If what you’re doing at midnight on New Year’s Eve is what you’ll be doing more of for the rest of the year, maybe standing in the street with thousands of strangers doesn’t seem like such a good idea.
For those who want to ring in 2006 with their families, we’ve come up with a few family-friendly ways to spend the New Year’s weekend together. You’ll need decorations to jazz up the house at midnight Saturday, something to keep the kids busy during the day, and even the meal that’s supposed to bring you good luck in the following year.
DECK THE HALLS ALL OVER AGAIN
New Year’s Eve decorations are a must for your at-home party, and the rule of thumb is, the more outrageous, the better. C’mon, now: The saying "ring in the new year" wasn’t meant to invoke a polite round of applause. The new year means noisemakers waved by champagne-overloaded guests wearing crazy hats.
You might not be able to make it to Times Square this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own atmosphere of confetti-laden celebration for less than that bargain-bin champagne you’re considering. These party must-haves were found at Pretty Party Place, 1300 S. Country Club Drive, Mesa.
Amanda Myers, Tribune
OUT OF THE HOUSE, HOME BEFORE MIDNIGHT
Move the focus off the single minute between 11:59 p.m. and midnight, and onto the hours of activities available earlier in the evening at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek. Drive your car or take a 15-minute hayride through the farm for the Holiday Light Drive-Thru, ending at the Winter Wonderland, featuring 300,000 holiday lights and a 45-minute light show synchronized to music. While you sit by the fire and roast marshmallows and chestnuts, the Schnepf kids will serve hot chocolate, cider and coffee. The event runs 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at 24810 Rittenhouse Road. Entry fee is $10 per carload, while the optional hayride costs an additional $6 per person. Information: (480) 987-3100 or www.schnepffarms.com.
Marija Potkonjak, Tribune
CINEMATIC NEW YEAR’S — OR NEW LEAVES
You’re probably still detoxing from the glut of Christmas movies, but where’s the cinematic love for New Year’s? Hollywood’s library of New Year’s films is only slightly more expansive than its collection of Arbor Day films, yet a gem or two can still be found. "When Harry Met Sally": Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan journey through an odyssey of neuroses and hairstyles before they come together to the strains of "Auld Lang Syne." "Groundhog Day": Yes, the actual day is still a month off, but this movie is all about turning over a new leaf. And it features Bill Murray telling a groundhog, "Don’t drive angry."
"The Poseidon Adventure": See Ernest Borgnine wet! See Shelley Winters upside down! The original Irwin Allen capsize classic took place on New Year’s Eve. A lot of people fell through the ceiling, thinking, "I am so drunk."
Michael Grady, Tribune
GOOD FOOD FOR GOOD LUCK
Before the band topped the hip-hop charts, the words "black-eyed peas" used to mean beans — albeit lucky beans. Eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and you’ll (theoretically) ingest a year’s worth of good luck.
"They are a great tradition throughout the South," says Madge Griswold, a Tucson culinary historian and judge of the James Beard Foundation Awards. "John Egerton, in his book ‘Southern Food,’ accords black-eyed peas with ‘a mystical and mythical power’ to bring good luck if eaten on New Year’s Day."
Black-eyed peas, also sometimes called cowpeas or field peas, are native to Africa and were introduced into Southern cuisine by slaves working as chefs, says Griswold, who learned the custom from her Tennessee-born mother-in-law.
The concept of eating your way into good fortune isn’t confined to the South, or even this continent. In some parts of Italy, big pots of lentils will be on the stove come Sunday. Over in Germany, it will be sauerkraut, says Griswold.
Here, the small white beans with one black spot, or "eye," are traditionally cooked with a ham hock or a piece of cured bacon.
"Sometimes they are then combined with rice to form a dish called Hoppin’ John," she says.
"At our house we never miss serving black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. And the one year we missed was a bad year indeed."
Toni Laxson, Tribune
HAPPY NEW YEAR’S
Yield: 6 servings
1 pound dried black-eyed peas 1 pound sausage 1 small onion, chopped 3 tablespoons brown sugar 1 tablespoon prepared mustard 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup prepared barbecue sauce
Procedure: 1. Rinse, prepare, soak and cook peas in about 3 cups water, following directions on the package. Drain and reserve half the cooking liquid. In a skillet over medium heat, brown sausage and onions; drain off excess fat. 2. Place peas in a 3-quart casserole; add sausage and onions. Stir in reserved liquid, brown sugar, mustard, salt and barbecue sauce. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 to 1 1 /2 hours.
Source: www.southernfood. about.com
Yield: 6 servings
2 cups dried black-eyed peas 6 cups water 3 /4 cup onion, chopped 1 /4 cup celery, chopped 2 pounds ham hocks 1 cup brown rice, uncooked 1 /8 teaspoon pepper
Procedure: 1. Soak peas in the 6 cups of water overnight. 2. Transfer soaked peas and soaking liquid to a large pot and add onions, celery and ham hocks. Cover and cook over medium heat until peas are tender but still whole, about 45 minutes. Add rice and pepper; cover and simmer for about 1 hour, or until rice is tender. 3. Remove meat from ham hocks and discard bones and fat. Mix meat into peas and rice. Serve hot.