Happy New Year, kittens!
The days of December 31 and January 1 are rife with superstition and things to do and not do in order to roll into the new year as a lucky duck and leave the bad parts of the previous year behind.
Depending on where you’re from this could include eating black eyed peas or pickled herring or putting a dime on your windowsill.
As a kid growing up in Western PA, there were two foods that were must-haves in order to usher in a prosperous new year: pork and sauerkraut. And for good measure, throw in a lucky New Year’s Pretzel purchased from the local Giant Eagle.
I have never seen the pretzel outside of Pittsburgh, but I wanted to make 2015 a helluva lucky year by having all three. So I had to bake my own.
I found the recipe in a copy of the Three Rivers Cookbook that I perused last weekend while at my brother’s house. I wasn’t looking for it. But there it was:
According to this recipe, it’s a German tradition. Can anyone else verify that?
I anticipated that the pretzel would be a challenge since I am baking-impared, but it went surprisingly well!
The dough rose and was very easy to roll out.
Here’s the final product, festooned with powdered sugar icing, candied Maraschino cherries, and crushed walnuts.
I think it’s rather pretty! Sadly, the inside of the pretzel was a little under-cooked.
Me and the baking, man! It’s always something, ya know?
Now, from the Eve to the Day and my pork and sauerkraut.
I’ve been hankering to make City Chicken for the longest time because it is a very Pittsburgh-specific dish, it has very distinct packaging, and I remember eating it as a kid and it was delish. So when I came across a package of City Chicken in the meat aisle at the Homestead Giant Eagle, I knew I had to make it. So I froze it and it came back with me to Baltimore.
Yes, I do sometimes cross state lines with frozen meat.
Let me note that I don’t know why one would need to replicate chicken with pork or veal because it seems to me that chicken would be less expensive than both of those meats, but who knows what it was like back in the Depression when children were forced to eat hamburger three times a day.
I used a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Mama’s Recipes: A Treasury of Hungarian-American Foods.
Let me note that as I made these, they did begin to resemble little fried chicken drumsticks. Do you think that’s how they got their name?
Here’s my New Year’s dinner plate complete with some green beans and the sauerkraut (which I just baked with some brown sugar while the City Chicken simmered):
This pork was frickin’ delicious. And is a great vehicle for Heinz ketchup. I found myself eating the pork skewers just as I would a chicken leg/wing. The pork is super-juicy and even reheated nicely in the microwave.
So this was a good note on which to begin my new year! Even if 2015 is pretty shitty, I cannot blame my inaugural dinner.
I also want to extend happy new year wishes from Brian (or at least as happy as he can get). Here he is enjoying one of the Christmas gifts I got this year from my sister in law:
It’s perfect. I even sometimes catch the pillow out of the corner of my eye and think that it’s Brian staring at me from the couch.
Which is terrifying.
Can you imagine a Brian that size? He’d eat me out of house and home (more so than already). Also, Brian is already prolific when it comes to his litter habits and sweet Christ on a cracker his poops would be huge. HUGE! All of my time would be spent feeding him and pooper scooping. And I’d live in fear that he’d kill me in my sleep and eat my face.
Just for shits and giggles.
(P.S. I didn’t finish the Bisquick Pies before the end of 2014. There is one left and it is tomato and zucchini. And who wants to cook with tomatoes and zucchini in January? Maybe it’ll happen in the summer. Or not. Whatever.)