New Years Peas

As long as I can remember, I have been forced encouraged to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s day.  My dad is from Texas and this is a tradition he brings to the family.  Not normally the superstitious one, we have a hard time avoiding eating our annual good luck peas.  Even now when I have my own family and my own household, I get the text or call asking if I’ve had my black-eyed peas.

As a child, I remember the peas tasting exactly like dirt.  Sometime the dirt bits were boiled with ham to make them ham-flavored dirt.  Sometimes they were just plain old boiled dirt.  More than once I ate the dirt like it was a pill: no chewing, just swallowing.

Then my dad discovered the black-eyed pea dip.  This year my recipe looked like this:

2 cans of black eyed peas

1/2 onion chopped coarsely

1 can of Rotel tomatoes

1 package of Women’s Bean Project Green Chili Salsa Mix seasoning*

Juice of half a lime

1 Tbsp of water if the dip seems dry

Put everything together in a bowl the morning of New Years Eve.  Let the flavors mingle during the day.  The dip will be tasty by the evening and even tastier by the next day’s celebrations.

Now it’s not the most appetizing looking dip, but trust me, if you have to eat dirt bits, this is the way to do it.  The dirt flavor is hardly noticeable with all the spices and it’s so easy to put together. To be fair, the dip is also helped by the fact that legumes are trendy now, as opposed to when I was a kid.   Our good luck dip was enjoyed at both our New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day parties.  No one had to be coerced to try it…well, except the kids.  None of the kids ate the dirt dip.  Don’t tell my dad….

Happy New Year!


*The Woman’s Bean Project is one of my favorite local charities, and they ship all over the United States.  Their mission, according to their website, is “to change women’s lives by providing stepping stones to self-sufficiency through social enterprise.  They train impoverished women how to succeed in the workplace”.  Their food is delicious and every purchase helps a woman move toward a sustainable career.  They have helped 800 women move into personal responsibility.  I recommend the salsa dips, the cornbread, and the split pea soup.  Yum!  You can also order their products on Amazon and, or check their website for local retailers in your area.

Afthead Advent

I have always loved Advent calendars: the kind where you open a paper door and see inside a window or door, the felt ornaments you use to decorate a felt tree, or the glorious ones of my childhood that revealed waxy chocolates.  I love the anticipation they build for the season.  I love the little excitement every day.

Now that I am a mom, I go a bit crazy over our Advent calendar.  It goes up Thanksgiving night, which increases the anticipation quotient. Each day has a gift.  Some little, like a mini candy cane, and some big, like a 1000 piece puzzle for the first day school is out.  (We’ll spend two weeks putting that together as a family.)  Some things she won’t like, clothes, but that gives us a chance to remember and practice polite “thank yous” before we get to the in laws on Christmas Eve.  Some are tiny unexpected treasures she will love:  a Duncan yo-yo the size of a quarter.  We celebrate both Christmas and Hannukah at our house, so there is gelt and blue and silver markers on the 6th to celebrate the first night we’ll light the menorah.  

Part of me feels guilty about the fancy calendar my only child gets.  I couldn’t pull this off with two kids.  Part of me knows that Advent is a real thing and I’m insulting people who celebrate the real Advent with my tradition.  Part of me feels bad that I’m making the holidays even more materialistic.  Really, I should have each day be a bonding activity, or a charitable act.  Somehow I can’t make time to pre-plan holiday activities before Thanksgiving and I don’t have the Pinterest-patience to come up with 25 good deeds that won’t make my kid whine at me, then me yell at her, and both of us feel bad.  I can manage to pick up a little something here or there throughout the year to fill a pocket in the calendar, and the effort gives me and her so much joy that I overlook my bad Advent feelings and keep the tradition going.

Tonight I pulled out the box where I stashed Advent gifts and started wrapping.  I got to remember where I bought things and was surprised by an item or two.  A few things she had outgrown and they went in the Toys for Tots box.  Once all the gifts were wrapped and strategically placed – biggest gifts on the weekend and art supplies all in a row – I got to hang up the calendar.  Tomorrow will be filled with excitement as she shakes, pokes, and squishes presents.  Tuesday  she’ll open her first gift.  The only thing better than my Advent calendars growing up is making one for my kiddo.