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Marissa Lingen

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Twice as much, twice as hard [Dec. 13th, 2010|07:59 am]
Marissa Lingen

Every year it's something.

And I know every year it's something. I do know it. This year I started the lussekatter Saturday morning, with the snow pouring down like rain outside. This year's was a double batch, because once I counted up the people who could use some light in their darkness and the people I would see soon who would just plain like lussekatter, it seemed like a double batch was the way to go. And some things are no harder to do in a double batch than a single--chili, for example, or brownies.

It turns out that lussekatter are not in this category. Once I mixed the dough up and looked at it, I could see that it would rise and overflow the largest mixing bowl, so I had to divide it out into two largest mixing bowls. This was not easy. Lussekatter are made with egg and milk, which are friendly stuff in bread, and the knead happens after the rise. I had just finished making this dough go together, and it didn't want to be apart again after all that. Also the saffron from Penzey's wouldn't grind in the mortar and pestle for sour owl crap, not with or without a sugar buffer, and there's enough saffron that I had to grind in two batches anyway, and grind, and grind, and I began to feel I was back in my materials science summer research project again, only that was ceramics, not saffron, and really, one should be able to feel the difference and not just smell it. (Thanks, Penzey's.) And then it had to be kneaded in two batches, because either one was large enough to threaten to eat me, so just when I had gotten to the point where the one batch would behave itself and cohere and act like dough, I had to turn to the next bowl over.

Twice as much really isn't just as easy. It is, in fact, twice as hard. And since I have the kind of personality that hurtles itself forward going, "Come on, it'll be just as easy!", I've had to learn a lot of these over the last few years with the stupid vertigo. A lot of the things I labeled "just as easy" were, in fact, significantly harder.

But several of them were worth doing anyway. And this year, as the snow filled the yard and the driveway and the Metrodome, it was worth putting in the energy doing twice as much. Some of them will stay near and some will go far, but there are so very many people who need little tokens of light and love. And me, I need to sometimes do a bit too much to be the one to make them. I need to put in the time and the work and the pummeling and the singing. I need to sometimes say, yes, I know the limits of my energy and my strength, and this will be twice as hard, and I am doing it anyway. Because this is a thing worth doing.

Not every time. But some of the time.

Happy Santa Lucia Day.

Santa Lucia Day 2009 2008 2007 Part 1 2007 Part 2 2006

[User Picture]From: kizmet_42
2010-12-13 02:21 pm (UTC)
May you have a joyous St. Lucy's day!

(And thanks for the reminder that I need to start my dough!)
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2010-12-13 02:43 pm (UTC)
Happy Saint Lucia Day!

I'm glad to see the tradition carried out somewhere. (My grandmother is too old, and my nieces, who all participated, are too "grown up" now, to celebrate it with her.)
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2010-12-13 03:02 pm (UTC)
Happy Santa Lucia Day. Even though I have faith that you will persevere and that the dough will eventually behave every year, I am glad every year when it does.
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[User Picture]From: apis_mellifera
2010-12-13 03:18 pm (UTC)
Happy Santa Lucia Day! Thank you for bringing a little light into my life throughout the year, but especially at this time.
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[User Picture]From: careswen
2010-12-13 04:43 pm (UTC)

Happy Santa Lucia Day!

Wishing a blessed day of light for you and yours as well!
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From: athenais
2010-12-13 05:12 pm (UTC)
Happy Santa Lucia Day. Thank you for making extra light.
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[User Picture]From: ckd
2010-12-13 07:05 pm (UTC)
And a very happy Santa Lucia Day to you, as well.
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[User Picture]From: rushthatspeaks
2010-12-13 07:14 pm (UTC)
Happy Santa Lucia!

