As mentioned, this is not a big hit here. I remember eating one lone string of sauerkraut when I was younger just to have gotten it past my lips. Oddly enough, as an adult, I have forced this same tradition on my own children, who are significantly less well-mannered than I was and treat me to hideous grimaces and contorted bodies as they force that same single strand into their own mouths.

Since we now live in the South, I thought I'd give the whole Hoppin' John and Collards a shot this year. I'm not sure the kids liked it any better (well, fewer painful looking contortions accompanied the eating but they still didn't like it) but the adults did. Will I make it next year? I don't know. I guess I need to see if the black eyed peas and greens bring the coins and paper money they symbolize before I commit. And if they don't I'm busy researching other traditions we can adopt. Epicurious has an informative article about many traditions around the world. I'm thinking that despite not being Spanish, the tradition of eating 12 grapes might be an easy compromise for the kids but by no means will we be adapting the Swedish custom of pig's feet. Actually, I'm thinking that faking Dutch blood would be best of all since they eat a donut-like goodie called an ollie bollen. I am all about the ring-shaped fried dough. Beats the heck out of sauerkraut!

Anyway, my Hoppin' John wasn't too bad so I thought I'd share the recipe for you in case you too need to change up your New Years' Day food traditions next year. Because I melded two different recipes to suit my needs, some of the measurements are a little scatty but I don't think you can mess this dish up really.

Hoppin' John with Collards

3 T. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bunch collard greens, stems removed, washed and torn into small pieces
pepper and cayenne to taste
10 oz. black eyed peas
1 1/2 c. brown rice
small green pepper, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 t. dry thyme leaves
bay leaf
5 c. chicken stock

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until transluscent. Add collard greens, pepper, and cayenne and cook until the greens melt. Add ham, peas, rice, green pepper, celery, and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken stock and bay leaf. When heated through, cover and cook until rice is finished, liquid is mostly absorbed, and vegetables are tender. Endure kids' wrinkled noses and snide questions about the smell in the house. Remind them they could be eating sauerkraut instead and watch them magically quit complaining!

Oh, and don't forget that it's even better luck to eat the leftovers the next day because it indicates that you're frugal so will save money during the new year. (I always thought forcing leftovers on my family meant I was cheap but hey, I like this interpretation better!)

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads's Weekend Cooking meme.


  1. I eat hopping johns for luck. My mom used to make us eat a pickled herring, I assumed on the principle that nothing worse could happen to you all year. I have not attempted to foist that on my kids (who are usually with their dad for New Year anyway).

    The Greeks make a vasilopita, or St Basil's Cake. You hide a coin in it, and whoever finds the coin in their piece gets luck and wealth all year. I liked that, and meant to make one this year, but went over to my brother's for drunken card games instead. Next year.

  2. I eat a "bite" of collards for tradition, but I'm not a fan. My sister made Hoppin' John this year and served it over white cheese grits. I love that you combined these two NY faves!

  3. We always have the traditional Italian lentils with sausage for good luck in the New Year. Last year, my sister had a Spanish exchange student and we did the 12 grapes, too. Must have worked, since this was a good year! Very interesting post Kristen.

  4. Hi!
    I think I would be with your kids on this one. I'm not fond of Collards and Black Eyed Peas. We have cabbage for New Years dinner. Cabbage Roll! Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend!

    Sherrie's Stuff

  5. These sound good. We eat a lot of greens around here, so I think this would be a hit. One tradition I know of says you are to eat ham or pork on New Years Day. Your family might be happier with that. Or you can cut up ham and add it your hoppin John.

    Happy new year!!!

  6. I cook black-eyed peas with a bit of onion and ham to flavor them for New Years. We used to have a Scandinavian neighbor who insisted we eat herring for good luck in the new year!


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