We did some serious cooking, eating, and playing at the farm this holiday weekend. The trip from St. Louis to Rolla required a detour to avoid the flood waters along I-44, but only added a half hour more to the trip. As it turned out we had a great, sunny weekend, making the New Year all the more welcome.
Quaint New Year’s Traditions
My son-in-law is from Colombia, South America, where they have far more New Year’s traditions than we do. It’s fun incorporating them into our celebration mostly because of the humor and good food involved. We made Lomo al Trapo, the tenderloin wrapped in cheesecloth and packed in a heavy layer of salt. (I’ve written a post before about this unusual cooking procedure.) The thick outer layer that forms when the meat is placed directly on the fireplace coals is later chipped away, leaving the meat perfectly cooked and seasoned.
By the time we finished dessert—a dark, fruity cake soaked in wine—we were ready for a few of the more amusing traditions. For luck, Colombians eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each month of the upcoming year. Then they grab an empty suitcase, or bag, and walk around outside to promote good luck and travel in the year to come.
After a stem of champagne and a little salsa dancing, I was ready for a good night’s sleep. (When it comes to salsa, I can do the quick steps and the hip wiggle; I just can’t do them at the same time.)
As I dozed off, I wondered if I should tell J.C., my son-in-law, that in Missouri all you have to do is eat your quota of black-eyed peas for good luck. Hmm… I don’t think he’d find that near as much fun.
The Kitchen on New Year’s Day
The next morning my son-in-law cooked Arepas. The flat bread is prepared from a mixture of ground maize, water, and salt stuffed with cheese. Making Arepas is a labor intensive, multi-step project; it’s an all-family activity like making Christmas cookies
Dinner on New Year’s Day was centered around Paella, basically a meat, seafood and rice dish and one that has held a place of honor in Spanish home for centuries.
Farm Fun in Photos
On New Year’s Day, it was nice enough for a walk in the woods and warm enough to play outdoors with Christmas “toys.” Being at the farm was a chance for the remote-controlled drone to make its maiden flight. I read that in keeping with the excitement over Star Wars, they’ve even come out with a drone of the Millennium Falcon. Now that would be way cool.
More down to earth, Mother Nature treated those walking in the woods to a rare sight: Frost Flowers. Even seasoned outdoorsmen rarely see them because the conditions must be just right. The icy formation occurs on the stems of several varieties of plants in Missouri, but only after there’s been a frost and the stems damaged. Later, sap rising from the roots extrudes icy ribbons from the stems forming patterns and petals that last only a short while.
Back indoors, there’s always an interest in competitive activities. We played Scrabble one evening, which I’ve not done for a long time. I didn’t know they’d changed the rules! It’s the first time that’s happened in 60 years. You can now use proper nouns. Those not liking the update can still play under the old rules. I’m an old rule person; I don’t like changing the way I learned the game.
With cell phones and television service often unreliable in the Ozark hills, kids turned to more “constructive” forms of entertainment, as did this youngster who assembled a 22-cup tower.
And so we wrapped up the weekend. Kicked out the old year and kicked off the new. The gift bag below comes from a foody friend with whom I’ve broken bread many time this past year. The inscription is one that I’ll take to heart in the months ahead.