New Years Day is the day we want to start anew, to reach for that we didn’t quite get the previous year, the day we make resolutions. One of the ways this can be done within the New Orleans Voodoo tradition is with the preparation of certain traditional foods and to conjure a prosperity Money Lamp.
Greens of all kinds are popular among Southerners, particularly in rural communities. My grandmother and my mother grew all of greens in their gardens – mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens – even dandelion greens are tasty when you know how to prepare them. There is nothing like the taste of fresh greens cooked down in ham hock gravy or bacon drippings.
Greens are associated with attracting money; hence, the name money greens. Before making this dish, prepare an olive oil money lamp that you can burn in the kitchen while you are cooking. Olive oil is a great choice for making oil lamps because it doesn’t smoke or smell bad like commercially prepared lamp oils. It is also not combustible so even if you drop a match into the oil, it won’t catch fire. This is a great prosperity lamp to conjure for New Years Day, along with your Money Greens and Hoppin’ John.
To make your olive oil money lamp, you’ll need:
- A small glass jar like a miniature jelly jar or small minced garlic jar with a metal lid
- A wick
- Olive oil
- Money herbs, i.e. basil, mint, cinnamon,sassafras
- Money drawing conjure oil
- Piece of pyrite
- Personal concerns
Prepare the vessel by washing it with Florida Water or salt water and dress it with Louisiana Van Van Oil. Breathe into the jar and fill it with your breath and say a few words of intention. If you use the Psalms in your work, say the 23rd Psalm.
Write your petition on a small piece of parchment paper and attach it to the wick with a safety pin or straight pin. This part of the wick should be at the bottom of the jar. Poke a hole in the lid of the jar and pull the wick through it so that about a quarter of an inch of wick is coming out of the top of the lamp.
Place the bottom of the wick with the petition attached in the bottom of the jar. Add the herbs, pyrite and personal concerns to the jar and cover with olive oil. Do not fill the jar to the top—you have to leave about a quarter of an inch space from the top. Add a few drops of conjure oil. With each ingredient you add offer it to the four directions and say a short prayer or statement telling each ingredient what you want it to do for you.
Place the lid on the lamp and light it. Once your lamp is together, say the 23rd Psalm if you do Psalms or say a heartfelt prayer of your own that asks for what you need and offers gratitude to the powers that be for all that you have.
Once you have set your conjure lamp, choose one of the following recipes for making your New Years lucky money greens. One is made with ham hocks, and the other with bacon. Either one is absolutely delicious so you can’t go wrong with whichever one you choose. Remember, when you cook greens they will wilt and reduce a lot, so you will have to add more than you may expect if you have never cooked greens before. Another thing is that some folks say greens tend to be bitter. Well, if you pick them when they are young and tender you won’t have to worry about that. Furthermore, it’s a little Creole secret to add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to just about everything and that takes care of any slight hint of bitterness.
Here I am sharing two recipes for money greens – one with ham hocks, and the other with bacon. Either one is absolutely delicious so you can’t go wrong with whichever one you conjure in the kitchen for your New Years’ good luck boost. I am also providing the recipe for what is believed to be the favorite dish of Marie Laveaux – Hoppin’ John – a staple for anyone, Voodooist or not, for New Years Day.
MONEY GREENS WITH HAM HOCKS
Remember that when you cook greens they will wilt and reduce a lot, so you will have to add more than you may expect if you have never cooked greens before.
Another thing is that some folks say greens tend to be bitter. Well, if you pick them when they are young and tender you won’t have to worry about that. Furthermore, it’s a little Creole secret to add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to just about everything and that takes care of any slight hint of bitterness.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup wheat flour
- 2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 8 cups Chicken Stock
- 3 pounds ham hocks (about 4 medium-size hocks)
- 2 bunches (about 2 1/4 pounds) each of collards, mustard, and turnip greens, thoroughly washed, picked over for blemished leaves, and tough stems removed
- 1 cup spring water
1. Combine the oil and flour in an 8-quart pot over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, to make a blonde roux, about 8 minutes.
2. Add the onions, celery, salt, cayenne, bay leaves, garlic, stock, and ham hocks. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until the hocks are very tender, about 2 hours.
3. Add the greens, by the handful, until all of them are combined in the mixture. They will wilt. Add the water. Simmer until the greens are very tender and the mixture is thick, about 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and serve warm.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
MONEY GREENS WITH BACON
Some folks say to barely cook the bacon but my mom used to cook them extra crispy to sprinkle on top.
- 6 strips thick-sliced bacon
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Several dashes hot sauce
- 1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
- 2 pounds collard greens, stems removed, sliced into 3-inch-wide strips (can substitute kale or chard)
- 1 cup chicken broth (or water)*
- 2 bay leaves
1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Cook the bacon in the skillet until it just begins to brown around the edges, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and cook until they have softened and are just starting to brown.
2. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, sugar and hot sauce. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about a minute. Add the vinegar, bring to a simmer, and cook until the amount of liquid is reduced by half, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
3. Add the collard greens and the chicken broth (or water) and bring to a simmer. Reduce the temp to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the collard greens have wilted and have lost their brightness. Season to taste with additional vinegar and hot sauce. Serve with some of the pan juices from the pan.
Serves 6 to 8.
MARIE LAVEAU’S HOPPIN’ JOHN
Black eyed peas or Hoppin’ John are a traditional staple meal on New Years for any New Orleanian and has special significance for devotees of Marie Laveau. Marie Laveau is best known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, as well as a humanitarian, healer and beautician. Legend tells us that one of her favorite dishes was Hoppin’ John. Should you ever call upon her for assistance or visit her tomb to ask for a wish, you may want to make a dish of Hoppin’ John to take to her as an offering. She would surely smile upon you if you do.
To start off the New Year with this lucky dish, you will need the following:
- 1 lb. Black-Eyed Peas
- 8 slices Bacon, cut into fourths
- 1 1/2 cups Onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup celery, finely chopped
- ½cup bell pepper finely chopped
- 2 1/2 quarts water
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon Thyme
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1/8 teaspoon Rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 cups raw Rice
Soak black-eyed peas overnight in water. Fry bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp. Add 1 1/2 cups onions, and cook until the onions are transparent. Add 2 1/2 quarts water, bring to boil. Add garlic cloves, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Drain peas and add the boiling mixture. Barely simmer mixture, partially covered, for 1 1/2 hour. Add 2 cups raw rice. Serve with crisp French bread. Enjoy!
May the blessings of the Seven African Powers bring prosperity, harmony and love to all this year!
Don’t Miss a Beat: Click on the Subscribe button at the top of this page to get the latest article updates!
Other articles about New Orleans Voodoo you may find interesting:
Congo Square, African Heritage, and New Orleans Voodoo
Marie Laveaux, La Belle de Nouvelle Orleans
The Basics of New Orleans Voodoo: Part 1
The Basics of New Orleans Voodoo Part 2: Africans and Indians
The Content of this article is copyright 2012 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide.