You know, of course, it being the New Year, we have to have a recipe for blackeyed peas. Herein, we provide a lesson for the uninitiated on how to prepare and cook dried blackeyed peas. This method will work for any dried legume: peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, etc. Length of time may vary, but the theory is the same. You soak and cook dried legumes all in the same way. This recipe calls for meat, but for some of us who do not want to include meat, just leave it out.
Additionally, when we are serving blackeyed peas, we MUST have cornbread to sop up the gravy. We happen to have a dandy cornbread recipe for you. It is a Southern style cornbread, which means it is NOT sweet. It does not contain any sugar. It is absolutely delicious. This from one who KNOWS because she has feasted on it! But if your thing is SWEET, whip up some honey butter to slather on your hot cornbread.
We have a hoecake recipe for you that sounds just about as simple as a quick bread can be. There is no leavening in this one. The history on hoecake is that folks working in the fields carried with them a little bag of cornmeal with some salt mixed in and a jar of water. When it came time for their mid-day meal, they mixed the cornmeal mixture with the water, formed a cake, and baked the hoecake over the fire on their pre-heated hoes.
Nut bread is served up for dessert. You can have it with ice cream or whipped cream.
Apple crisp will also be a welcome treat for us after our New Year’s Feast.
We pray you are blessed with good health and have a happy and prosperous New Year in 2017.
Please email your recipes to: email@example.com or mail them to The Apopka Chief, P.O. Box 880, Apopka, 32704-0880. And send us not only your recipes but ideas for future recipe columns as well.
NANCY THOMAS’ BLACKEYED PEAS
Recipe from Reader of The Apopka Chief and The Planter newspapers
1 pound (about 2 cups) dried blackeyed peas
2 ham hocks … or… 1 ham bone … or … 1/2 pound sliced thin hog jowl … or … 6 slices bacon … or 1 smoked turkey leg
1 large onion
3 stalks celery
1 large carrot
2 cloves garlic chopped small or 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
1-1/2 quarts water… or… chicken or vegetable broth
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano (optional)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole seasoning to taste … OR… cayenne or chili powder to taste… (Make it YOURS! Taste it as it cooks and add as needed, being careful to not ruin your dish with too much of anything. We’ve all done it.)
Cook a pound (about 2 cups) of dried blackeyed peas. First, rinse the dried peas in a pot of water, making sure there are no pebbles or dirt. Dump the peas in a colander.
Either soak the peas overnight by covering them with about an inch of water or, for a quick presoak, bring the peas to a boil on the stove, turn off the heat, and let them sit for an hour or so. After they soak in the heated water, discard that soak water.
When they are ready to cook, put them in a pot and just cover them with fresh water (about a quart and a half). You can use chicken or vegetable broth mixed in with the water if you like. For a pound of peas, you will need about a quart and a half of liquid. Keep in mind that broth contains salt.
If you have a couple of ham hocks or a ham bone left from Thanksgiving that you stuck in the freezer or maybe had a ham for Christmas, use that for seasoning. The meat will be falling off the bone (with your help). If you don’t have ham, you can use four to six slices of fried bacon broken up or some sliced hog jowl. Nestle the meat or bone down into the bottom of the pot so the meat will season the peas.
Chop an onion (about a cup or so of chopped onion). Chop fine two or three ribs of celery. Add a couple cloves of garlic, chop them up fine or you can use a heaping tablespoon of jarred minced garlic. Get a big carrot and grate it or chop it small.
Brown the onion first in some of the bacon grease (or in butter or oil) and then add the rest of the vegetables and brown them. Put the garlic in last since it tends to burn easily. Add salt and pepper, cayenne or chili powder to taste. Alternatively, you can use Cajun or Creole seasoning. Add about a half teaspoon dried oregano.
If you want to add canned diced tomatoes to your peas, hold off until the last part of cooking when they are almost cooked. Any acid-containing ingredient will tend to make peas or beans tough.
Cook the peas in a large heavy pot with the cover on for a couple of hours or until they are tender. Check during the cooking process to see if they need more liquid.
If you want, you can use a slow cooker instead of a pot on the stove. Put the peas and about a quart and a half of water in the Crockpot along with your meat and vegetables but hold off on most of the seasonings until the peas are almost done. It will take six hours or so on the low setting for the peas to cook. Add your spices or Cajun or Creole seasonings and oregano along with salt and pepper. Then cook for another two hours. ‘Taste as you go’ is the rule of thumb here.
