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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year & Pass the Peas!

Picnik collage

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but in the South we start the New Year with a dish of black-eyed peas. According to folklore, this New Year's Day tradition dates back to the Civil War, when Union troops pillaged the land, leaving behind only black-eyed peas and greens (as they were thought worthy only for animals). Rich in nutrients, these were the humble foods that enabled Southerners to survive. Enjoying them on New Year's Day represents a communion of family and friends, bound by grateful hearts and renewed hope for good things yet to come!

{southern living}

I don't take any chances, so we eat them every January 1.

(Not these Peas.)

The story is even better in my family. Since before I can remember, my grandfather, Poppoo, made a huge batch of Black-Eyed Pea Relish (also known as Texas Caviar) every year after Christmas. He would fill mason jars with his spicy treat, and the two of us would pile in the car to hand-deliver them to all my grandparent's friends. As the years went by, the number of recipients did the number of grandkids who delivered them with Poppoo. His last year of the tradition, he prepared 48 jars!

We lost Poppoo this year, and I just couldn't bare to lose his tradition of the Black-Eyed Peas, too. So my mom, aunt and I whipped up a batch of his famous peas this week (although probably not quite as spicy as he liked to make them!). We even delivered them to a few of his closest friends. As soon as they saw us, along with my two kids, standing on their doorstep with a jar of peas, they knew exactly why we were there. It was emotional to say the least, but I felt such joy knowing we were carrying on something for which Poppoo was known.

I'm not sure where he got his recipe, or if it was just something he cultivated over the years...but they are fondly known as:

Poppoo's Peas!
Note: This recipe is for 24 pints. Half it for 12, or double it for 48. You probably could figure that part out, but I confuse easily, so I thought I'd throw it in.

5 cans black-eyed peas (we prefer Trappey's brand with jalapenos, but we're spicy like that!); drained

3 pounds of dried black-eyed peas

4 cans diced Rotel tomatoes (again, we're choosing the 'hot'); drained

2 cans diced tomatoes; drained

48 ozs Italian salad dressing

3 green bell peppers; diced

2 red bell peppers; diced

2 large purple onions; diced

2 bunches of green onions; sliced

10 ozs diced pimentos; drained

2 small cans of chopped black olives

1 small jar of stuffed green olives; chopped

4 ozs dill pickle relish

1-2 cups jarred jalapeno peppers (depending on your sissy level); chopped

2 T chopped garlic

Salt and Tabasco to taste

Soak your dry beans in plenty of water overnight. Drain, then cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until just tender (about 35 minutes.) Don't overcook, you want them snappy, not soggy. Drain and allow to cool.

Combine all the ingredients except the cooked peas, canned peas and Italian dressing. Mix well and salt to taste.

Once the cooked peas are cool, combine with canned peas and Italian dressing in a separate bowl from the veggies. Mix well.

Combine all ingredients, mix well and add Tabasco to taste (about 25 shakes down here). We didn't have a bowl large enough for a small calf, so we combined four cups each of veggies and peas into a third bowl, mixed well, then filled the jars. I think we did that 3 or 4 times in order to fill all 24 pint jars.

Refrigerate until serving or delivering.

Picnik collage
(My the peas the peace sign. Clever.)

I hope your New Year is full of hope, joy, prosperity and DIY projects!

Picnik collage


  1. happy new year, cassie! hope you had a great night, and hope 2011 is your bestest year ever! :)

  2. Aah Cassie that actually made me quite emotional - such a great tradition. I hope you carry it on!
    Happy New Year to you!
    Rachie xo

  3. That is such a sweet tory! I literally JUST got finished making a batch for today! Your recipe sounds delish! I'll have to try it next time. Happy New Year!

  4. Now THAT is the right way to start the New Year! Such a beautiful story and tradition. And like a good Charleston girl I'll be having mine today too!!

  5. Happy New Year to you...hope it will be a good one:)


  6. those look great, I might have to try this recipe, BEP here (Texas native living Alabama) mine are soaking right now! :)

  7. I don't know what to say really...that is such an amazing tradition and it is so hard to keep things up when the person they surrounded are gone. I love that you are keeping the tradition going! My grandpa is actually in the hospital right now after a heartattack, so this is probably more emotional than it normally would have been...but what a sweet post and I am going to try that yummy recipe. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

  8. Happy New Year, Friend! You know I love me some Texas Caviar! What a great way to keep a tradition going. I bet it felt so great delivering those jars to your grandfather's friends. :)

    We do Hoppin' John at my house. I just love it!

  9. What an amazing story! Family tradition keepers have a special place in my heart!

  10. Such a wonderful story! And the recipe sounds delicious!

  11. How special to keep the tradition going and honor Poppoo in this way. Happy New Year to you, Cassie and I wish you a year of good health and happiness.

  12. What a meaningful tradition. I bet your kiddos will have fond memories of this tradition when they get older. We just moved to the south not long ago, and I keep hearing of new traditions. I feel like such an impostor :)

  13. What a great story Cassie! You will be glad you kept the tradition going (as I am sure are the recipients). I'll have to try that recipe. We make a dip that is similar.

  14. What a great story Cassie! You will be glad you kept the tradition going (as I am sure are the recipients). I'll have to try that recipe. We make a dip that is similar.

  15. Happy 2011! I just found your blog, and I love it! Can't wait to read more!

  16. Happy 2011 Love! Thanks for the sweet comment on the blog. I look forward to many more awesome exchanges in the near future.

    I am going to make your recipe this week...I do your Grandpa proud as it sounds like he was an awesome man!

  17. Sounds yummy!! And how cute is the packaging! Happy New Year, Cassie! Looking forward to a wonderful 2011 (:

  18. I love this recipe b/c it's steeped in sweet tradition and sassy spice (I'm no sissy to spice--bring it on). I have no doubt that your Poppoo is smiling proudly upon you all.

  19. love that you are carrying on the tradition. thanks for sharing the recipe! happy new year, cassie!

  20. Oh, Cassie. That is awesome. There are so few traditions that get passed down. That is beautiful. "Peas" drop some off at my door, too! xoxo

  21. This looks sooo yummy!! Such a great tradition that you're carrying on! Hope you had a wonderful New Year! :)

  22. That is such a sweet tradition to carry on in his honor! I'm sorry for your loss friend.


Your comments are like popcorn with milk duds, I just can't quit them. Thanks for taking the time to share your positive thoughts! xoxo, cass

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