By Suzi Hogan
The subject of black-eyed peas came up several years ago among friends and I was literally shocked to discover that friends from the northern states thought black-eyed peas were only good to feed cows. I was practically raised on black-eyed peas and cornbread! What did they eat on New Year’s Day for good luck? Lima beans?
So, I did a little research and found that in 1909 an Athens, Texas, businessman, J.B. Henry, discovered that what was considered livestock feed was also appealing to human tastes. He was later referred to as the “Black-Eyed Pea King of East Texas.”
News traveled fast (as fast as it could in 1909) and before too long, Athens was busily supplying black-eyed peas to people far beyond East Texas. Canning plants opened in the 1930’s and ‘40s to meet the demand.
By the 1970s, Athens had gained the title of “Black-Eyed Pea Capital of the World.” Guests can enjoy Athens’ Black-Eyed Pea Cook-Off at the annual fall festival, which was scheduled to return this year after a short break.
My favorite quick and easy dip for New Year’s Eve and for watching the football games on New Year’s Day comes from the Athens’ Black-Eyed Pea Cook-Off. This is an easy recipe to double. It can be served hot or cold. Enjoy!
Black-Eyed Pea Dip
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas (use can peas, if necessary)
1 stick butter, melted
1 jalapeno pepper
½ teaspoon juice of pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
¾ cup milk
Mix in blender the first six ingredients, then place in saucepan, saving ½ cup of the peas. Add the cheese and milk (up to 1 cup) as needed for consistency. Stir over heat until the cheese melts. Add the last ½ cup of whole peas. Serve hot or cold.
Suzi Hogan is a Mansfield resident, wife, mom and Mimi to seven grandchildren. She has written cooking columns for several newspapers. If you have a recipe to share or one to request, please email me at email@example.com.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.