Cooking for One
Make meal prep fun simply by using a little creativity with a pot of Southern black-eyed peas. Cooking for yourself doesn’t have to be boring. Change things up a bit. Step out of your food comfort zone. Be sure you are eating healthy daily portions.
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What is a black-eyed pea?
A black-eyed pea is the same as black-eyed bean, goat pea, or legume. When naming the title for this blog post, I chose Black-Eyed Pea Meals and Recipe for One – until my friend who grew up in Chicago called me. Since I was in the middle of blogging, I happened to mention the title of my blog post. She asked, “What’s a black-eyed pea?” Now if you’re from the South like me, that’s funny.
Northerners, according to what I’ve heard, use black-eyed and purple hull peas as cow feed. My Chicago friend even said the only kind of peas she knows about are green peas (called “sweet peas” or “English peas” by us Southerners).
When people from the South think of black-eyed peas, New Year’s often comes to mind because the saying goes that the peas will bring you luck. One particular Civil War tale is about Union soldiers taking food, all except the black-eyed peas that they considered only good for the livestock.
Whether or not any of the black-eyed pea good-luck legends are true, peas are a good source of nutrition (for people as well as animals). And a bowl of freshly-cooked peas with a piece of hot cornbread slathered with butter makes a Southerner downright happy.
Typically, folks in the South cook peas with salt pork, ham hock, or bacon – and always served with a pone of cornbread. However, a resourceful home chef (even one from the South) whose pantry, fridge, and freezer are in need of replenishing will likely improvise. Dried peas are good to keep in the freezer for lean food supply days. Then if you don’t have pork to add, see what you do have that might work. Here is a list of suggestions for ingredients good cooked in a pot of peas or beans:
- salt pork
- ham hock
- fresh herbs
Recently, I searched in my freezer to see if I had any peas. Surprise, surprise. I had a bag of black-eyed peas. No ham bone, though. But I did find one beef sausage (not sure why I froze the lone sausage). That’s all I needed along with a tablespoon of herbs and spices. I boiled the peas on low for over an hour. As soon as they were done, I dug in. Oh, my! Eating seasoned peas hot off the stove with sausage slices is quite satisfying.
If you use some ingenuity when you cook the peas, you’ll be amazed at the meals you can come up with. One of my favorite hot dog meals is served with purple hull peas as a topper. But I have to tell you, not every Southern lady thinks of peas for a hot dog smorgasbord. Take, for example, my mother’s youngest sister. Every now and then, I go to visit her and my uncle and cook up a bunch of country-style vegetables and/or a big pot of goulash for them. It’s more like I cook the veggies for her because he’s Italian and didn’t grow up with country garden vegetables as we did. I told my aunt today that I was blogging about black-eyed peas and mentioned the hot dogs with peas. She said, “Girl, you didn’t get that from the South. I’ve never heard of putting peas on hot dogs before. You must’ve created that recipe.” She knows me well!
Individuals who live alone tend to eat out, or they eat TV dinners and the like because of not wanting to cook for just themselves. Widows/Widowers go through so much grief after losing a spouse that to cook a meal and eat it alone is the last thing they want to do. Therefore, meals become a bowl of cereal, a sandwich (or a half), possibly an egg with a piece of toast, and an occasional piece of fruit. Can a person survive long that way? Maybe with plenty of water and consuming enough calories. But how healthy can that be?
Let me interject here that I am certainly not saying I know everything about nutrition. Neither am I a medical professional or a dietician. So if you have to eat alone and you’re not sure if you’re getting all the nutrition you need, check with your medical practitioner or nutritionist.
When my husband has to be away from home because of work, I don’t cook a meal every day. Leftovers work for me. In fact, my hubby likes to grill, and the meat will last me a couple of weeks. I keep some in the refrigerator for the first week and the rest goes in the freezer for the next week. But as soon as he comes back home, I have to watch closely the amount of food I eat. It’s more enjoyable to eat meals with him and definitely too easy for me to eat too much.
Try cooking peas for yourself. Down South, some grocery stores offer fresh peas in the refrigerated section. These bags of peas make it easy to cook for one. You can divide them into smaller bags, enough for a meal or two. If your supermarket doesn’t have the fresh ones, look in the freezer section. The next time you go grocery shopping, walk down the freezer aisle where the vegetables are to look for peas. Buy a bag. See how you like them. Peas aren’t expensive, so it’s no big deal if you decide you don’t like them.
Next, I’ve listed a few recipes I’ve discovered online for black-eyed peas that look appetizing. Which of the following recipes look appealing to you?
Black-Eyed Peas Meal Suggestions
- Black-Eyed Peas Dip – YUM! Planning to watch the Big Game? This recipe would be perfect for it.
- Black-Eyed Pea Salad – Like salads with beans? Peas can taste great in a salad. I’ve made a delicious bean salad with feta cheese, and this recipe reminds of it.
- And I just love this article by The Homesick Texan with the black-eyed peas and bacon recipe.
Black-Eyed Peas & Sausage Recipe
After cooking with the beef sausage, I’ll definitely be making this recipe again (in fact, I had the leftovers again this evening). Use a large stew or stock pot to boil the peas if you’re cooking the whole bag of peas as I did. Otherwise, use a smaller pot.
How to cook frozen or fresh black-eyed peas.
- 1 1-lb bag frozen black-eyed peas
- 1 beef sausage
- 1 tablespoon Six Seasonings (or a mixture of your favorite herbs and spices)
- Salt to taste
- Pour water into a one-gallon stew or stock pot until it's half full.
- Add the peas, the whole sausage, and the seasoning.
- Cook on high until boiling, turn down to simmer, and cover.
- Simmer for approximately 1 to 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Add salt as needed at the end of cooking (I use very little salt, if any, when cooking).
Additional nutrition information: 16 grams carbs 4 grams fiber 3 grams protein (nutrition values are approximate in this recipe.) If I'm making a meal out of peas and cornbread, I may eat one cup serving. If you only have a regular 1/2 cup serving, you may want to freeze some in bags for future meals.
The peas will soak up the water when cooking, and you may need to add more water during cooking. I did not soak my peas before cooking. Though some people do, it's not necessary to.
Don’t be afraid to be adventurous with cooking. Being creative in the kitchen is fun – even if the meal is only serving one.