After all this cautionary information, the best pot of dried beans I ever cooked was while vacationing in South Carolina for a family get-together staying in a state park cabin. I threw everything in the slow cooker at 11:00 at night including the seasonings and two big ham hocks, stirred it all up and woke up next morning to the WONDERFUL aroma of pinto beans. Everyone loved them and they were wonderfully tender and delicious. They still talk about those beans.
Blackeyed peas are delicious served over a bed of cooked rice or simply on their own. They are also a wonderful source of protein as well as very economical to the budget-minded chef.
CORNBREAD, SOUTHERN STYLE
Recipe from Reader of The Apopka Chief and The Planter newspapers
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Dash* of garlic powder (*a dash is defined as ‘less than 1/8 of a teaspoon’ but I just do a couple of shakes)
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon baking powder or… **see below for alternatives to using baking powder
1 cup buttermilk (if you are out of buttermilk, plain milk with a teaspoon of vinegar will curdle the milk in five minutes and you don’t need to run out for buttermilk.)
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter or shortening… to be melted and poured into the batter… or, if you want to do it the old-fashioned way, use hot bacon grease instead! Daddy slowly pours while Mama quickly stirs it into the batter.
2 tablespoons butter for greasing the skillet (plus a tablespoon cooking oil to increase the butter’s smoke point)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl: cornmeal, flour, salt, garlic, cayenne, and baking powder. Set aside.
Combine and mix buttermilk and milk with an egg. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Immediately pour this wet mixture into the dry cornmeal and flour mixture. Stir until well combined.
Melt the 1/4 cup of shortening and add to the batter slowly, mixing together until just combined.
Place skillet in hot oven for a few minutes (watch it) until hot. This next needs to be done quickly, and be very careful with the hot skillet. With oven mitts, pull the skillet out of the oven and add two tablespoons shortening (can be butter) making sure it covers the surface of the hot pan. Quickly pour the cornbread batter into the heated skillet. It will sizzle and make a lovely crispy brown surface on the bottom and sides of your cornbread that tastes and smells so good. Using oven mitts, carefully place the heavy skillet back into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until brown. Butter and serve immediately.
When you get good at making this recipe, you will be able to orchestrate the heating of the skillet with the mixing of the cornbread batter. The quicker you get the mixed batter into the hot skillet and into the oven, the better. You do not want the leavening to go flat before you get it into the oven.
**For folks who can detect the bitter taste of baking powder in baked goods (as my family members can), in place of one tablespoon of baking powder, use 3/4 teaspoon baking soda (also called bicarbonate of soda) plus 1 tablespoon vinegar. The baking soda will neutralize the vinegar taste so it is virtually undetectable. Add the dry baking soda with the other dry ingredients in your recipe and add the vinegar with the liquid ingredients.
Alternatively, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar equals 1 tablespoon baking powder. This is what I use in this cornbread recipe in place of 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
Actually, plain old buttermilk and baking soda is a wonderful leavening agent for quick breads such as cornbread. The buttermilk itself provides the acid that reacts with the baking soda to make baked goods rise.
Baking powder is a much more expensive leavening agent than these alternatives, so this is more economical than using traditional baking powder and doesn’t taste bitter to people who may be sensitive to the sodium aluminum sulfate contained in some baking powders.
Recipe from Food Favorites of Plains, Georgia Plains Pot Pourri
Mix 1/2 to 3/4 cup plain cornmeal with enough water to make a soupy mixture. Add a dash of salt and mix well. Have a cast-iron skillet on top of the stove, well greased and hot. Stir cornmeal mixture before pouring onto hot skillet. When bottom becomes brown, turn hoecake with a plate and cook other side. Make sure skillet is greased well again before cooking another hoecake. Always stir cornmeal mixture before pouring onto hot skillet.
BONNIE MILLIKEN’S APPLE CRISP
Recipe from Northside Baptist Church cookbook
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 cups (4 medium) tart apples, sliced and unpeeled
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place apples in a 1-1/2 quart casserole that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Mix water and almond extract. Pour over apples. Toss to coat.
1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white or brown sugar or Splenda
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons reduced-fat margarine
Mix crunchy topping ingredients until well mixed and crumbly, then sprinkle the topping over the apples. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and apples are tender.
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon sugar or Splenda
Serve Apple Crisp warm with yogurt topping.