So here is what I’ve learned from my first week as a sort-of-food blogger. Before I started this I thought that the hard part would be finding the time to take pictures while I cook. I’m not a very fast cook, so I figured anything extra in my process would make my cooking time go through the roof. I’m a big fan of food blogs with step-by-step pictures, but I wasn’t sure if I could actually make that work with my *ahem* time challenges. Revelation of the week: it doesn’t actually take that much longer to take pictures of the cooking process than it does to just cook. I mean, it’s not always the easiest seeing as how this is the extent of the natural light that comes into my little kitchen.
Despite the challenges, the photography actually happens pretty quickly. Probably out of necessity. When something is actively in the process of cooking you can’t exactly take 10 minutes to get the perfect shot unless you want overcooked food. And no one wants overcooked food. I’ve adopted a method to make it so that I will actually get shots I can use even with the rushed conditions. I call it the take-a-butt-load-of-pictures-really-fast-and-hope-one-of-them-is-at-least-in-focus system. It’s been working out for me so far.
Anyways, what does take some time is uploading the pictures, preparing them for the web, and actually making a post. I came out of last week with 4 recipes (only 3 of them were post worthy…although I did really like the pictures of the other) worth of pictures, but no recipes posted! I’ll work on this. I’m sure I’ll find a system.
If you are from the south, chances are last wednesday you ingested some sort of black-eyed peas and maybe some corned beef and cabbage. Evan had no idea that there even were lucky New Years foods. The little yankee. I knew I had to educate him but there was a problem. New Years foods are the only food tradition that I really dislike. I mean, I like black eyed peas just fine, but when I think of New Years food I remember the smell of boiled cabbage and the taste of corned beef. Bleh. I understand. It’s a tradition, and for that reason my mom had to make it every year despite its terrible smell and taste. Mom, it’s not about your cooking. You’re a great cook. You can only do so much with one of the most vile ingredients on Earth. Every year on January 1, my mom would call me into the kitchen and apologetically tell me that I needed to at least have a bite. You know, for luck. Now, as I’ve gotten older almost all of my food aversions have faded. I even like cabbage now. That being said, corned beef and grapefruit can go rot in the fiery cavern from whence they came. Too strong? I don’t think so. Clearly I couldn’t educate Evan on this southern tradition using one of my two big food aversions that have stood the test of time. So I turned instead to the tasty lucky foods: black-eyed peas and cabbage! I’ll give you the cabbage recipe next (I actually just made it today. My co-worker is pretty convinced that my year is already doomed.) but today I give you black-eyed peas in the form of Hoppin’ John. Are you proud of me mom? I rang in the New Year right.
When I was looking for how I wanted to prepare my black-eyed peas, recipes for Hoppin’ John popped up all over the place. I read several of them and then just decided to wing it. This was both a good and bad decision. The good: the flavor was fantastic! The bad: the texture was a little harder. Literally. I decided I wanted to try fresh peas because I saw them in the produce section of the grocery store and they looked intriguing. Unfortunately, the fresh peas take a long time and a lot of liquid to loose their bite. I wasn’t anticipating either of those things and had purposefully kept the liquids low because I didn’t want soupy peas. Mistake. So I’m going to tell you what I wish I had done, not exactly what I did. Don’t make my mistakes guys. Don’t eat crunchy peas. Without further ado, I give you Hoppin’ John!
- 1 small onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 oz bacon, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 12 oz fresh black eyed peas
- 3-4 cups chicken broth
- Salt to taste
- Dice onions and green bell pepper and mince garlic. In a large pan with a lid or a medium pot with a lid, cook bacon over medium high heat on stovetop until crispy. Reserve bacon and discard most of the grease. Keep about a teaspoon of grease in the pan and return to heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and pepper. Stir until the vegetables are coated in the spices. Add the peas and chicken broth. Start with 3 cups, and add more during cooking if needed. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cover with a lid. Let simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and monitoring the level of liquid.
- Test your peas after 30 minutes and if they aren’t tender enough, keep cooking and adding more liquid as necessary. When the peas are almost completely tender, remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Taste and add salt if necessary. Top with bacon and serve.
Look! I swear I didn’t do this on purpose, but I wrote the recipe for HOPPIN’ John down on a frog sticky! Too perfect.
STEP BY STEP PICTURES
Dice your onion and bell pepper
Like so. Also mince some garlic.
Cook your diced bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to separate plate to drain. Discard all but 1 tsp bacon grease and return to heat.
Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the pan and cook until softened.
Add cayenne, smoked paprika, and pepper to pan and stir, coating vegetables. In the picture I added salt, but I would recommend waiting until the end to add the salt. You might not even need extra salt depending on the salt content of your chicken broth.
These are the peas that I bought. You could also use frozen, just reduce the liquid and cooking time.
Everybody in the pool! Add the peas and the broth. Cover and let simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and monitoring the level of liquid.Test your peas after 30 minutes and if they aren’t tender enough, keep cooking and adding more liquid as necessary. When the peas are almost completely tender, remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Taste and add salt if necessary. Top with bacon and serve.
Mmmmm, even with the pea frustration, this was a delicious dish. Bookmark this recipe for next New Years so that you can start your new year right! Or make it now if you haven’t gotten your lucky-food fix yet!
P.S. Was this post too long? I can be pretty long winded, especially when I tell stories. Hope you guys enjoyed the ride!