Tuesday Dinner: Blackeyed Pea & Vegetable

Blackeyed Pea & Vegetable • Cabbage & Brussels Sprout Slaw with Daikon & Mandarins • Levain Rolls • Orange-Cornmeal Cookies

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all enjoyed some time with your families, and got to do something fun. We had a lovely all-family trip to Corrales, New Mexico. Unfortunately, we were struck by some awful germs…it was like dominos falling. There were always two people sick, but which exact two varied day to day.

I love New Mexico, though. There were many times I remember as a kid when I would be so sad to leave that I would cry for hours in the backseat. My tradition holds true; I cried all the way from Corrales to Gallup (that’s a two hour drive). Harper rolled her eyes a bit at my menopausal weepiness, and Poppy said, “Don’t worry, mama, we can come back!”

Luckily, there are lots of happier traditions to follow. It’s a family tradition (from my dad’s Louisiana roots) to eat hoppin’ john—a mixture of rice and blackeyed peas flavored with bacon and onion—on New Year’s Day. The blackeyed peas are for health, and the pork is for happiness. I always include you guys in my family tradition by making a blackeyed pea soup on our first week back from the winter break. This year, it’s a blackeyed pea soup with lots of vegetables: the Creole “trinity” of onions, celery, and green bell peppers, along with carrots, tomatoes, and Swiss chard.

I’m not too much of a resolution person, but I would like to work on reducing my food waste in 2020. I don’t throw away a lot of leftover or unused food, but I’m not a consistent composter. I didn’t realize until recently that food waste in landfills is a source of methane, which contributes to climate change. So I’m going to try harder to compost scraps, or use the “scraps” that are edible. (Did you know that carrots were originally grown for their tops, and the roots were thrown away or fed to animals?)

In a waste-not-want-not strategy, I used daikon leaves as a component in the relish that garnishes today’s soup. They’re chopped and sautéed with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes, then tossed with chopped shallots and rice wine vinegar. The result is a spicy, zesty condiment that livens up the soup. (Heads-up: kids may think it’s too hot.)

According to Louisiana tradition, the green part of a New Year’s dinner symbolizes wealth; for extra insurance, I made sure that we’ve got at least three shades of green going on today. There are the aforementioned Swiss chard and cooked daikon leaves, and then we’ve also got light green cabbage and darker green Brussels sprouts. Hopefully, this will be a prosperous year! The slaw also has daikon and mandarins, and more mandarins went whole into the blender to be puréed right into the dressing.

Tim’s mandarins show up again in dessert. He planted a ton, and the weather hasn’t ruined the citrus crop, so we’re going to be having them pretty often this year! I bought a fifty-pound case to take with me to New Mexico, a Christmas present to my family, and we ate them all week long. This week, I only (only!) bought twenty pounds, but I’m buying another case next week, so we can have citrus mess as soon as the weather clears up a little. (Damp and rainy weather isn’t good for meringues.)

While we’re waiting for everyone’s favorite citrus mess, we can enjoy these orange-scented cornmeal cookies. They’re a softer cookie, with a lovely golden color from the cornmeal. Even though we eat loads of cookies over the holidays, I can always have more; I’m a cookie monster through and through.

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