Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Homestead Canning- A Lesson in Economics

I scurried around the kitchen today searching for clean half pint canning jars. I found more mushrooms reduced in price at the grocery store again. I grabbed ALL that were marked down to $0.99 a lb marked down from $3.98. A whopping savings, I paid $8 instead of the regular $32! As any 'shroom lover out there, Mel and I are these delectable fungi  biggest fans.  Not only were there boxes of button mushrooms in my haul, but Criminis, Portabellas, and Oysters in there too. An abundance of earthly flavors.

 I've got 5 qt jars dehydrated in my food storage already, as well as a year's worth of cream of mushroom soup, but how could I pass up such a steal?  The catch was that these tasty morsels were close to past there prime. Whatever I wanted to do with them, I had to do it quick. I'd never canned mushrooms alone before. Sure, I've canned them in a recipe, but never alone. I'd bought canned mushrooms,so I knew it could be done.

I pulled out everyone's favorite canners guide, The Ball Preserving book, and was disappointed to see, ''Not Recommended for Canning " notation beside the mushroom. They suggested freezing or dehydrating them. I do not like the texture of frozen  mushrooms. So, as always, I researched the web and YouTube. Other canners were canning these delicacies safely so I knew I could too.

So I set about brushing off my mushrooms and slicing them.  In a large pot halfway filled with water, I set it on the iron to heat. I'll add 2 tsp of salt to season. After I finish slicing the 'shrooms, I added them to the now boiling water. I'll heat it back to boiling, reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and simmer the mushrooms for 5 minutes just like the videos I watched.

But unlike the videos, I chose to strain the remaining cooking liquid through a wire strainers lined with a coffee filter. Many videographers commented that liquid was brown so they chose to use clean, boiling water into the jars. I beg to differ. The liquid is brown because of the mushrooms. It full of vitamins and minerals from the mushrooms.  I strained it well in case I missed any compost the mushrooms  were grown in. Sure, the mushrooms  aren't floating in clear liquid after canning, but you can add the liquid into a dynamite gravy for an extra mushroomy taste.

Since I was pressure canning half pint jars, The timer after it comes to pressure is 45 minutes at 15 lb of pressure based on our altitude. I used my small pressure canner for 9 half pint jars.Now this won't be the last time my grocer will have a deal like this. I fully expect to get several cases of half pint jars by the end of the year. I can even add to my dehydrated mushroom stores.

In case you were wondering, canning my own mushrooms averaged out to $0.88 a jar. In the grocery store I can sometimes find a deal on canned mushrooms for close to this price, but those are just button mushrooms not Criminis, Portabellas, and oyster mushrooms too.  Canned or frozen Portabellas range closer to the $4 price point.

So as this example illustrates, homestead canning gives you a bigger bang for your buck both in health benefits and in value. In the long run, even the cost of canning jars depreciates down to zero over time. I've had some jars since the 1970s and they are still good today. Rings can be used over and over again for years if you clean and dry them well. About the only thing you replace is the flat lids. Buying them in bulk is cheaper at about 2 cent a flat lid. For me, canning about 1,000 jars costs me $20 per year if I only used new flat lids which I don't. That's dirt cheap in today's economy. It home canning is an essential part of homestead economics.

You can buy cheap if you don't have a garden, but what homesteader doesn't have a garden of some sort? Sure, you can't grow everything, but you can by in bulk from other homesteaders that do grow what you do not. The pea pods, corn husks, snapped ends of green beans and the like of the things you buy can be composted to enrich your own garden soil so you even reap added rewards.

Yes, home canning makes good economic sense and cents.

Y'all have a blessed day.
Jo


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Canning Beef Stew

Everyone knows how to make beef stew, right? It's a no brainer, right? You chop some meat and vegetables and throw it all into a pot of water with some seasonings, and simmer forever. But it's a year around comfort. Especially now when it's cold and blustery outside.

