Eat your lucky peas!

How many black-eyed peas?

We’d wanted to try Hoppin’ John—the black-eyed pea dish served on January 1st for good luck—ever since Uncle Albert published New Year be Coming!: A Gullah Year in 2002. So this time last year, when we were in the middle of production on the book Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas, we were sure to cook up a pot of black-eyed peas at home on New Year’s Day. Not just for the good luck (though editors could always use some, you know, to make up for bad rejection-letter karma) but for research purposes. We picked a recipe and fixed it for dinner.

It was some tasty stuff, and we like to think that we were pretty lucky in 2007. Good things are happening with our current and upcoming titles, which we’ll continue to tell you about here. And for this new batch of peas on Monday, we’ll be serving it with greens (for money), cornbread (for gold), and tomatoes (for health). Also, celery for starred reviews, and ham for getting our books on state master reading lists. Okay, we made those last two up. Still, we’re going to try!

If you’d like to make your own batch of Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day, try author Gail Piernas-Davenport’s recipe, which appears in the back of  Shanté KeysClick below for more, and have a Happy New Year!

Hoppin’ John 

3/4 cup chopped onion; 3/4 cup chopped celery; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 2 teaspoons canola oil; 1 12-ounce package fresh black-eyed peas, rinsed*; 2 2/3 cups chicken broth; 1/2 pound cubed ham; 1 bay leaf; cooked rice.

Heat the oil in a large pot and sauté onions, celery, and garlic until tender, about 3 minutes. Add peas, chicken broth, ham, and bay leaf. Boil for 3 minutes, then lower heat, cover and simmer until peas are tender, about 45 minutes. Check the pot occasionally and add water if needed. Remove bay leaf and serve over cooked rice. Season to suit taste.

* This recipe uses fresh black-eyed peas, which can be found in the produce section of your supermarket, but you can also use canned peas or dried peas (follow instructions).

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Eat your lucky peas!