O.K., ya’ll. I think I’m all set for 2010. I put the coins outside on the front porch New Year’s Eve and brought them in this morning. That’s the first piece of good luck. This afternoon, I put on the greens, black-eyed peas and ham hock. The greens symbolize wealth (of which we are slightly short of at the moment), the black-eyed peas symbolize luck and the ham is so we will eat high off the hog during 2010. I was shocked to find out that people all over the country neglect this vital beginning to the new year.
You start off with the ham hock, one that’s been cured. I got mine at the farmer’s market last Saturday. I know some of you are going to say you don’t have access to ham hocks, but go looking. You’ll find one. Then you take three good bunches of greens – collard, mustard, turnip, even spinach. You pick. I love turnip greens so that’s what I used this year. Be sure to wash them. They like to play in the mud.
Put about four cups of chicken stock in a pot over medium low heat. You can buy the stock, but I make my own. You should, too. You just save up your chicken carcasses and then store the stock in the freezer. Add the greens, cut-up ham hock and black-eyed peas to the stock. Don’t salt. The ham hock is salty enough. This is what it looks like when you start.
And this is what it looks like when you stop. It takes a few hours, but that’s why you do this New Year’s Day so you can watch football while you’re waiting for the greens to get done. I was talking to my friend, Stacy, this afternoon and told her about this New Year’s Day tradition. She was intrigued. She’d never heard of this. She’s from Chicago, so I don’t need to say any more about that.
I am trying to raise Noah up right. I have told him he doesn’t have to make exactly what I make on New Year’s Day, but he must always eat some kind of greens, black-eyed peas and some kind of pork or I don’t even want to contemplate what will happen.
I’m not superstitious about most things, but I have not woken up on a New Year’s Day in I can’t remember when without the makings for greens. I always make cornbread sticks to sop up the pot likker, which is probably the best part.
As I’m writing this, I’m looking out the office window at a full moon. That’s a good sign. 2009 was a difficult year. People lost their jobs. They lost their houses. They lost hope. But, for the most part, we’re all still vertical and there’s a new year in front of us. We said a prayer before supper to make the most of it. And we will.