Rinse the ham hocks (or turkey wings) very well then add to a large pot along with enough water to fully submerge them then cover with a lid. This is usually about 6-8 cups of water depending on your pot size.
Boil over medium high heat for at least 1 hr or until meat is near being tender Pierce with a fork to check tenderness. This can take up to an hour and a half. Add more water if necessary so it doesn’t dry out. There should be enough water to always cover the meat.
Add rinsed or frozen black eyed peas to pot along with salt, garlic powder, sugar, paprika, onion powder and cayenne if using. Stir together, cover with the lid and allow the peas to come to a boil over medium high heat.
Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and checking as water begins to evaporate and peas become tender. This will take about an hour to an hour and a half. If peas begin to look dry, add a cup of water (or chicken broth) and check bottom of pot to make sure they don’t stick. You will want the peas to be softened.
Finally, if using, add frozen okra and allow to cook covered for 20-30 minutes or until tender and softened.
At this point, you will need to check the peas and liquid to make sure you have it how you prefer. If you like it more brothy with more liquid, add additional broth or water and stir. Add until you reach the consistency you like. If you like your peas thickened more than they currently are, you can either use an immersion blender to blend a few peas in the pot or you can remove a cup of peas along with some broth and add to a heavy duty blender and mix until smooth then stir back into the pot. Remember the peas will continue to thicken in sauce after heat is turned off and they settle so you may want to check first before doing to step.