Pork. Sauerkraut. Black-eyed peas. Collared, turnip, or mustard greens and steamy cornbread.
When I was a child, we had a very special family dinner picked out to ring in the new year, and it was almost always the same exact thing, though the actual ingredients may have differed. I never understood this tradition when I was younger, but as an adult, the freshness of the new years and the idea of an old favorite brings me great comfort. So why do we eat these things on New Years Day?
When we make resolutions or yearly goals, we always tend to look forward and hope for a year filled with prosperity and dreams within our grasp. When foraging for food, pigs are said to root forward, looking in front of them as they seek sustenance. Symbolically speaking, we all want to be the pig that's keeping an eye on our future instead of dwelling on our past. Add in greens or sauerkraut, you'll cover your finances for the year, and with black eyed peas or beans that plump when you cook then, the new year will be full of prosperity. The cornbread? It tastes pretty great in addition to the rest, and an argument could be made that it represents gold in your pocket.
For 2018, I decided to do things a little different than I usually do. As a kid, my mom would make a giant pot of sauerkraut, ham or pork chops, black-eyed peas and some starchy side. I followed a similar template, but ended up with a pork blend kielbasa and sauerkraut cooked together (no real magic here, just stir in some brown sugar to cut the bitterness of your kraut and cook it), homemade macaroni and cheese, and a variation of baked beans in place of the black-eyed peas. So far, my kitchen is smelling pretty amazing, and the stolen chef's bites promise a hearty meal - I'd call that a win. Below, I'll gift you the recipes for this particular macaroni and cheese (I can never settle on one version), and the baked beans.
Macaroni and Cheese
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp of dry mustard (or Dijon if you have that instead of dry)
Cubed or shredded cheese of choice (I used about a pound of a personal blend - colby jack, parmesan cheese, farmer's cheese from our local Amish Bulk Food Store located in Flatwoods, WV, gouda, and about 1/4-1/2 a cup of leftover Mexican blend cheese)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 cups dry macaroni, boiled separately
- Melt your butter in a skillet. Add the flour and stir it until you've broken up all of the chunks, and let it get a little darker (but not brown) and nutty smelling.
- Add your milk and chicken stock, and stir until everything is mixed together. Let it bubble and thicken, which can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on what consistency you want. Watch your heat here - you don't want to burn it!
- When that's ready, add all of your cheese of choice, your dry mustard, and the salt and pepper to taste and give it a good stir until everything it melted and mixed. Feel free to tweak the amount of mustard. Add in your macaroni.
- Voila! It's ready to eat out of the pan, or you can bake it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, whichever makes your taste buds happy!
1/2 lb. hamburger
1/2 lb. bacon, diced
1 small onion - I used a red, but you can use your preference
1/2-1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1/2-1/3 cup ketchup
3 tsp brown sugar
1 can of baked beans
1 can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained well
1 can of baby butter beans, rinsed and drained well
- Brown your meat with your onions.
- Add all of your beans, sauces, and brown sugar to a crock pot.
- Drain your meat and add it to the crock pot. Give it all a big stir, turn the crock pot on hot for 2-3 hours, or warm for 4-5 hours, and forget about it until dinner.
There you go! It's all pretty simple and didn't dirty up too many dishes - something that makes me very, very happy starting out the new year. I hope you enjoy, and that this year brings you all great joy, fulfillment, and prosperity!