In response to some of the worst economic times since the Great Depression, I’m excited to launch my “Grow. Cook. Grub.” series. With unemployment climbing, diet-related illnesses increasing, and health care costs sky-rocketing, more and more people are looking to feed themselves healthfully, simply, and cheaply. Using my family and community as an example, I will show readers how easy it is to cook health-promoting, delicious, and inexpensive meals year round using food from my home garden, CSA, and local farmer’s markets. Smoky Black-eyed Peas Yield: 8 to 10 servings Soundtrack: “Money Jungle” by Duke Ellington With Charles Mingus & Max Roach from Money Jungle If you’ve read my first book, Grub, you already know that eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day is a ritual among Southerners to help usher in a year of good luck and prosperity (bep = copper and greens = dollars). I forgot to buy black eyed-peas before New Year’s Day, so I was in a bit of a panic trying to get my hands on some to cook up before the day ended (since most stores were closed). I called a few friends to see if anyone had some that they could share with me, and my neighbor Luna had a bag of fresh black-eyed peas that she had bought from the Mandela’s Farmer’s Market in West Oakland. Score. This is the recipe that I created with Luna’s fresh peas. I made a larger serving so that I could give her half. I had most of the staples on hand, and I got the fresh herbs from my front-yard planter boxes. If using dried black-eyed peas reduce the amount of peas to 1 1/2 cup then sort, soak, drain, and rinse them before cooking. Like most beans, this dish tastes much more flavorful after they have sat in the broth overnight. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 large onion, diced 4 cloves garlic, minced 3 cups fresh black-eyed peas 1 (3-inch) piece kombu 2 large dried chipotle chilies Simple Stock (see recipe below) 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme White pepper • In a skillet over low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and sauté until the onions start to caramelize, about 10 minutes. • Stir in the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more. • Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan. Add the black-eyed peas, kombu, chiles, and enough Simple Stock to cover. • Over high heat, bring to a boil. Quickly reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, until almost tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add the salt and simmer for another 15 minutes, until tender. Add the thyme and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove kombu with a slotted spoon. • Season with white pepper to taste and serve hot with or without the gravy along with greens and cornbread. Simple Stock Yield: about 1 1/2 quart Soundtrack: “Home” by The Modern Jazz Quartet from Blues At Carnegie Hall This stock is all-purpose and can be used whenever a vegetable stock is called for. In addition to the suggested ingredients below, you can add the tough stems and trimmings from leafy greens and other vegetables. 2 large onions, quartered (include skin) 1 large carrot, thinly sliced 4 celery ribs, thinly sliced 8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced (stems included) 1 whole garlic bulb, unpeeled, broken up, and smashed with the back of a knife 2 bay leaves 3 sprigs fresh thyme 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 9 cups water • In a stockpot over medium-high heat combine all the ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered until the vegetables are meltingly tender, about 1 hour. • Strain the vegetables, pressing down on them to extract all their liquids. Discard (and compost) the cooked vegetables.