Are you feeling lucky?


One of the main reasons for cooking a ham on Christmas is so that by the time New Year’s day rolls around, you are left with a ham bone to cook with your lucky beans.  Black eyes peas are traditional in the South but  I  believe, if you eat beans, any kind of beans (except jelly), on New Year’s Day, you are assured a year of good luck.  And, if you eat greens on New Year’s Day, you are assured wealth throughout the year.   I don’t believe in tempting fate, so this is our menu every New Year’s Day:  Lucky beans, greens and cornbread.


We  are a family that likes a good challenge so we powered through all 18 pounds of ham over the week to get to the bone by New Year’s Day.  We had ham and eggs, ham sandwiches, ham potpie, ham biscuits, ham with a side of ham; it didn’t seem to have an end.  We finally reached the bone and  I cooked the beans by  just throwing all of the ingredients in the pot and letting it simmer for a few hours.  My oldest son made the corn bread,  he’s now in charge of a lot of the baking in our house and has produced some mighty delicious breads.   Alongside the beans and cornbread I served kale that had been sautéed with garlic and little balsamic vinegar.  Just to be safe.

We pushed away from the table feeling very lucky and very thankful that the ham was gone.


Lucky New Year’s Day Pinto Beans 

1 ham bone

1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked overnight

1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon of ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons of dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Add beans, ham bone, onions, garlic, spices and enough water to cover the beans by about 2 inches.  Do not add salt or the beans will be tough.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for 2 – 3 hours until the beans are tender.  Check for seasoning and then add salt and pepper as needed.

Corn bread from The Joy of Cooking   (My dad adds chopped jalapeno to the batter)

1 tablespoon bacon fat, lard, butter, or vegetable shortening

1 3/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal, preferably white

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt (3/4 teaspoon if using buttermilk with salt)

2 large eggs

2 cups buttermilk

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Beat the eggs until foamy and then add to the buttermilk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended.  Place the bacon fat in the pan and then put the pan in the oven and heat until the fat smokes.  Pour the batter all at once.  Bake until the top is browned and the center feels firm when pressed, 20-25 minutes.  Serve immediately from the pan, cut in wedges or squares.

Leftovers, though dry, are nice enough if wrapped in foil and re-warmed in a low oven.

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