For as many New Year’s as we can remember my mother, her mother, and her mother before her, put on a slow cooking pot of pork roast and sauerkraut. This year as the kraut started smelling up the marymeals kitchen with its comforting aromatics, I began to wonder how this tradition got started. I called up my mom to ask her about it and she seemed surprised as she admitted she didn’t even really know. She just remembered that it was what they did. After some investigation, I uncovered some interesting information. It turns out there is a reason why sauerkraut and pork is a traditional New Year’s food. A Pennsylvania Dutch folklore claims that eating it will bring good luck and prosperity in the new year. It’s good luck to eat pork because pigs forage forward for their food and don’t look back, and in Irish culture cabbage is associated with luck and fortune since it is green and resembles money. Since Pennsylvania is where many of my mother’s family settled when they came to this country from Ireland and England, I can see how they adopted the traditions of the locals. Other foods that different cultures use to help ring in the year include black eyed peas- for luck, long noodles- symbolizing a long life, lentils- as they resemble coins, pomegranates- abundance, and fish for moving forward. However you celebrate the New Year, I hope you can incorporate or start new family traditions. They are the rituals that bind generations of family together and create a sense of unity that nothing else can. If you’d like to follow my family’s tradition of pork and sauerkraut you just need to fire up the crock-pot and let it do all the work.
Slow Cooked Pork and Sauerkraut
4lbs pork loin roast
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 apple shredded or diced small
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 lbs sauerkraut
Place pork loin in the slow-cooker. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on caraway seeds, paprika, salt, and pepper. Place apple on and around the pork and cook on low for 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark add the sauerkraut, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly on top, resume cooking another 4 hours. (about 8 hours total.) Stir before serving. Serve with mashed potatoes.
There are the best of noggs… There are the worst of noggs…
My friend Adam got me thinking about eggnog the other day, and the way he was talking, I don’t think he’s ever had the pleasure. Shocking I know! Well, when I introduce something to someone for the first time, it has to be the best version possible. The best eggnog is traditionally made, from scratch. Eggs whipped with sugar, and cream into a frothy and delicious drink. Once you see how easy and amazingly delicious it is to make your own, you’ll never be able to love those commercialized cartons of nogg flavored milk that have ingredients you can’t even begin to pronounce. Like many recipes we’ve adopted from over the pond, eggnog started out as a drink that only aristocrats could afford. Since most colonists owned their own chickens and dairy cows it became no big thing for them to whip up a glass of eggnog whenever they got the whim. Replacing the expensive sherry with cheaper rum imports from the Caribbean, also aided in spreading this delicious drink to the American masses. Nogg, in fact was on George Washington’s menu every night! Because of the insane amount of calories associated with a glass of eggnog, I would not recommend more then the occasional indulgence. My Grandma adapted this recipe from a Good House Keeping magazine a million years ago, it brings back so many holiday memories, and I think its a delicious way for you, and Adam, to start your family eggnog traditions. Rum Optional.
Grandma Nancy’s Nogg
3 eggs beaten
1/3 cup sugar
2-1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup rum (optional), or 1 teaspoon rum extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
Combine beaten eggs and sugar in a saucepan, whisking together. Add milk. Cook mixture over medium heat, do not let oil or simmer and stir constantly, for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Place the saucepan inside a large bowl filled with iced water and stir until mixture is cool. Refrigerate.
Next, use a mixer(or whisk) to combine heavy cream and powdered sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Stir in rum or rum extract, then fold this whipped cream mixture into the cooled custard. Pour eggnog into serving bowl, or ladle into individual glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg,(or cinnamon)
…to Grandmother’s house we go. There’s nothing more comforting then homemade cookies, warm and fresh, out of grandma’s oven. Memories of cooking beside my own grandma, and the smells coming from her cozy kitchen keep her alive in my mind. I for sure wouldn’t be the cook I am today without those hours of valuable lessons. Today in the marymeals’ kitchen we are honored to share with you a special cookie brought to you by the grandmother of my amazing friends Shane and Joanne. This delicious date filled cookie is courtesy of Evelynne Trick circa 1970. I’ve been hearing about it since we met, and couldn’t wait to try them for myself. Even though dates don’t come from Ohio, Mrs. Trick, you made one mean date filled cookie! Let me tell you these delicious treats do not disappoint, and will be a perfect addition to your holiday table.
Evelynne Trick’s Date Filled Cookies
2 Cups Light Brown Sugar
1 Cup of shortening or margarine
½ tsp Salt
3 eggs well beaten
4 Cups sifted All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Flour
1 Cup Water
½ Cup chopped walnuts
1 Cup pitted dates
1 tsp Vanilla
Mix dough and refrigerate over night. Boil filling until thick and refrigerate over night.
Roll dough thin and cut in small circles about 1.75” diameter (or form in to a ball and press). Place each circle on a greased cookie sheet. Place a scant teaspoon of filling on each circle (keeping it in the center). Cover with another circle of dough and seal the edges together by pressing with a fork.
Bake at 375° – 400° for 10-12 minutes (or until brown).
Keep in an air tight container with a piece of apple to make soft (a slice of sandwich bread will also work).
Make sure that the dough stays extremely cold during the whole process. I put the cookies back in the fridge be fore pressing with a fork to keep the fork from sticking to the dough. I also decorated the cookies with red and green sprinkles to add a more festive look. Although Shane remembers Grandma Evelynne garnishing them with red and green candied cherries.
They met right around the time he was being shipped overseas to fight in WWII. He kept in touch occasionally with romantic letters that arrived in her mailbox from Europe at just the right moments. But my grandmother was still shocked when he showed up on her doorstep after the war, swept her off her feet, and made good on his promise to spend the rest of his life with her. She had shyly recounted the details of their courtship to me during one of my weekend visits. She was surprised they ended up together. I wasn’t. I was certain that right before he shipped out to war, Ray Potts had an out of body experience eating one of Grandma Nancy’s Sunday dinners and he was determined to find a way to experience her mouth watering meals for the rest of his days. Who wouldn’t? To get you starting your own Sunday traditions please enjoy the recipe for fried chicken that I’m convinced stole my grandfather’s heart.
Grandma Nancy’s Sunday Chicken
2 frying chickens cut into pieces
2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp each of paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, and oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
Combine buttermilk and spices in a large glass dish. Rinse chicken pieces and place in the dish to marinate for at least 1 1/2 hours up to overnight, turning occasionally to coat all pieces
2 cups flour
1 tbsp season salt
oil for frying
In a large tray combine flour with seasoning. Take chicken pieces and dredge in flour mixture to coat. Heat oil to 350 and fry pieces about 6 to 7 minutes just to get a crisp brown on the outside. Remove pieces and place on a baking tray to finish cooking in a 350 degree oven for additional 15 to 20 minutes. Shared on gallery of favorites! With the 21st Century Housewife.