Once more into the breach, dear friends

So here we are, about to close out another year and put up a new one with a digit added. Which means time to think back on the year passing and make plans for the new one ahead. Which means ‘wish I had’, ‘wish I hadn’t’ and ‘next year I’ll do more, better, less’, etc. In other words, regrets and resolutions. I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions. I mean, other than the ones that typically follow a season of over-indulging and moving the clothes with Lycra and elastic waistbands to the front of the closet. Sure I have wishes and hopes, but they are more speculative these days and not limited to only expressing on one specific day beginning the year. I really hope I  find a job that I love in 2012. I really hope I find a man who I love in 2012 too (other than Mr. Clooney, because I don’t think he’s ready for me just yet.) I had the same hopes last year. And just like last year, I’ll do what I can to make these happen, but ultimately the success of either is up to things beyond my control. Yet here I go, once more into the breach, making wishes and plans. And hoping like hell they come true this time.

New Year’s Eve used to be so much simpler when I was younger. There was less thought to the passing of time, little if any regrets, and far more excitement over the actual eve event. When I was a kid, I loved New Year’s Eve. We were allowed to stay up past midnight, got wired on maraschino cherries from too many Shirley Temples, and at midnight we’d run, pajama-clad, out into the street to make a calendar-sanctioned racket with wooden spoons and saucepans. We were actually allowed to wake up the neighborhood making too much noise! By early teen-age I looked forward to lucrative babysitting gigs on December 31st, with extra for staying past midnight and maybe even a tip from tipsy clients. At 18 we were legally able to buy some Andre’s Cold Duck (which only an 18-year-old palate could take and survive). Foul as that stuff was, we thought we were living large. Serious partying began in my twenties, with shoulder pads, glitter and hair spray in ample supply. It wasn’t until my late 30’s that I realized many New Year’s Eve celebrations (especially the expensive ones) were more hype than hip. The meal was overpriced and underwhelming, the outfit not as fabulous as thought, and if there was a guy, it was likely his libation level would preclude anything other than watching the ball drop from happening. At some point in my 40s I discovered my favorite way to usher in the new year was at home with friends, off the roads and relaxed. We would always try to make it to midnight, but sometimes that ball just dropped early. Hey, it’s a big world out there, so it has to be midnight someplace, right?

This year I’ll be spending the year-end my favorite way — dear friends, good food, cheesy movie, and in my pjs. And hopefully out in the middle of the street banging pots at midnight. I’m not going to be sorry to see this year go. By several measures it’s been a pretty crappy one, with more rough patches than smooth. Yet, as a dear friend of mine might say, it wasn’t “all together bad.” They never really are, are they? There’s always, thankfully, a little break in the grey clouds along the way. For me, in the midst of a year of disappointments, frustrations and other sundry crap came an idea. And that idea became this blog, filled with food, shoes, humor, even a little bit of hope. So thank you dear friends, for reading, commenting and encouraging. You all helped make this year, well, not all together bad. I hope you know how much I appreciate it too.

Just about every culture has its ‘good luck’ foods to be eaten on New Year’s Day. Lentils, black-eyed peas, greens, and countless other foods are consumed in the hope that they will bring good luck and prosperity. In my family, New Year’s Day must be met with a plateful of herring salad. Here’s my grandmother’s recipe by way of my mother. I plan on ushering in 2012 with as much of it as I can get!

Herring Salad

My grandmother’s recipe was more like a framework around which you built the flavors that you liked best. Sometimes it needed a little more vinegar, other times more anchovies. I’ve done my best to give you the most complete recipe I could, but feel free to adjust it to your taste preferences. The good luck works regardless.

This recipe make a lot of herring salad (about 8-9 cups) – you can never have too much good luck I say, but the recipe is easily halved if you want just a little bit of luck this year.

  • 4 cans sliced beets, drained
  • 3 Macintosh apples, peeled and cored
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, one reserved for garnish
  • 3 medium Idaho potatoes, cooked and peeled
  • 1 jar small dill gherkins
  • 1 bottle capers, chopped
  • 4 small (12oz) jars of pickled herring in wine sauce, drained and onions removed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3-4 tsp sugar
  • 4-6 anchovies, 2 filets reserved
  • 2 TBSP mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP sour cream

Chop all of the ingredients finely (1/4 inch dice) and mix together. Add in vinegar and lemon juice. Add in the anchovies, reserving 2 filets. Once the entire salad is chopped and mixed, taste it and add more chopped anchovies if needed for saltiness or depth of flavor. Add in the salt, pepper and sugar and taste. You can adjust the salt, sugar and vinegar to your taste preferences. Mix in the mayonnaise and sour cream.

When ready to serve, take the reserved hard-boiled egg, grate it and sprinkle over the top for garnish.  Serve with black bread or other hearty, dense bread and sweet butter. Calories: Good luck foods have no calories.

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6 thoughts on “Once more into the breach, dear friends

  1. Made a huge bowl full, and have just enough left to get thru New Year’s Day….lots of people on my sharing list this year. Plenty of good luck to all, Happy New Year 2012

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