Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Traditions

Last night, Evelin and I toyed with the idea of doing another GMT New Year's Eve, but 7:00 p.m. EST was in the middle of bath and bedtime, so we ended up missing the celebration. Instead, we had a quiet night watching Cars (I fell asleep about halfway through), and we were in bed in time for Newfoundland Standard Time New Year. Quinn did wake Evelin for EST New Year, but it was a fairly tame celebration.

New Year's Day I spent most of the morning in the kitchen. Over the years, I've been looking for new ways to fix our mandatory black-eyed peas and greens for the day. This year, I decided to try a gumbo aux herbes.

My grandmother gave me a copy of Creole Cookery for Christmas and while flipping through it, I noticed the recipe for a gumbo consisting mostly of a mix of seven (or more) greens. On Christmas Day, I mentioned to my grandmother that I was thinking of making a gumbo aux herbes for New Year's, and she said that that was one of her mother's specialties — which pretty much cinched things for me: I had to give it a try.

Saturday, during naps, I ran out and bought the requisite cabbage, collards, spinach, parsley, scallions, mustard greens, lettuce, and kale. Most of the greens were pretty picked over, so I had a little trouble pulling together the three pounds I needed (I ended up using the recipe from The Picayune's Creole Cookbook). On Monday, I started cooking. It took a while to clean the greens (which barely fit in the pot until they started wilting) and then they had to boil for two hours. As it was cooking, Evelin and I both grew increasingly wary, but it actually turned out quite tasty ... with a lot of leftovers. (The black-eyed peas, however, didn't turn out too good; I think it was the bag of beans, not the way I prepped them.)

Gumbo aux Herbes
  • 3 pounds of mixed greens — collards, mustard, turnip, beets, kale, spinach, parsley, lettuce, cabbage, scallions, etc.
  • water or stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 toes garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 112 teaspoon ground allspice
  • salt, pepper, & Tabasco
Clean the greens, cover with water (I added a few bouillon cubes), and boil for two hours. Strain out the greens and reserve the boiling water. Chop the greens fine. Heat the fat and sauté the onion until they start to brown. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic. Add the greens, three to four quarts of the boiling water, and the spices. Simmer for another hour. Season with salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Serve over rice.

I don't know if I'll be cooking this in 2008 or if I'll go back to my hoppin' johns recipe or try something else, but it was neat to be trying something my great-grandmother used to make.


marchenland said...

I feel like such a poor excuse for a Southerner (even by my own lax standards by which one might be considered a "good" Southerner...), in that I haven't had or made greens or black-eyed peas since I moved out West.

The real reason is, I loathe both items. This may explain why I am unlucky and poor, I guess.

T. Carter said...

Poseur! I think getting away from the Southern tradition of boiling greens for hours and then for a bit longer had helped my taste for them -- especially when there's things like fresh baby chard at the farmers market. That said, New Year's Day is just about the only time we have black-eye peas ...