Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve

Wishing everyone PEACE.

Christmas breakfast last Saturday.  
Doug's kuchen, following his Grandma Dave's recipe.

Eggnog, using my mom's recipe.

Angie, sending out her Christmas Countdown E-mail.

 Seth gave Angie this yoga block.
(it may have a fancier name, but I can't recall it.)

Home-made snowman.

 This is my favorite nativity set.

Angie was all over the home-made gifts this year.
Isn't this sweet?

Seth gave us a "soft" Bocce set, 
so late one night there was a (brief) game of indoor Bocce.

And again, wishing peace for you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Early Christmas Eve

Since Angie has to work this Christmas, she flew home from Lubbock last Friday evening.
Seth finished his first semester of teaching 5th grade in Tucson and came up, also.
We pretended it was Christmas Eve.

We had a nontraditional supper - fondue.

We SKYPED Trish, Pete and Bowman in Bangladesh. They were a couple hours away from flying to Nepal and we will not be able to talk to them during the 18 days they are there.  A wee bit bittersweet.
We are happy for them but missing them at the same time.

Games and goodies are always a part of Christmas gatherings at our house.
Doug made Angie a caramel latte.

We played Dominies (Mexican Train).

Angie got her traditional flannel PJ pants.  Doug bought them this year.

This bongo player looked on from the tree.
 (This is a favorite ornament bought in the 1970s in Montana).

Trish bought this in Amish country a year or so ago.

We went to bed thinking about how grateful we are that God became flesh and lived among us.
Doug's sermons the past three weeks have been on God showing up....
As an underdog

Thank you, God.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Swedish Rusks

      I decided to do a tutorial, primarily for the girls (that would be you, Trisha and Angie).

My mom made her braided Swedish coffee bread (yeast bread) into rusks when I was young but in her later years she started using this Almond Rusk recipe recipe. 
It is quite a bit easier (faster) and very, very yummy.

(The Italians call this biscotti, but for we Swedes, it's rusks.)

Sum total of ingredients:

I love that I have this recipe in my mom's  handwriting, also.

Start by creaming together 1 cup shortening with 1.5 cups sugar.  Add 2 eggs and 
4 tsp almond extract.
Meanwhile, mix the following together in a bowl: 
5 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon cardamom.
Add that to the creamed mixture, alternately with 1 cup sour cream.

My very old $10 hand mixer does fine, until it gets really thick.  
Then you will need to use a spoon.
Before the last addition of flour, add 1 cup chopped almonds (can be very coarse).
This will now be very hard to stir.  
That is okay.

Things are going to get messy, so now is the time to take off your rings.

And here's the really messy part.  Generously grease your hands with butter.
Grab a glob of the very sticky dough and shape it into a fat log and lay it on a
 greased cookie sheet.

Start flattening it out until it is the length of the pan.  This recipe will make 4 "logs" or loaves.
(I doubled the recipe this time.)

Don't those veins look like an easy IV stick?

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. 
 Carefully slide off the cookie sheet onto a cooling rack. 
The house will now be full of the fragrance of almond and cardamom.  
If that doesn't make you happy, I don't know what will.
 Cool until you can slice each loaf into desired size 
(about 20 slices per loaf, but I never count or measure).

Then place the slices back on the cookie sheets, leaving some air-space between each slice.
Now bake (or as my mom's recipe says, "toast") 
at 225 degrees for 30-60 minutes, until quite dry.
Cool again and place in airtight container.  
These will keep for a long time at room temperature.
Best dipped in coffee or milk.

They watched over the whole process and didn't even get a taste.

Wish I could thank Mom for this wonderful taste memory.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Love that Lutefisk

Doug definitely knows how to make me happy. He surprised me by reserving tickets for us at the annual Lutefisk Dinner at St Peter Lutheran Church in Mesa.
People mock and deride the humble lutefisk but for me it brings nothing but joy.
The feeling I get anticipating this meal may be what other people get
 anticipating a delicious cinnamon roll.  
It all has to to do with my childhood. 
Our main Christmas celebration occurred Christmas Eve and consisted of a meal of 
lutefisk, white sauce, boiled potatoes and potatis scorv. 
We went to Grandpa and Grandma Johnson's where my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered for the evening.
So, this meal today took me back to that...

This man greeted us at the door.  He walked about the room during the meal and it was he who made a good amount of the delicious lefse that was served.
 (Which was definitely Doug's favorite part of the meal.)

Dick and Dolores Korsmo joined us. Some strangers sat at our table and, wouldn't you know, they had friends in common from North Dakota.  

Here is it, looking yummy.  
I almost cried when I took my first bite of lutefisk.

This has absolutely to do with lutefisk or my Swedish heritage but I found is on the kitchen floor as I stepped away from the radio after finishing listening to
the Prairie Home Companion tonight.

Rounding out the day with ginger snaps.  Made 13 dozen, most for the treats that will be served after Trinity's annual Sounds of Christmas celebration next weekend.
I use Mom Davidson's recipe, which is  delicious, but after reading the Pioneer Woman's similar recipe I did add cardamom and may do so hereafter. YUM.

By the way, lutefisk and home-made potato sausage are available at Carlson Meats in Grove City, MN.  Charles Carlson is a third generation Swedish butcher and happens to be the father of my son-in-law Pete.
I understand Midwesten Meats in Mesa, AZ also sells these Scandinavian meats.

And I close with a shot of the front of our home....