Thursday, January 6, 2011

Perhaps, a new tradition

Reading all of your blogs in the last week or so, I see that many of you have new year traditions, especially when it comes to food.  Being that I had a sinus infection as we entered the new year, I did not eat any kind of a tradition, but I did think about my childhood.

I grew up in the Amana Colonies, in Iowa, and my father's parents lived in the same house with us.  We were upstairs and they were downstairs.  My Oma was a great baker.  Traditionally, in Amana, on the 31st of December, the ladies were in the kitchens making a New Year's Pretzel.  The Neu Jahr Bretzel was not the typical hard pretzel that you slather mustard on.  You find those in Germany.  These were specific to our villages and they were made with a sweet yeast dough.  After mixing, the dough was raised and then broken into 3 or 4 individual pieces.  Each piece was formed into a long rope and twisted into a pretzel shape.  After baking, they were at least 10 to 12" in diameter.  My Oma made the best frosting for them with an added touch.  She would go the pharmacist in the next village and request a small bottle of rose water.  Gently the drops of rose water were mixed into the powdered sugar icing and spread onto the pretzels.  I can remember the taste to this very moment.  These pretzels just begged to be dunked in a cup of coffee or hot cocoa. 

I believe I attempted making pretzels about 30 years ago.  They just weren't the same as I remembered and I never tried again.  Nonetheless, I always think of my Oma and the fantastically delicious New Year's Pretzels she made every year. 

Then I have been reading about black-eyed peas.  Living in the South now, they are easy to find.  So, today is January 6, I am feeling somewhat better, so tonight we are having "Black-Eyed Peas."  A little late, but if there is still some luck to rub off, I'll take it.

Black-Eyed Peas in a slow cooker
 original recipe from Bonnie at "From a Writer's Kitchen"

6 cups chicken stock
1 - 16 oz can diced tomatoes
1 pound black eyed peas, looked over and rinsed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely diced
8 ounces diced ham
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in the slow cooker.  Start on high for 30 minutes.  Turn to low and simmer 6 to 8 hours.

Happy New Year again to all.

Addendum:  I have to add another comment.  The photo was taken before dinner.  Now that we have eaten, this is absolutely delicious.  It will definitely be made again, especially 1/1/12


  1. Susan, you've made my mouth water with your talk of New Year's Pretzles. The ones with the rose water in the frosting were always the most special! It was always my job to deliver them around town to those who were not able to bake them for themselves, a job I really didn't like -- I wanted to stay in the warm kitchen and be dunking a piece into the coffee!

  2. Such memories, Lee. Have you ever made them yourself? It just doesn't seem right trying to duplicate the love our families put into them.

  3. What a wonderful story, Susan. I had never heard of that type of pretzel before but they sound great! Bonnie's black-eyed pea dish looks delicious.

  4. You have to have collards and cornbread to go with the black eyed peas! Collards bring you money. Love the story about the New Year's pretzel!

  5. Susan: I am so glad that you tried the recipe and that y'all (southern lesson) enjoyed them!!

    I was so fascinated by your Amana Colonies postings awhile ago that I looked them up. My husband and I are thinking that since we are so close, we should explore Iowa and I've put the information in my travel folder. If and when we go, I'll be asking you for suggestions. I wonder if we'll find those delicious sounding pretzels.


  6. Anonymous9:10 PM

    Neujahrsbretzeln are so delicious. My mom always had them in the house for us growing up in Germany. Next year I have to bake some for my family. Thanks for the reminder, Susan!

  7. What lovely memories. I'm off to google the Amana colony.

  8. Great memories with the pretzels, Susan! They sound delicious. The black-eyed peas dish sounds really good also. Glad you're feeling better!

  9. So interesting, Susan...I wonder if they make this sort of Neu Jahr bretzel anywhere in Germany nowadays..

  10. Isn't it great to have such wonderful memories of your grandparents. I like your new New Year's tradition!

  11. Memories of grandparents are a real treasure. If I made something just as good as my grandmother did it would never taste that way to me. Only she could make pound cake and I could never duplicate it.

    I love your story about the pretzels, Susan. What a wonderful memory.

  12. They look delicious! I saw black-eyed peas in the supermarket the other day... Couldn't believe it! I didn't buy them because right next to them were cranberry beans - something else I never see, and I bought those instead. Now I want to go back! (Both were in the 'International Food' section)

  13. HI SUE!!! I have been using that WONDERFUL CHERISHED gift you brought me when you visited!!! The cookbook... I love it and cant get enough of it. I made my mom the chocolate pie, she cried. It was like here moms and here mom passed 21 years ago. Miss you guys and wish that you could stop by again this summer.. :)

  14. I am so glad you are feeling better. Tradition, new or old, is a good thing. However, what most commends the old are the welt and warp of memory. I was in that kitchen with you, Susan. I loved your story. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  15. I am late to the game here and a bit off topic...I had not seen your Amana Colony connection before. On my first RV trip east - actually returning to the west, I found Colony Country Campground in North Liberty, IA and became friends with Beth, who ran/runs the campground...a family thing and nothing to do with Amana, their family name is Colony. Making a long story, just a bit shorter - me, who dearly loves the mountains, surpisingly loved Iowa and found it unsuspectedly beautiful. My friendship with Beth continues and I always stay in North Liberty on my way through. Happy memory - thank you!

  16. Oh!! Hope you are feeling better!

  17. Everyone is preparing blackeyed peas lately. Never even tasted them, but your recipe is tempting me to go shopping.

  18. Lovely memories, Susan! It's a shame so many recipes from our grandmothers and great aunts have been lost. Mine wrote very little down...just passed it on. I had my mother write out as many as she remembered.

    The black eyed peas look wonderful...and I hope they bring you good luck throughout the year!

  19. Anonymous3:48 PM

    very interesting, thanks

  20. What a lovely story about your grandmother. My Nana was also a fabulous baker! That black eyed pea recipe may be finding it's way to my slow cooker, thanks again! Glad to hear you're feeling better.