Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh New Years Pretzel’

“Good Morning, Good People!”

Technology can be a great help in communicating and making our lives rich.  I composed this post before Sean and I started our journey.  The cool thing is that now you are reading it as we enjoy New Years Eve.

It is the start of a new year; and Sean and I are either staring up at the stars or into a small campfire. What I planed on doing was continuing the traditions that I grew up with.  It will be interesting to see what Sean thinks of my traditions, because they will be a surprise to him.

Being a Pittsburgher of Polish, German, and Irish ancestry I have observed some unique family traditions during New Years Eve.  In the morning, everyone helped to bake bread.  Sometimes we made the dough in the shape of sheep, rabbits, geese, cows, a ring, a cross, or a child.  The one shape we always made was a New Year Eve Pretzel.

We would fast as long as there was light in the sky.  Before it got dark, we would place some silver coins outside on the windowsill.  We then would sit and eat from dusk until midnight.  At exactly midnight as a family, we would observe the Polish Sylwester by celebrating with friends by drinking a glass of champagne, raising toast for luck in the upcoming year, and everyone young and old would go outside to bang pots and pans to ward off evil spirits.

In the morning, we would bring in the silver coins and we always ate pork and kraut on New Years Day as our first meal.  Ensuring that the New Year would see money coming into the house and there would always be food enough to eat.

The plan is that down by the river I will be baking bread, fasting, placing silver coins outside of the tent, eating when the sun goes down, drinking champagne, and banging on pots just after midnight.

On a serious note I will be taking time to ponder what it means to be a “steward” of God’s creation.  It is our responsibility to care for creation, all of it, and with a bit of a blessing pass it on to the next generation at least as lovely as we received and enjoyed it.

Anglers, Backpacker, Campers, Hikers, Kayakers, Rock Climbers, Swimmers, et cetera, all understand the blessings of having a healthy environment.  We are all Environmentalists in our own way.  For me my love of the outdoors blends with my academic loves, family devotion, and my theological traditions.  Christianity has a long theological tradition of understanding that we are nothing more than “stewards” of God’s creation, and it is our responsibility to care of all things.

As we enter into a New Year, I am thankful for all of God’s creations: the people I know and do not know, the environment, and “for all things seen and unseen”.  Many times, I have reflected of St. Francis of Assisi during this trip and especially now at midnight.  St. Francis of Assisi with his love for and protection of all created things might have been the first Christian environmentalist.  And at this time I would like to reflect on his life…

May we all listen more attentively and carefully to the growing dangers to planet earth as we know it.  And in the old Polish language, “do siego roku” which means “I wish you well”  – Jeff


Saint Francis’ Canticle of All Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon
for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.

Heavenly Father,
You gave Your servant Francis
great love for each of Your creatures.
Teach us to see Your design in all of creation.
We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

A pretzel for New Years?  This is no ordinary bread pastry made from wheat flour, water, sugar, and yeast, then sprinkled with coarse salt.  The New Year’s Pretzels: is a traditional good luck bread served by German families at New Year’s.  Unbeknown to Sean I plan on baking one of these tasty treats from scratch while we are on the Suwannee River New Years Eve.

I altered the recipe in order to make one on the Suwannee River.  You can get the full recipe in the “Three Rivers Cookbook” or on line.

0.5 c. milk
0.125 c. butter
0.5 pkg. active dry yeast
0.5 tsp. salt
0.125 c. sugar
1.75 c. flour
0.5 large egg
0.25 c. powdered sugar
0.25 T. water
0.375 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
0.0625 c. almonds or walnuts, chopped

Heat milk and butter until very warm. Mix yeast, salt, sugar, and 0.875 cup of flour.  Slowly beat warm milk into yeast mixture.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Add eggs and 0.875 of flour.  Beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Add enough flour to form a soft dough.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place dough in a greased bowl.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch dough down and let rise again until doubled.  (1 hour more).  Divide dough in half.

Shape pretzel: Roll dough into a rope about 7.5″ long.  Cross the ends leaving a large loop in the center.  Flip loop back onto crossed ends to form a pretzel.  Repeat with remaining dough. Place pretzels on greased baking sheets.  Let rise 15 minutes more.  Bake at 375F.  for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire racks.  Mix powdered sugar, water and vanilla to form a thin icing.  Spread icing on pretzels and sprinkle with chopped nuts.  Makes 1 small pretzel.

Pictures of the event will appear in the New Year.

– Jeff