Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Getting Lucky

 Luck on the plate - a CLICK! entry
Ah New Year's Day. Here we are one more time, hanging with our old pal Janus, the god of thresholds. Janus with his one face looking backwards at what went before and the other face looking forward at what is yet to come.Looking ahead at a new year, many of us make up some sort of a plan for how we want the months ahead to unfold. This is perfectly natural. People have been trying to affect the way their days play out since they've paid any attention at all to the larger arc of their lives. This includes ritualized behaviors, such as eating certain foods to bring luck in a New Year.

There are all sorts of traditions with regards to that. In cultures where ring shapes symbolize the completion of a cycle, breads baked in a wreath shape, bagels, or doughnuts are all thought to bring good fortune if eaten on New Year's Day. I don't know how many days past New Year's you could make the argument for a doughnut in the morning bringing luck, but hey, if you have a scientific nature and want to test that theory, I say go for it.

Certain parts of the hog are often eaten for luck on this day. Pigs symbolize prosperity and who couldn't use more of that in this coming year!? Eating "high on the hog", typically using ham or jowls, is the ultimate, but certainly bacon wouldn't miss the mark entirely.

Cabbage is thought of as a symbol for paper currency in some regions, so consuming cabbage is another way to ensure a prosperous year to come. In other places rice, or noodles, are the lucky foods to eat.

There is a sweet little slide show of lucky foods including recipes compiled by Good Housekeeping here if you are interested. For those who may have over imbibed last night making them currently less inclined towards cooking today, just looking at lucky foods might do the trick. Who knows?One well known tradition in the US is that of eating black eyed peas on New Year's Day. Hub and I grew up enjoying black eyed peas but neither of our children liked them much growing up, so I didn't fix them very often. We are empty nest now, so our black eyed pea consumption has taken a sharp uptick. One of our favorite ways to enjoy them is in this easy to throw together salsa.The original recipe calls for 4 cups of black beans. I swapped out black eyed peas for half the black beans thereby refiguring this into our New Year's Lucky Salsa.

New Year's Lucky Salsa
2 cups black beans, rinsed/drained of any cooking liquid
2 cups black eyed peas, rinsed/drained of any cooking liquid
2 cups corn kernels, rinsed/drained
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
5 green onions, chopped (green and white portions)
1/8 cup cilantro or parsley, minced
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine the first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the lime juice and vinegar, adding the salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Pour over the salsa and stir carefully to combine. Best when allowed to sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving, stirring occasionally to redistribute the juices throughout. Serve with chips. Makes approximately 8 cups.

The original recipe for this salsa calls for seeding the tomatoes prior to chopping. Often, when using chopped tomatoes, recipes call for that seeding/draining step so you are ending up with only the flesh of the tomato without the seeds or juice. I get that, but I believe you lose too much of the nutritional wallop of tomatoes without the juice and the gel around the seeds, so I leave it in.
You can make it either way, and you should feel free to add in other ingredients, such as chopped avocado or minced jalape├▒o if you like. It is all about what pleases your palate.Besides eating for luck, the beginning of a calendar year is also a time when lots of people are making a list of resolutions. Declaring more or less publicly, what their intentions are regarding their own behaviors, for the year to come. Some people are eager to share their lists, believing that once a resolution is made public, there is more incentive to make good on the intention. I don't know how lucky sharing resolutions might be, but I believe in doing whatever I can to help assure I will stick with my plan for 2009, so here you go. A list of my foodish intentions for the coming year.

1) Eat more mindfully.

I tend to bolt food, even food that is absolutely delicious. No, wait, especially food that is absolutely delicious. Somehow some switch got thrown that has me often acting as though I am competing for every bite with a table full of other people.

I used to be an excruciatingly slow eater. In my family I always finished last. I dawdled and took teensy bites. I loved eating, don't get me wrong - I just did it really slowly.

I used to be skinny, too. Really truly thin. I am not sure if there is any relationship between the skinny person and the slow eating or not.

But I want to enjoy what I put into my body more rather than acting like even if I cooked for hours to make something I am in some sort of race to eat it faster than anybody else. I don't have a clear strategy in mind for this but if I come up with one you can be fairly sure it will surface somehow here.

2) Drink more mindfully.

I have wine with the evening meal, or as a precursor to it, nearly every day. I enjoy white and red wines both, and have fairly eclectic tastes when it comes to the grape. But. I want to drink the way I hope to eat. Slowly, with more enjoyment, and being more mindful of each mouthful as I savor it. If I am really thirsty I want to gulp water. Nothing else. Everything else I want to sip.

3) Eat less animal protein.

Again, no real strategy formulated here, just the notion that even though my proteins are sourced responsibly, there are yet problems with how much goes into every calorie of animal protein versus the plant foods that fed it. I want to try and work in a meatless meal once a week for starters and see how that goes. If I can get Hub on board, great. If not, even the meat I don't eat makes a difference when added in to all the efforts of others.

So there you go. Some thoughts about getting lucky, eating well, and my short list of resolutions. I hope you will all have a lovely day to kick off this brand new year. I look forward to sharing this one with all of you and speaking of sharing, if you have a resolution you wish to declare in the comments section, fire away. This is not so public a place as other more heavily traveled blogs, but it is a start.

And starting out? We are all about that today. Happy New Year from the Austin Agrodolce Bunch!


PassivePastry said...

i had my peas today... feeling lucky already.

i haven't decided on my resolutions.. they usually include "don't procrastinate" and "be happy with myself"..... one of which i always fail to keep. the other i will be working on my entire life.

another year..... here we go!

Flapjacks said...

try those indian recipes for your veg meal. plenty of goodness, and protien in them...

TexasDeb said...

Hmmm Pastry - no clues as to which you will be working on forever? Either resolution could qualify but both are lofty goals. Kudos.

Flapper - I would love to try Indian recipes if I had some starter types on hand. If you've got suggestions they are always welcome.

Iris said...

Thanks, Deb--reminds me that, along with your mindful things, I'm going to try to be more mindful of my own mind--less judgmental. More quietly thoughtful--tough stuff.

TexasDeb said...

Iris I'd agree. Being less judgmental (including of our own selves) can certainly be a tough struggle, but a worthy one. Looking forward to sharing news of our successes (or failures) with each other throughout 2009.