Because Life with Kids is Sticky...Very Sticky

Lucy Mercer

Lucy Mercer
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
December 31
I cook, I write, I carpool. You may also find my words at A Cook and Her Books. Email acookandherbooks@gmail.com. Thanks for visiting!


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DECEMBER 26, 2010 3:05PM

Not my mama's black eyed peas and greens

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Visit my mom’s house on New Year’s Day and you will be treated to simple, humble fare – a black-as-midnight cast iron skillet sizzling with buttermilk cornbread, a pot of black-eyed peas and a bowl of greens, usually collards. The peas and greens are usually cooked with pork, such as the leftover bone from the Thanksgiving ham. Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's is supposed to bring luck in the coming year; greens are supposed to bring green (money) to your pockets.

It’s kind of endemic to the Southern experience that the Way Mom (or Grandma) Cooks is the best and only way to cook. My mother is an excellent cook and I’ve learned much in her kitchen. At my mother’s apron strings, I learned dishes such as country fried steak and chicken & dumplings. I learned to make layer cakes, pound cakes and cookies. Mom taught me how to put together a meal, cooking the meat and vegetables in order so that everything is ready at the same time. She taught me her way, but she also taught me something else: to try new things. This is the most valuable lesson of all. Even in my suburban Georgia neighborhood, I have an incredible amount of ingredients and technology available to me, plus a world of information at my fingertips. I can choose to cook from my own little world or I can bring the world into my kitchen.

Which is why on New Year’s Day 2011, you will find the traditional black-eyed peas flavored with garam masala, turmeric and cumin at my table. This flavorful and fragrant dish is adapted from Gene Lee, who writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and blogs at Eat, Drink, Man: a Food Journal. Instead of cooking the peas entirely on the stovetop, I start them off in a Dutch oven and place it in the oven on convection for an hour or more, for the peas to slowly soak up the spicy goodness.

Oven-Braised Black Eyed Peas with Indian Spices

A note on the chilies: the original recipe specifies three to six chilies. In the summer, I take the chilies and peppers from the CSA box, roast them together, seed them and freeze in a container. Whenever I need peppers or chilies, I break off a portion and use in the recipe. When making this recipe, I used about 1/2 cup of chopped, frozen chilies. 

8 ounces dried black-eyed peas
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 chilies, chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into ¼ inch dice
 1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon garam masala
2 cups water

1.      Pour peas onto a rimmed half sheet baking pan and pick out stones, debris and off-looking peas. Pour peas into a bowl and cover with water. Swish the peas, then pour off most of the water. Refill with water to cover peas by one inch and leave to soak for a few hours or overnight. Add water, if needed.
2.      When ready to cook, put a Dutch oven on the cooktop over medium heat and pour in oil. Add cumin seeds, garlic and ginger and stir for a minute. Add dry seasonings – salt, cayenne, turmeric and garam masala. Cook over medium heat for five minutes. If mixture is too dry, add a spoonful of water. Turn up the heat and add onions and chilies.
3.      Add peas and water and bring to a boil. Heat oven to 300°. Place Dutch oven in real oven at 300° for at least one hour. Check liquid level occasionally. Peas should be done after an hour, but can continue to cook at low heat for several hours - be sure to check the liquid level and replenish with water as needed.


 I’ve also tried a new method for cooking greens. I happen to think collards are great and consider the work involved – washing, trimming and chopping – a labor of love. But my family? Not so much. My  friend Susan’s recipe for Kale with Raisins and Pine Nuts has turned my husband and girls into greens eaters. Susan writes about produce on her blog, Thoughtful Consumption. Here is my adaptation of her recipe.

Kale and Beet Greens with Raisins and Pine Nuts

There are many possible variations of this dish – any kind of green except for collards would work. (As much as I love collards, they’re just too tough for this quick treatment.). I used a bunch of kale plus some beet greens and it was terrific. Slivered almonds or roughly chopped walnuts could sub for the pine nuts.

2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup raisins
1 bunch of greens such as kale, washed and trimmed into 2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a skillet over medium heat, pour in olive oil. Add pine nuts and raisins, stirring and cooking until pine nuts are golden and raisins are plump and soft.
2. Add greens, stirring until softened, at least five minutes, or as much as 10. If they dry out, add a bit of water a spoonful at a time. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

I'm not saying that these two dishes should be served together, but either one would make a fine addition to a New Year's feast. Just be sure to add the cornbread, a dish so perfect that there's no point messing with it.

 Open Salon: Thank you for making 2010 such a great year for me (as a writer and a reader). I send wishes for a 2011 full of blessings. Happy New Year!

Text & images ©2010, Lucy Mercer.

