Monday, December 31, 2012

Mama Tina's Hoppin' John's and Collard Greens

Having a mother who is a true Southern Belle results in three things.  She is charming, judgmental, and not afraid to self-medicate.  This meant that as children, people only kept us around because they liked her, every decision we made was criticized, and our first words were Xanax and Vicodin.  It also means that due to Southern superstition we aren't allowed to start any New Year without eating Mama Tina's Hoppin' John's and Collard Greens for health and prosperity throughout the year.  It has never mattered whether we liked them or not, we have been forced to eat a bite on New Years Day every year since we could eat solid foods.  Having such a sophisticated palette at a young age, I loved them, but I think that picky Britt has been forced fed her Collards for so long that she just tolerates them now, if only for the simple fact that sweet Mama Tina will shove them down her throat if she doesn't.  

I don't think she has ever cooked it the same way twice, never afraid to experiment, adding things like kielbasa or spicy sausages, but we aways fall back to the simple, original recipe that everyone loves, or at least something close to the original! 

P.S. Having a Southern Belle mother also means that she only taught me how to cook for small armies. I'm sure this recipe could easily be halved for normal people.  

Getting this recipe down for y'all was a true task since Mama Tina uses the ole "add stuff 'till it tastes right" method.  She usually likes to cook it the day before, believing that it tastes better that way.  She wants everyone to know that you shouldn't be afraid to experiment with different amounts of veggies, butter, meats, or seasonings to get it to your liking and make it your own.  We hope you all enjoy and that it brings you a healthy year ahead.  


Mama Tina's Hoppin' John's

- 2 Bags Diced Peppers 
- 3 Bags Diced Celery and Onions
- 1 Stick of Butter
- 4 Small (15.5 oz.) Cans Goya Blackeye Peas
- 2 Boxes Precooked Bacon (You can get raw bacon if you like to cook it yourself, or you could even use Goya Ham Seasoning for a vegetarian version)
- 8 Packets of Sazon Goya Seasoning (without Annatto)
- Olive Oil
- Sugar (Mama Tina likes to use Raw Cane Sugar)
- Salt
- Pepper

1. Melt a stick of butter and about 4-5 tablespoons (just eyeball it!) of olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat.  (For a healthy version, just use olive oil.)

2. Once the butter is completely melted, add all of the celery, onions, peppers, and a little salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the veggies down until they are soft and a little brown, and there is very little juice left in the pan.

It should end up looking something like this. 
*Mama Tina Tip- When cooking down veggies, add a little extra olive oil on top to help them simmer down.  She also says that it never hurts to have "a little brown crustiness on your veggies."*

3. While the veggies are "simmering down" throw the two boxes of bacon in the microwave according to the directions, cooking for a little longer than usual to make extra crispy for crumbling on the top at the end.  

*Mama Tina Tip- Always shake your can of Blackeye Peas because the starches get stuck in the bottom of the can.*

4. Once the veggies are reduced down and soft, pour in the four cans of Blackeye Peas, juice and all.  Combine while still over a medium heat.  

5. Mama Tina adds two packages of Goya Sazon per can of Blackeye peas, but she says that you can play with this depending on how much flavor you want in it.  She also adds a dash of sugar now if it seems too salty.  

6. Allow the veggies to come to a boil.  The goal now is to let it boil down and reduce until you get a thicker, flavorful sauce.

It should go from looking something like this.
To something like this!
*Mama Tina Tip- Always taste your sauces while they are cooking so that you can season accordingly.  And I quote "When you can taste that sauce and say 'Mmmmm Hmmmm', you know it's right."*

7. Crumble the bacon on top.  Turn off the heat and cover, let sit for a five or ten minutes to allow the bacon flavors to settle in.  

8. We eat ours served over white or brown rice, with a little dash of hot sauce.  Enjoy! 
The finished product!

Mama Tina's Collard Greens

- 2 Large Cans of Sylvia's Seasoned Collard Greens
- A Few Dashes Of Hot Sauce (We like Franks)

So Mama Tina doesn't make her own Collards.  She usually just doctors up a can of Sylvia's until it tastes how she wants it to with salt, pepper, and sugar.  You can usually find Sylvia's Collards in the International aisle at the grocery store.  I guess when you live in Upstate NY, anything southern is considered foreign...

1. Dump the contents of the can in the pot.  

2. Heat over medium heat, adding salt, pepper, or sugar, depending on what you think it may need, if you think it needs anything at all. 

3. Serve with a little hot sauce on top.  

4. Hope that it brings you prosperity.  

Yeah, That Happened - Coming Soon!

Stories of our crazy life! - Coming Soon!

Fairy Tales - A Quote by C.S. Lewis

Just Sayin' Hello

Hi All!

Let me take it upon myself to welcome you to our little world. My baby sister and I have been talking about starting a blog for what seems like forever and at long last we’ve gone and done it.  She’s Cait, a feisty little blond who likes to get to the point, and I’m Britt, a chatty brunette who tends to over-think things a bit too much.  Though opposites in many ways, there are two things we both agree on... food and books.  So why not take the best of both worlds and smash them together, right?  After all, they really do go hand in hand… like peas and carrots, pen and ink, or, oh I don’t know, SISTERS! (Cait’s gonna kill me for that one)

So let’s talk Hunger Pains
Generally speaking, Cait is the cook and I'm more the eater.  I try my hand in the kitchen every now and then, but it’s just not quite the same.  I have 3 or 4 recipes I can pull off and manage to create something edible, whereas she is constantly creating yummy things in the kitchen and finding new recipes in books and on blogs that she takes and makes her own, fine-tuning them until they’re just right.  She'll be sharing lots of delicious treats and meal ideas on the Hunger Pains page.  

I, on the other hand, am the wordy sister (as you can tell by this post), which leads us to my page, The Reading Addiction...
Who doesn’t love a good book?  There’s nothing like finding that next great read to curl up with.  I love that feeling when you can’t put a book down because you have to read just oooone more chapter before you go to bed… and the next thing you know, it’s 3am!  Cait and I both love reading and writing, but I am without a doubt more long winded.  What can I say?  I love the flourish and flare of details and descriptive words, it keeps things interesting.  Cait and I are constantly discussing and recommending books, our own two person book club.  We’re excited to expand the conversation, sharing our newest book-loves with y’all and hearing your thoughts and latest obsessions as well. 

Our lives can be kind of crazy so we’ve also added the section Yeah, That Happened for some extra fun.  You’ll never believe the kooky situations us gals seem to wind up in, often with Mama Tina (our mom) in tow.  We’ve certainly laughed a lot, we’re hoping you will too!

So, without further ado, welcome to our lives!

Sincerely Yours,
Britt (and Cait too)