New Year’s Day "Good Luck" Feast

I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. My hometown of Orwigsburg (population: 3106) is tucked in among Amish country, coal mines, and Hawk Mountain. My family is mostly of Lebanese and Italian heritage, but on New Year’s Day, we ate according to Pennsylvania Dutch tradition: pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes and buttered rye bread.

Dave’s always been kind of dumbfounded by my need to eat sauerkraut every January 1, but he’s a good sport and plays along with my insistence that it’s good luck. According to the lore, eating pork on New Year’s Day bodes well because a pig roots forward into the future – unlike the turkey that we eat on other holidays which buries the past by scratching backward in the dirt.

This year, I’m adhering to the spirit of the tradition, but giving it a dino-chow spin.

On New Year’s Eve, Dave and I are staying home to enjoy a homemade feast we’re making together (more on that later) and watching Mamma Mia and The Hangover (while not creating hangovers of our own). Our New Year’s Day “good luck” feast is actually going to start at midnight with a Spanish tradition: 12 grapes. In Spain, New Year’s Eve is called Nochevieja, or Old Night, and the tradition is to eat 12 grapes at midnight as each chime rings in the new year. A grape a second might be kinda tough, but we’re going to give it a go!

Our New Year’s Day menu looks like this:
Mashed Cauliflower
Sautéed Apples

I’ve written extensively about bigos before. It’s a hearty dish made with a variety of meats, cabbage, apples, and earthy spices.  This time, I’m trying it with pork and goat! The lovely ladies at Farmhouse Delivery* offer grass-fed, local goat at a reasonable price, so I decided to give it a try. I’ll let you know what we think.

Mashed Cauliflower
I was never all that crazy about mashed potatoes to begin with, so making the switch to mashed cauliflower was easy for me. The secret to making the mashed cauliflower taste heavenly is coconut oil, coconut milk, and chives. In case you haven’t tried it yet, here’s a simple recipe:

1 10 oz. bag frozen cauliflower florets
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
chopped chives, fresh or dried
optional: 1 crushed garlic clove

1. Microwave or boil the cauliflower until it’s quite soft. You can defrost the bag in the refrigerator then nuke for about five minutes, or follow the frozen cooking directions on the bag. Point is: you want it pretty soft, but not waterlogged.

2. Heat the coconut milk in the microwave or on top of the stove until it’s warm – you just don’t want to dump cold milk into your hot cauliflower.

3. Put the coconut milk, coconut oil, hot cauliflower, chives, and garlic into a food processor and puree ’til smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Dig in! Marvel at how you really don’t miss those poisonous potatoes after all.

Sautéed Apples
It’s traditional to eat apple sauce with the pork and sauerkraut, but for me, unsweetened apple sauce is kinda meh. Instead, I’m making apples sauteed in coconut oil to eat alongside our meal. They’re easy, delicious, sweet, satisfying, 100% dino-chow, and make for a really nice dessert on a wintry day.

For two people, with no leftovers, this is what I usually do:

1 large apple, cored and sliced (You can keep or remove the skin.)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1-2 teaspoons apple pie spice (you can replace with cinnamon)

1. Melt coconut oil over medium-high heat.

2. Sauté apples until soft and starting to get a few brown spots. Add a tiny sprinkle of salt. TINY!

3. Add apple pie spice and stir-fry until fragrant and carmelized. This takes, like, a minute.

4. Serve in a pretty dessert bowl with a spoon.

Delicious dessert bonus: While the apples are cooking, melt a tablespoon of Sunbutter in the microwave, then drizzle over the top of the apples before eating. Dare you to miss “regular” dessert!

In between the 12 grapes at midnight and the bigos feast the next day, we’ll be working up a righteous sweat with 2010: A Tabata Odyssey. I can’t think of a better way to start the new year than a clear head, a CrossFit workout with friends, and dino-chow approved good luck food.

What are your plans for New Year’s Eve and January 1? Post to comments and let us know. And if you’re planning to party your fanny off on New Year’s Eve, tell us that, too. There’s no shame in having a good time – and we can live vicariously through you!

* These are the Farmhouse Delivery ladies. Awesome, right?!

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10 Responses to “New Year’s Day "Good Luck" Feast”

  1. georgia says:

    I'll be ringing in the New Year with friends…as the designated driver. There are lots of happy plans on New Year's day (last of the blood lab tests in the a.m., 2010: A Tabata Odyssey, TSLP 1.1 Brunch, and (fingers-crossed) a dinner with a gentleman friend later that night) that I want to be in tip-top shape to enjoy!

  2. georgia says:

    Oh, and thanks to almost being a Viano, I'll do lamb for dinner…and since I'm a Texan, black-eyed peas and maybe tamales

  3. Michele says:

    Hi! A few months ago I stumbled upon your blog, read a few entries, which I enjoyed greatly.

    This past week I decided to try some of your recipes. Well. First I made the best chicken ever (so true) with acorn squash. Next I made the yummy chili (omgosh it's great!) which I served over spaghetti squash with romaine lettuce and avocados on top. Tonight! I made Shepards Pie using bison, green beens and the mashed cauliflower. It was tasty. For real.

    Thank you! for your insights, humour and super recipes.


  4. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Michele! I'm so glad you're finding the recipes helpful. I'm totally stealing your idea for bison Shepherd's Pie… that sounds AWESOME!

    Happy holidays!

  5. […] I made Mel’s Mashed Cauliflower for supper. I’ve made other people’s mashed cauliflower before, and it was a big […]

  6. Kam says:

    I’m curious how the goat tasted?

    • Mel says:

      I didn’t care for that particular goat, honestly… but I’ve since eaten goat cooked carnitas style at a local Mexican restaurant and it was AWESOME. I’m going to give goat another try. Nom Nom Paleo is a big fan, and she has great taste.

  7. […] Saturday Stew – using this recipe, adding meat Mashed cauliflower […]

  8. Kay says:


    I’ve made the sautéed apples twice. I love how easy this recipe is. The first time, I used coconut oil and thought it was ok. The second time, I used butter and liked the flavor much better. Thanks!

  9. […] Well Fed baked apples for dessert. It serves 4, but we divided it by two OMnomnom that was […]

  10. […] so eager to please. What other vegetable allows you to grate it to smithereens to make rice or mash it into submission or purée it until it’s creamy comfort in a […]

  11. Natalie says:

    Hi Melissa,
    I’m LOVING your books and blog! Very wild that you’re from Orwigsburg. I lived there for 2 years and went to Blue Mountain for 9th and 10th grade in the early 80s. Small world. Best of luck to you and keep up the great job!

  12. Natalie says:

    Get the heck out. I remember you now (as I whip out my yearbook)! You were a year ahead of me. Good for you, girl!

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