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I hope everyone had a spectacular finish for the old year and a glorious new day!

Here in TN, it was gorgeous, with lots of sun … although we’re supposed to get some wintry rain in the next few days.

I don’t often do food network, but hey, sometimes it’s fun to see what we have in common — in our house, we have two traditions, one more personal and one steeped in Southern culture…

On New Year’s Eve we usually have some variation of a tapas meal and a special dessert we’ve been sharing for 16 years.
Last night’s menu:
–> crab legs with drawn butter
–> sushi (california rolls & veggie rolls) — the girls love it!!!
–> phyllo shells with little toppings the girls created, such as fig, cream cheese & candied nuts; havarti with dill & carrots; honey, orange & chocolate and so forth….
–> dessert is always an ice cream drink we concocted our 1st holiday together involving ice cream, Baileys, kahlua, and any other liqueur we feel like adding…. it’s delicious, potent and looks beautiful swirling in a brandy snifter with whipped cream dolloped on top! The girls get regular homemade shakes.

Today’s traditional Southern meal:
Pork — it represents living off the fat of the land, safe and secure.
–> our version: Chili-Brined Roasted Pork Loin — it’s spicy, and very tasty — even for those of us who almost never eat pork.
Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Greens — represent coins and dollars, good fortune in the new year
–> our version: Mediterranean Hoppin’ John — the girlies gobble up the lovely combination of peas, orzo, tomatoes, cucumber & feta, well-dressed and tangy!
–> our version: mixed country greens — when Chris & I first got together I was worried my Connecticut Yankee wouldn’t appreciate the beauty of “greens,” so I mixed collards, mustard, and turnip with spinach. Steam them a little and then saute quickly in olive oil and garlic! He converted! BTW, do you guys put money in with the greens? — my mama always “seeded” the pot, so we’d have extra good luck.

Now, there’s no rule — but I always have to make a good pan of cornbread to complete the meal. Tonight, we served it with a not too sweet Riesling, which was really delicious with the spiciness of the pork!

I wish each of you a New Year steeped in tradition, spiced with adventure and replete with all that you need to enjoy each moment!

new year’s soundtrack: Of course, it must include Auld Lang Syne (James Taylor’s cover is great — also, we saw him one New Year’s and his sister does an awesome version) and Same Old Lang Syne (Dan Fogelberg); Beans and Cornbread (Taj Mahal & friends); Suddenly I See (KT Tunstall); Everybody Got their Something (Nikka Costa); Big Time (Peter Gabriel); 1234 (Feist); Back to Salome (Shawn Colvin); Air of December (Edie Brickell & New Bohemians); Better (Regina Spektor); #9 Dream (I really love R.E.M’s cover of this Lennon classic); Dona Nobis Pacem (Yo-Yo Ma & Chris Botti); Absolutely Barking Stars (Maria McKee); 21st Century Kid (Jamie Cullum); 1999 (Prince); Hope (Jack Johnson); All I Want to Do (Sugarland); Stardust (Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis); Defying Gravity (from Wicked, there’ be lots from this in the near future); Fotormanza (Alfredo Ray & La Sua Orchestra) and Anniversary Song (Cowboy Junkies).

One cannot think well, love well, if one has not dined well –> Virginia Woolf

Take care,
Aly

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