New Year’s resolutions are notorious for being too lofty and often unmet. I’ve resolved to make my resolutions more about matters of the heart this year, rather than focusing on one particular flaw that needs improving. Because as I’ve learned the hard way over the past few months, external flaws or bad habits are results of a ruined heart. They are results of being far away from the Creator and instead, closer to the creation. So instead of losing weight or being more organized or improving my correspondence with friends, or whatever needs improvement, I will instead put these resolutions on my list for 2014, and like the scriptures promise, “all these things will be added to you.”
1. Work for Christ instead of approval of men
2. Speak less frequently and listen more
3. Seek the Kingdom first thing in the morning through prayer, quiet time or reading
4. Look to the needs of others first
5. Treat Matt, Olive and everyone I come in contact with, like Christ would if He were me.
That should keep me quite busy this year. I know for certain that a year lived in this way will yield joy, whether good or bad things happen to me externally. I think I’ll type these out and review them daily. So many good things fall under these simple rules. Preparing and serving good food could technically fall under resolutions 1, 4 and 5. Today, I had the joy of keeping a tradition running in my family and preparing a huge pot of black eyed peas for us to have for lunch, lest we miss out on a year of good luck. Of course I don’t believe in superstition or luck, but I do believe in traditions and I look forward to them and I especially look forward to them if they are served with ham hocks and buttered corn bread.
Growing up, my Mammaw would bring us fresh frozen black eyed peas from her garden and we’d have them buttered with chopped, sweet onions. Nothing fancy, just your obligatory New Years peas! A few years ago I made a pot of dried beans with lots of bacon and chicken stock and it was pretty life-changing and so I have stuck to the same recipe, more or less, every year since.
Today, I give you my recipe for New Years black eyed peas, or Hoppin’ John, or whatever else you want to call it. In true Family Meal style, Matt and I both contributed to this recipe. I got the beans going, Matt made the cornbread, and Olive kept us entertained with things she found out in the yard as we took down Christmas decor. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day – it’s the only January 1, 2014 you’ll ever get, so by all means, live it well!
New Years Day – Hoppin’ John
16oz bag of dried beans (if you use fresh, you’ll get to skip the first step)
1 sweet, medium white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cups hot stock – I used beef stock, but chicken or vegetable would work fine, too.
1 large ham hock, or about 8 ounces chopped bacon or ham
1 recipe of really great skillet cornbread
In a large bowl, submerge the peas in water by at least 2 inches and let sit over night or at least 6 hours.
Drain the beans and set aside, picking through to remove any bad ones. In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil and let it start to bubble. Add in the chopped vegetables and stir for about 10 minutes until they all begin to soften. Add in the black eyed peas and ham hock and stock and bring to a full boil.
Reduce heat and bring it down to an active simmer and let it cook on the stove, uncovered, for about 3 hours, until the beans are tender. If you’re using fresh, you’ll probably only need to let it cook for 2, but just check occasionally for doneness.
Serve over cornbread with plenty of dashes of hot sauce and ring in the new year right!