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Seeing in the new year with friends

When the first snow falls here in the valley, I think my squeals of delight can be heard from afar. Coming from the Los Angeles, Calif., area as I do, snow is always a winter treat for me. But I say this quietly because I find I am often quite alone with this feeling. I even rush out of doors and scoop up a big bowl of the freshly fallen snow and make Snow Ice Cream - simply mix 1 cup evaporated milk with 3/4 cup sugar and

1 teaspoon vanilla. Add enough freshly fallen snow to produce a mix with consistency of ice cream and put into the freezer.

Freshly fallen snow acts the same as eggs in any baking recipe. The next time it snows you might want to try making Snow Pancakes - instead of eggs, use 4 tablespoons fresh snow making a thick batter, then add some clean snow to each pancake before putting it in the pan.

A fun dessert on a snowy day is to dig out 4 cups of perfectly clean snow. Whip 1 cup cream; fold in a little sugar and vanilla, then fold the snow immediately into the whipped mixture, adjusting with sugar and vanilla to taste. Eat immediately. You must work fast or you'll have snow slush.

And not only have we had snow these past couple of weeks, but cold weather. Someone said they had heard their snowman beg them not to leave him out for another night. Someone else told me they had put their meat in the freezer to defrost and another told me that she baked a cake and put it outside to cool and within half an hour it was frosted. So much for the stories that spread around when the weather turns unusually cold. We'll be able to say, with a sense of satisfaction, that we had been through it and remembered it well, and that it would be a winter hard to beat.

We've weathered the snow and cold, and the Christmas holiday, and now it is New Year's Eve.

The first recorded New Year's festival occurred in Babylonia in March 2000 B.C., marking spring's arrival and the beginning of a new crop cycle. In an attempt to synchronize the months with the same seasons annually, the Roman Senate officially changed the start of the year from March 25 to Jan. 1 in 46 B.C. This date stuck.

Every country celebrates the new year in a different fashion, but here in America we often wear hats and blow horns and have a party with friends that ends with a kiss from one's beloved at midnight.

We're having friends in for dinner and the evening but we will celebrate the New Year in New York time, so as to be home early.

An evening like this calls for hors d'oeuvres - simple and easy ones, and here are a few you may wish to try.



COWBOY CAVIAR

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

salt and black pepper and garlic salt to taste

Mix the following ingredients:

2 avocados, chopped into bite-size pieces

1 tomato, chopped coarsely

1 small can white shoe peg corn, drained

1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 bunch scallions, chopped

Pour the dressing over the dip ingredients; let marinate for an hour before serving with scoop tortilla chips.

- recipe from Judy Sutherland.



VIENNA SAUSAGES IN SWEET & SOUR SAUCE

3 cans Vienna sausages

1/2 bottle chili sauce

1/2 jar grape jelly

Mix chili sauce and grape jelly and heat. Cut sausages in half and heat in sauce. Serve with toothpicks.



BALSAMIC BEAN DIP

WITH FRESH VEGGIES & PITA BREAD

1 (15-ounce) can cannelloni (white kidney beans), drained

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar plus extra for drizzling

oil from jar of sun-dried tomatoes

Puree beans, olive oil and 1 tablespoon vinegar in processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Drizzle with tomato oil and a few drops of vinegar. Serve with fresh veggies and pita wedges.

- from my files



BRIE WITH CRANBERRY CHUTNEY

1 container brie cheese spread

1 jar cranberry relish or chutney

Simply spread 1-2 teaspoons Brie cheese spread on a favorite sweet cracker; top with the cranberry chutney and serve.

- from my files



And for dessert, if there is fresh fallen snow out there, you might try Snow Cones - scoop up balls of snow and smother them with maple syrup. Better yet, gently boil 1/2 cup maple syrup until thickened, about 5 minutes, then drizzle it over the snow.

A most happy new year to all my readers.



Marian Platt's column appears the first and third week of each month in the Sequim Gazette. She can be reached at 683-4691 or via e-mail at mlplatt@olypen.com.



ROASTED

CARROT DIP

5 medium carrots

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

dash sugar, salt and pepper

2-3 pita breads



Cut carrots in half width-wise; cut length-wise into 1/2-inch- thick slices. In a bowl combine the carrots, garlic and oil; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in preheated 425-degree oven for 20 minutes. Stir and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until carrots are tender. Cool slightly.

In a blender, combine water, vinegar, mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, salt, pepper and carrot mixture; cover and process until smooth. Add additional water if needed to achieve desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl; refrigerate until serving.

Brush both sides of pita breads with butter. Cut in half; cut each half into six wedges. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Serve with carrot dip.



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