62.2 F

On Cooking Southern: Ring in the New with Good Luck Food


Tickled pink: The way we all feel when getting to go to the Sugar Bowl… And when the coconut cake turns out great… And when it quits raining.

We Southerners are a superstitious bunch. Our 400-year-old gumbo of cultural heritages has thoroughly ingrained “just in case” practices in our very souls.

Perhaps no time is more imbued with our superstitions than the advent of the New Year. Are there ANY true Southerners who dare to pass New Year’s Day without consuming some form of greens, black-eyed peas, cornbread and rice? They are necessities for ensuring good luck, good fortune and good health in the coming year.

(Check out this link: http://hottytoddy.com/2015/12/28/neely-dorsey-ringing-in-the-new-year-southern-style-with-greens-and-black-eyed-peas/)

The traditional peas-and-greens New Year’s meal serves another purpose as well. It’s how we Southerners cleanse our bodies after a holiday season of over-indulgence. Let me recount the many ways our people annually exceed the “less-is-more” philosophy of all things in moderation:

  • Heavy festival foods such as turkey and dressing, baked ham, candied sweet potatoes and all those creamy casseroles
  • Toasted nuts — Pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios
  • Holiday eggnog, mulled wine and spirits
  • Coconut cake, pecan pie, fudge, Christmas cookies
  • Fruitcake


It’s no wonder New Year’s resolutions always begin with some sort of diet.

New Year’s also is the best time to count our blessings, especially after surviving recent natural disasters. I’m most grateful for the following, which we Americans tend to take for granted until surviving catastrophic events, health crises, or traveling to faraway places like my family did in 2015:

  • Free elections
  • Freedom of worship and freedom to express my views
  • Clean air, food and water
  • Highways, bridges and on-time mass transportation
  • Functional, uncensored internet access
  • Leaving the house without being required to be covered head-to-toe
  • Family and friends
  • Stimulating, loyal and supportive community
  • A roof over my head
  • Good health


So let’s all sweep away the old year and its many cobwebs as we ring in the New Year. I, for one, have already cleaned out the fridge as well as the cobwebs, concocting a delicious variation on classic New Orleans Gumbo z’herbes for my family’s New Year good-luck meal.

I call my version Greens Gumbo and Ham (and Turkey and Peas). I also used up some of the leftover Christmas grapefruit to create my version of Winter Citrus Salad, make the salad dressing with fabulous honey from my neighbors’ bees in Bentonia and Charleston… Yet another blessing for which The Old Bride is grateful.

Happy New Year, y’all.


Got leftovers from the holidays? Transform them into a New Year’s gumbo that also rings in good luck. Simmer a pot of greens, and throw in the ham, turkey, sausage and black-eyed peas.The quantities of ham and turkey listed below are a reference point – just throw in what you have left.

Small bunch of kale

Small bunch of mustard or turnip greens

6-8 qt water

ham hock (optional)

2-3 c chopped ham

2-3 c chopped turkey

Turkey gravy (without egg)

3-oz carton of chicken broth or stock

3 c chopped onion (about 2 onions)

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 c chopped celery

1 stick butter

1-1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 pkg Conecuh sausage

3 T Creole seasoning such as Tony’s or Slap Ya Mama

1 c dark (chocolate) roux, dissolved in hot stock

2 tsp Tabasco

Salt and black pepper to taste

De-stem and tear the bunches of greens. Wash and drain thoroughly three times in a large pot of water. Place in large stockpot and fill pot with water. Bring to a boil and drain. Add clean water to two-thirds level and bring greens to a boil. Add ham hock, leftover turkey and ham, leftover turkey gravy or stock and chicken stock or broth. Simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour.

While simmering, sauté onion, celery and bell pepper in butter until transparent. Add cut-up sausage and cook sausage about 10 minutes. Dump entire pan contents into simmering stockpot. Add seasonings and okra. Simmer another 30-40 minutes, adding more broth if needed. (Does not hurt to simmer for an hour longer, if there is enough liquid in the pot.) Be sure to stir from time to time to prevent sticking.

About 20 minutes before serving, prepare chocolate roux. Feel free to use jarred roux that you heat and dilute with hot chicken broth. Stir roux into pot and continue simmering on low, stirring regularly. Serve with rice and cornbread muffins.


I figured we’d go all the way and use up ALL the citrus – including oranges, limes, and grapefruit, along with seasonal pomegranates! The honey and Dijon emulsify the salad dressing. I used J Olive’s infused balsamic vinegar as well. Yum!

¼ c extra virgin olive oil

3 T cranberry pear infused white balsamic vinegar (or plain white balsamic)

1-1/2 tsp honey

1 to 1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Juice of one lime

Sprinkle of dried oregano to taste

3 Ruby Red or pink grapefruit, peeled and segmented

4 Clementine, Halo or Cuties oranges, peeled and segmented

Pomegranate seeds, optional

1 small red onion, sliced thin

Fresh walnuts

Low-far Gorgonzola cheese crumbles

Salt and pepper to taste

Mixed greens, optional

Whisk first six ingredients in a small non-reactive bowl. Set aside.

Position grapefruit segments on mixed greens and sprinkle with orange segments and optional pomegranate seeds. Position onion rings over the citrus and sprinkle with Gorgonzola. Drizzle with the salad dressing and serve.

Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists, Southern Foodways Alliance and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ website and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow HottyToddy.com on Instagram and Twitter @hottytoddynews. Like its Facebook page: If You Love Oxford and Ole Miss…

Most Popular

Recent Comments

scamasdscamith on News Watch Ole Miss
Frances Phillips on A Bigger, Better Student Union
Grace Hudditon on A Bigger, Better Student Union
Millie Johnston on A Bigger, Better Student Union
Binary options + Bitcoin = $ 1643 per week: https://8000-usd-per-day.blogspot.com.tr?b=46 on Beta Upsilon Chi: A Christian Brotherhood
Jay Mitchell on Reflections: The Square
Terry Wilcox SFCV USA RET on Oxford's Five Guys Announces Opening Date
Stephanie on Throwback Summer
organized religion is mans downfall on VP of Palmer Home Devotes Life to Finding Homes for Children
Paige Williams on Boyer: Best 10 Books of 2018
Keith mansel on Cleveland On Medgar Evans