Good morning. Greetings from isolation on this final day of what was for many an unsettling, un-fun year. There’ll be no Champagne and caviar for me tonight, no elegant roast, no countdown to 2022. I might tie some flies, listen to an old Ry Cooder show. Quarantine and testing, here’s to auld lang syne.
I hope that’s not the case for you. I hope you’re safe and happy in the embrace of family or friends, that you’ve got a good and safe plan for celebrating, that maybe you’ll look around in the fridge and be able to put together this Dutch baby with bacon and runny Camembert (above) to eat with cocktails, before something grand for dinner and the wait for the ball to drop.
Say, honey-glazed chicken with shallots? Or creamy pan-roasted scallops with fresh tomatoes? With braised kale either way, and a Lisbon chocolate cake for dessert?
And then for the morning, the first of the year, how about eggnog overnight French toast? Or, if you prefer a savory start, fried eggs, oven bacon and perfect hash browns?
And then to follow at dinner, some black-eyed peas and greens? Kayla Stewart explored the tradition of cooking them for The Times recently, with recipes for collard greens and cornmeal dumplings, and for black-eyed peas with rice.
But maybe not. Maybe you, like so many, like me, have been caught up in the spread of the omicron variant and find yourself in seclusion either with those you live with or all alone, and wondering if a peanut butter sandwich might be the best option for this evening (on warm toast, with chile crisp and pickles), or if a baked potato might be more festive (fully loaded, please!).
Me, I hauled a couple of pork chops out of the freezer the other day — beautiful heritage pork, red and marbled with fat, off an animal that took yoga and read poetry and had only one bad day in its life — and could see my way to making pork chops in onion gravy tonight. There’ll be enough meat left over for a pork chop po’ boy on New Year’s Day, the meat cut off the bone and heated through in the leftover gravy, to put on a toasted hero roll with cold shredded iceberg lettuce and a few dollops of hot sauce. I’m living large.
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Now, it’s nothing to do with tournedos Rossini or a salmon and caviar croque monsieur, but I’m dipping into “Yellowstone” on Peacock and enjoying the scenery. The show itself? “Bloodline” crossed with “Succession” crossed with “Sons of Anarchy,” with some “Dynasty” and “The Sopranos” in there, too.
I’ve had Gilbert Cruz’s “The Essential Stephen King” bookmarked since he published the guide in 2020. I wanted a great crime novel and Gilbert delivered: King’s “The Outsider,” my very first King. (Literally, my first. I’m working up to the scary stuff.)
It is old-school travel writing of the sort that you don’t see very often these days, but Ben Lerwill’s visit to Devon, on Britain’s southeast coast, for National Geographic, introduced me to the term coasteering, which looks pretty cool.
Finally, for Katy Tur and the rest of the fans who won’t be at Madison Square Garden tonight because the shows were canceled, here’s Phish on New Year’s Eve back in 2018, “Mercury” into “Say It to Me S.A.N.T.O.S.” Noodly noodly! Have a wonderful holiday and I’ll see you on Sunday.