01/02/2015 03:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A New Year's Day Tradition: Roast Pork, Mashed Potatoes and Sauerkraut

Growing up, our New Year's Day meal was always a pork roast, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut, whether we liked it or not. It's a Pennsylvania Dutch New Year's tradition.

Why? Well, legend has it that it's because a pig roots forward, which is good luck for the new year, but it's probably also because it's practical: If you slaughter a pig for the winter, you want to eat the fresh meat first and save the smoked meats (like ham) for later--like Easter! And sauerkraut takes a late-fall crop of cabbage and ferments it just in time for a New Year's Day feast. The mashed potatoes? Potatoes store well and are, of course, delicious.

Most traditions are seasonally practical, which is one reason it's sometimes good to stick to tradition!

You don't really need a recipe to cook a pork roast. It's easy and fairly quick, depending on size. An hour and a half will cook a medium-size roast just right.

So, here is what you do:

1. Purchase an organic pork roast from your local butcher.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3. Place the pork in a roasting pan. You can sprinkle it with salt and pepper and add rosemary if you want. It might be wrapped up in string. That's OK. Leave the string in place because it will hold the roast together while it cooks.

4. Roast in the oven at 400 for one hour. Check the pork roast's internal temperature with a meat thermometer to see if it's done. Or poke it with a knife or fork and see if the juices run clear.

5. If you want, you can heat the sauerkraut in the roasting pan with the pork--the kraut will absorb the roasting juices. Or you can warm it in a pan on top of the stove.

6. Mashed potatoes? Here's my easy recipe!

My littlest one's food styling...

Serve with a salad to celebrate New Year's with a Pennsylvania Dutch twist!

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