Every New Years Day, when I was growing up, my family made Black eyed peas and Hog jowl. We served it with Heinz catchup and I remember dreading having to eat it. I did eat it though because the thought of having bad luck for a WHOLE year just because I didn’t eat the peas didn’t seem worth the risk. I continued the tradition once I moved out on my own. In college I changed the recipe from Hog Jowl to bacon. I figured it was part of the same animal so it still counted. I remember going out to Wegman’s in Ithaca, NY at 10:30 pm on New Year’s Day desperately searching for a can of black eyed peas to cook and consume before midnight. Brian thought I was crazy and also hated the taste but he stuck with me and always has eaten them as well. Once I started cooking Christmas dinner, which involves a huge ham in our house, I started to use the leftover ham instead of the bacon. I wised up and bought dried peas which I rehydrated on New Years Eve. They tasted SO much better than the canned!!! Finally, this year I’ve expanded to spices and now we’ve turned a humble dish, that we all used to dread eating into a dish that Brian just got seconds of! SECONDS!!! The approximate recipe is below.

1 lb Dried Black Eyed Peas
1/2 to 1 lb Cooked Spiral Ham sliced into bite sized pieces.
1 Bay Leaf
3 Tbsp Fresh Parsley plus extra for garnish
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 Tablespoons of ground mixed peppers

Soak dried peas overnight per package directions. Drain the peas and rinse in fresh cool water the next morning. Slice up the ham and add both peas and ham to a large pot. Add enough water to cover the peas and ham. Add the parsley, bay leaf, pepper and lemon juice. Simmer on medium low heat for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally until the peas are very soft. Do not add salt. There is enough salt in the ham to flavor a large amount of peas. Serve warm garnished with additional chopped parsley. Eat on New Year’s Day to set you up with good luck for the New Year. Happy New Year 2014 everyone!!!