What really makes my beef stew a stand out winner is my seasoned salt blend. Don't worry. The recipe is coming now.

Jo's Seasoned Salt Blend

4 TBS Sea salt, fine
1 TBS black pepper, I use the coarse ground
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 TBS paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
6 bay leaves, ground

Mix well. I store mine in a half pint jar in my cool, dark pantry. Shake before using. You can double this recipe for pint jars. These tend to be the herbs and spices I add to most of my recipes. feel free to change them up for yours. I use on everything!

Now for my beef stew recipe. Again, I'm canning most of it. I also lucked out out at the grocery store. I found the beef and frozen stew vegetables on sale. No chopping for me except for potatoes, rutabagas, and turnips. Is it just me, or is there never enough potatoes in these premixed bags? I love me some tators! Also I'll buy a good looking chuck roast and have the butcher remove the silver skin, most of the fat, and chop it into chunks. In the old days, pre strokes, I would have done myself. It's cheaper that way. Yeah me! It was also on sale! My total bill for the beef and frozen vegetables was $20! But I'll do this recipe for canning the regular way with actual vegetable amounts.

Jo's Beef Stew for Canning
Makes 27 pint and a half jars plus dinner for two nights
 
5 lbs of stew meat
1 lb potatoes, washed, large dice about 1"
2 lb carrots, washed, large diced about 1"
4 large onions, diced about 1", or 2 lb pearl onions, peeled
2 rutabaga, peeled, diced about 1"
4 turnips, peeled, diced about 1"
1/2 bunch celery, chopped about 1"
1-2 lb bag frozen peas,thawed
6 cloves garlic, minced
Jo' seasoned salt
Worcestershire sauce
Water*

* Notice I say plain water not beef broth. This is a semi raw pack canning method. The beef will make the broth while it cans. I love my Vidala Onion Chopper!

  • Brown the stew meat in a skillet. This is why this is a semi raw pack. By browning the beef first, you get a little better end product and there's less shrinkage of the meat while canning. Set aside in your staging area.
Now for the easy part. Loading your jars. I thawed my frozen vegetables and moved them to my staging area with my other chopped vegetables and meat. I washed and air dried 3 cases of pint and a half jars (27). With some of my garden produce from cold stores added it averages out to about $0.75 a jar of good, wholesome, convenience food with no additives or chemicals.

  • Fill each jar with 1/2 tsp Jo's seasoned salt, 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 1/8 of tsp minced garlic.
  • Half fill each jar with water.
  • Place 8-12 pieces of meat in each jar.
  • Add about 1/2 a handful of each vegetable  in each jar.
  • Top off each jar with water to 1" of top if needed.
  • Wipe rims, lid, ring each jar and place in COLD pressure canner filled with manufacturer's recommended amount of water.  Can for your altitude and time.For me, it's 15 lb for 90 minutes.
To Serve
Stir 1 Tbs flour into 3 tBS water. Add to the sauce pan of stew, heat and eat.
Alternate Recipes
Serve over rice or noodles, or add dumplings.

The great thing about bulk canning is that there's always seems to be (on occasion) one jar that doesn't seal. Like this time. How's that for ready to eat meal? I'll throw it and any leftover meat & vegetables in a pot of water with Jo's seasoned salt to taste. Since it's early in the AM, I'll just throw it in a crockpot, or put it in my the Dutch oven cast iron pot on the wood stove to enjoy it later. Tonight, I'm adding dumpling.

Another yummy for tummy and for next time. Enjoy.

"Y'all have a blessed day!
Jo

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A Workable Outdoor Kitchen

The plastic is down because of winter rains.
As a former chef, I have some definite ideas of what I want in an outdoor cook place should be. For Mel, what's pictured is workable.  But Mel may grill five stars meats on the Webber, but cooks very rarely.

With my disability, holding anything and climbing up or the two steps is almost impossible. I want and need to make some changes before spring and I start using  it again. So I'm making it more to my liking. It will be my summer cooking and canning station.

