Well, guys, New Year’s Eve has come and gone.
And for me, you know what New Year’s Eve means? It means it was time to return to “camping in the woods” of good ol’ Phoenicia, NY.
It felt like returning home.
So, I got really lucky this year. I was picked as one of Foodbuzz’s twenty-four bloggers for 24×24 to ring in the new year. This meant that — full disclosure! — they gave me $250 to write about my New Year’s Eve food experience, which was fortunate because it afforded me the ability to actually attend camping with my friends this year. Thank you, Foodbuzz!
I pitched the idea of “A Lucky New Year,” which meant I wanted to make a bunch of traditionally lucky foods for New Year’s Eve. (For the record, I did all of my “lucky food” research on Google and just found a lot of common themes amongst a lot of articles and web pages.)
Ironically, my trip started off with something very unlucky. About an hour and a half into my two and a half hour journey to upstate New York, my mom called me to let me know that… those Christmas presents I had so carefully picked out and wrapped? Yea, they were sitting on my kitchen floor.
So, when I got to the cabin, the space underneath the tree there remained woefully empty.
Again: Whoops! I did not start the whole experience off very “lucky,” huh?
Now, I want to explain why I chose the theme of luck for this New Year’s Eve. Within this little group of friends, we all need luck in this coming year. And, for all of us, the common themes were love and career.
Katri and I are both looking to advance in our careers (as you can tell from our very serious picture above).
Will, with his very serious fake tattoo below, has the same goal in mind.
And all three of us are hoping for better luck in love in 2012.
Michelle and Ed also have career goals, but their goals are mostly centered on love. Why?
Because they’re getting married (to each other) this year! Hooray!
I think that deserves some luck, right?
Anyway, soon after I got there, we all decided to go downtown to Woodstock (a nearby town with lots of character).
The boys got lunch while we were in town, but I saved my appetite for the lunch I’d brought. Why? Because it was…
Lucky Food #1: Fish
That morning, I’d picked up a container of my favorite tuna fish from a nearby store because I wanted to make my lunch lucky, just to get things started.
In my research, I learned that fish is a lucky food for ringing in the new year because the silver scales of fish (usually herring) are meant to represent money (silver).
Soon enough, I started preparing one of my dishes for the evening, which included another lucky ingredient.
Lucky Food #2: Lentils
I decided to make a lentil dip, which was a bit of a risk because I’ve a) never had lentil dip before, b) don’t even really know if this is something that exists, and c) completely made up the recipe in my head without any real foundation.
Anyway, it’s a darn good thing that I started it early, because the process was an absolute disaster (it does, however, have a happy ending).
I’ll be posting about the dip in detail later, with the recipe, but I’ll share this now: the blender, which I was using in place of a food processor? Yea, it didn’t work. The blades moved, but it just didn’t blend. See below.
I ended up baking it to soften it (which actually ended up being a blessing in disguise!) and then mixing it with a hand mixer.
Again, more details later. But what you need to know now is that it worked. 🙂
I served the dip with these new Sweet Potato Chips from TJ’s.
I picked them because I thought they’d go well with the dip (they did!) and because they are shaped like coins, which is considered lucky for the New Year. That is, incidentally, why lentils are considered a lucky food! Coin-shaped foods are considered lucky because they, too, represent money and prosperity for the year to come.
We also had other appetizers, sort of.
Lucky Food #3: Long Noodles
This was just a prepared noodle dish from TJ’s, but I knew long noodles wouldn’t otherwise fit into our menu and I wanted to uphold this lucky food tradition. We each took a bite (well, other than Michelle, but she’s gluten-free) of noodles without breaking them first (important!), which is meant to represent long life and longevity.
This isn’t a lucky food, but we also ate baked brie with crackers and pepperoni (for the non-vegetarians).
I did, however, manage to bring the lucky food theme into my drink of choice for the evening.
Lucky Food # 4: Oranges (round-shaped fruit)
As you can see, oranges were incorporated threefold in this drink.
This drink was a shot of orange-flavored vodka (when my dad makes it, it’s Stoli — when I make it, it’s Smirnoff) with a cup of fresh (so important!) orange juice and a healthy slice of an orange.
From my research, I learned that oranges are traditionally lucky for the Chinese New Year especially and are meant to bring wealth and general good luck.
Lucky Food #5: Cooked Greens
Now, this one gets a little interesting.
The intention was to make sauteed spinach as a side dish to our pasta dish.
The actuality is that we lost the shallots for the pasta dish and I offered up my shallots/ onion/ garlic mix for the pasta dish, which meant I lost said mix for my dish. My compromise was that Ed (who was in charge of the pasta dish) incorporate my spinach into his dish.
It totally worked! So, it wasn’t as planned, but we still had cooked greens.
Personally, I think this is a good sign. It shows that I can/ will be flexible, adaptive, and generous in the new year. 🙂 Right??
Cooked greens, like so many other foods here, are meant to represent money (because cooked greens look like folded bills).
Lucky Food #6: Ring Cakes (and other ring-shaped foods)
This was my personal favorite lucky food, both because I like what it represents and because it tasted (and smelled!) so freaking good.
Full disclosure: my mom made this for me because I didn’t have my ish together and because she is the best mom in the world.
She also made that homemade whipped cream with chocolate shavings that you see there. Because she is amazing. Recipe to come for the cake and whipped cream too, don’t worry. 🙂
As I did my food-blogger-photographer thing, the rest of them narrated and filmed the experience.
It was quite funny to listen to, especially because they thought I couldn’t hear them through the glass door.
Ring-shaped cakes and other ring-shaped foods are meant to represent coming full circle. I love that. A complete year ahead.
Lucky Food #7: Pomegranate
This was another food which I incorporated into a drink.
This drink was one part sparkling cranberry juice and two parts (classy) champagne with pomegranate seeds at the bottom of the glass.
This was the drink with which I toasted at midnight.
Ironically, I only took one sip and never got to the pomegranate seeds (nor did anyone else) because Ed and/ or Michelle knocked the glass off of that ladder.
Pomegranates are meant to represent fertility. I’m pretty sure this either means I or Ed and Michelle are not meant to have kids this year.
That’s okay. I don’t think having kids this year was in any of our plans. 🙂
Last but not least, we have…
Lucky Food #8: Grapes
Traditionally, you’re supposed to eat one grape for each stroke of midnight at midnight, AKA twelve grapes in all to represent each of the twelve months of the year.
We didn’t hear actual strokes of the clock at midnight, but I’m pretty sure I did it!
Eating grapes in this manner is meant to represent luck for each particular month of the new year.
Pretty cool, huh? Now, here are some pictures of us so you can have a sense of our silly night:
Lots of fun, lots of games, lots of food, lots of mess, and lots of love.
On New Year’s Day, we woke up to bright, beautiful sunshine.
Which, in my opinion, is the perfect start to 2012.
Michelle also lit a bayberry candle, which is meant to give luck in the new year.
And with that…
… I think we’ve done everything we can to edge our way to good luck in the new year, don’t you think?
Do you have any lucky New Year’s Eve traditions?