Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year

"Hoppin' John -bacon and cowpeas and rice- is supposed to be a must at New Year's because without the peas you might run into bad luck"
-Emily Whaley
(from Mrs. Whaley's Charleston Kitchen)

A southern tradition said to bring good luck...collards (for green money) and cowpeas (for coins) are served on New Year's Day.  Hoppin' John, made with rice, pork and cowpeas is eaten in the stateliest of Charleston houses and in the humblest cabins (from Charleston Receipts.)

Photographer-Johnny Autry
via Garden & Gun Magazine

Recipe below from my copy of  Charleston Receipts,
America's Oldest Junior League Cookbook still in print

*click to enlarge

Rice was grown successfully in South Carolina as early as 1680 and up until the Civil War.  The swampy tidal plains of the lowcountry made it suitable for the very profitable crop. 

Illustration from The Great South; A Record of Journeys et al
via here
View of a Rice-Field in South Carolina

Illustration from A Woman Rice Planter
via here
The sheaves are beaten with flails

While most of the rice fields are abandoned, remnants of their existence remain.  Today they serve as habitats, particularly for birds, and are maintained primarily for hunting and land conservation purposes.  This past summer, my "Hoppin' John" took me out in the boat to explore some of the fields along the Pee Dee River.

-Photos my own-
my tour guide
Rice field and dike which regulates the amount of water in the field
Chicora Wood Plantation
rice mill

Local residents

Thankfully, Plumfield Plantation, in nearby Darlington continues to grow Carolina Gold rice in the colonial tradition along the Great Pee Dee River.  They have everything you need to make Hoppin' John this New Year's!

Wishing you peace and prosperity in 2012

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