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What do you eat to kick a new year off?

January 3, 2010

Happy 2010, hungry readers!

Come New Year’s Day, many of us find ourselves preparing ‘lucky’ food and traditional dishes you may never even think of the remaining 364 days.  Even the least superstitious Texan won’t go past January 1st without some black eyed peas and maybe some ham shank (a phenomena not limited to this fair state, of course).

But to be honest, I could give a diddle about black eyed peas.  They taste like dirt to me and I am in a serious state of denial that chewing those beasties could possibly help pave a fantastic year ahead.  Blech.

Instead, let’s talk about my annual all-white feast (no racial implications here, folks, just the literal color of the food) also known as ‘New Year’s Day Katie Eats 6 Bowls of Mashed Potatoes Dinner’:  pork chops (or roast pork loin if you prefer), mashed potatoes of some variety, sauerkraut and apple sauce.  My parents hail from Pittsburgh, PA and this is pretty standard Northern US new year’s fare (what with the massive German populations and all).

Of course, we keep things pretty vegan-y around here so this year I wanted to get to eat my faves but not gross any other family members out.  Here’s what I came up with instead:

Chickpea patties (baked and a bit crunchy) from Veganomicon
I realized I wouldn’t be able to come up with a believable pork substitute so took it in a more chicken fried steak-y direction.  It worked.  Oh man, it really worked.  Next time, I’ll make smaller patties and smash them a bit flatter / thinner to even better emulate my beloved gigantor ‘bigger than your whole damn plate’ Texan chicken fried steak.

Horseradish mashed potatoes
I’m a bit of a potato freak… I’m Irish, what do you want?  So mashed potatoes are really important to me, but are also one of the easiest sides I whip up.

I don’t peel my potatoes (too much work and darnit, I love the extra texture and extra vitamins), instead just do a good rinse and boil them in salted water.

Once they are super easy to pierce with a fork, I drain them (saving a bit of the potato water), put them back in the pot with reserve potato water, throw in a moderate amount of Earth Balance buttery spread, some vegan Tofutti sour cream or cream cheese (if we have any and if I feel like it) and then top it off with around 3/4 of a jar of horseradish (not the sauce, just plain horseradish), some finely minced garlic and a bit of sea salt.  Voila.  Potato-y perfection.

Glorious brown gravy (vegan and gluten free)
Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a huge gravy girl.  In Texas, everything seems to be smothered in that gray, black pepper flaked cream gravy that sits in your belly like a 5 pound boulder.  I’ll go for a splash of brown gravy any day over that stuff (although having said that, I did have a raving breakfast success with vegan biscuits and gravy a few months back).

I based my gravy on this brown gravy recipe, which uses chickpea flour instead of white flour to make a beautiful roux (which is always fun because I like getting into that constant stirring zone and think about life, cupcakes and what’s going to happen next in Season 5 of Lost on Netflix).  Words cannot describe how heartily we enjoyed this gravy.  It’s like we could’ve left the rest of the meal out and just eaten it with a spoon and been just as satiated.

Cheater sauerkraut and apple sauce (don’t judge)
I took the easy route and bought jarred sauerkraut and apple sauce this year.  I must say that I dig REALLY pungent sauerkraut and wasn’t satisfied with the grocery store offerings, so I added quite a bit of apple cider vinegar to the ‘kraut as I was heating it on the stove.  I was nervous that it would be too sweet, but try to use white vinegar for cleaning only these days.  My fears were unfounded, it was delish.

So what are your new year’s food observances?  PB+J at the stroke of 12:01am?  Pizza with anchovies?  A bowl full of Life cereal?  🙂

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