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Food: New Year’s Traditions Southern Style

By Tammie McClure
Staff Writer

Food connects us to our culture and reminds us of where we came from. All across America this New Year’s there will be foods served from practically every nation and culture in the world. It reminds us that our nation is truly a melting pot and that no matter your beliefs, religion, political ideology – most of us share one thing in common – family traditions, and a lot of them revolve around food.

Our family is a melting pot in itself. We are a mix of different cultures and even different religions and yet it all works for our family. We are proud of all of our backgrounds individually and combined.

As families grow, marry, relocate and so on, traditions can sometimes be lost along the way. So cling to those you have. As my grandparents and parents did, teach your traditions and recipes to your children and grandchildren so they can be carried on even after you’ve left this world.

Here is a southern New Year’s Day specialty called Hoppin’ John.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large ham hock or you can use a large ham steak
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 quart chicken stock
1 Bay leaf
1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne, to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
3 cups steamed white rice

Heat oil in a large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaf, thyme, and season to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and top with green onions. Serve over rice.

BRAVE MEANING: noun: brave | 1.a brave person. | 2.to meet or face courageously:to brave misfortunes. | 3.to defy; challenge | 4.ready to face and endure danger or pain 


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