Promise Me You’ll Eat Your Greens

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By Paula Deen

Y’all, it’s New Year’s—again. I’m not sure how it keeps sneaking up on me. Seems like I just got around to putting the right year on my checks and now I’m gonna spend the next four months asking “What year is it again?” I suppose I’m not alone. So many of you must be going through the same thing, feeling as if the months and years are passing like green grass through a goose. I’d like to slow it down, but I figure I’d have more luck arguing with a fencepost than I would with Father Time. And no sense wasting what little I do have.

So I jump into the New Year the best way I know how: I watch my step. Literally. Remember that little rhyme we used to say growing up? Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back. I took that to heart. I nearly got into it with a boy when he nudged me onto one of those cracks in the sidewalk. I ran home, holding back my tears, thinkin’ I’d gone and hurt my momma.  She was fine, of course, but I don’t mess with superstitions—especially at the New Year when these things can set the tone for the next twelve months. I’m not all hoodoo-voodoo, but I figure there are so few things we can control in this world that I’m going to do what I can to keep good fortune shinning down on me. And if that means nearly stumblin’ to avoid a little crack, well, that’s a small price to pay.

My grandfather Paul is responsible for filling my head with all these notions. He was the most superstitious man I’d ever met. He wouldn’t walk under a ladder even if he had to walk five miles to go around it. And opening an umbrella in his house was a surefire way to guarantee you’d leave with a shoe print on your backside.

Growing up, I had a hard time keeping up with all of his superstitions. Some were downright strange, like believing it was bad luck to take the trash out after dark. And I had an even harder time accepting some them. As much as I wanted a pet goldfish, my grandfather Paul would hear nothing of it. When I asked why, he’d say, “They’re bad luck,” as if it that somehow settled it.

I don’t ever want my superstitions to put people out, but my guests on New Year’s Eve have to do a couple of things to keep me happy. Like it or not, they have to have hog jowls for good health and at least one bite of turnip greens. See, that little taste of green guarantees financial success for the next year. I always serve ‘em with heaping scoop of Hoppin’ John, a delicious mix of rice and black-eyed peas for good luck. Even if my guests don’t buy into all this hooey, they can still indulge me—and their bellies with all this comfort food. After all, it’s for their own good.

There are certainly worse things than wishing your friends and family a healthy and happy New Year, even if you go about it in a funny way. I suppose that’s what I should keep in mind when I think back on my grandfather Paul. He didn’t give a plugged nickel about goldfish, y’all. Not really. He wanted the same thing I want for all of my friends and family: the very best.

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Reader Comments:

54321

I love your shows and all the stories you tell about family and enjoy hearing the struggles that you have overcome, You have inspired me and others to look at how blessed we have been in our lives. Thank you

By Ruby Cortez on January 01, 2013

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OK, we are having a Southern Supper for New Years with 9 couples. So far our menu is: Two different corn breads, Black Eyed Peas with Ham Hocks & Okra Georgia Black Eyed Peas Collards and Ham Hocks Pork Roast with Sauerkraut Slaw 3 desserts What should we serve to drink? Help! I can't find Louisan Coffee up here in southeastern Washington, Coca Cola has been suggested as have Blood Mary's and Virgin Marys. What all are we missing?? Also my dad was raised in Alabama and insists only true Southerners eat White cornmeal/buttermilk no sweetener cornbrad...is this true

By Laura Schmidt on December 27, 2012

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BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY -PAULA. HOPE YOUR DAY IS FILLED WITH LOTS OF LOVE. LOOKED GOOD ON THE --chew show the other day. keep doing what u do best. your fans love u rosie

By r.herdman on January 19, 2012

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I look at u and ur sons on ur show every chance I get. I can be had a bad day u guys can cheer me up I love when u talk about Albany Ga. Be cause that's where I live. I learn how to cook from family nembers also but u was the one touch me how to make the best pecan pie. Thank u so much one day I hope to meet u and ur family.

By Pamela Ausby on January 06, 2012

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I always heard that if you leave your Christmas tree up after the 1st it was bad luck. You don't wash or sweep on New Years Day because up would wash or sweep someone out of your family. What you do New Years Day is what you will be doing all the upcoming year. We always eat pork, blackeyed peas and our green are usually cabbage since no one eats turnip greens.

By leisha pass on January 04, 2012

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we will be eating our greens paula!

By redbpower on January 04, 2012

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My heritage is German from Pennsylvania. I have eaten Pork and Sauerkrout since I was old enough to eat solid food every Januray 1. My Husband is from the South so he has always eaten Collard greens and Blackeyed peas on January 1. So now that we live in North Carolina we combine we our good luck New Year's dinners for double good luck. We had eight people over for New Year's dinner this year and they all ate what we eat and all of our friends will have a good year. May you, Michael and all your family have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

By Anna Parham on January 04, 2012

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Every year growing up we had black-eyed peas, collard greens, and a pork roast. Mom didn't like hog jowls. I've carried on the tradition year after year so that I have my good luck and money. The only thing I've added is your Mac & Cheese recipe for the boys.

By Yvonne O'Dell on January 03, 2012

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Happy New Year! i had my fair share of turnip greens and black eyes. nothing better! and not for just one day of the year either! may you and your family's New Year continue with good health and prosperity. ready to see what y'all got cooking!

By Donna S on January 03, 2012

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Paula Deen
Paula Deen
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The Queen of Southern Cuisine muses about her recipes, life and family. See Posts

Brooke Deen
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Andrea Goto
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Martha Lee
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Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
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Cindy Edwards
Cindy Edwards
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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 7:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 3:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm