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.
You’re going to eat it anyways. Especially over the upcoming holiday season. So why can’t your next sinful escape into dessert territory be indulging in one that is actually good for you? It’s far from fat and calorie free, and you definitely still need to watch your portion control, but this amazing cheesecake has so many good for you benefits its hard to believe you can still call it a dessert. You’ve all heard about the famous Pomegranate, but how many of you have ever tried one? To list all the health benefits of this beautiful red fruit would be an endless chore so let’s just touch for a moment on the most beneficial. Listen to your heart. Pomegranates contain three times the antioxidants of green tea which among many other things promotes a healthy heart and good blood circulation. Regular consumption of this super fruit has shown to stop hardening of artery walls and the build up of plaque, and keeping our arteries clean helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. If that alone isn’t enough for you, studies have also shown that the power of pomegranates can have a role in preventing cancer cells, protecting the brain against Alzheimer’s, and preventing cartilage damage. Its also a great way to clear skin, a natural anti-inflammatory and has many anti-aging properties. Long thought to be the actual apple from the garden of Eden Pomegranates are an ancient and original super-food. A pomegranate a day should keep the Dr at bay! Here’s an extremely delicious way to get started eating this amazing fruit.
Pomegranate Cheese Cake
Preheat oven to 350.
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tbsp granulated sugar
10 oz pkg. of shortbread cookies
Shortbread cookies make a delicious alternative for graham crackers. Simply grind in the food processor add sugar and melted butter and pulse together until just starting to combine. Pour mixture into a spring-form pan and press into a crust. Place in fridge until needed. Mary tip: If you don’t have a food processor, just place cookies in a Ziploc bag and press them to pieces with the bottom of a frying pan until they are crushed
16 oz of neufchatel cheese room temp (found next to cream cheese-but has 30% less fat!)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tbsp triple sec (or orange juice)
1 tbsp grated orange zest
Cream together cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Remove crust from fridge and pour cake mixture over crust. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Let cheesecake cool.
seeds from 2 pomegranates
1 tsp orange zest
1 cup+ 3 tbsp reserved pomegranate juice
1 1/2 tbsp potato or corn starch
Place 1 cup of juice and orange zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Combine reserved 3 tbsp of juice with starch in a small bowl and whisk smooth. Once the juice in the pan is boiling slowly whisk in the starch and juice mixture. The juice will thicken. Remove from heat and add in the pomegranate seeds. Stir together a place in a bowl that can go into the fridge to cool. Once the cake and topping are completely cooled you can spoon the topping onto the cheesecake and return it to the fridge until ready to serve.
Mary tip: a simple way to remove the delicious seeds from this complicated looking fruit is to place them in a large bowl of water after you open them. As you scrape out the seeds the white pith will separate and float to the top of the water and the seeds will sink. You can also cheat a little and buy your pomes already seeded. (although it’s a bit pricey)