This years-end eve brings all sorts of emotions to me, as I suspect it does to all of you too. Memories of things that happened, that didn't, and that we wish had flood our collective thoughts as we make promises to do better, or more, or not so much in the rush of minutes that follow 11:59 p.m. tonight.
For me this year was the usual menu of moments, the lows both shallow and deep, the varying heights of highs capped off with a 50th birthday trip to Italy that threatened to blow the top off my happy-meter. Ok, so I still haven't found my "real" job, but things are looking a little more promising as 2012 closes, hopefully bringing gainful employment in 2013 . And though unattached as the clock strikes twelve tonight, my swim in the choppy waters of the dating pool this year netted some really lovely guys, giving me hope that the fishing in 2013 may be even sweeter.
In the end 2012 was an interesting ride, with more lessons learned through laughter and a few tears, and much to happily remember this last December night. And before I rip that last page from my calendar, there's still time to send heartfelt thanks to one and all for helping me through another year, humor and hope mostly intact. It wasn't always easy but life seldom is, and there was plenty of fun to temper the non over the past 365 too. So as the ball travels tonight's Times Square descent, Cooking in My Heels sends out to you all my New Year's toast - for Happy New Jobs, Happy New Health, Happy New Adventures, Happy New Love, and more than enough joy, hope, great food, friends and laughter to fill up a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Oh yes, a recipe. For a last little nibble to go with that glass of bubbly, I suggest these Black Pepper Nuts. I mean, isn't ringing in the New always more fun with a few nuts?
Black Pepper Nuts
Makes 2 2/3 cups
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
4 teaspoons water
2 2/3 cups blanched whole almonds
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Mix pepper and salt in small bowl. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add sugar and 4 teaspoons water; stir until sugar dissolves. Add almonds; toss to coat. Cook over medium heat until syrup thickens and almonds are well coated, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle half of pepper mixture over.
Transfer almonds to baking sheet. Using spatula and working quickly, separate almonds. Sprinkle remaining pepper mixture over. Bake until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer sheet to rack; cool. (Can be made four days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)