New Year tradition simmering on the stove

The pot is simmering on the stove and the all-important ingredient this New Years Day is black-eyed peas.  Even though I do have a tendency to follow a menu filled with “seasonal” favorites, today I have to admit that I add in black-eyed peas to accommodate my husband’s superstitious request.

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He believes that to have a good year, one must eat black-eyed peas on New Years Day.  In the past, I have tried to make sure I had a ham bone to use, but this year I am stepping it up with a twist.  I am using a pork shoulder bone-in roast.  Part of the reason is the ham seems to have so much salt anymore, and I prefer the richness of pork that is not cured.

Using a cookbook is usually not necessary as the base is pretty typical.  Oh I have a few twists that I add.  For instance I use a non-MSG chicken powder bullion to add a little flavor, then I chop up the veggies (celery, carrots, onion) so fine that they are not identifiable–another personal request from my family.  And then I let it simmer all day.

As the meat cooks, it becomes tender and pulls apart.  Many would say that is just pulled pork, but this is not barbecue in any sense of the word.  This is more like a stew or soup.  Rich and meaty, but today it is accompanied by black-eyed peas.

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The only addition to a bowl of this will be cornbread.  My favorite is Jiffy mix, but I do add a bit to it, too.  I add an extra egg and I also add vanilla.  That may be a bit of a surprise, but it smells so good as it bakes that it just draws you into the kitchen.

After tonight’s meal, the stew has the potential to serve up in new ways.  A jambalaya is one possibility especially if I add in shrimp and/or sausage. Another option would be to add various beans and even turn it into red/black beans and rice.  Who knows what it will become next, but it will certainly make the week’s menu a bit simpler.

Cooking is a comforting process for me.  In these days with the unbelievable frigid temperatures, cooking fills me with a unique form of warmth.  The process is calming.  The smell warms me up, too.  Of course the heat in the kitchen provides even more comfort.  As I begin a new year, I look for more opportunities to warm up in my kitchen.

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