Monday, January 12, 2015

Black Eyed Peas for the New Year -The Real Story

This New Year came and went and I slept right through the celebrations. I had been at my daughter's for Christmas and returned home December 29th. The flu hit me New Years Eve and I did not "fix" or eat the traditional black eyed peas. To tell the truth, I was just praying that I would live to see the New Year. Being, the traditional southern girl that I am, I made my Black Eyed Pea Soup this past weekend, almost into the middle of January. I also would love to share with you the "absolute true" story of the Southern Black Eyed Peas for New Year's tradition.

From November 15th - December 21, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman led over 60,000 Union soldiers on the ever fateful "March to the Sea" from Atlanta to Savannah. His purpose was to frighten Georgia's population into abandoning the confederate cause. Being, a typical Northerner, Sherman underestimated the stamina and courage of the small town citizens and rural farmers in Georgia. Sherman raged a path of destruction, burning what he could, stealing crops, cows, food of all types. As the story continues, the only thing left for the people of the South were the black eyed peas still in the fields. Since the "less" intelligent Union officers didn't realize that they were edible. They thought that the livestock was the only thing that would eat the peas, hence the name "cow peas" was coined. The soldiers had stolen all of the livestock and figured there was no use for the peas.

And, thus since New Year's Day 1866, the people of the South have eaten Black Eyed peas on the first day of the year.
Here are some other Southern New Year's Day traditions:

Adding a penny to the pot of black eyed peas, before they are served. The person who receives the penny will be extra lucky, if he doesn't swallow the penny.

Eat exactly 365 peas on New Year's Day- if you eat too few, your luck runs out- if you eat too many, the extra peas will turn into bad luck - Yes, especially, since Black Eyed Peas are quite gassy!!!!

Leave one pea on your plate, to share your luck with someone else.

Served with greens, the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money.

Cornbread, often served with black eyed peas and greens, represents gold.

Black Eyed Peas cooked with tomatoes represent wealth and health.

Happy 2015 Everyone!

I hope that you enjoy this Black Eyed Pea soup. Remember that Black Eyed Peas are nutritionally excellent. They are low in fat, and contain no cholesterol. They are high in potassium, iron, and fiber. And, they are delicious and part of our southern heritage.

Black Eyed Pea Soup for the Slow Cooker

1 1/2 cups instant white rice
1 pound ground sirloin
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion- Vidalia, if available
2 (15.5 ounce) cans Black Eyed Peas with liquid - choose Glory or Margaret Holmes if available
1 10.5 ounce can condensed beef broth
2 (14.5) ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 (4 ounce) can chopped chiles
1/2 cup water or as needed

Prepare rice according to package instructions, adding salt to the water, and set aside.
Salt and pepper the ground sirloin and cook with peppers and onions in a large skillet, crumbling beef, until no longer pink.
Drain off grease.
Place the rice and beef mixture in a 5 quart slow cooker. Add the black eyed peas, beef broth, tomatoes, chilies, and enough water to cover everything.
Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.

Serve with Cornbread.


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