Wednesday, 3 January 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Hoppin' John and Cornbread

Happy New Year! Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! 

After a successful day demonstrating against blood sports when the Fox Hunting Association had their annual parade through town before they went off to kill an innocent creature, we settled down to enjoy this traditional Southern dish. 

You *must* eat black eyed peas, cabbage or other greens and cornbread on New Year’s Day. FACT. The foods represent luck and prosperity--the black eyed peas standing in for coins and the greens for dollars (or in our case pound notes) and the cornbread for gold.

To quote Chris Rock: Cornbread. Ain't nothin' wrong with that.

How did this tradition come about? Is it only something people do south of the Mason Dixon line? According to

Why Are Black Eyed Peas Good Luck?
The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman's troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.
I don’t know about that, but I do know that this is a very satisfying meal that is cheap to make. It’s a stick-to-yer-ribs kind of meal. This is a vegan adaptation of the Southern dish Hoppin’ John.

Wikipedia says:
The Oxford English Dictionary's first reference to the dish is from Frederick Law Olmsted's 19th century travelogue, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States (1861).However, a recipe for "Hopping John" in The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, which was published in 1847, is also cited as the earliest reference. An even earlier source is Recollections of a Southern Matron,  which mentions "Hopping John" (defined, in a note, as "bacon and rice") as early as 1838.  The origins of the name are uncertain; one possibility is that the name is a corruption of the Haitian Creole term for black-eyed peas: pois pigeons (pronounced [pwapiˈʒɔ̃]), or "pigeon peas" in English.

I kind of see how that is possible. If you say Pois Pigeon, it does sound a *bit* like Hoppin’ John.

(if you close your eyes) 

Traditionally, Hoppin’ John was flavoured with bacon or a little ham hock. It was poor food that just used meat to flavour the dish not be the “main event.” Being vegan means meat is no event at all (main or otherwise), but don’t worry. Smoked paprika and liquid smoke will give you’re a cruelty free way to flavour your dish.

Now, as I said, this dish is best served with Cornbread. Or Cornybread as my Texas grandmother used to call it. It’s best to do your cornbread first.

Spidergrrl's Foolproof Cornybread

You need:
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 tsp vinegar
1 cup of corn--frozen and defrosted in boiling water for a few minutes and drained
1 cup polenta or cornmeal
1/2 cup flour (GF flour works great here--add 3/4 tsp xanthan gum)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking POWDER
1 TB onion powder --it makes it taste like hush puppies!
2 TB oil
2 TB liquid sweetener like agave, maple syrup or Lyle's Golden Syrup (my choice)

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Grease an 8 x 8 square pan.
2. In a blender, blend the milk, vinegar and HALF the corn to make a sort of creamed corn. Let it set aside to curdle and go all tangy and yum like buttermilk.
3. Sift together the flour, polenta, baking powder, onion powder and salt.
4. Mix wet into dry and add the oil and liquid sweetener and remaining half cup of corn. You can add the oil and sweetener to the blender, but it makes it harder to clean so I don't. I just add the oil and sweetener to the dry ingredients when I add the creamed corn.
5. Pour into prepared pan and bake 28-32 minutes until browning at the edges and slightly pulling away. Or do the toothpick test.
6. If you make it GF, then let it cool for about 15 minutes before you slice to prevent crumbling.

Once that’s going, start to work on your Hoppin’ John. This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Vegan on the Cheap (or Cheap-Ass Vegan, as Spiderman calls it)

Hoppin' John Soup
You need:
1 (white) onion, finely diced
1 pepper, probably the green one, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
enough garlic to scare the vampires
100g which is about 3-4 cups worth of kale, de-stemed and torn into tiny bites. We just buy a 200g bag and divide it in half and use it over two meals.
Squidge of tomato puree
splash tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
Cajun spices to taste or a tsp smoked paprika and a tsp thyme
1.5 cups black eyes peas--1 tin drained and rinsed or cook your own
4 cups hot broth
1/2 cup brown rice
I large potato, cubed

Note: This feeds us for 2 days if you use TWO large potatoes and an extra cup of broth

1. Sauté your onion and carrot and pepper in a bit of oil or water until softening. Add your garlic and cook just a minute or so more.
2. Add your tomato puree and tamari soy sauce to deglaze the pan. Add your spices and stir to coat your vegetables.
3. Add 4 cups hot vegetable broth, the potato, (or 5 cups broth and 2 potatoes) and the rice. Bring to the boil and reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked. Our brown rice takes around 25 minutes.
4. Add in the black eyed peas, kale and liquid smoke and simmer until kale has wilted and cooked down--about five minutes. Keep stirring to make the kale wilt faster.
5. Serve over cornbread while talking in your best "Ah do declare" Southern accent. 

Enjoy, everyone! May 2018 be a year where we change the world for good! 

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