I found an 'L" shaped Formica counter top at the ReStore which I snapped up. A double sink was attached for $15. It was bought with the intention of being a butchering counter. Plans change. Now, I'm searching for free or cheap base cabinets. It's almost tax time. Somebody will be re-doing their kitchen and I'll pounce. I'll be painting them anyhow to weatherize them somewhat. Under this makeshift table is where we store our canning equipment, and large pots.

I want access to running water even if it's a hose attached to the faucet. It's essential rather than touching the door jamb and walls to get back into the house to wash my hand. I'd have cabinets under one side and open shelves on the other side. I could get away with only two or three base cabinets. A small refrigerator would be a luxury for drinks, but we basically live out in the porch all summer long. If I can find one cheap enough, I'll get one. The microwave, the toaster oven do work and so does the electric burners. I want to change the burners for my Coleman propane stove. I've bought the connector that changes the gas input from those little canisters to a 20 lb tank so that's ready.  The propane tank will supply a better source of heat under the canners. So really all I need to put it all together is the base cabinets. I can't wait to find some. I can paint them with my kitchen ones.

I just want to have what I need and convenient access to it. I really dislike going back and forth while cooking. Trudging everything outside only to have carry it all inside again. Sure, this may mean having duplicate items, but everything will also have a home too.

Plus the extra counter space won't go to waste in the off season like now either. Remember all those fruit trees we started? They'll have a winter time place to live instead the floor, or our glass top table. I can mount lights and have them hang from the ceiling. More light and warmth for them, and with a quick summer time changes of bulbs more task lights for me. When it's time to start my seeds for spring, summer, and fall plantings the counter will be filled with starters too.


 It will be a more functional space. I can cook, can, and grill to my heart's content. It has the option for multiple uses, which is very important when dealing with smaller  spaces. It's utilitarian. It will be neater and more organized which is always a plus. We won't have to come inside to wash our hands after dealing with the animals. By using mostly what we have on hand, it will be a frugal, sustainable project for very little cash out of pocket. A winning prposition no matter how you look at it. I'll be working smarter not harder..

Y'all have a blessed day!
Jo

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Chili Con Carne

On the menu is Chili con Carne. Whether your chili has beans or not, the chili powder recipe I gave you last week will work for today's  recipe.  I thought I'd give you another use for it this week while it's at its ultimate freshness.

I was going through my store list program, Mel's Master List Food Inventory on sale now under the "For Sale" tab, on this rainy day, and found only five pints of chili left! Time to make some more to eat and put away for later. This recipe will make12 pint and half jars and dinner. Once again, I'll give you standard grocery store alternates too.

5 lbs of ground meat (I do half beef and half turkey)
3 large onions diced
1 qt salsa (your preference as to heat)
3 bell peppers, diced
2-6 jalapeno peppers, cored, seeded and minced
4 ribs celery diced
5 pints kidney beans or 5 cans 15.5 oz cans
4 pints tomato sauce or 2 jars 16 oz of spaghetti sauce of your choice
4 pints diced tomatoes or 4  15 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1/4 c corn flour, if you do not have corn flour take corn meal and grind it fine with a blender or mini chopper.
1 Tbs salt, or to taste*
2 tsp black pepper
12 cloves garlic, minced*
3-5 Tbs chili powder, depending on how hot you want it.
1 tsp oregano*
Water as needed

*I know there is oregano, garlic, and seasoning in spaghetti sauce. But trust me, you want more in this recipe.

