Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A NEW YEAR AND NEW PRESIDENT

Since the inauguration you can feel the energy, the people of the United States are ready to embrace change. It was amazing to see everyone come together and be so moved by the events of the day and the hope that President Obama has given our country. We need to support his plan for change and trust that he guides us in the right direction.

The excitment we felt when Obama won was one I will remember forever. What a joyous time for my family and our country. I knew that day a change had taken place and it was for the better. The change is here!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

HISTROY OF WATCH NIGHT ( New Year's Eve)

Many of you who live or grew up in Black communities in the United States have probably heard of "Watch Night Services," the gathering of the faithful in churches on New Year's Eve. The service usually begins anywhere from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and ends at midnight with the entrance of the New Year. Some folks come to Church first, before going out to celebrate. For others, church is the only New Year's Eve event. Like many others, I always assumed Watch Night was a fairly standard Christian religious celebration, but my grandmother said no there more to the
story, enjoy the whole story of watch night as told by my grandmother.

December 31, 1862, also known as "Freedom's Eve." On that night, Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were praying and shouting and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God. Black folks
have gathered in churches annually on New Year's Eve ever since praising God for bringing us safely through another year. It's been 141 years since that first freedom's eve and many of us were never taught the African American history of watch night, but tradition still brings us together at this time every year to Celebrate "HOW WE GOT OVER".

BLACK-EYED PEAS

The first group of Africans slaves landed in Jamestown Virginia, they brought food over to America including seeds of there native crops and introduced several plants and black-eyed peas was one of the seeds. Black-eyed are healthy and slaves ate them to become strong. One of the more popular ways of cooking black-eyed peas is the dish called "Hoppin' John", a traditional African-American dish served on New Year's day for good luck.

BLACK EYED PEAS
(Hoppin’ John)

Ingredients:
1 pound black-eyed peas or 2 package of frozen
4 cups water
1 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 or 4 smoked necks bones*
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper (optional)
3 cups of cooked rice

Preparation:
Thoroughly pick and wash the black-eyes peas in strainer picking out small pebbles. Place peas in pot and add water covering the peas, place in refrigerator for 24 hours. (If frozen just place into pot of water) Place them on the top of the stove, in a large dutch over. Combine with salt, pepper, onion, water, and pork or other meat, you can add crushed red pepper if you like spicy food. Bring to rapid boil, cover and reduce heat simmer for 1½ to 2 hours or until tender.
Serves 4 to 6

*Clean smoked neck bones (there is a brain stem that runs down the neck of the pig), When the bones are chopped, the stern can be found in the channel-like opening, remove it.
Boil the bones until they are ½ the way tender using enough water to cover, through the boiling period maintain this level of water, drain and use the pot liquor replacing the water, add water to make 4 cups.

Tips:
If you're up to the challenge, you might try adding the rice to the black-eyed pea mixture. If not, I suggests, "cheat" at serving time placed the black-eyed peas on top of the rice on your plate this works for me.
The challenge: After the peas are tender, Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Mix well, and serve immediately.

FRIED CABBAGE GREENS

In 1880s and 1890s immigrant laborers brought cabbage to America. The term cabbage is a derived from the French word "caboche" (head). During slavery, children that weren’t big enough to work were fed at the Master house. They got milk and mush for breakfast and bread and pot liquor (the liquid remaining after cabbage was cooked).

Fried Cabbage Greens

INGREDIENTS
6 slices of bacon, cut into thirds
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
1 head cabbage, cored and sliced
1 white onion, sliced
1 pinch white sugar

DIRECTIONS
Place the bacon into a large pot over medium heat.
Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes
or until bacon is crisp. Add cabbage, onion, and sugar to
the pot; cook and stir continuously for 10 minutes, until
tender.

Tip:
If you like your bacon a crisp, remove it before you add the cabbage, add the bacon when it ready to service.

