Period New Year's Black-Eyed Peas and Cornbread

Jul 12, 2007
Aledo, IL
It is a commonly held belief that the Southern tradition of eating Blackeyed Peas to celebrate New Year’s stemmed from Yankee General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea, during which they pillaged the Confederates' food supplies. Stories say peas and salted pork were said to have been left untouched, because of the belief that they were animal food unfit for human consumption. Southerners considered themselves lucky to be left with some supplies to help them survive the winter, and black-eyed peas evolved into a representation of good luck. One challenge to this legend is that General Sherman brought backup supplies with him including three days of animal feed and would have been unlikely to have left even animal feed untouched. Nevertheless, the Yankees brutally burned and destroyed houses, farms, fields and anything that would potentially serve the Confederate war effort and, as Gen. Sherman sadistically said, “Make Georgia howl!”
Below are recipes that I hope you will enjoy as you celebrate the New Year with family and friends!

All recipes are from “Housekeeping in Old Virginia” by Marion Cabell Tyree, Louisville, KY, 1878.


Shell early in the morning, throw into water till an hour before dinner, when put into boiling water, covering close while cooking. Add a little salt, just before taking from the fire. Drain and serve with a large spoonful fresh butter, or put in a pan with a slice of fat
meat, and simmer a few minutes. Dried peas must be soaked overnight, and cooked twice as long as fresh.


Pour one quart of boiled milk over one pint of corn meal. Add a teaspoonful of salt, a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, half teaspoonful of soda, three well beaten eggs, four tablespoonfuls of flour, a little butter. (*NOTE: The author of “Housekeeping In Old Virginia” did not give instructions for cooking this recipe, so this is what I do: Heat oven to 425° F. Grease a cast iron skillet with bacon grease and place in the oven while it heats. Pour the mixture into the hot skillet and bake for 20 minutes. Invert onto a plate.)

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Aug 30, 2011
NC Piedmont
Around my neck of the woods it's always been Black Eyed Peas and Collards that we
eat on New Year's Day. Of course, I wouldn't turn down cornbread on any occasion.
Black Eyed Peas are eaten to bring good luck and the Collards represent financial
prosperity for the coming year

It used to be common to fire guns into the air to announce the coming New Year
but with the urbanization of the surrounding area where I live that has pretty much
gone the way of the Turkey Shoot that used to be held before Thanksgiving at every
fire station and community club. I am stubborn though, I have a replica Colt 1873
Single Action Army that I have fired for the past few years in my backyard to greet
the arrival of the New Year. So far, my neighbors have voiced no objections. ( I get
along well with them and they know I tolerate their constant burning of debris and
trash in their yard with no complaints) Happy New Year to everyone who frequents
this website!

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