  • Brown ground meat in a 16 qt stockpot. Season the meat with half the chili powder, half the salt and pepper. over medium heat and drain the fat after cooking.
  • Add onions, garlic, peppers, and celery. Cook until tender. 
  • Add remaining spices to the pot. Except the salt.
  • Stir well.
  • Add diced tomatoes, salsa and sauce. Juice and all.
  • Stir well.
  • Turn heat to low and continue simmering for two hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Taste it. Add salt if needed. Add water if needed.
  • Drained and rinsed the kidney beans. Add them into the pot and stir well.
  • Mix corn flour with 1/2 cup of water and stir well.
  • If you are canning a portion, now is the time to fill your jars. Pressure can pints for 65 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes.
  • Now bring your chili to a boil while stirring. If your chili is going to stick to the bottom of your pan, the addition of the beans and corn flour will do it. Cook until the chili con carne is the thickness you want.
Serving with a topping of chopped green onions, sour cream, and some sharp cheddar cheese.Oh my, Chef Jo now you're talking! Or, even over a bed of fluffy rice.  Or, make some corn tortillas. It's sure to be yummy in the tummy. Enjoy!

Y'all have a blessed day.
Jo

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Plan, Revise, and Plan Some More

For most plans it goes like the diagram. When you are a homesteader, I usually go through a couple options and revise the dickens out of them. kind of like washing your hair- wash, rinse, and repeat. Or, repeat until it is literally squeaky clean. Don't laugh, but there been times working that I've had to rewash my hair four times to get it to that squeaky clean state. The planning stage of "Set Goals" is a definite goal.

For 2019, the goal is get dairy/fiber goats. I wanted goats for three reasons.

1) They eat bramble so they will help clear areas. We've got an acre of uncleared, heavily wooded land covered with blackberry thickets and poison ivy. Goats love this.  With the over population of trees comes the seeding of new trees, goats devour these too. After they munch their way through one area, we'll move them to a new area via 30 sq. ft. section of electrified fencing at a time.

2) They produce fiber twice a year. We decided on Nygora goats. Since they are herd animals, we want two to start. Two does (preferrable) or a doe  and a wethered buck in a pinch. Why Nygoras? They are smaller than regular goats and command a great selling price ($400-$800) each. They often have multiple babies. Their fiber is mohair with a much longer staple lengththan angora. It can be blended with angora, or sold on its own at a price a little under the price of angora, and within a year they will pay their own way.

3) Food for us.They go into heat every 30 days or so. So we can alternately breed two does for a year around supply of milk. A dwarf nubian cross angora equals a Nygora. As such, they'll produce 1 qt to half a gallon of milk per day. That's plenty for us. I can makes cheese or butter with the overage. If a baby doesn't sell or has unwanted qualities (poor fiber, aggressive), it's meat for our table. Being small, about the size of a German Shepherd, they'll be easier to handle, care for, and even butcher. When butchering you are talking about less than 100 lbs of meat which is great for us. Within a couple of years, we'll have a flock of six to care for (our maximum). So that's the goal.

4) We want a year to get to know our girls before we breed them.

But first, we have to fence off an area. The electric fence is cheap enough at under $200. A solar charge on controller with all the bells and whistles is another couple hundred.(I'm still in the shop around stage)The head stanchion and stand is easily made from scrap lumber or pallets. It's a very good thing that we know a guy for pallets.(grinning) The same goes for their housing and feeders.I want to have everything in place before we get the goats including a good supply of alfafa hay. 

Part of any plan is resource allocation. Everything begins and ends with the almighty dollar, doesn't it? I've outlined a few of the costs above. Eventually, we'll need a ferrier and a shearer services, at least once, to show Mel the ropes. She'll carry the brunt of this load because my one-handed self won't be able to do it even with a well mannered goat.

Mel is also talking about going back to work this year. Yeah, this surprised me too. Being almost 60 and finding a job for a nonpeople person like Mel is hard. I won't say it's impossible, but we'll see. It will put less of a financial burden on me, but more of the day to day operation of the homestead on me. Not that I mind that. It will take some juggling, but I can do it.

The building projects will just have to wait until Mel's time off, but we've got nothing but time. As for the rest of the year's progress, we are coasting. We'll put out fires as they crop up, as they did multiple times last year. Take care of what we can when we can. What else can we do?

