Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

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past butter baths and blueberry stems

This year I began the lussekatter baking by dousing the kitchen with a cup of hot melted butter. Ista thoroughly approves of this behavior--a new tradition!--although she suggests that next year I could aim more for the floor and less for the countertop. If you'd told me last year at this time that the vertigo would still be bad enough that I would lurch and spill the melted butter over hell's half-acre when I was making the lussekatter, I would have told you that this could not be, that this was not acceptable. And it's not. But here we are: when I am done eating this one and drinking my milk, I will do yet another session of PT. Because this is what we do, we keep with it and we keep going and we do not let the important stuff lapse if we have to beg, borrow, or steal the energy and the strength to do it. And lussekatter are important stuff.

I did not swear when I caused the melted butter Ragnarok. ("From what I've tasted of desire," says the fella, "I hold with those who favor melted butter.") No, it was worse than that: I sucked my breath in through my nose. Everyone with Scandosotan friends and relations is now wincing. The breath in through the nose is really no good. And it's not that it's the precursor to something worse. It's just bad in itself; you don't want someone you care about feeling like they have to suck breath in through their nose and do that little mouth thing of endurance. I was well into grade school before I had it through my head that someone's parents "yelling at" them was not a figure of speech. I would occasionally blithely report that I had told so-and-so I wouldn't do such-and-such because my mom would yell at me, and my poor mother would protest, "When did I ever yell at you? When did I ever?" And when I was 6 or so, I would kind of internally roll my eyes, because she was being so literal and everybody knew that it was like toeing the line: nobody's mom actually drew a line and made them line their toes up on it. Sheesh, Mom, said my child-brain. It's just an expression. Then I was around friends' houses enough to see that, no, not really. People actually did fill their lungs and yell at their children. Also their spouses. Also their dogs. Also the TV. People who were good and caring people did this. People I liked.

I am still adjusting to this information, people. Last week someone was saying that she admired my good attitude through all this vertigo crap, though she was sure I had moments of yelling at the dog, and I was shocked. I had to take a moment to give myself the little pep talk my mom used to give me about different families handling things differently so that I didn't behave as though she had accused me of something nasty. We are just not yellers.

So. I cleaned up the melted butter. I melted more butter. I put more butter on the grocery list. Onwards. I learned from last year's experience to leave plenty of time: I am in no emotional state to deal with a moment of "oh noes, we're not going to have lussekatter after all," so when it said it required 45 minutes to raise, I did it to be ready at 4:30. It was ready at 8:00. Lussekatter dough is slow stuff. You can do rosemary buns in the very twinkling of an eye compared to lussekatter. You could do rosemary buns two or three times over while you were making the lussekatter, but that's a lot of kneading, so I really don't recommend it.

markgritter came in while I was singing and kneading and singing and kneading. He peered skeptically at me from the far side of the kitchen counter. "Is that ever going to come out of the bowl?" said Captain Skeptical. "Yah," I said, "that's how you can tell it's ready. It starts to come away from the bowl. Look, watch my hand." I pulled my hand back. Only the tiny bits of lussekatter dough left on the back of my hand from the early kneading process remained--the rest of the dough stuck to the dough rather than to the mrissa. "Hmm," said Captain Skeptical.

And I didn't give up, and I didn't surrender, and we got through the part where the kneading was good for my hands and into the part where the kneading hurt. And by that point it was 9:00 (no, I didn't knead for the full hour; I said it was ready at 8:00, not that I started then), and I was wobbling on my feet, and I said to myself, "Self, this is good pliable smooth dough. What it is not is kneaded enough to twist into shapes, braids and s-curves and like that. Self, we are just not doing that this year." So I thumped it down in round buns and put on the dried blueberries, and lordy, I have never seen such stemmy dried blueberries. And that's kind of this year, you know? Everything takes a little longer than you thought, or maybe a lot longer. You think you might be entering the home stretch, and then you realize that the home stretch has lasted months. But the goal is worthy; there is no ignoring the worthiness of the goal. And markgritter helped me with the oven bits, and I showed him how to tell they were ready, when the golden color of saffron in the dough turned into the golden color of baked buns, how the edges smelled just right, just before they'd start to burn.

So here we are. The house smells of saffron and yeast. timprov is up before dawn and we have both had our lussekatter. And they are tasty and good and right. And because I love markgritter, I will not wake him up singing the Santa Lucia song, even though they are really best when they're the only token of the sun returning in a dark pre-dawn morning. I did them, they are done. The sun can return. The year can turn.

Happy Santa Lucia Day.
Tags: he almost told her, holiday cheer and thumping

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