I have a technical lussekatter question, as I have twice had failure due to saffron issues. Which is to say that no matter how long I pound the bloody saffron, it still stays as faintly red powder mixed into the dough instead of causing the dough to go yellow. And then it tastes like, you know, not saffron. Is there something I am doing wrong? I have heard suggestions that I ought to let the saffron bloom in warm water for a few minutes, as one does with yeast, but I can't see how this would work with pounding/grinding it. Do you have any suggestions, or should I be using a different kind of saffron if such a thing exists, or is it just cursed?
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-12-14 02:59 pm (UTC)
Okay, are you getting saffron that starts out threads and then grinding it to powder? Because I'm not familiar with saffron that starts out powder at all. Also, if it doesn't smell strongly of saffron and stain everything yellow, it is unfamiliar to me also. I have never bloomed saffron in water; I've never had to. And I'm not sure how that would go with the lussekatter, because there isn't water in them. Maybe blooming the saffron in the milk if you've got that suggestion for that kind of saffron? Where are you getting your saffron, and what descriptors has it got on the package?
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[User Picture]From: zelda888
2010-12-15 07:40 pm (UTC)
I *have* sometimes ended up with the powdered stuff for making my saffron buns, but even so there shouldn't be any difficulty turning everything in sight yellow. (Crocoxanthins are pretty soluble in fats of any description; as soon as they meet any milk or butter it should be yellow-rama.) The powdered stuff should also smell strongly of saffron, even before you tear open the little packet. Even my "vintage" packet of whole threads (Grandma was clearing out her kitchen and sent them to me; must have been 25 or 20 years old. I took them in to the lab as qualitative samples.) smelled a little of saffron.

I am sorry to say that I think rushthatspeaks has been imposed upon. Switch brands.
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[User Picture]From: rushthatspeaks
2010-12-16 07:35 am (UTC)
My saffron was a present from my parents-in-law, who went on vacation to Turkey and brought it back. It does start out threads. It does smell fairly strongly of saffron, or I would have thrown it out, but has never stained anything yellow. Ever. And yet, I threw it into rice, and I got no color but you can tell the difference in taste between rice that's had saffron and rice without, and this was definitely rice that had had saffron even though I couldn't detect any actual saffron flavor separately, if that makes sense.

And every word on the package is in Turkish.

I've never owned any other saffron, is the thing, so I wasn't sure whether mine has been behaving in a traditional manner or not, and it does sound like not. And Google suggested the thing with blooming it in water, which did not help with ascertaining typicality.

I think I'll try blooming it in milk, and if nothing happens I'll get different saffron.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-12-16 01:50 pm (UTC)
See, when I make saffron rice, there is no question about being able to tell the difference. You can taste the saffron separately, even with all the garlic and paprika and white wine and tomatoes. Truly. I think this saffron is mean-spirited and withholding, is what, and if milk does not help then I think you are absolutely justified to wash your hands of it.
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2010-12-13 08:55 pm (UTC)
This post adds a little light all by itself. Happy Santa Lucia Day!
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[User Picture]From: ladywind
2010-12-13 09:36 pm (UTC)
When I proposed, a couple of days ago, to venture into the making of lussekatter and asked for words of wisdom from my friends, one was kind enough to send me a link to your 2006 St. Lucia Day post. I might've given up too soon without that post, so thank you for writing it!

Question: you say some of this batch will go far... Far as in across town or far as in across several state lines? Do lussekatter travel well? How best to pack them if they do?
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-12-14 03:01 pm (UTC)
I have never sent them through the mail before, so this is a major experiment this year. But yes, state lines. I have frozen them and will ship them still-frozen so they will be at least somewhat fresh upon arrival. I am going to wrap them in plastic and then foil and pack them snugly with other things going to the people in question and hope for the best.
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[User Picture]From: ladywind
2010-12-14 07:57 pm (UTC)
~makes quiet notes~ :) Danke schön!
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[User Picture]From: glinda_w
2010-12-13 09:52 pm (UTC)
Happy Santa Lucia! I've never made lussekatter; this year is *not* the year for me to experiment, as I'm still fighting off the crud that landed right before Thanksgiving.

Another thing for which twice as much isn't just as easy: my Chocolate Decadence. I made five of them (!!) for the Callahanicon in '98. There are no words, beyond "never again" *wry grin*
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