We've done the research, compiled our data, revised, our plan, planned some more, and now is the time to implement the plan. We'll be monitoring our progress along the way, revising again and again as the need arises. It all begins now.

Y'all have a blessed day.
Jo


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Mexican Eggrolls-Meatless

One of the main reasons I can a variety of dried beans is it makes dinner preparation a breeze. In this case, I'm making refried pinto beans and black beans for my Mexican eggrolls. I've been making eggrolls for as long as my oldest daughter has been alive (41 years). While working at a Chinese restaurant, I'd chop all the vegetables, meats and rolled 200 eggrolls a night.

As I was a working chef I was exposed to many different ethnic foods from high end delicacies to low end vittles. Not to mention being exposed to multinational cultures in the State Department. I also enjoyed foods in various countries as an international business consultant. My momma used used to say, "No knowledge is wasted." And you know what, she was right.

I love to do fusion cooking. This is one such recipe. If you HAVE TO HAVE MEAT you can add 1/4 lb of ground beef to this recipe, but I promise you'll never miss it.

If you stopped by for a recipe, today you are getting a threefer...three recipes in one blog.

First up is
Chili Powder-
2 TBS Paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 to 2 tsp cayenne powder, depending on the heat you want.

Put all ingredients in a coffee grinder and pulse a couple times. That's it. Store in an air tight container in a dark, cool place to keep fresh.

Refried Beans

1 pt jar of pinto beans. These have been cooked by pressure canning.
1/4 of medium onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic
1/2- 4 oz can of green chilies
2 tbs vegetable shortening

With an immersion blender, whiz pinto beans until smooth. If you don't have one of these a regular blender, or with elbow grease applied, a potato masher. My immersion blender fits nicely into a regular mouth jar so I just whiz it up in the jar.

In a skillet, melt 2tbs of vegetable shortening. Add onions, garlic, and chilies to the oil and stir until cooked well. The onions and garlic will be golden not burned.

Add the ground pinto beans to the skillet. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients. Top with cheddar or Jack cheese and serve with chips or use in another recipe.

Meatless Mexican Eggrolls
Makes 16 eggrolls, about 8 servings but freezes well before cooking.

16 eggroll wrappers or 8" tortillas
4 oz refried beans
1-4oz package of yellow rice, prepare as instructed. You'll use 1 cup.
4 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 onion, small dice
1/2 green bell pepper, ribbed seeded, and small dice
1/4 c corn
1/2- 4 oz chopped green chilies
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves, large minced
1/2- 15 oz can kale, drained well
half a small bunch of cilantro or 3 TBS dried cilantro
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tomato, small dice
2 TBS vegetable oil
4-6 oz shredded Cheddar, Queso, or Jack cheese (optional)
Oil for frying, if frying

In a large skillet, add 2 TBS vegetable oil. When heated add onion, peppers, and garlic. Saute until translucent and fragrant.

Add corn, seasonings, black beans, kale and tomato to the skillet. Cook until heated through.

Stir in cooked yellow rice. Add cheese, if desired, and remove from heat. Stir well so the mixture is a colorful mix.

Take a eggroll wrapper or flour tortilla (heat in 30 seconds in microwave covered with a moist paper towel so they are pliable). Cover remaining wrappers with plastic wrap.
How to roll an eggroll
Place about 2 1/2 TBS to 1/4 cup of mixture in the center of the wrapper as shown. You can roughly square off the round tortillas. Brush the areas not covered by bean mixture with a beaten egg or water, and then roll as shown in the diagram. Place each eggrolls seam side down on parchment lined baking sheet. Continue rolling.

If you are freezing these, place baking sheet in the freezer for an hour before sealing and freezing now.

In a deep bottom pot, place enough oil to measure 6" deep.Heat oil to 350 degrees. Drop the eggrolls into the oil. Fry about 3 minutes to golden brown and flip them. You'll know they are done when they float. Drain on a rack or multiple layers of paper towels.

 Or in our case, baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown. But, Santa (me) brought me an air fryer for Christmas so I'll be trying that!

