What’s On Your Plate: Black-eyed Peas

Photo by Jasmine Waheed on Unsplash

“You like black-eyed peas, right?”

When it has been a while since I’ve cooked something, I am sure to ask my husband his preference.

A Little Background

My husband’s tastes – and dietary restrictions – have changed throughout our almost 26 years of marriage. Our first date was actually a casual agreement between two coworkers to hunt for a good, reasonably priced rice cooker.

During a religion department meeting early in September, we were chatting and happened upon the realization that we were both vegetarians. He mentioned his penchant for beans and rice. I’d recently spent 7 years living in Taiwan and Hong Kong – and spoke Mandarin and Cantonese fluently at the time. So after I mentioned that rice is so much easier with a rice cooker, we agreed that I could help him navigate the small Chinatown shops where he thought I may be able to barter a better price.

Over the years, for various reasons, our sons and my husband began eating meat. More recently, my husband leaned heavily into a keto-type diet, and most recently he was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Because of our different health needs, and his dietary restrictions, we often cook our own meals – and even when we cook for one another we don’t always eat the same dishes.

So I ask if he enjoys the food and if he wants me to make a version he can eat.

My Venture with Black-eyed Peas

Last week when I was pondering a walk to the grocery store before preparing for something warm and nutritious to throw in the crockpot – I thought of black-eyed peas.

What I didn’t know before I began my black-eyed pea venture is that black-eyed peas, for many, are considered a traditional good luck dish to be served on New Year’s Day. So although my black-eyed peas were prepared and enjoyed on December 29, we did have some leftovers to enjoy on New Year’s Day. I hope this doesn’t lessen the luck that comes with them!

“You like black-eyed peas, right?” I asked.

With a grimace, he replied, “I love black-eyed peas, but you’ve got to do them just right or they’re horrible.”

Although my original post-high school degree was in Food Science & Nutrition with an emphasis on culinary arts, I ran institutional kitchens for 8 years, I’ve catered and for years I’ve taught a wide variety of cooking courses – I know that some things just don’t turn out as planned. Particularly because when cooking (not baking) I rarely follow a recipe or measure.

So, off I set to tackle black-eyed peas – just right.

A Google search reminded me of a few ingredients to be sure to have on hand.  

I found the recipe that served as my backdrop at The Magical Slow Cooker: https://www.themagicalslowcooker.com/new-years-day-black-eyed-peas/

Screenshot taken from The Magical Slow Cooker

Being true to me, and deciding to make a meat and vegetarian version, I changed things up a bit.

I boiled water and soaked one pound of peas for an hour before draining and cooking on the stovetop. The other I simply tossed in the crockpot without pre-soaking.

For the meat-eater’s version, Christmas turkey and broth replaced the chicken broth, ham, and bacon.

For the vegetarian version, I began with a store-bought version of vegetable broth and a douse of ginger water (which we boil and keep on hand in the fridge).

To both recipes I added:

  • Hickory seasoning powder to replace the smokiness of the ham and bacon
  • Frozen chopped spinach – thawed, squeezed of excess liquid
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Celery, chopped
  • Onions, chopped
  • De-seeded tomatoes – pulsed in the food processor [My husband is allergic to tomato seeds]
  • Black garlic, replaced traditional garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • *Old Bay Seasoning – a combination of celery salt, salt, red pepper, black pepper and paprika
  • *Lake Shore Seasoning which is a regional version of spices made up of onions, garlic, shallots, chives

*Note that any seasoning with salt should be added near the end as salt can actually slow and even halt the softening process of black-eyed peas and all varieties of beans.

The stovetop version was ready hours before the meat version so I enjoyed a hearty bowl of delicious black-eyed peas before my husband returned home. But I had no idea how the crockpot meat version would turn out.

The house smelled incredible all day – and I waited with bated breath as my husband dished up a bowl of the meat version.

With his first bite, he shook his head in delight and said, “These taste like a little ole’ Black lady made ‘em.”

High praise from my African American husband who was raised on the cooking of a little ole’ Black lady.

I dare to say black-eyed peas may become a New Year’s Day tradition in this house. (And perhaps then, I’ll remember to take photos of my process and results).

18 comments

  1. I tried making black eyed peas for New Year’s once. Let’s just say they were totally made by a little old white woman 😉. I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about and wasn’t impressed with the finished product. But your post makes me want to try them again as I am sure the less than stellar result was all my fault.

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a big bottle of black eyed peas looking at me and daring me to cook them. It’s a lot of peas, so it outnumbers me. I also have some left over Christmas ham, so now’s the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, Janet – I loooooovvvve all kinds of legumes. The entire legume family (with the exception of canned lentils) are not currently on Richard’s diet. And it’s killing me! If Deb WB makes them, I may just need to conveniently drop by on the day that she does!
    Thank you for sharing this post with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love black-eyed beans and this dish sounds very good indeed. Interesting tip re the ginger water. I drink ginger in hot water daily, and we cook with fresh ginger most days (we make a lot of Asian-style dishes). I hadn’t thought of using it in a soup or stew.

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    • Hello Janis – apparently it is of the cowpea family – which is also a bean…go figure…English. As for ginger water, I mix it with my green tea, add it to lemon water, use it in soups. I chop up about a pound and boil it in the crockpot for about 7 hours – it makes the house smell wonderful.

      Like

  5. I’ve never had black-eyed peas, but now I’m quite tempted to give them a go. My husband likes pretty standard fare, so I like to cook something different that I can eat for lunch during the week. Perhaps this should be my next attempt.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I did fix these, and I liked them a lot. I could have added a bit more spice. I didn’t have canned tomatoes, so I diced up fresh and I wonder if that had an effect. Either way, I will make these again and play around with the spices. Thanks again for the recipe!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Christie – did you use the internet recipe? I used fresh tomatoes too but I definitely added more spices with the hickory and lake shore (garlic/onion), especially since I didn’t use any meat. I’m glad they were at least worth trying them again!

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  6. I need some hickory seasoning…ASAP. I saw liquid smoke at the commissary this last trip and almost grabbed it but I think hickory seasoning sounds more like the flavor I am after. I like the idea of Old Bay to beans. And have never heard of Lake Shore seasoning but pretty sure I would like it!! My mama used to make black eyed peas for New Year’s Day and we all fussed. No one liked them. Probably because we kids didn’t even try them. Your photo is as delectable as this recipe sounds. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. If you are up for spices through the mail, you can buy hickory smoke seasoning (and mesquite seasoning) and Lake Shore Drive seasoning through the Spice House online at thespicehouse.com. When we lived for 7 years in California we ordered many of our spices from there. I’d also recommend Milwaukee Ave seasoning. Oh — there are so many good ones!

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  8. I haven’t had black-eyed peas since I lived in Texas decades ago! Suddenly, I have a hankering for them – vegetarian, of course!

    Being the lone vegetarian in a omnivorous (strongly tended towards meat), I can well understand the challenge in meal prep for various needs.

    Like

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