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Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Dinner

After an annoying delay at the airport (which was made tolerable only because my darling son decided to crawl around and befriend everyone rather than break down and cry), we finally made it home from our long holiday journeys. And it was delicious to be home. As the quiet of our baby sleeping descended on our house, my husband and I realized that we should probably plan a nice dinner for ourselves, because New Year's Eve was almost upon us.

I love occasions to really lavish delightful food on ourselves even though it seems silly to go to such lengths for just two people. But maybe something of the delight is in the extravagance of it, both in time and treasure. It seems nice to seize a few moments to remember that there is something wonderful and worth celebrating between the two of us, something that merits a homemade multi-course menu for two. Plus, there is a little magic about being in the kitchen with my husband working together that always reminds me of our early courtship together where his skills in the kitchen really won me over.

I know some people have interesting or quirky new year's traditions, and that many of them involve food. My German great-grandmother sternly told me I should eat gefilte fish every year on New Year's day. The reasoning for this proscription was never explained. NPR did a radio show today where callers offered all their new year's traditions. Several reported eating pork with kraut, apparently because pigs rout forward and you want to go forward in the new year. By the same logic, one caller warned against eating chicken because chickens scratch backwards, ergo bad luck. Several others called in to say it was the one day a year they consumed a large bowl of black eyed peas, but even the special guest could only hazard a guess as to why (they resemble coins and therefore occasion financial fortune in the new year?).

In my family we've never had any particular hard and fast food traditions for new years, except that we often have shrimp cocktail. But I think that's mostly because it was the height of fancy in my life growing up in southeastern Wisconsin, and it still makes me happy.

Tonight we've decided we're having beef. I'm not sure what to make of that. I think they go forward but not backward, or at least you can get them to go upstairs but not downstairs. That seems to bode well. But they can also be tipped over and can't get back up. Which seems to bode poorly for a year becoming so totally derailed it can't recover. Lets hope the former symbolism outweighs the later. Or that the spirits of new years are not from Wisconsin and therefore have not heard of cow tipping.

We're making Short Ribs Braciole from Andrew Carmellini's truly delightful Urban Italian cookbook. We originally had our eye on the marinated lamb leg with garlic, yogurt and fennel, but alas lamb leg was not to be found at the grocer, and we we're running out of time to my son's next nap, so short ribs it was. They are supposed to be boneless, but the butcher sort of laughed at that, so I'm using bone in short ribs and hoping this is an acceptable substitute.

We're starting with arugula salad, because I simply can't get enough of it. Because it was on ridiculous sale at the store, we're having lobster tail as a second course. Right now I'm thinking some kind of herby citrus brown butter with the lobster. But I'm open to suggestions.

No firm plans for dessert. Somehow that escaped our attention as we drooled over the photos of succulent braised beef. Pots du creme? Creme brulee? Maybe just plain old chocolate ice cream and feet up on the couch to watch a movie.

I'd love to hear what you're having for dinner, and whatever you eat, may you have a happy and prosperous new year!


whatisthewhat said...

My family has only one New Year's tradition, which happens to be frozen, canned pineapple (usually mushed up in a blender) with champagne poured over it. I don't suppose that sounds classy, but it is delicious. Plus, it gets you part of the way through your bubbly! Happy new years!

The Musician said...

You're back!! Hurrah!

farmhouse dining table said...

Nice to see that you are back! Happy New Year! My family has this tradition of eating pasta in New Year's Eve because it brings good luck! We love it!

WizzyTheStick said...

The only thing traditional for us is a glass of bubbly. We don't make too much of a fuss for New Year's dinner...

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