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“We’ll do what’s necessary, ’cause even a miracle needs a hand.” - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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“We’ll do what’s necessary, ’cause even a miracle needs a hand.” [Dec. 13th, 2013|10:04 am]
Marissa Lingen

It is Santa Lucia morning, and my house smells of yeast and saffron and hope.


Earlier this week, my friend’s son C’s class at school was learning about late-year holidays from different traditions, religious and non-religious. C is 7, and my friend commented that he didn’t understand why his family couldn’t celebrate all the things. And I thought about it, and I said, “…I don’t understand either.” Clearly you will behave differently when you’re making your own religious observance than when you are honoring the fact that other people do, but…holidays good. I am with C: let us have holidays.


But I did eventually figure out why not, and that is because C is 7, so he can’t do the work of making these holidays, and he is one of seven kids, so his parents kind of have full plates already. And I love the lussekatter–I love taking flour and butter and sugar and saffron and making light and hope in the dark of winter. But after the knead I kind of wanted to go back to bed myself, and I’m not 7. Sometimes joy just shows up naturally, but sometimes it’s hard work. Sometimes you have to chase down joy and club it repeatedly to subdue it and drag it back to your lair.


My mother’s favorite Christmas special is “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” the one with the wee mousies. And it has a song in it that is very much what she wanted to teach me, I think, about working and planning for the miracles you want to see in the world.


It’s very dark. It’s very, very cold. And there are sides of the dark and the cold we don’t even tell each other. But I have done battle with the dough and emerged triumphant, and victory is tasty indeed.


Happy Santa Lucia Day.


The first one in 2006. 2007, the beginning of the story. 2007, the end of the story. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011. Last year.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: buymeaclue
2013-12-13 03:26 pm (UTC)
And to you!
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2013-12-13 03:39 pm (UTC)
I just got invited to a Jan 5 Orthodox Xmas party. "Oh good," I said, "because I need a little MORE Xmas this year."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0i14Yb1QMXY
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[User Picture]From: athenais
2013-12-13 03:42 pm (UTC)
Happy Santa Lucia Day. Another good one. This day and this entry. I have my saffron bun and my coffee to go, as I am off to make some cats happy. I will probably sing them the song.
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[User Picture]From: zelda888
2013-12-13 04:30 pm (UTC)
Saffron buns! Would you share your recipe? Are they more cookie-like or more bread-like?

I have my version of my mother's version (which is the love-child of my Great Aunt Gert's version and a 1957 home economics class), but I am always on the lookout for more saffron recipes.
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From: sheff_dogs
2013-12-13 05:17 pm (UTC)
Try searching on Cornish Saffron Cake. It's yeast raised, rich and fruity.

Though with the saffron it's a celebration cake my family make it all year round with out the saffron, when it's just Yeast Cake. Our family used lard instead of butter, small farm history and I suspect we probably sold the butter.
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[User Picture]From: athenais
2013-12-14 12:13 am (UTC)
I use a standard Swedish lussebulle recipe, very similar to M'ris' (which I believe she has published in the past). It is not a family recipe, I got it off the internet, but I'll see if I can find it for you, sure.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-12-14 12:32 am (UTC)
(Mine is here, btw. For whatever reason the 45 minute rise time has not been adequate in years.)
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[User Picture]From: zelda888
2013-12-14 02:07 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, I've been doing lussekatter as well for the last several years, because of these posts. I do them usually for New Year's Day, though.

Thanks also to athenais and sheff_dogs. The Cornish Saffron Cake is almost certainly the ancestor of what I inherited.
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From: sheff_dogs
2013-12-15 01:46 am (UTC)
Those Cornish folk got all over :-)

I've remembered, as I made it the other day, that probably my favourite saffron recipe is for Sweet Saffron Rice. It's an Indian dish that I got from a Madhur Jaffrey book and rather more simple than paella. It is unexpectedly good with hot spicy food. Also with ham.
Basically you toast the saffron (0.5tsp)and soak in a little warm milk for at least three hours. Meanwhile wash then soak your Basmati rice (about a cup or 8oz) for an hour, then drain for half an hour. In a heavy based pot with a tight fitting lid melt 2oz ghee or unsalted butter, add four pods of cardamom and 1" stick of cinnamon, stir then add the rice, stir thouroughly so that the rice becomes coated in the butter. Add 10fl oz of water, bring to the boil, then turn to a gentle simmer stirring from time to time until the water is mostly absorbed. Add the saffron milk, a tbs flaked almonds, 2tbs dried cranberries (sultanas in the original, but I am not fond) and 2 oz sugar then stir to mix. Put on the lid and either leave over a VERY low heat or pop into a cool oven for 30 minutes.
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[User Picture]From: sprrwhwk
2013-12-14 04:45 am (UTC)
Bugger. If it requires that much kneading, I can't make it gluten-free. Oh well. Still need to make fruitcake anyway.

Happy Santa Lucia Day!

Edited at 2013-12-14 04:46 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-12-14 12:03 pm (UTC)
Sadly, I concur: it is a very bready sort of bread.

There's always Spanish rice with saffron in it. That's lovely and cheerful in winter. Not at all the same thing. But still.
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[User Picture]From: sraun
2013-12-13 03:44 pm (UTC)
Sometimes you have to chase down joy and club it repeatedly to subdue it and drag it back to your lair.

I love your way with words!
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[User Picture]From: jry
2013-12-13 05:15 pm (UTC)
This and the previous sentence found their way into my quotation stockpile for future reference. The way with words is notable, but also the way with using them to pin complex ideas succinctly to the wall for further study.
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[User Picture]From: zelda888
2013-12-13 04:27 pm (UTC)
"Happiness is an accident; joy is an attitude."

I wish I remembered the name of the gentleman that my college brought in to give the MLK Day address one year, so that I could attribute this properly.
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[User Picture]From: carbonel
2013-12-13 05:00 pm (UTC)
Happy Santa Lucia day.

I have some saffron in the house (probably too old to be useful), but I'm not actually sure what it tastes or smells like -- I think of it more as a coloring agent.
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From: sheff_dogs
2013-12-13 05:18 pm (UTC)
If it is whole saffron it should be good, powdered probably not.
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[User Picture]From: carbonel
2013-12-13 05:23 pm (UTC)
It is whole, but it's also about 20 years old.
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From: sheff_dogs
2013-12-15 01:48 am (UTC)
May well still be good! I've certainly used whole that was ten years old and seemed as good as new. It was kept in the classic 'cool dark place' though.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-12-13 05:24 pm (UTC)
If you don't want to make lussekatter, it goes well in Spanish rice. I cannot endorse it as a coloring agent: the price per ounce is far too high.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2013-12-13 06:32 pm (UTC)
Rich robes those would be indeed.

And now I've spent many minutes looking at images of saffron gatherers from the wall frescos of Akrotiri.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2013-12-13 06:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, also: Happy Santa Lucia day, and this was a pleasure to read.
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[User Picture]From: klwilliams
2013-12-13 08:06 pm (UTC)
Sometimes you have to chase down joy and club it repeatedly to subdue it and drag it back to your lair.

This is my favorite quote of the day.
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[User Picture]From: wordweaverlynn
2013-12-16 06:03 am (UTC)
Thank you. This is lovely.
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