COLLARDS GREENS

Collard greens are a very nutritious and inexpensive treat. When my dad was growing up, his mother would buy about 50 cents worth of collard seeds and this would grow enough collard greens to feed them for the entire year. That 50 cents worth of seeds would produce hundreds of collard plants in her backyard garden. When I was growing up, my dad would get them free once or twice a year, they grew wild in the fields by the train tracks in Dog Town a section of Watts. In the late 1950 Collards cost 10 to 15 cent a bunch. When I was teenager the cost of Collards was 5 bunches for a $1.00

Ingredients:
5 pounds of collards greens*
2 teaspoon of salt
1 chili pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/3 cup apple vinegar
½ cup margarine
*several large bunches or 2 bags of pre-cleaned collards green

Techniques:
Take the collard greens and separate the leaves and wash them two or three times, now rinse each leaf individually under cold running water. After you rinse the collard greens thoroughly, stack several leaves on top of each other, roll these leaves together. Then slice the leaves into thin strips using a cutting board and large knife. Rolling them together speeds up the process as you are slicing through several leaves at once.
Next, add your collard greens to the pot. Since this is a lot of collards, you will need to add them until the pot is full. Then allow them to wilt as they cook - then add more. Stir every few minutes to distribute the smoked meat evenly. You want the ham hocks to be falling apart. Add your seasoning cover and cook for 2 hours thirty minutes on medium heat. Taste to confirm they are the tenderness you prefer, if a little bitter add the vinegar and margarine. Serve with your favorite meat dish such as chitterlings or eat the ham hocks or neck bones right along with the collards. My favorite way to cook collard greens is very simple.
I take 2 or 3 smoked ham hocks and put them in a large (6quart) pot of water. Bring the water to a rolling boil and let them boil for about 1 1/2 hours. Add more water as it boils down. The idea is to boil the ham hocks until they begin to fall apart. You should always cook pork very thoroughly and use proper food handling

Tips:
If you used pre-cleaned collards, simply rinse them under cold running water.
If you use smoked neck bones, they usually don't take as long to cook as ham hocks.
If you used smoked turkey parts they don’t take as long to cook as pork.
Since this is a large pot full, just save the extras in the refrigerator. They should keep for a long time and actually get better as the juices settle in.

My dad would prepare his plate and sprinkle lots of hot sauce on his collards. I like them that way sometimes. Give it a try.

HIGHLIGHTS OF JANUARY'S RECIPES

It is a long-standing tradition in African American families to indulge in a family or conmmunal New Year's Day dinner featuring cabbage or greens, which symbolize greenbacks (paper money),black-eyed peas which smbolize coins and both giving good luck for the new year. Our family New Year tradition brings the whole family together
(5 generations) and sharing the first meal of the year with a traditional soul food dinner.

This month I will only feature three recipes but they are some goodies.
Collard Greens, Fried Cabbage and Black-Eyed Peas.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

WHAT'S COOKIN'

When I was a young girl, my sister and I used to watch my dad, mom and grandmother in the kitchen as they prepared meals and listen to the stores about our past. We also help my mom write recipes and help them with the cooking, when we were a little older. Enjoy our mouth watering, toe tapping recipes, with a wealth of family love and kitchen secrets handed down from generation to generation capturing the essence of black cooking. One of the dinner we help prepare was New Years Dinner and that were we will start.
This month recipes will be on a tradition Soul Food New Years Dinner.

GRAND OPENING

This blog will cover not only Soul Food recipes, it will als include our family recipes from the past to the present, also recipes thay my sister and I have create. You will also learn some of my family history, facts and folktales that have been pass down from generations to generations . Have no fear all recipes have been tested and consumed by family and friends.

MY FIRST RECIPE BLOG

MY FIRST RECIPE BLOG
I was thinking about making a cookbook of our family favorite recipes, from 6 generation of cooks. I would included a little story behind each recipe and few pictures and give them for Christmas gifts. This would be a good way for or family and friend to learn how to prepare soul food recipes with review of our family history. I was hoping that my book would become a great keepsake that could be pass down to the future generations. Who knows, maybe someone will try to prepare some of the recipes they love and didn’t know how to start.
I begin working on this project in 2007 gathering and writing down all the recipes, I did not realized this would be a long and slow task, and the cost was more than I had plan to pay. In 2009 I want to try a recipe blog, this way all my family, friends and more could enjoy our family recipes.
I hope my BLOG will give everyone a chance to enjoy our family recipes with a little history from the past.
Please leave comments, this way I will be able to add your favorite recipe, stories that you would like to hear or share or for me to expound on. Your comments will help me create a place were you will enjoy returning to.