The following is taken directly from The Fast Gourmet Cookbook by Poppy Cannon, published in 1964 by Fleet Publishing Corporation. I wanted to do an article on New Year’s Southern food tradition –but Ms. Cannon did it better than I could. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, Ms. Poppy Cannon:
“It is the day after Christmas and in your mind the thought keeps stirring that you ought in some way to pay off some of your holiday social debts. So why not an old-fashioned Hop-John party on New Year’s? For briefing on this interesting project, we sent an appeal to Eloise Barksdale, since Hop-John parties are a tradition in her hometown of Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Post haste came help. Eloise went so far as to write us a poem.
Hopping John in the Southern way
should be eaten for Health
On New Year’s Day
The recipe handed down to me
Says this fine dish
Boil a fresh hog jowl
with some black-eyed peas
Add rice and red pepper
and it’s bound to please.
For those of us who might not have immediate access to the jowl of a hog, nor time to soak and cook the black-eyed peas, we have evolved, with Eloise Barksdale’s assistance, a quick and tasty version using canned black-eyed peas and what she calls instant rice. The menu is traditional and unalterable. ‘Turnip greens and turnips too, cole slaw, corn bread, buttermilk and egg custard pie.’
Barksdale Hopping John
Diced White Turnips, Eloise
Arkansas Corn Bread
Egg Custard Pie
BARKSDALE HOPPING JOHN…dice ¼ pound salt pork and fry out nice and crisp. Add 1 ½ cups packed pre-cooked rice, 1 large can of black-eyed peas with the liuid and 1 cup water or stock. (There should be about 2 cups of liquid all together.) Bring to a boil uncovered. Season quite jauntily with red pepper or several drops of Tabasco sauce as well as freshly ground black pepper. Add salt if it is needed. Stir with a fork. Cover and allow to stand in a warm place about ten minutes so that the rice will absorb all the rich flavors. Four to 6 servings.
TURNIP GREENS…Prepare quick-frozen turnip greens according to directions and add to each package, 2 tablespoons finely-chopped onion which has been browned in a little pork or bacon fat. For the true Southern taste there should be a sting of hot pepper.
DICED WHITE TURNIP, ELOISE…To serve 6, wash, peel and dice 2 pounds of white turnips. (These are milder, cook faster than yellow.) Cook tender (10 to 15 minutes) in salted, peppered, boiling water in a covered pan. Drain. Fold in ½ cup heavy cream which has been whipped and seasoned delicately with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or rum.
ARKANSAS CORN BREAD…Mix and sift together 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt. Add 1 cup milk or buttermilk, 2 eggs, well beaten, 2 tablespoons melted shortening (preferably bacon, ham or sausage drippings). Bake in a shallow well-greased (8 by 8-inch) pan in a hot oven (425 degrees)about 20 minutes and serve in squares.
EGG CUSTARD PIE…Follow your grandmother’s rule or buy it quick-frozen or from a bake shop. Sprinkle with nutmeg and slivered almonds or coconut.”