2021 photo with confetti

Lucky Foods to Eat on New Year’s Day

After the ball drops, the corks have been popped, noisemakers are silent and the streamers and confetti cleaned up, thoughts turn to what’s on the menu to bring good luck in the new year. What does that look like in your kitchen?

Yesterday at Trader Joe’s, I ran into my friend Karma, who’d been searching for black-eyed peas almost to no avail until she finally found them at the Food Conspiracy Co-op. Tucsonans loving black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day enough to make the shelves empty – who knew?

Stories vary why and include that when the beans, yep, they’re beans, not peas, swell as they cook, this symbolizes expanding wealth. The dried beans supposedly look like coins. You might have to squint really hard at them to make that true.

The Spanish tradition, las doce uvas de la suerta, the 12 lucky grapes, is eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, one for each hour of the clock, will bring good luck in the coming year. Each grape also signifies a month, and according to the superstition, failing to eat all 12 before the clock finishes chiming will mean misfortune.

New Year’s Day in Ireland, also known as Day of the Buttered Bread or Sandwich, depending on the Gaelic translation, tradition is buttered bread placed outside the front door symbolizes an absence of household hunger that hopefully extends through the year.

Kitchens will be humming in 2021 with the creativity of our amazing chefs. On Jan. 12, become a French macaron master with First We Eat Catering & Confections Pastry Chef Gina Skelton. Former professional chef, now best known as host of Wake Up, Tucson!, Chris DeSimone’s Jan. 15 The Italian Table features some of his favorites, fettucine Alfredo among them.

On Jan. 20, Prep & Pastry, Commoner & Co., August Rhodes Bakery and soon-to-be Flora’s Market Run Chef/Partner Kyle Nottingham and Jan Johnson, owner of Mill River Farm in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, team up for From Farm to Fork to teach us how to break down and use all parts of a chicken, making stock from the carcass and cooking three fabulous winter soups featuring locally sourced poultry, Jan’s from her farm and Kyle’s from Top Knot Farms in Benson. Buy a local chicken and save $10 on your registration.

On Jan. 21, photographer, food writer and soon chef-owner of Tran’s Fats food truck, Jackie Tran cooks his inspired Asian Food Scene, including Korean fried cauliflower lettuce wraps using local butter lettuce. Gluten Free Flour Power with Chef Mary Steiger and Susan Fulton, better known as the Gourmet Girls, will take the confusion out of the myriad of gluten free flour choices and we’ll add to our baking repertoire on Jan. 26.

Food is Medicine, a new monthly series, kicks off Jan. 27 with Eating to Reduce Inflammation with Chef Kyle and Lisa Powell, MS, RDN, LDN, a nationally known thought leader in the integrative wellness industry. She directed corporate nutrition and food development for Canyon Ranch Resorts for over three decades, where she was responsible for developing the innovative, evidence-based nutrition philosophy and programming that also informed culinary development. Her passion is translating the science of nutrition into the art of preparing food.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen, much happiness, laughter, good health and love in 2021,


2021 Lucky Black-Eyed Peas

1 lb. dried black-eyed peas
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ lb. ham, cut into cubes or a smoked ham hock

1. Pick over and rinse the dried beans. Place in a large bowl and cover with water to about 2 inches above the beans. Soak at least 6 hours or overnight.
2. After plumped, drain.
3. In a large heavy pot, combine beans, onion, salt, pepper and ham. Cover with water and simmer on medium-low heat for 1-1 ½ hours, until the beans are tender. Avoid stirring so not to break the skins. Add more water if necessary.
4. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.


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