“Things are going to be great in The 1, 2!” exclaims our resident trendsetter, Jenny.
Yes, The 1, 2 – AKA 2012, AKA the year when great things will happen.
2011 was a pretty great year for me. I went on my first date with Amber (which is today, January 4th) :) I quit a job that was causing a great deal of misery, and channeled my creative energy into starting a blog and focusing on my personal writing. The blog launched in June and in August my first personal essay was published.
With all that has happened, I feel like 2011 was just the tipping point – the early stages of great things to come, for me and for many of my friends as well. 2011 was a great year for seizing opportunities by both my friends and me; everything from buying a house, to new jobs, to creative projects, to making the right contacts to move you forward. And we also had a ton of fun!
I’ve discussed previously, our tradition of “family meal” whilst watching zombies. And though the new big thing in TV is the mid-season finale, leaving adoring fans in a proverbial cliffhanger until February, we have not steered away from our tradition. Our group of friends is such a tight bunch and we have 2011 to thank for the bonds that we formed; bonds that I know will only grow in 2012.
Some of us spent the New Year together, while some were in other cities, but we decided to celebrate with each other Monday night with a little dinner and games. To afford us as much luck as possible in The 1, 2, I cooked up a little “good luck” dinner of deconstructed pork potpies with black-eyed peas and braised red cabbage.
Pigs symbolize progress. Some say it’s because these animals never move backward; the animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. A lesson we can all learn and benefit from. I’m trying to get myself rooted both economically and creatively. I need one in order to have the other, so they can balance one another.
Black-eyed peas – the most commonly recognized lucky food, traces back to the Civil War. The town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and they were thereafter considered lucky. Also, legumes are representative of coin, therefore are associated with prosperity. We could all use a little extra money in our pockets!
Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year’s for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune. I took a loose interpretation of this and braised red cabbage because, well it tastes better when it’s braised compared to green, and I’ve been craving braised red cabbage for months now.
Cakes and other baked goods are commonly served from Christmas to New Year’s around the world, with a special emphasis placed on round or ring-shaped items. For dessert I leaned on Amber to make something delicious (since sweet is her forte), and she took a cue from one of my favorite blogs that I follow, and made some mini blueberry galettes.
Even if no luck comes our way, at least we started the year with good friends and a full belly.
I’ve never been one for making resolutions. The New Year always offers an opportunity for optimism, a feeling that some only carry with them for the first few weeks or months. And though I don’t plan on make any earth-shattering resolutions, I am exceptionally hopeful for the year to come, and I expect big things in The 1, 2!
Happy New Year! :)
Pulled Pork with black-eyed peas
3 lbs of pork shoulder
3/4 lb black-eyed peas (soaked over night and par-cooked)
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. freshly ground pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cups apple cider
1 cup chicken stock
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp. fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
Dash of cayenne pepper
Rub pork shoulder with salt, pepper, and thyme and add to slow cooker with cider, stock, onion, rosemary, cayenne, and bay leaf. Cook on high for 2 hours and then lower heat to low and cook for 4-5 more hours or until pork falls apart with a pull of a fork. Remove pork and pull apart and put back into slow cooker with apple and black-eyed peas and cook on low or (simmer setting if you have one) for 45 mins to 1 hour.
Braised Red Cabbage
(Adapted from Food Network Kitchen)
4 slices bacon, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons salt
1 large heads red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 apple, cored and cut into bite size pieces
2 to 3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Cook the bacon until crisp, over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the onions, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 8 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high; add the cabbage and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 8 minutes. Add the apple, wine, broth, vinegar, sugar, the remaining salt, and pepper, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, about 45 mins to 1 hour.
Uncover; bring to a boil, and cook, stirring, until the liquid has reduced to a sauce-like consistency, about 5 minutes.
Pepper and Garlic Jack Cheese Biscuits
(Adapted from http://rosemarried.wordpress.com/ )
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 stick (8 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup finely grated garlic jack cheese (or any cheese you want)
2 teaspoons of finely chopped rosemary
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper in bowl. Blend in the chilled butter cubes until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add cheese and rosemary, and mix. Add in the buttermilk and stir until combined.
Apply dollops to greased baking sheet and cook 15-20 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown.
Mini Blueberry Galettes
(Adapted from Spoonforkbacon)
Makes 14 to 16
Cream cheese crust:
1 cup all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
4 1/2 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
8 ounces fresh blueberries
1 orange, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with cinnamon for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Place butter and cream cheese into the bowl with the flour mixture and cut together until fully incorporated. The mixture should be evenly grainy.
4. Add water and vinegar and knead together until the mixture comes together and a smooth dough forms, about 2 minutes.
5. Pat the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
6. Place the ingredients for the filling into a mixing bowl and gently stir together until well combined and the blueberries are well coated.
7. Once the dough has chilled, place it onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until º inch thick. Using a 2 to 3 inch circle cutter cut out as many circles possible, about
8. Re-roll the scraps and make more circles.
9. Whisk together the egg and water and brush a thin layer over each disc. Place 2 teaspoons of the filling into the center of each disc of dough and fold the sides towards the center, until all the sides have been tucked in.
10. Brush the tops of the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with a small amount of cinnamon-sugar.
11. Place the mini galettes onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment, and bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown.
12. Allow the glaettes to cool slightly before serving.