Hoppin’ John

Where to begin?  I suppose it all started two weeks ago Saturday.  That would have been December 1st.  My weekend was all planned out to make sure everything would get done:  1 hour +  for math team problems, multiple hours for AP US History Free Response Question, maybe 45 minutes for English vocab, lots of sketches for art…  Friday night I had gotten a good portion of the FRQ done.  Saturday morning I went swimming and then returned home, ready to finish the FRQ.  Then I realized that my carefully scheduled homework plan would no longer work out…my laptop wasn’t cooperating.  After trying to fix it over the phone, after it would no longer turn on, my mother, littlest brother and myself all drove to PORTLAND to get it fixed.

Then (of course) we found out that the hard drive was cooked and all the data would be (if they fixed it), gone forever.  A few days later it returned, and now it works fine.  There’s just nothing on it.

Through it I realized I few things.  First, you should back things up.  I regret it more than anything now.  Thankfully, my laptop is only a year old, so I didn’t lose an inconceivable amount.  Second, my laptop is full of so many little, yet  important things.  Recipe ideas, a list of bookmarked recipes 400 miles long, pricing lists, innumerable photos.

Now the background to my desktop is one of the standard photos that come on every mac.  It’s no longer a balloon whisk covered in egg whites, the artistic chocolates I got for my birthday this year, or a bag of apples.  This computer had more information on it, just through the addition of little things over and over, than anything else in my house.

When I first left my laptop at the store to be fixed, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss, as though I’d lost a part of myself.  All my hours that I’d spent on projects and essays and photographing was gone.  All those ideas I’d had, moments of inspiration, were wiped out entirely.

BUT, I have been cooking quite a bit lately.  Lots of chocolate, for some reason.  There’s been homemade nutella, a chocolate hazelnut torte, and a chocolate layer cake soaked with Chambord liqueur.  Most enjoyable.  But not what I’m talking about here.

It’s hard to believe, but we have too many hazelnuts!

Hoppin’ John is beloved by my mother, who says that it’s a Southern thing eaten around New Year’s.  I’m loving it too, almost as much as the chocolate layer cake from yesterday.  It’s quite hearty, as it cooks with a whole smoked ham hock, and quite wonderful on this day of bitingly cold weather.  Some more sweets may be coming soon!

Hoppin’ John
Adapted from Emeril Legasse

Notes:  To start, I didn’t remember to soak the peas overnight, and had to do a quick soaking this morning.  I think my method was a little too effective though, because the peas had started to break down after 25 minutes of cooking.  I’m guess that if you just soak them overnight they will take the full 40 minutes to cook though.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 smoked ham hock (mine weighed a little over 1/2 a pound)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 of a red or green pepper, chopped
1 cup sliced celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound black-eyed peas, rinsed and soaked over-night
1 scant teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock (I used this amount but because of the shortened cooking time, there was a little more liquid than I would have liked)
cayenne pepper, salt, pepper

To serve: Rice, and chopped scallions/tomatoes (tomatoes sound like they’d be good)

Heta oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or dutch oven.  Sear the ham him on all sides.   You may want to be careful as the olive oil can start to smoke as it heats up.  Add the onion, green pepper, and celery.  Sauté until they begin to turn tender, then add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Then reduce to a simmer on medium-low heat and cook for about 40 minutes (see note above).  Serve over warm rice with scallions and/or tomatoes.






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About Madeleine C.

Hi I'm Madeleine and I am an avid cook and baker! Between school, homework swimming, and everything else in my life, I really enjoy cooking! I am 15 (now 16) years old, and have two brothers, both of whom have celiac disease along with my father. For this reason, I often make gluten-free things that will satisfy them as well as those who can readily consume gluten. I enjoy making the complex and the simple, and enjoy a challenge while cooking. That's just about it!