What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin | New Year’s good luck cupcakes
Special to the Tribune
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – One New Year’s Eve, my neighbor, Millie, 69, was a retired widow on a tight budget. She had a fractured hip, the result of osteoporosis, the “brittle bone” disease. Upon her request, I cooked black-eyed peas because she believed the coin-shaped legumes could bring good fortune for the upcoming year. The Deep South tradition made the silver-haired woman giggle and smile like a young girl – and that made me feel good.
But my friend continued to eat poorly – and didn’t get any exercise, nor did a windfall roll in later due to the good-luck peas.
In a year, Millie passed on. Bittersweet memories of our acquaintance come and go. It’s the last week of 2010. At Lake Tahoe, it’s a hot spot where people come from around the globe to play and win money at our casinos. It’s no wonder New Year’s lucky foods, like Millie’s favorite peas, are on my mind.
So, this New Year’s Eve I’m whipping up New Year’s good luck foods, such as linguine, salmon, a dark green salad. While nibbling on these alleged fortune foods borrowed from cultures around the world, I’ll watch countries on CNN, one by one, celebrate the first day of 2011. I may hop on the treadmill (and Seth, my four-year-old Brittany will join me). Then, for old time’s sake, I’ll make New Year’s vows (or not) and bake a batch of good-luck cupcakes.
Ginger Pomegranate Cupcakes
1 box pound gingerbread mix
1 organic brown egg
11⁄4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons all natural whole wheat flour (blame it on the altitude)
3⁄4 to 1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 teaspoons orange rind (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix egg, water, flour, and bread mix. Stir for a few minutes till smooth. Fold in pomegranate seeds. (Slice in four and place in water for five minutes. Pick out seeds, drain.) Pour batter into lined cupcake tins. Bake about 40 minutes; insert a knife or toothpick in the middle and if it comes out clean, the cupcake is done. Cool and frost. Makes 6 medium-large cupcakes.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1⁄4 cup organic 2 percent low-fat milk
1⁄4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup cream cheese
In a bowl, mix wet ingredients and add powdered sugar to preferred consistency. Spread on top of cupcakes. Sprinkle with coconut or organic raw sugar.
These sweet and spicy cupcakes are semi-healthful. Gingerbread boasts iron, and is lower in calories and fat than other sweetbreads. Pomegranates are also low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and a good source of dietary fiber and Vitamin C. So, eating these pomegranate-ginger cupcakes (the ginger, fruit and round cakes are believed to be lucky foods) may nudge Lady Luck to pay me a visit (or not) in 2011, much like kissing dice before tossing them onto a casino table.
Motto: While the “Auld Lang Syne” song is about times and friends long gone, we can’t control people or events. But we can eat our way to sweeter tomorrows with good food and good luck.
– Cal Orey is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.