Happy New Year! Are you stirring yet from your late night, or should I say, early moring? I slept to nearly 10 o’clock this morning, something I haven’t done since I was a kid.
I immediately started in the kitchen; New Year’s lunch needed cooking, after all. In our part of the world of Southerness, the first day of the year is greeted with a full plate of black-eyed peas and cabbage. Why? They bring good luck, health and wealth for the new year.
It’s tradition in our family to eat the above mentioned on New Year’s day. And, considering how many heads of cabbage I saw in grocery buggies yesterday at the store, it’s everyone else’s too. I looked up a few explanations for this cooking phenomenon and came up with these: During the Civil War, invading Northern armies thought black-eyed peas were cattle feed and left them alone, thus also leaving the much needed food source for the Confederate forces. Which was good fortune for our gray clad boys. Good luck and health. Greens are served, because they are, well, green, the same color of folding money in our country. Why we do not deviate from serving black-eyed peas and cabbage, instead of other greens or other legumes? Because that’s what my mother did and her mother before her and her mother before her and way, way back.
Mama made her stuffed bell peppers. I added a pot of white rice and slightly sweet cornbread to the meal. Our plates were full, and now, so are we.
Here’s the cornbread recipe:
1 egg, beaten
1 1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup cooking oil, plus a little more for the cast iron skillet
2 1/4 cup self rising white cornmeal
1 tablespoon pickled sweet peppers
1/2 teaspoon Tony’s seasoning
What to do:
Preheat oven to 400°. Pour a little cooking oil in your iron skillet and swirl it around to coat. Place in the oven to get hot, while you mix the ingredients.
In a bowl mix the beaten egg, milk and oil. Add the cornmeal, pickled peppers and seasoning. Stir till well combined. Pour into hot cast iron skillet ( I just open the door, pull out the rack the skillet is on and pour the batter straight into the skillet, then close the oven and bake it). Be careful, of course. It’s hot!!!
Bake for about twenty minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. The top will be golden brown and the edges will pull away from the sides of the skillet. Let cool for a few minutes, before cutting. Serve with butter.
Enjoy and New Year blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.