New Year’s Food for Good Fortune

I like to hedge my bets, so am planning on eating as many “lucky” foods as possible New Years Eve and New Years day.

And wearing red undies. Red lingerie brings giddiness, passion, love and luck. Right?

But, as for food that brings good fortune, here’s a short list, that I’m picking up at the grocery store for these next two days. Just in case. Oh…skip the lobster and chicken. They don’t have good New Year’s vibes. But these foods do.

  • Grapes, 12 of them Eat them at midnight for luck in each month of the new year. Raisins work too.
  • Turmeric-laced foods:  Gold-colored foods bring financial prosperity.  Monica Bhide, who leads a life of spice, talks turmeric and has an amazing Fish Curry recipe here.Post image for Spice of the month: Turmeric
  • Pork Recipe below: Pork Sauerkraut with Sour Cream
  • Beans, lentils, black-eyed peas Combine them all in a super good-fortune soup
  • Cabbage or sauerkraut It’s just lucky. My German heritage means this is the recipe I’m including here.
  • Fish I might only have time for a tuna sandwich today
  • Long noodles They’re Japanese symbols of long life, so Soba or buckwheat noodles work…or what about ramen noodles? I’m sure spaghetti works too. Noodle up!
  • Sweet bread or cakebaked in a ring shape You know—coming full circle. Add a little trinket to bring extra luck to the person who gets that trinket in her slice.
  • Share, share, share! Food and friends guarantee happiness in the new year…and always. xo

Pork Sauerkraut with Sour Cream
Makes 8 servings

Despite my German heritage (sauerkraut is served at EVERY family holiday), I’m not a big fan of sauerkraut. Except for this version. The sour cream mellows the kraut. I sometimes cut down on the pork and add some Polish sausage.

2 pounds pork (I like pork butt), cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons canola oil
3 large onions, chopped
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 pound jar sauerkraut (drained and squeezed dry)
1/2 cup water (or low-sodium chicken broth)
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream

 1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork; cook and stir until brown. Remove pork from pan and set aside. Add onions and cook until soft. Drain excess fat. Stir in paprika; cook for 1 minute.

2. Stir in browned pork, sauerkraut and water. Cover and cook gently for 60 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream and flour. Stir into sauerkraut mixture. Simmer gently until heated through.

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Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Crust

Photos by Liz Banfield

I am not one to deny food pleasures. But I do realize that ALL pleasure without restraint can be painful. If I eat too many muffins I develop doughy-soft muffin tops that spill over the waistline of my jeans.

However, the holidays are fast approaching and I intend to eat my way through them. Starting with the Knock-Your-Socks-Off Pumpkin Pie. The recipe is from a family of organic dairy farmers in Wisconsin run by 6 sisters, ages 11 through 19. Yup. The Holm Girls Dairy is run by a bevy of diversely talented young beauties who happen to be farmers who get up at dawn and work ’til the cows come home. (The dairy is part of the Organic Valley co-op.)

And they have fun while doing it. I spent some time with the family when they celebrated a harvest feast. It was crowded around the farm table, but that’s what keeps the family close.

The whole Sibling Revelry story is in Organic Gardening magazine and includes other recipes you might want to make room for on your holiday table. But this pumpkin pie recipe with its fresh ginger crust and streusel-pecan topping is not to be missed. (The girls top the pie with freshly whipped cream with cinnamon.)

FYI: I do go into holiday-eating training mode starting…TODAY. I lighten up on most meals so I can indulge a bit when the occasion presents itself. Made veggie-laden beef barley soup last nite. (Stand by for that recipe.)

Knock-Your-Socks-Off Pumpkin Pie

Ginger Pastry (recipe below)

1 15-ounce can organic pumpkin

1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

3 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

Streusel Topping

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. On a floured surface, roll Ginger Pastry into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim pastry to 1 inch beyond pie plate. Fold edges under crust. Crimp decoratively, forming high-standing crust (about 1/2 inch above rim of dish). Freeze for 15 minutes.

3. Line crust with foil and then fill with pie weights (dried beans work well). Bake crust 10 minutes. Remove foil and beans and bake another 10 minutes or until crust is set and light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

4. In a large bowl whisk together pumpkin, cream, sugar, eggs, honey, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour into pre-baked piecrust.

5. Bake pie for about 50 minutes or until it begins to set. Remove from oven and let pie stand for 10 minutes to set slightly. Meanwhile, make Streusel Topping. Sprinkle topping over pie. Return pie to hot oven. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes more or until pie is set and streusel is golden brown.

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Ginger Pastry

1 1/3 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup cold unsalted butter

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons ice-cold water, plus more as needed

1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, minced ginger root, allspice, and salt.

2. Using a pasty blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

3. In a small bowl combine egg yolk with 2 tablespoons water.

4. Add yolk mixture to flour mixture; toss with a fork until mixture forms moist clumps. (Add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if dough is too dry.)

5. Form dough into a ball and flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 to 24 hours. Allow dough to sit at room temperature about 10 minutes before rolling into a piecrust.

Makes 1 (9-inch) piecrust

Streusel Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and ground ginger.

2. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans and crystallized ginger. Sprinkle topping over pie before baking.

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Babies and burgers

I went to the Spam Museum in Austin, Minneapolis and came home with these. Adorable, aren’t they? I couldn’t resist getting these Spam Baby outfits for the most recent additions to our family.

Meet my great-niece and great-nephew: Annabelle and Logan Tanaka. Their daddy was raised in Hawaii and loves Spam. Loves it. So I couldn’t resist the outfits. Babies…and sometimes Spam…make me happy.

Yup, I developed a slight addiction to  Spam musubi when I worked at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.   Read More >>

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All About Miso

Miso is one of the yummiest weird-sounding condiments around.

White, red and brown are basically the main kinds you might find at your average grocery store if you’re lucky (though a great many more varieties exist) but if you venture to a co-op or Asian grocery, you will find all sorts of different miso, made out of all kinds of crazy stuff! It’s even in some grocery stores too. Yay.

Miso is a simple fermented soy product (though there are variations—such as barley). Key word: simple. When buying it, check the ingredient list and pick the brand with the least amount of ingredients. Avoid MSG or other additives.

Shiromiso is white miso, mild and sweet, and used primarily for light brothy soups, marinades, and sauces. This is what I keep on hand all the time.

Akamiso is usually known as red miso and is more savory, it’s very versatile and used for stir-fries, heavier soups, and stews, or really almost anything.

Hatcho, brown or dark miso, generally is saltier, more intense and used for stews and heavier dishes that need some salt action.

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