Nothing makes me more optimistic than the first page of a new journal. The world shimmers with promise and wonder as I survey the tidy lines, mustering a sentence worthy of the white space. My handwriting that first entry is notably neat, the prose aiming for profundity (though frequently missing). I’ve amassed dozens of first journal entries since I began writing them at age eight. Unfortunately my perfectionism predates my passion for writing; I saw anything but daily journaling a failure and often ripped out a month’s worth of entries because I skipped a single day.
I’ve matured a bit since my journal-purging years. I can even return to a blog after 33 post-less days and refrain from deleting the entire site. Truth be told, I barely cooked in December (unless you count the many “so…egg sandwiches?” dinners we ate in front of the TV). I even brought break-and-bake cookies to an office Christmas party. (Okay, two office Christmas parties. Bad food blogger!)
But this is a day for fresh starts, thank goodness. A crisp, unmarred page bursting with possibilities. I have a long list of goals for 2015, but my first order of business was to get back in the kitchen. I’d never had black-eyed peas before moving to the south, but last year I adopted the tradition of eating them on January 1st for good luck. The stark contrast of black and white seems a fitting symbol for this holiday, when we draw a line in the sand between our old selves and new. Who couldn’t use a little extra luck with that transformation?
Black-eyed Pea and Bacon Hash | Yields 2 1/2 cups
This is great as a light lunch or side dish. If you have a few spoonfuls left over, add a cup or two of chicken stock and enjoy a black-eyed pea and bacon soup.
- 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
- 4 strips of bacon, fat reserved
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup green onions, white and light green parts, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 tablespoon green onions, dark green parts, sliced into thin rounds
- Salt and pepper, to taste
8-10 hours before serving:
Place peas in a medium pot and cover with 4 cups water. This allows the peas to soften and reduces cooking time.
1 1/2 to 2 hours before serving:
Drain and rinse softened peas. Return peas to medium pot and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until peas are tender. (For this recipe, slightly firmer is better.) Drain and set aside.
In a large frying pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Add garlic and 1/4 cup green onions to pan and sauté until soft. Add black-eyed peas and stir until warmed through. Crumble bacon over the hash and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with green onions and serve warm.