02 January 2011

Luck-Minded...?

I don't actually believe in luck--the idea of fate, that all entities occur with some predetermined purpose, is more congruent with my spiritual and philosophical world view--but I certainly embrace educating oneself about its widespread significance.  Luck is such a fascinating notion, contributing heavily to many New Year traditions, particularly with regard to food.  I have noticed that many "lucky" foods prepared during this time of year signify money, either by color or shape (e.g., greens are thought to resemble paper bills, round items like lentils resemble tokens or coins).  As a way to officially acknowledge the transition to a new calendar year and pay homage to that luck-oriented food traditions, I made a few dishes that are thought to bring fortune to their consumers in the months that follow.

On New Year's Eve, I cooked a half-batch of black-eyed peas and kale, an adapted version of this recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, an homage to traditional fare from the southern US.  The combination of black-eyed peas and greens is thought to represent money--coins and paper bills, respectively--and accordingly, future financial prosperity.   Kale replaced collards--I more frequently have the former, rather than latter, on hand--and added diced carrot and minced jalapeno.  This hearty dish was spicy, smoky, and absolutely delectable.  I enjoyed a fresh helping on New Year's Eve and leftovers the following day.
I also paid tribute to Japanese New Year cuisine with homemade mochi (prepared on New Year's Eve) and ozuoni (mochi soup, my first breakfast of 2011).  Rice and rice-based munchies are pantry staples at my house, so naturally, the thought of being able to make pounded sweet rice at home without much manual effort sparked some excitement.  Thanks to easy-to-follow instructions, I had a hefty glob of freshly pounded mochigome just before lunch on New Year's Eve.
I reserved some mochi for the ozouni to be eaten on the morning of New Year's Day and other applications, but couldn't resist testing its moffle (mochi waffle) potential.  The moffles were light and crispy.  A slather of shiro koshi an (smooth white bean jam) remedied any plain waffle blandness, making for unique and tasty brunch fare.
My version of Maki's ozouni (using vegan modifications) was equally delightful, serving as a light and tasty New Year's Day breakfast.  I used a few of the mochi cakes prepared the previous day, konbu dashi, "chicken-style" okara seitan instead of chicken, fresh spinach, and omitted the kamaboko.  Along with her soup recipe, Maki explains the fortune-bringing significance of pairing chicken and greens.  I'm not sure if seitan "chicken" counts, but in any case, I relished the soup's broth-y goodness.
New Year's Day concluded with a delicious confection.  Alfajores are shortbread-like, dulce de leche-filled sandwich cookies that are prevalent throughout South America year-round and particularly popular during the winter holiday season.  Inspired by a friend's adoration of these treats and a new batch of vegan dulce de leche, I found a recipe and set about making some vegan-friendly and supply-contingent alterations.  Vegan "butter," powdered egg replacer, flax "eggs," and dairy-free dulce de leche served as animal-free substitutions; I substituted arrowroot for some of the cornstarch, due to dwindling amounts of the latter, and lacking cognac or brandy, used amaretto instead.  I'll go along with the coin-signifying theme as my excuse for my New Year's indulgence of these sweet discs.
Lacking my own support for the notion of luck itself, the above array of "lucky" food probably will not direct me toward a year of prosperity, but I am content to have welcomed the next calendar year in delicious fashion and definitely willing to contribute toward developing personal growth and productivity.  I hope that the rest of 2011 and beyond may be filled with peace, happiness, and health for all.  Tossing in a bit of good food couldn't hurt, either.

6 comments:

  1. mochi waffles! too cute. and the alfajores look delicious! they've come up in every holiday cookie list i've seen in the past month, and yours certainly look lovely.

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  2. I wish I had been at your house on New Year's Day. Then I would have considered myself truly lucky!

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  3. I love your ozouni! I made poi mochi for new years as well :) Glad to see another mochi lover on here. Happy New Year!

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  4. I think you've done what I recommend for "luck" - put yourself in the position for luck to come your way. Luck? Good food? Same thing! Thanks for sharing this "lucky" food!

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  5. Ahhhhh! I loved Alfajores and I pick them up everytime I see them, just in case they happened to become vegan and I missed it. Can't wait to try this.

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  6. I wish I had been at your house on New Year's Day. Then I would have considered myself truly lucky!

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)