It seems strange to be writing 2013 already. There will probably be lots of us who have to watch each check we write for awhile so we don't put the wrong year on it. There are two ways to look at the passing of the old year and the welcoming of a new one. We can be upset with ourselves for not getting done things we planned to accomplice in the year that just left us. The better way is to look at the New Year as a fresh page in our life that we can use to start fresh on anything we might want to do. Last year is gone and we can't go back to try to correct anything, so we might as well forget what we didn't do and just plan harder to get done the things we want to do in this coming year. If you make the infamous "New Year's Resolution," think long and hard about it so it is something you really want to achieve. Nothing gets a person down faster than to think one is a failure because of falling down on a promise made to one's self. Somewhere I did read of a tongue-in-cheek way to handle this by just saving the list of New Year's Resolutions and use it for Lent saves having to think up the same ways to improve one's self. Since none of us is perfect, we all could try to improve at least one area of our lives. There is no sense in trying to completely overhaul our entire system all at one time, even if we do need it. It is always easier to see what others need to do to improve than to see in ourselves any needed correction. So, make it easy on yourself and just plan to enjoy every day of this year. Each day is a gift anyway, so unwrap it and be glad and grateful.
Today is the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas, so I guess that means I will have to do some undecorating. The tree stays up all year, though, so just taking the Christmas items off it will go fast (and I might do it by Easter!). It also means that the days of eating all those goodies on which we spurge during the holidays has to come to a halt. Husband Norm isn't much for eating sweets, and of course they can't go to waste, so you know where most of the goodies land. The problem is that once there, they like to stay around and that means extra work to get them to go away again. Bring on the Skinny Soup.
In many countries and some places in this country, today is the end of the Christmas season and the start of the Carnival season. That reaches a climax of partying at midnight on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The King Cake recipe you got last week is served at many parties during that time and is the way the "king" is picked for the next party. For me, I just get tired even thinking about all that running around and going to party after party. Guess I am getting old. Of course all that costs quite a bit of money anyway and my Scotch ancestry starts to scream just thinking about it.
The recent snow almost made up for not having a "White Christmas." I am in the minority, but I loved it. (Childlike mind, maybe?) The Christmas lights looked so pretty on it and it was a little disappointing when lots of folks started taking the lights down. I am still not all the way through my stack of books, so maybe we will have some more of it before spring. My teapot did stay busy, though.
Spring is on its way. I am getting seed catalogs already. All the new varieties of vegetables and fruits make me want to plant fifty acres in garden and have that many gardeners taking care of it for me. The garden wars haven't started yet, but I doubt that I am on the winning side this year. I know where the Farmers' Markets are and where the Chesterhill Produce Auction is so I won't have to do without fresh veggies, even if my own garden gets cut drastically.
Another sign of spring coming is the slightly longer days now. I love spring, but I want to be able to enjoy some more of winter as long as it isn't mud and cold rain. Snow is much cleaner and doesn't chill one to the bone like cold rain does. It makes a great playground for the young ones, too. I don't make snow ice cream anymore since the air seems so polluted. I do miss that. Guess we will just take what we get since Mother Nature doesn't want to ask us what we want!
After this past week, I am about "footballed" out. Of course, there is the Super Bowl yet, but I enjoy the college games more. I think Norm missed his calling he should have been a coach. He tries to tell them what to do and what mistakes they are making, but they just don't pay any attention to what he says!
I am certain they can hear him, too. On New Year's Day the bowl games won out over food even though there was both the Northern and Southern "lucky dishes" cooked. Many of the bowl games were played on other days, so we watched football all week, it seemed.
My friend, Sarah Jalbert, sent me a great recipe for applesauce and it will be included today. It tastes just like an apple pie but without the extra calories that a crust creates. I am going to use some to make apple breakfast goodies, like turnovers. Try it with a dollop of whipped topping on top for a great dessert. Thanks, Sarah!
I wish for you and yours a happy and healthy start to this year. God Bless!
Zest and juice of 2 large navel oranges
Zest and juice of one lemon
Three pounds Granny Smith apples (6 to 8 apples)
Three pounds sweet red apples such as McIntosh or Winesap (6 to 8 apples)
One-half cup light brown sugar, packed
One-fourth pound unsalted butter
Two teaspoons ground cinnamon
One-half teaspoon ground allspice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl. Peel, quarter and core the apples and toss them in the juice. Pour the apples and juice into a non-reactive Dutch oven or enameled iron pot. Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and allspice and cover the pot. Bake for 90 minutes or until the apples are soft. Mix with a whisk or potato masher until smooth. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
One pound dried navy beans (any dried beans work)
Ham hock (smoked and lots of meat left on it)
Three medium potatoes, cubed
One cup chopped onion
One cup chopped celery
Two garlic cloves, minced
One-half teaspoon cayenne pepper
One-eighth teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
Wash beans and soak overnight in enough water to cover by 2-inches. The next morning, drain beans and then add about five quarts of water. Add the ham hock and any extra ham and simmer for two hours or until beans are tender. Add potatoes, celery, onion and garlic and simmer for another hour. Remove ham hock, cut meat off bone, cube and add meat to the soup. Season to taste with salt.
Two or three slices bacon, diced
One cup thinly sliced onion
Two-thirds cup chopped bell pepper
Two-thirds cup chopped celery
Two tablespoons bacon drippings
Two cups drained canned tomatoes
Two cups cooked or canned green beans
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large heavy skillet or heavy saucepan, fry bacon until fairly crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels, reserving about two tablespoons of the drippings. Saute onion, bell pepper, and celery in the bacon drippings until tender. Mix in tomatoes, green beans, bacon pieces and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until all vegetables are heated thoroughly. Serve warm.
CARROTS WITH ORANGE GLAZE
One pound carrots
One-fourth cup boiling, salted water
One tablespoon sugar
One teaspoon cornstarch
One-fourth teaspoon salt
One-fourth to one-half teaspoon ground ginger
One-half to one teaspoon orange zest
One-fourth cup orange juice
Two tablespoons butter or margarine
Slice carrots diagonally into large "coins" one-fourth- to half-inch thick. Cook, covered in boiling, salted water just until tender. Mix sugar, salt, cornstarch, ginger, orange juice, orange zest, and butter and pour over carrots. Cook, gently stirring occasionally, for about 7 to 8 minutes.
GERMAN STYLE SAUERKRAUT
One package "meat department" sauerkraut
One-half cup brown sugar, packed
Two teaspoons caraway seeds
Drain sauerkraut. Rinse with clear water and drain again. Place kraut in a heavy saucepan and add brown sugar and caraway seeds. Cook gently until sugar is melted and kraut is hot. If you like the kraut more sour, don't rinse it. (This is what I use for ribs, any pork roast, hot dog topping, on mashed potatoes any way you like kraut!)
One-half cup sifted all-purpose flour
One teaspoon baking powder
One-half teaspoon salt
One-third cup sugar
One tablespoon cocoa powder
One-fourth cup milk
One tablespoon melted shortening
One-half teaspoon vanilla extract
One-fourth cup chopped nuts optional
One-half cup brown sugar, packed
Two tablespoons cocoa powder
Three-fourths cup boiling water
Combine sifted flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and 1 tablespoon cocoa and sift together into mixing bowl. Add milk, shortening and vanilla. Mix only until smooth, then add nuts, if using. Pour into a greased 1-quart baking dish. Mix together brown sugar and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and sprinkle over batter, and then pour boiling water over top of batter. This forms a chocolate sauce in the bottom of the pan as the pudding bakes. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
Patty Christopher is a longtime food columnist. Contact her at email@example.com