You can use brown rice cooked with 1/4 tsp of  saffron stems (about 4-6 stems), 1/2 tsp each of onion powder, and garlic powder (boil the seasonings first in water before adding the rice) for a healthier version instead of yellow rice. In a pinch you could use turmeric instead of saffron for color, but not taste as they do in most Chinese restaurants.

The combination of rice and beans form a complete amino acid chain in your digestive absorption like meat does without the cholesterol and fat. Let me know how you like these and enjoy!

Y'all have a blessed day!
Jo



 


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Homesteading- Never Turn Down Freebies, Go Get 'Em

My neighbor at the top of the drive told me that a tree service was coming to trim trees away from the power lines. He said they could take up to a year to do it so he decided to take out some trees himself so nobody would lose power because of the trees.

He couldn't  get all the trees branches off without a cherry picker which he didn't have. But this 70 year old man did the best he could do. The people like us living below him appreciate his efforts. He cut down six trees by himself! We all breathed a little easier while we waited for the tree service to finish the job.

Imagine our surprise not two months later when the tree service arrived. With their heavy duty machines, they were making short work of all the trees. They had a shredder happily munching up the debris. I drove up the driveway and talked to the guys. Sure I could have the shredded debris. How many truckloads did we want? I did a quick calculation. I answered three to six loads.

Now when these trucks shred the debris, they are grinding green manure (leaves) and brown manure (wood) at the same time so it's already all mixed up. The exact ratio may be off, but it sure beats having to do it all ourselves. Our old car park area by the barn is filled with four truck loads of wood and leaf shreds just waiting for the rain to let up for us to move it where we need it.

Talk about saving money! I had priced wood chips at the saw mill and it was $250 a truck load (about 2 tons). I got four (8 tons) for free just by talking to these guys. It's just a shame I spent $80 on hay for the orchard a month ago. But it's all good. The soil will be that much richer by the end of winter with another foot of composted material on top.

Way to go us! This was a major score. But yes, it's more work for us. We now have to spread it all. What I wouldn't give for a larger tractor and some heavy duty equipment to help do this. But it's all good. We aren't in any huge rush. We've got four months to do it in. The shredded material will just decompose in place until we get it all moved. Since it's all on compacted gravel covered by a thick layer of leaves, we shouldn't lose much. Just hose it all down after we finish, or better yet, let Mother Nature do it.

I just had to tell y'all about our good fortune.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Jo

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo- New Year's Feast Southern Style

Each region in the world has their own traditional New Year's Day feast. Here in the south is no exception. I know it's the 2nd of January already, but keep this to try next year.

Now the main meat course is Hog Jowls, smoked if you can get it. Ham is a good substitute. In case you didn't know it's the cheeks of a hog.

To Prepare-
Celtic symbol for health
If your jowls are pre-smoked, the preparation is easy, just wrap them in foil and bake like you would a ham. 350 degrees for 30 minutes a pound.Slice them into thin slices with a very sharp knife and serve. If they are not smoked it's a ten day process.

The Lore-
Hog jowls represents health and wealth. Pigs root forward so it also represents forward progress.

Collard Greens-
Nobody makes this dish better than my stepmother. I try to eat my weight in them every time she fixes them. I never manage more than two very large servings worth.I'll deal with my pork sensitivity/allergies later. It's even better than mine and that's saying something.


To Prepare-
The night before, she'll place two smoked ham hocks, 1 large onion (diced), 2 cloves of garlic (minced), and 6 slices of chopped bacon in a large kettle with enough water cover them twice. She'll let them simmer away overnight and get happy. In the morning, she'll wash and stem 2 bunches of collard greens. I cheat and buy three bags of them cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces.
She'll add about a tablespoon of sugar and apple cider vinegar to the hock liquid and removes the
Celtic symbol for wealth
hocks. She'll stir in the collards.
She'll let this mixture simmer it for 3-4 hours. Meanwhile, she'll debone the hocks, chops the meat, and add it to the pot. It's sheer agony to wait that long, but the longer you cook these greens the better. They're slap yo mama good. She doesn't have a recipe to go by. I got this just watching her prepare it.

