Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are ready for what 2020 brings.

Have you made New Year's resolutions? I hope if you did commit, the resolutions were reasonable and are still on your to-do list this first day of January. I personally don't make resolutions so as to not feel like a loser a few days later — not that I couldn't benefit from some positive changes.

Besides resolutions, New Year's Day brings some traditions. Growing up, we never ate black-eyed peas on Jan. 1 for good luck. In fact, I'm not sure I ever even knew of this tradition. But once I married my husband, That Joplin Woman made sure we ate at least a few to start each year.

Originally used as livestock food, eating black-eyed peas for good luck is believed to date back to the Civil War. At first ignored as a human food source, they sustained the Confederate soldiers during the harsh winter. After that, they were hailed as a symbol of fortune and prosperity. Now, some believe at last 365 black-eyed peas must be eaten to ensure good luck all year,

Many pair the peas (which are really beans) with other food to hopefully enhance the good luck. Eating them with greens means lots of money because the peas represent coins and the greens are for paper money. Collard or turnip greens or even cabbage can fit the bill.

Serve cornbread with the New Year's meal and it represents gold. Stewed tomatoes mixed with the black-eyed peas signify wealth and health.

Travel around the world on New Year's day and you will experience different traditions. Eat 12 grapes at midnight in Spain and sausage and lentils in Italy. There's an Indian pudding called kheer and pomegranates in Turkey. People believe the silver color of herring resembles coins, so there's a fish dish eaten at midnight.

Regardless of whether you have a New Year's Day black-eyed peas tradition, I wish you health and happiness for the next 12 months.

The chowder recipe is good for a last-minute pot of good luck. Using canned black-eyed peas saves time for sure. Choose original, mild or hot Ro-Tel to suit your spicy preference. These tomatoes can serve as your stewed tomatoes if you are interested in that combination for good measure. You can also add some cooked ham or sausage to this dish for extra flavor. This recipe is from allrecipes.com.

Next, from "Fix-It and Forget-It," we get a super easy chicken. It's great for family or company and fall-off-the-bone tender.

Have a wonderful first week of the new year, and happy eating.


Black-eyed pea chowder

1 pound diced bacon

1 cup each chopped celery, onion and green bell pepper

2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans black eyed peas

1 (10 1/2-ounce) can beef consomme

1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes

1 small can diced tomatoes

1/2 garlic salt

Salt and pepper to taste

In large pot over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Set bacon aside and reserve 4 tablespoons fat in pot. Add celery, onion and bell pepper to pot and saute 10 minutes or until tender. Add peas, consume, tomatoes and seasonings; heat through. Top with crumbled bacon to serve. Yields 8 servings.


Lemon honey chicken

1 lemon

1 whole roasting chicken

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup honey

Pierce lemon with fork; place in chicken cavity and place chicken in slow cooker. Combine orange juice and honey; pour over chicken. Cover and cook 8 hours on low. Remove lemon and squeeze over chicken. Carve and serve. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

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Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.