Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year To Our Readers!

I hope you all have a festive and safe New Year's celebration. Thank you so much for another wonderful year of encouragement and support. I always say our readers are the best!

I'll be back on Monday with the first tips of 2009. ~Brenda

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Family Fun

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~Hal Borland

Today I have some last minute fun to involve the kids in New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Party Hats: Roll poster board or any thicker paper into a cone shape and tape securely. Gather up leftover ribbon, bits of fabric, stickers,confetti, glitter---all the things you may have used for Christmas crafts. Glue items all around the cone hat in a collage style.

Time Collage: Using a piece of cardboard or poster board as the base, find as many pictures of clocks and watches as possible. Glue them onto the piece of paper or cardboard and in the middle of the collage attach a piece of paper that says "Welcome in the New Year---2009!"

Easy Time Centerpiece: On a tray place 3-5 clocks of different heights in a grouping. Scatter pieces of silver and gold tinsel, ribbon or confetti on the tray around the clock bases.

Fun Snack/Favor: Check the warehouse type stores or restaurant supply stores for bags of fortune cookies. They are inexpensive. Place them in a large basket or bowl for the guests when they arrive. For an extra touch, have each person's name and a square of paper on a large bulletin board at the door and tape or glue the fortune they pick to the square for everyone to see.

Resolution Game: Have everyone write one New Year's Resolution on a piece of paper and have them include their name-- they should list the biggest, best resolution they can think of that would change their life. Have one person read them aloud and have everyone guess who wrote the one being read aloud. Include the kids on this one too!

If you have a lot of younger children in the family or older folks who don't like staying up late, plan on making this is Noon Celebration instead, either on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day---there may not be the big ball dropping in Times
Square, but everyone will have a great time!

Serve this yummy non-alcoholic drink:

Crock pot Spiced Hot Chocolate

8 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups Half & Half
2 cups milk
1 cup strong coffee
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt
Frozen whipped topping

Add the chocolate chips, half & half, milk, coffee, brown sugar, vanilla, spices and salt to the crockpot. Stir and cover. Cook on the high setting, stirring every 15 minutes, until the chocolate has melted, about 1 hour. Serve immediately, or turn crock to low (or warm if yours has that setting). Serve with the thawed whipped topping.

Mary Emma shares the orgins of New Years on OFL:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Years Recipes From Around the World

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

We've covered black-eyed peas as a Southern tradition in the U.S., but Catherine, The Herb Lady dropped me a line to suggest that if you don't want to use a ham hock you can used a smoked turkey wing or leg instead to flavor the peas. You can also use a piece of ham from a boneless ham. The ends are great to freeze and save for this. Actually, any "smoked" meat will add flavor. Vegetarians can leave out the meat all-together and add some extra herbs for flavor.

There are many neat traditions around the world for New Years. One, that is observed in Cuba, Spain, and many other countries is the practice of eating one grape each time the clock chimes at midnight. 12 grapes for the 12 chimes---

I have a non-pork version of a black-eyed pea dish, that is also a healthy side dish! Greens are also considered a good luck dish!

Black-Eyed Peas and Kale

1 1/2 kale or other greens
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves minced fresh garlic
Pinch of dried red pepper or ground black if preferred
2 cups canned, rinsed black-eyed peas
1 Tbsp. wine or herb vinegar

Remove the tough stems from the greens. Chop the leaves into one-inch pieces. Place about two inches of water in a large pot and heat to boiling. Add the kale, cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. In a large skillet, combine the oil and garlic. Cook the garlic over low heat, stirring, about two minutes. Add the peas and pepper, stirring, about three minutes. Add the kale and stir -then add the vinegar. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 6.

In many Italian homes, lentils are eaten just after midnight on New Year's Eve. This custom is suppose to bring money to the person throughout the rest of the year.

Italian Lentils

1 lb. dry lentils
2 carrots, peeled, divided
2 stalks celery, divided
1 large sweet onion, chopped, divided
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
2-3 leaves fresh sage or 1/4 tsp. dried
1/4 cup tomato sauce (or spaghetti sauce)
salt to taste

Wash the lentils and sort. I don't soak them overnight but some people do. I place them on the stove with water to cover, and bring to a boil, then allow them to sit for one hour. Rinse and drain. Put the lentils in a large pan and add a whole carrot, one celery stalk, 1/3 of the onion and salt to taste. Add water to cover all. Bring to a boil and the reduce to a low heat; cover and allow them simmer for about 2 - 3 hours. Check occasionally to see if they are done. Add more water if they start to look dry at any point. About a 30 minutes before they are done, heat a pan with the butter and oil. Add remaining carrot, celery and onion, finely chopped. Sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes; then add the tomato sauce and two fresh sage leaves. Simmer for about ten minutes. Add them to the lentils and cook together for 10 minutes stirring frequently.

We have a large Dutch population here in Michigan, so I had heard of Olie Bollen after living here for 20 years. They are small round doughnuts or "fat balls" that vary with the cook. Sometimes raisins, currents or other dried fruit are added. These are served on New Year's Eve.

Olie Bollen

1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk, warmed
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 pound raisins, soaked overnight
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

Dissolve yeast and sugar in the water and allow to stand in warm place for 30 minutes. Combine eggs, milk, corn syrup, raisins and yeast mixture in large bowl. Sift flour and salt into mixture and mix well for a few minutes. It should be firm enough to fall from the spoon in a ball shape. Either add more water or flour depending on dough. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 2 hours. Drop by tablespoonful into hot, preheated grease. (Same temp. as for French Fries)Fry until browned.

More New Year's traditions from around the world on OFL:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Black-Eyed Peas for New Years

Old times never come back and I suppose it's just as well. What comes back is a new morning every day in the year, and that's better. ~George E. Woodberry

Plan on cooking a black-eyed pea dish on New Year's Day for a little added luck and healthy fiber!

Black-eyed Peas, Ham and Sausage

1/4 pound bacon, diced
1 lb. Italian or other sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 lb. cooked ham, diced
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1-15 oz. can black-eyed peas
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy saucepan, cook the bacon till it's starting to crisp. Add the sausage and ham and saute until browned. Add the onion, bell pepper and jalapeno, cook until the pepper begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the can of black-eyed peas and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Serve over rice or eat with cornbread.

Black-eyed Pea Salsa

1 (16-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained
6 green onions, thinly sliced -white and green
One 14 to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 to 2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to taste

Rinse black-eyed peas under cod water and drain. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Stir in drained black-eyed peas. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve with tortilla chips.

Black-Eyed Pea Soup

1 pound dried black-eyed peas, sorted and rinsed
8 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 thick slices bacon
2 large sweet onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 whole bay leaves
1 dried thyme, crumbled
5 cups chicken broth
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce

Place peas in a 5-quart Dutch oven or large pan, add cold water so it covers, and bring to a boil over high heat; cook for 2 minutes.Remove peas from the heat and let stand, covered, for 1 hour. Drain peas and rinse; return to pan, add water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Drain peas into a bowl, reserving 1 cup liquid. Purée 1 cup peas,adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid, if necessary. Cut the bacon into 1/2-inch strips, add to the pan the peas were cooked in, and cook till crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper toweling to drain. In bacon drippings, sauté onions, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme over medium heat, until vegetables soften, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add reserved cooking liquid, broth, peas,and pea purée and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Mix in lemon juice, red pepper sauce, and reserved bacon. Heat til warmed through. Discard bay leaves and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Why are black-eyed peas a New Year's favorite? On OFL: