Month: January 2015

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Savannah

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Savannah

Savannah was recently voted one of the most Romantic Cities in the United States, so Valentine’s Day is a very popular time for the historic inns and B&Bs in the Bed and Breakfasts of Savannah collection.  Guests who are staying with us are already asking […]

Historic Savannah Inn Undergoes Renovation

Historic Savannah Inn Undergoes Renovation

The Eliza Thompson House, a 25-room historic inn on Savannah’s popular Jones Street, is welcoming the new year with an exciting new look for its parlor and Main House guest rooms.  A major renovation including new paint, furniture, drapes and decor has just been completed, […]

Southern Food from The Gastonian

Southern Food from The Gastonian

The best way to introduce or welcome in the South is by food. When invited into someone’s home, be assured that you will be fed (and how!)  To be welcomed into the kitchen is to immediately become kin, and most Savannahians have extended families of kindred cooks, friends, neighbors, and loved ones.

One of my favorite annual meals is the New Year’s Day meal of Hoppin’ John. This beans-and-rice recipe is usually served with or on top of rice, and is believed to bring good luck, and particularly wealth, in the coming year. Ignoring the draw of this staple could result in a very bad year indeed. This dish originated in the low-lying Georgia and South Carolina marshlands known as the Low Country, but is now a tradition throughout the region.

The beans in the dish are generally Black Eyed Peas, though in some areas plain field peas are used. The beans are thought to look like coins, while the wilted greens, chilis, or okra, in the dish are used to symbolize green paper money. Collard greens are commonly used in this recipe, but mustard and turnip greens can be substituted. In a pinch, so can kale or cabbage. Most families will serve cornbread with this dish, the yellow-gold color of which, adds the final bit of luck for the coming year.

Hopping John
2 cup black eyed peas
2 cups water
3 cups chicken broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilis
1 can stewed greens drained (I like Morning Glory’s Seasoned Collard greens)
1 poblano chili, sliced thin and de-seeded.
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped rough
1 bay leaf
2 cup long grain rice
1 ham hock
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

Wash and sort the peas. might want to soak them for a few hours. If your peas are dry, you may want to soak them for an hour or two to ensure that they cook up soft. Place them in a saucepan, add the water, and discard any peas that float. Gently boil the peas with the chicken broth, pepper, ham hock, and half of the yellow onion, uncovered, until tender but not mushy — about 1 1/2 hours — or until 2 cups of liquid remain.

Add the rice and Rotel tomatoes, collards, and chilis to the pot, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, never lifting the lid.

Saute your onions and garlic.

Remove from the heat and allow to steam, still covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover, fluff with a fork. Add in your sauteed garlic and onion and stir to combine. There should be liquid still at the bottom.

The dish originates with the recipe of “one pound bacon, one pint of peas, and one pint of rice,” but there are many variations. At the Gastonian, we will be preparing our own twist on the old recipe with black eyed pea cakes topped with collard greens, and capicola this year. The important thing us that you include beans, greens, and if you prefer, just a bit of ham, to ensure the new year is prosperous.

Like my grandmother before me, I will definitely be adding in a thick slice of cornbread to our recipe. We look forward to welcoming all of our guests to this New Year’s Day tradition, and hope to see you next year!