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Reflections On New Year’s Eve

 

Tonight at the stroke of midnight we will welcome a new year.

Out with the old.

In with the new.

It is a time to look backward at the old year as we look forward to a new one.

At the same time millions of us will sing Auld Lang Syne, pretending for yet another year we really know  what we are singing and what the words really mean.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

  “Chorus:
   For auld lang syne, my dear,
   For auld lang syne.
   We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
   For auld lang syne.”

Through the magic of the internet I found an interpretation of the words which gives new depth and meaning to the song. Or at least for me it did. Maybe this is because a few weeks ago a much beloved friend of mine died and I have been just a bit introspective since.

From Scotland’s Enchanting Kingdom and reprinted here with permission from May Cropley is a translation of the first stanza of the song  from old English into more modern English. This gave me a better idea of the sentiment of the song.

Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And never be remembered?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And the days long ago they shared?

Chorus

For days now long ago, my dear,
For days now long ago,
We’ll drink a toast of kind remembrance,
For days now long ago.

As this year comes to a close I know I will never see or talk to my good friend of over 20 years again. This saddens me. But I will remember what a great friend he was and how he touched my heart and my soul. And that will always make me smile. So tonight I will be drinking a toast of “kind remembrance for days now long ago” for a true and beautiful friend.

But New Years is not just about the losses of the past year. It is also about the good that  remains of years past  as well as the beginning of a new year with new possibilities.

So tonight I will also be drinking a toast to my dear friends Marilyn, Roberta S., Janet, Barb, Dru, Julie, Leslie, David, Carol, Karen, Howard, Mariruth, and Floyd & Betty. Thank you for your friendship that means so much and made the past year so delightful!

And this year I will also be drinking a toast to some new friends I did not know at all last year at this time.

I never dreamed way back last February when I began More Thyme Than Dough that I would meet so many wonderful people and make so many new friends along the way.

First on that list is Collin T., my marketing guru, who taught me more new tricks than I ever thought I could learn again in my life. Collin is what I like to call, “good folk.” He is just a nice and good person. I am lucky to have met him and feel blessed that I have, and even further blessed that he calls me friend.

Next on the new list are you my readers. I don’t know most of your names. But I know you are there; about 250 of you every day.  Your visits to More Thyme have made this past year a joy for me and I look forward to 2011 because I hope you will continue to be a part of it.  And I want you to know that I will work very hard to make More Thyme the kind of place you will want to come back to often. Tonight I will drink a toast to you with wishes of  good luck and prosperity to you and your loved ones.

And last, but not least, to some good friends I have met on Twitter, you have made me laugh, some times brought a tear to my eye with your posts, and taught me  a lot about cooking and blogging too. I never, ever in a trillion years would have believed that something like Twitter would result in friendships. But it has. So on this New Year’s Eve I also drink a toast to chefphilosopher, ChefFelisha, thedutchkitchen, CalamityKitchen, WebGrrrrl, TheFoodieSpot, and iamwritermom and SO many others.

And so to my auld and my new acquaintances…………

Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!!!

Featured Recipe    Pork with Sauerkraut and Mashed Potatoes

I have written so much about my Hungarian mother and my Hungarian heritage I think I may have forgotten to mention that I am also of German descent. My father was German. And I grew up with as many German traditions as I did Hungarian.

One of the finest and most delicious of these German traditions is eating pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes on New Year’s Day. German tradition and folklore has it that eating pork and sauerkraut on the first day of the New Year brings good luck and prosperity. 

The more likely explanation is the harvest season. Cabbage is a late fall crop. One of the best ways to preserve cabbage is to brine it. It takes about six to eight weeks for cabbage to turn into kraut. So if the cabbage was harvested in late October the sauerkraut would be ready just as the New Year approached.

Hogs were often slaughtered in the fall as well so that a family would have meat throughout the winter months.

However the tradition began the combination of pork and sauerkraut is definitely a delicious one. Any kind of pork will do. Many people make a pork roast. For some reason my mother used pork spare ribs.

This is what you will need:

About 1 pound of baby back ribs for each person (I have almost 3 pounds)

About 32 ounces of jarred or packaged sauerkraut

1 large onion

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Mashed Potatoes:

1 potato for each person being served

About 2 tablespoons butter, maybe more, depends

1-2 tablespoons milk or cream, maybe more, depends*

Salt and pepper to taste

*NOTE: Milk is perfectly fine. I had cream already in the fridge so I used some of it up. That is the ONLY reason I used cream this time. Normally and usually I use milk.

Here is what you do.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Salt and pepper both sides of the ribs.

Cut the onion in half, and then into slices.

Place them in a roasting pan.

Add the sauerkraut. (I used up the left overs from the Mini-Reuben’s too.) Spread it evenly on top of the onions.

Place the ribs on top.

Place in the oven for about 1 hour give or take a few minutes. Do not over cook as the pork will dry up. Dry pork is not tasty. You want nice and juicy ribs.

Turn the ribs twice during the cooking. You may also need to add a bit of water to the sauerkraut if the liquid dries up too fast.

When done remove from the oven and tent some foil over them for about 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute.

While the ribs are roasting put enough water to hold all of the potatoes up to boil.

 Peel the potatoes and dice into cubes. I do that the following way.

Cut the potato length wise into 4 pieces.

Then cut each of those pieces into 4 slices. Then cut those slices into cubes.

I like to cut the potatoes into small cubes. My mother cut them into big chunks. And it took forever for them to cook. The smaller cubes take much less time. Depending upon the type of potato cooking time is around 15-20 minutes or so. Test them with a knife or a fork to be sure. They should be tender enough to mash.

When the water is boiling add some salt and the potatoes and cook until tender.

When the potatoes are ready here is what you will need to mash the potatoes, unless you want to use a hand mixer. A mixer is best if you are making potatoes for lots of people. But for 2 or 3 like I am making I prefer by hand. For that you will need a large bowl, a hand masher, and a wooden spoon.

I prefer real potatoes to boxed or packaged. Less preservatives and chemicals. Less expensive too.

When cooked through drain the potatoes.

Add a little of the butter to the mixing bowl, then add the potatoes. Start mashing. Mash until the potatoes are as smooth as you can get them. By the way, mashing potatoes  is a good way to get rid of stress. Just mash those sweet things and you will feel stress melt away.

Then add the rest of the butter, some cream starting with about 1 tablespoon and some salt and pepper.

Using a wooden spoon, (I have found a wooden spoon to be the best way to whip the potatoes.) whip the potatoes until smooth and fluffy. You may need to add a bit more butter and/or cream.

This next picture is how the potatoes look after whipping with the wood spoon. If necessary to get out any lingering lumps mash with the masher again and whip a bit more with the spoon, adding a bit more butter and/or milk if necessary.

Now is the moment you have been waiting for ~ Eating this lucious meal.

Place everything on a plate and dig in. You can use a fork (picture 1) or use your hands to eat the ribs. I do a little of both. I start with a fork, but to get all the meat off the bone fingers are best.

Bon Appetit!!!! And lots good luck and prosperity in the New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cost

Baby back ribs          $9.95

Sauerkraut               $3.29

1 large onion            $0.99

Salt and pepper

Total Cost = $14.23
Cost per person for 3 ~ 1 pound servings = $4.74

2 potatoes                    $1.49

2 tablespoons butter      $0.51

1-2 tablespoons cream   $0.37

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost = $2.37
Cost per person for 2 = $1.19
Total cost of meal = $16.60
Cost for 3 = $5.53

Quote of the Day

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
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