Happy New Year 2017!
The passing of the year is seen as a moment when change is possible. Around the world, people are throwing New Years Eve parties, and marking the moment that the calendar rolls over with toasts and revelry. But don’t dismiss January first as just a day to nurse a hangover. New Years Day is a day to mark a new beginning.
The ritual of ending one year and starting another can be a powerful catalyst for making positive changes. It can also be another time to make pointlessly grand resolutions, that probably won’t stick with you past the next weekend. If your resolutions are to eat better, New Years Day is as good a time as any to add some delicious whole foods to your diet. Pledging a complete overhaul may be too much for most people, but little pledges, like doubling your vegetable intake, or doing meatless Mondays, or even going whole grain instead of white are all simple enough to pull off. Just pick things that are do-able.
The rituals and superstitions around New Years Day all see the day as symbolically setting the tone for the rest of the year. Believers take pains to not spend money or write checks, as that will set the stage for money leaving you all year. Some believe that the first person to enter your door after midnight is very significant, and make plans to have a good guest bring some symbolic gifts.
What the heck, a few gifts make for a happy New Year!
To start the New Year off right, we follow a few customs and eat foods that are thought to be auspicious. In Spain, 12 grapes are eaten at midnight, one for each month of the year. Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day is a Southern tradition that shows that you don’t hold yourself above the rest of us. Pork is thought to add richness that will stay all year long. Peas and beans are eaten in many cultures on New Year’s because the round beans symbolize coins and money. Similarly, leafy greens are thought to symbolize folded cash, so eating greens on the big day will bring money to you all year long. Rice is a symbol of abundance. Fish is historically served at feasts, especially dried or preserved fish, in part because Catholics don’t eat meat on religious holidays. Fish also has scales, which resemble coins, and it swims in schools, which symbolize abundance. In Chinese New Year’s, the fish is always cooked whole, to bring the most life force to the diner. Golden foods, like cornbread, bring the color of gold to your plate and attract wealth. Noodles, especially long, Chinese noodles, symbolize longevity. In Chinese New Years celebrations, a special longevity noodle is sold, one long noodle bundled up to cook whole. Don’t cut your noodles, just slurp them up for the full effect.
Hoppin’ Happy New Years Blackeyed Peas and Rice
Blackeyed peas keep you down to Earth, while carrot “coins” may just attract money. The bed of collards symbolizes cash, and we all hope for a little more cash. Rice symbolizes abundance, so eat plenty of it.
3/4 cup blackeyed peas, soaked
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, sliced in coins
1 rib celery, chopped
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 small chipotle chile canned in adobo, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch collard greens
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Soak the peas overnight, then pour off the water and put them in a small pot. cover with water by 3 inches and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for about 30-40 minutes. Test the beans for tenderness, don’t overcook. Drain.
In a 2 quart pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onions, carrot and celery and saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat. When the onions are clear, add the garlic and saute for another few minutes. Add the brown rice and chipotle with 2 cups water and the salt. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and reduce the heat, cook for about 35 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Take off the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Trim the collard greens by tearing or cutting the leaves from the stems, then finely slice the stems. Reserve.
Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cup with the cider vinegar, fresh thyme, paprika and salt. Pour over the cooked blackeyed peas and toss to coat.
Just before serving, heat the remaining olive oil and saute the collard stems for 2 minutes over high heat before adding the leaves. Saute, stirring, until the leaves are softened and deep green.
Serve collards topped with about 3/4 cup rice, and 1/2 cup peas on top. Drizzle with hot sauce and parsley.