Hoppin' Baum

This is our version of "Hoppin' John", a very Southern dish typically made on New Year's Day for good luck.  We always make it then, plus every time we feel like our luck could use a change.

Traditional recipes call for a ham hock or bacon in the beans, but a little bit of "Liquid Smoke" adds a nice hicory flavor that makes up for the lack of pig.   Creating a barbecue flavor is a juggling act of balancing sweet and savory, so start by adding just a little bit of each seasoning at a time and keep adding more and tasting until you get it right.  

Serves about 5.

1 large yellow onion
3/4 of a stick of butter, cut into 3 peices
3 cups  brown rice
5 cups of vegetable stock or water
4 bay leaves
3 tsp sucanat, molasses, maple syrup, or brown sugar*
2 tsp balsalmic or apple cider vinegar*
1 tsp worcestershire sauce*
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp red pepper*
3 dashes of liquid smoke*
1.5 cups dried black-eyed peas, covered in water and presoaked overnight
1 additional cup of water or stock
salt and pepper
one clove of garlic, minced
6 cups collard greens, washed and cut into ribbons or roughly chopped

Combine the rice, veggie stock, 2 bay leaves, one quarter of the onion and one piece of butter in a stock pot, boil, cover and cook (if you need a primer on how to cook rice, here's a simple enough explanation).

Meanwhile, chop the remaining half of the onion.  In a saucepan at medium heat , melt another knob of butter and toss in the onion. Sautee with a dash of salt until the onion is translucent.  Drain the black-eyed peas and pour them into the saucepan, adding the cup or so of stock or fresh water and adjusting heat so that the beans are just simmering.  Little by little, cycle through the seasonings (sucanat, vinegar, worcestershire, celery seed, red pepper, liquid smoke) and stir until you're satisfied with the balance of tastes.  
 Add two bay leaves to the pot, then let the beans cook gently for about half an hour. Adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste as you go.

When the beans are tender, dump them and their cooking juices into the rice.  Mix the two up and place the covered pot on a burner that's on a very low setting.  Let the rice absorb the additional liquid, about 5 minutes or so.

In the saucepan you cooked your beans in, heat the last peice of butter and sautee the clove of garlic on medium low heat.  When the garlic is fragrant, turn the heat down to low, add collard greens, and cover.  Allow the greens to wilt slightly, and stir to evenly distribute the butter and garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the hoppin' baum and collards with some corn muffins, and then make your own luck!

*more or less, to taste