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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.

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!

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