The Lore-
Basically anything green reminds you of money. Collards being green means wealth in the new year.

Black-Eyed Peas-
Black-eyed peas are another southern tradition that any southern New Year's day meal wouldn't be complete without. For me, I make it simpler by making Hoppin' John. It saves me from having to cook the beans and rice separately.

To Prepare-
Soak 1 1/2 cups of black-eyed peas overnight.
Put sliced smoked 1 hog jowl or ham hock, 1 small diced onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and water in a stock pot or slow cooker. Add eight cups of water. Let simmer on low overnight.

In the morning, remove the hog jowl or hocks and set aside to cool.Add the peas to the liquid with 1 tsp salt and pepper, a good pinch of red pepper flakes. Cover the crock pot and continue cooking until the peas are almost tender. About three hours on low crockpot setting. A little faster on the stove top.
Add the deboned, chopped meat back into the pot. Stir in two cups of rice with a pint jar of diced tomatoes. Let cook until the rice is tender. If more liquid is needed feel free to add some.

The Lore-
Celtic symbol for luck
You eat one peas for every day you want to have good luck in the coming year. Now I don't know how big of a serving of 365 black-eyed peas are. I've never honestly counted them as I ate them until I couldn't eat another one. Maybe that's why I have so many Murphy Law days in a year. I do love me some black-eyed peas though.

Another story had cooks throw a silver coin in the pot of cooking peas. Whoever got the coin in their serving would have wealth and luck throughout the coming year. As far as I know dimes and quarters only have a small quantity of silver in them these days. So finding a pure silver coin to toss into the peas would be lucky indeed. The last 90% silver coin was minted in Seattle prior to 1960.

And yet another cook suggested placing a new copper penny under everyone's plate so they would all have good luck. Heads up, I'd assume.

Finally that brings us to the good old skillet corn bread.If you haven't made cornbread in a cast iron skillet before, buy one. You'll never go back to a cake pan again. Make it your New Year's Resolution.

Now I tend to split my cornmeal 50-50 between white and yellow corn meal. Mine is home ground from our non GMO corn and sprouted whole flour too. Nothing's too good for me and those within my house eating. I'm just saying this applies to our homestead. Feel free to buy the commercial brands if you like.

To Prepare-
2 cups of corn meal
2 cups of flour
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBS baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 half pint jar of corn relish (or whole kernel corn)
2 eggs, large, slightly beaten
2- 2 1/2 cups of buttermilk

Place butter in the skillet to melt while your oven is preheating to 400 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together remaining ingredients except the eggs and buttermilk. Add the corn and mix well.
In a measuring cup, mix eggs and buttermilk.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir until just combined.  The batter should look like thickened pancake batter. If it doesn't add more buttermilk.
Remove the skillet from the oven, Slosh the butter on all the sides to coat well. Be careful. The butter is extremely hot. Pour the remaining butter into the cornbread mixture and stir well.
Pour the batter into the hot skillet. It will sizzle a bit.
Place in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. The top should be golden brown and spring back when pressed. Quickly spread the top with more melted butter and serve.

The Lore-
As if the golden color wasn't enough of a give away, the cornbread represents wealth and prosperity in the coming year. The corn in the cornbread represents nuggets of gold.

So in the best southern tradition, there you have it a southern feast for health, wealth, prosperity, and luck for the coming year. I wonder if I eat at least 31 black-eyed peas a month would it have the same effect? But then, all that pork has me itching to high heavens with hives for two days afterwards. Ya gotta wonder how much all that pork fat is clogging your arteries too. Aw Jo, quit being a killjoy. Y'all have a very prosperous, healthy, and luck filled new year from the Cockeyed Homestead.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Jo