New Year’s Eve

I said before that New Year’s Eve isn’t my favorite holiday, not only because I rarely have as great of a time as I feel like I’m “supposed” to have , but also because for me how I spend the evening feels like a barometer of what’s going on in my life, and a sign of what the coming year will bring. And if the evening involves annoyed walks through freezing Bushwick streets in search of the right address, or spending way too much money, or being with people who don’t make me feel particularly great, or all of the above…it’s hard not to wake up with a dollop of anxiety served on top of a hangover.

This was maybe the first year ever that I did New Year’s the way I always sort of wished I could do it. A baby is a great excuse to stay indoors where it’s warm and to chill out a little, and if it’s true that New Year’s activities are a predictor of the months to come, 2012 will be cozy, and relaxed, and all about friends and family.

And include lots of cheese, which is always good.

A couple of our friends either had parties to get to by midnight or had to work, so I decided to serve dinner around 6PM in order to pack everyone off to wherever they needed to be by ten or so. (This is Virgil listening for the doorbell with eager anticipation.)

Per reader @ElleJay4's recommendation, I added bacon to the chocolate-chip cookies I made for dessert, and it was a revelation. I also used these chocolate-chip cookie-making tips, and finally (finally!) was able to get them to emerge from my oven looking like fluffy cookies rather than crispy saucepans.

In the background, I think that’s what’s called a “joyful mess.”

New Year’s Eve Menu

Happy New Year!

Tonight started with an early dinner with some of our best friends, and ended with this:

Happy 2012.

Lots of love, you guys.

New Year’s Eve Dinner For Four (Plus A Shopping List)

Apple-y Pork Medallions with Portobello Mushrooms (pictured above with mixed mushrooms)

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Ask your butcher for a slice of pancetta about 2” thick, with the rind and fat trimmed. Dice the pancetta and saute in a roasting pan until crispy. Remove pancetta from pan and add trimmed, halved brussels sprouts (20 good-sized sprouts should be enough for 4 people) to the pan. Toss them around in the juices and roast in a 425F oven for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Return pancetta to pan and toss with salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice.

Homemade Biscuits

Salted Caramel Pears with vanilla bean ice cream

Shopping list after the jump.

2-3 pork medallions per person, depending on thickness

8-12 shallots

3/4 stick butter

4-6 large portobello mushroom caps, stemmed, cleaned, and thinly sliced (shittake mushrooms work well too, but they’re a bit more expensive)

3 tbsp olive oil

Rosemary sprigs

1 cup apple cider

3/4 cup chicken stock

2 tbsp Dijon mustard (I like the kind with the coarse grains)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cinnamon stick

20-25 good-sized Brussels sprouts

2” thick slice of pancetta, fat trimmed

Lemon juice (optional)

2 cups flour

4 tbsp shortening

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

A little less than 1 cup milk

2 ripe pears

1 bag good-quality caramels

Good-quality Fleur de Sel

1 container vanilla bean ice cream

A New Kind Of New Year’s

I’m one of those people who’s firmly in the “Not A Fan Of New Year’s” camp. Every single New Year’s Eve, I end up either bored and anxious that I’m not having The Best! Time! Ever!, or, as with one year, living through an unfortunate incident involving Lemondrops that made for a very unpleasant New Year’s Day. And usually there’s a freezing cold walk to the subway while cursing high heels, god, and the New York City Taxi Commission. Sometimes there’s some truly terrible Chinese food. There’s almost always an awkward cheek kiss with a stranger with whom you accidentally made eye contact after the countdown.

In sum:

ehhhhhh.

The part of New Year’s Eve I do enjoy: the dressing up. Even if you don’t do much at all, New Year’s is a great excuse to put on false eyelashes, sparkly makeup, and a cute outfit. And when your everyday attire consists mostly of your husband’s t-shirts and the occasional all-black getup, the prospect of a touch of glamour is super exciting.

But…we’re staying in (having dinner with friends at our place), and - let’s just face facts - we’ll probably end up crashing before the ball drops…so a sparkly cocktail dress feels like a bit much. Also, I’m cold. And I sit on the floor a lot these days.

So what am I wearing this year?

LEATHER PANTS.

Yes.

On me: Theory blouse, Forever 21 vest, GANT sunglasses, Double Drop Starburst earrings and Fringe Charm + Chain Lariat necklace c/o chloe + isabel, Mulberry bag borrowed from Francesca, vintage chain-link belt, Greta D’Orsay pumps borrowed from Coye Nokes, Paloma Leather Leggings c/o Paige Denim.

Photos by Ovidius Photography.