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I made a recipe similar to your kale for a party this week. I was so exhausted that I made crap on a plate for Christmas dinner. I think I might make my New Year's a Lucy Mercer recipe night.
You are the Martha Stewart of the year for me.
rated with hugs
Happy new year to you, Lucy ! Each one of these dishes looks delicious and tempting - not to mention healthy. That corn bread and beet greens seem to be calling me. ♥
Lucy-these look wonderful. I'm going away to my friend on the coast and I think I'll bring the ingredients. If I don't have a convection oven, how long to precook the peas?
I can't wait. Thank you for all your wonderful posts. Is that a picture of your mother???
I love your black eyed peas recipe, it sounds like a Southern rendition of Indian dal. Greens are so underappreciated in America, I'm glad they are at least popular in the South. Here's to 2011!
Lucy, love your tale of life lessons from your mother and truly delicious sounding recipes... I'm hungry now. I especially like the greens recipe and will start making that soon. And the blackeyed peas recipe sounds just like a dish called lobia that we get often from our favorite Pakistani place. Wishing you lots of beans and greens in 2011!
Love Gene Lee--a real treasure with great recipes. Happy New Year, Lucy! Best of beans (luck) and greens (prosperity) to you. :) rated.
This sounds healthy and yummy! Black-eyed peas are so cute, yet I've never been able to think of anything original to do with them, so this recipe will be great to try. Love your new avatar, too!
Yep, that's our usual New Year's Day menu! I hope those black-eyed peas, greens and cornbread bring you the good fortune they're intended to bring!
As a Yankee transplanted to the south, I am proud to say that I have come to love greens of all kinds and can make a pretty good cornbread. Your black-eyed pea recipe looks marvelous, and I think I may have found my New Year's menu!
Yum... I make my own black-eyed peas but I'll try these ones on New Year's day. Glad to see a recipe that calls for beet greens. I love them and didn't know eating the greens had this meaning ...
Linda: That is such a sweet thing to say. Thank you!

Fusun: I made pickled beets with the roots & saved the greens - they were perfect in the saute. Every now and then, I can turn out something healthy - a welcome relief from all the sweets in my house.

Hi Janice: I soak the peas overnight, them let them cook with the spices for at least an hour. They can cook on the stovetop, or in the oven, or even a crockpot. I would think an hour minimum. I'm not sure who the girl is in the picture. I wrote about her earlier this year in a post called "the Laughing Girl Goes on a Picnic." Happy Holidays to you and your grandbabies - I know you're making the holidays fun for them!

Grace: I love greens, and I admit that I came late to the party. My family is learning to embrace them, but I've learned not to make great quantities (a problem with collards - firehouse servings).

Linda: Beans & greens in 2011 is a wish from and for the heart, thank you. I'm thinking about good food that's good for you in the coming year. Happy New Year, fellow SKC champ!

Theresa: I like Gene Lee's blog, and I'm very excited that he's posting on AJC now. Happy New Year, it's been a pleasure getting to know you & read your stories this year!

Felicia: For years, I only knew about black eyed peas with pork, and the peas were usually mushy and gray. Now, I can add this dish and Texas caviar to my repertoire. Thanks for reading!

Bell: thanks for reading & for the good wishes. Happy New Year to you & the Vance family!

Jeanette: Happy New Year! I confess that I make cornbread from the Martha White mix, but I do add an extra egg & whole buttermilk, when I can find it.
I knew this was going to be an EP...CONGRATS!!!
This looks delicious! and very similar to our New Year's Day feast : )
I want to try your spices though, this year, and double the luck with all the healthful ingredients...did you know many of your spice ingredients are medicinal?
Lucy, I cut some collards and a few turnip greens at the farm this weekend before the freeze, just waiting for Friday night. I think it's as you say... I can't mess with tradition so will do the usual treatment for NYE, but will catch up with you later on the cumin in the BEPs (that kale with pine nuts and raisins looks like a winner too). Thanks for adding to the recipe box this year Lucy! Happy 1/1/11 to you too!
Lucy, I've tried black-eyed peas a few times when I've been in the South and although I didn't hate the, I was unimpressed. But your recipe sounds fabulous. I'm going to try it one of these days.

And now that I've had a good look at the hat - caramba!
OMGosh that sounds delcious! I usually make a Texas Cavier for our New Yerar's black-eye pea dish, but I didn't know about the greens. This Yankee thanks you for a new idea for her Southern gentleman this year :-)
Beautiful, enticing, delicious. Your writing, I mean. I'll be transforming your words into a repast for my family today!
I was just looking for a black eyed peas recipe! Perfect. I will definitely try this. And congratulations on your win!
I can hardly wait to try these recipes! Thanks for sharing them.