2009-12-12 05:12 am (UTC)
Tonight was my own celebration of winter and the coming return of the light, as I was at Christmas Revels. Song and dancing and light and joy, so that even when leaving Sanders Theatre into the deep and dark December there was cheer, and the MBTA cooperated by having trains arrive right as we reached the station, in both directions so nobody had to wait....
The concept of rebirth is very central to me this year; part of that wound up being my first time at Revels, and in fact my first time in the lovely acoustical environment of Sanders. (Great seats, too.)
Happy Santa Lucia Day to you, and once again thank you for your annual lussekatter post.
You just made me so very homesick for Harvard.
Not for Boston, so much; I need sunlight too badly to miss Boston winters. But Harvard, yes.
2009-12-12 03:22 pm (UTC)
Are you planning to make it to Vericon again this year?
(Apologies for the icon, but it's the closest I have to a "Cambridge" userpic at the moment.)
I'll forgive you the icon -- THIS TIME. :-)
(At least it isn't a Yale icon.)
Sadly, no Vericon for me; the shift in schedule put it on the same weekend as ICFA and I, after much agonizing, chose the latter.
This annual post is something I look forward to as part of the holiday season every year. I lit my candles yesterday, improvised as they were, and I am very glad that your lussekatter is behaving, and that your Gramma is doing as well as can be expected.
We'll do what's necessary.
Edited at 2009-12-12 05:50 am (UTC)
I caught myself nodding seriously while reading your post.
My street-name-day again and I've spent a total of like three hours at it. Happy Santa Lucia Day! :)
The proper day isn't until Sunday, so maybe you'll get more time there then.
Warm glow over here that you have lussekatter. Happy Santa Lucia Day, indeed.
*sitting here quietly overflowing with love because the world has you in it*
Say, I need a new idiom. I used to say, "I tripped and fell and lo and behold there was this thing for you." Now the falling is too literal for it to work well idiomatically. Still. There's this thing for you. Because at some point you might need this thing.
Happy return of the light!
I find you awesome. I'm very happy you have lussekatter.
Today, I am going to dress. I am! I will not come up with any more excuses. This post helped.
When you wrote that, I was not sure dressing was the right option for today. But I am now convinced, and as a sign of my conviction, wearing my best black snowflakey I R REEL MINNSOTAN THIS R REEL SWETTER sweater.
Here, here, and so glad there will be lussekatter, and your lussekatter at that.
That's one I'm still working on, that if I need something (rather than simply wanting it a lot) I will tell everyone relevant, as well as doing what I can about it myself.
Thank you for helping the sun come back. We need it in Maine, too . . .
I really need to try making lussekatter one of these years. And I'm glad your grandmother is doing better; my sister had the exact same thing happen to her, and I can only imagine the extra anxiety involved when such a thing happens when one is of venerable age and not a bouncing twenty-ish person.
We are used to thinking of her as bouncing, too. Nothing like having her 97-year-old sister around to make 77-year-old Grandma look less venerable--and yet realistically we do have to admit that she is not as young as she once was.
I will make my lussekatter tomorrow, I think.
Thanks for the lovely post.
I went back and read the whole series, and I... I think I've come to the right place.
Whether I am Baking for Christmas in any given year, or Not Baking, the one constant is that I always make saffron buns for my grandmother. It's a tradition from the Cornish part of my family, and the recipe I use is my version of my mother's version of what my Great Aunt Gert used to do. I don't need it the way you do the lussekatter, but I have a suspicion that Grandma might.
But I deeply love your symbolism, and I generally find myself with a deal of saffron around the house this time of year. May I ask you a few technical questions, that I may try a practice run, and perhaps join you next year? Namely: Do you use the "active dry" yeast from the little packets, or is there something else I should be looking for? Do you bloom the yeast first, or just throw it in to munch on warm milk and sugar? How do you grind the saffron (I generally get the things that are still recognizably crocus parts)? And what songs do you sing to your dough?
I am glad when people feel they've come to the right place.
I use "active dry" yeast, but not from the little packets, because I use too much yeast for that to be economical. Instead I buy a little jar of the active dry. Not instant, just active dry. It goes in my rosemary buns and my rye buns and my lussekatter and whatever other bread I mess with.
And no, I do not proof the yeast (I'd be interested to see in what regions people "bloom" and in what regions they "proof"--dialect differences are awesome), I just throw it in there.
The saffron goes in my mortar and pestle with a tablespoon of sugar. Some brands of saffron grind beautifully, falling to bits with the first crunch, and some do not at all. I'm not sure why. But if there are threads here and there in the buns, it won't matter.
Songs vary according to mood that year. The ones I pretty much always sing are Mountain Goats' "This Year," Bruce Cockburn's "Lovers in a Dangerous Time," and "In the Bleak Midwinter" because it's the most cheerful Christmas carol I know ("snow is falling, snow on snow, snooooow ooooonnn snooooowwww!"). Other than that, I have been known to sing "Joy to the World" and "NyQuil Driver" and "Now the Green Blade Rises"/"Noel Nouvelet" and "Solar Flare" and various other things. There is a stage where I need a really hard 4/4 rock rhythm to make the punching go right, and it has to be a 4/4 rock rhythm that doesn't require guitar or bass or drums or anything but can work for only one voice and punching. Other than that it can be anything, particularly in the less-punchy bits of the kneading. "Snow is Gone" would work, but I'm a little superstitious about singing that one if we haven't had much snow up until the time I make the lussekatter.
Whereas I resent being forced to buy *three whole* packets of yeast, when I will only ever use one! I make Dilly Bread rarely enough that the previous yeasties are always past use when I come to it again. (And trying to make sense of my dialect is an iffy proposition. My parents are both from Ohio, but I'm an Air Force brat who grew up all over the US. I'm firmly on the East Coast side of the soda/pop divide, but otherwise I'm rather a mish-mash.)
Mortar and pestle, check. Having spent way too many hours of my life grinding dried marigold petals (for professional reasons, not culinary), I'm inclined to blame too much moisture for the ones that don't grind right. We did the drying ourselves, and even when they were all done the same way, there were some individual plants whose petals just had more "substance," and wouldn't give up the last traces of water to become brittle. Then when you have different brands and suppliers in the mix, you add the possibility of different thoroughness in drying, and different aridity of storage conditions on their way to you.
a really hard 4/4 rock rhythm to make the punching go right
Hmm. My repertory right now really doesn't include anything that answers this description. We'll see what I can do about that.
Well, the hard-punching 4/4 thing is sort of like lullabyes: you can make nearly anything into a lullabye if you sing it right. My brother-in-law does a version of "All Praise to Thee My God This Night" that can get a good wham! in on each word, if you're vehement enough about it.
I'm glad there were lussekatter. Perhaps it is a little thing, but it is an important little thing, and it's not only important that the important little things happen, but it's important that they stay important.
To my mind, one proves yeast. One blooms gelatin. The gelatin is being given a chance to find its feet and thicken up a little; whereas, the way I store yeast, it literally is proving itself - I keep yeast so long that I'm never sure whether it's alive, hence I always feed it first and see if it wakes up.