Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ready for 2013!

How did we celebrate the new year? Well, the husband went to bed before 11 p.m.  Thing One dropped Thing Two off at an overnight party around 10:30, then joined me on the couch for crochet and Star Wars. We noticed it was 2013 at 12:09 and gave our obligatory new year's greetings.  Very exciting, indeed.  I was more interested in planning my New Year's day dinner - a traditional Hoppin' John recipe - vegetarian style. This one got rave reviews from The Fam, and so I'm making a slightly altered version today using navy beans, and multi-colored peppers.

After dinner, we played cards, drank tea, and ate homemade lemon meringue pie. The pie tasted good - but wasn't one of my best, so I'm not including it here. I think I used too much lemon juice, as it just didn't set up quite right.  

Our game over the holidays has been 500.  I live with sharks. Card sharks.  In 500, you get a partner for each hand, based on whatever trump is and the card the "leader" calls.  Around here, people are willing to throw themselves into negative numbers to stop other people from winning. It made for quite an interesting game.

Here is the original, basic recipe Hoppin' John.  Use the dry beans (super cheap!) soak them overnight. Discard the soaking water and rinse. They say this reduces flatulence associated with eating beans, so I always do it. Gotta say, since we've been vegetarians, I haven't noticed much trouble with this. 

1 pound black eyed peas, pre-soaked
1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper. I used yellow because that's what I had. Traditional Hoppin' John calls for green.
1 15 oz can chopped tomato with the juice. If you have fresh tomatoes, by all means use them. 
2 cups water
Spices: 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp thyme, 2 chopped garlic clove, 1 tsp chili powder, salt & pepper to taste

Dump it in the crock pot and cook all day on low, or use a covered stockpot and simmer gently for a good 4 - 6 hours. If in doubt, cook longer. This recipe benefits from a low, slow simmer. Check it periodically and add more water if needed - especially if cooking on the stove. You don't want so much water that it becomes a soup (although it would be a delicious soup). Think "stew" with enough liquid to create a gravy or sauce, rather than a broth. 

It's done when the beans are soft and tender, and you can gently mash some of them to thicken the sauce. Serve over rice. 

Feel free to adjust the spice levels to your taste. If you like a little heat - go ahead and add it. Beans are bland and rely on good seasoning for flavor.