Happy New Year!

This evening we finally had the chance to light the final candle of our Advent wreath, the "Christ Candle". One of the things I hate about traveling at Christmas is that the Advent wreath, readings and carols get interrupted... often we never get to finish them. This year though we seized an opportunity, reading the final passages and lighting at last all five candles.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...."

We also had our traditional New Year's Day meal, Pork and Sauerkraut. This is a traditional Amish/Pennsylvania Dutch dish, and probably a German one before that... but as my mother grew up in Pennsylvania and grew up with this meal, we have always served it as well and it's one of my favourites.

I set the table for the meal this evening, and as I set out the silver I noticed it was very tarnished.... but our silver polish, probably 25 years old at this point, was completely dried up and useless. But I had been struck with a strange and persistent desire to polish something, so I settled on the brass candlesticks, which were looking decidedly shabby. And I told my mother that if she'd buy me more silver polish, I'd polish all the silver. It looks like I got myself a project!

I love setting the table for holiday meals - it's the perfect excuse to bring out my grandmother's silver, and my other grandmother's china, and the red tablecloth we never use. To put out brand new tapers in the shining candlesticks, and to set out the Waterford crystal that my parents bought each other for their anniversaries over a period of many years. To fill the table with a special meal, prepared with love.

Lest you think, though, that it's all bright crystal and glimmering candlesticks, let me show you the pot we cooked the pork and sauerkraut in. It, um, overflowed a bit in the oven...

And here is the meal itself! Pork loin, slow-cooked in the oven amongst a bed of sauerkraut, apples, tomatoes, and onions... mashed potatoes.... peas... freshly-made applesauce. There is little better, to my mind! And even people who "don't like sauerkraut" like this version.

Well, I have gone on long enough. I hope no one thinks it too strange that I post so much about food! But it's one of my great interests... I love cooking and photographing food, as well as eating it, and there are so many great opportunities for fabulous meals during this holiday season!

I hope the first day of 2010 - the last "first of the year" for this first decade of a new millennium - has been as good for you as it was for me!