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Sunday, December 23, 2012

God Jul!

God Jul!  It means Merry Christmas in Swedish, which I am.. 

This year, I managed to get a big tree, a white pine and put it up. I integrated what ornaments I inherited with the ones I had from Denver for 15 years. Dodger helped put it up with his paws.

I continued the tradition of putting boughs on the family piano, and blue silver bell lights my Mom had bought at a Scandinavian Christmas store in Georgetown, Colorado in 1970 when we first moved there to Denver. I baked Swedish cardamon bread, spritz cookies, 95 proof fruitcake, Swedish tea rings, my Swedish grandmother's Swedish meatballs, and my German grandmother's date pinwheel cookies.

While making Swedish coffee bread, I couldn't remember how to braid it, and thought of calling my Mom for help. I realized I couldn't anymore and had forgotten. I did find her braiding it in an old home movie on video, which helped me. Good to see her again.

That made me miss the folks more. I was bummed a few weeks after putting out the outdoor lights, and thinking of how lonely Christmas would be this year again without them.

For the past two Christmases, I could not listen to the CD recordings of the folk's singing and past Christmases recorded I compiled on a CD with favorite carols included on it. But, I played it many times this week, and laughed at the sound of my folks at Christmases past, and the love that came out of hearing them talk and sing again, just as if they were alive still. My mother is heard on a scratchy 78 recording singing a solo "O Come Unto Me" with the very same piano I inherited.  She had a beautiful singing voice. Then there is a tape recording of the whole family at the piano singing "Silent Night" to our grandparents on the phone who couldn't come for Christmas in 1978 because of aging health.

I soon realized, I was fine. Grief is less and less. And, I am not sad this Christmas. I can go on! 

But the nicest thing this year was inheriting the family manger scene.

Mom and Dad bought it in downtown Minneapolis at Dayton’s department store in 1965. It has graced the bottom of all our Christmas trees and moved wherever we lived across the country. It has a music box in it that plays “Silent Night.” My favorite figurines in the manger were always the sheep, donkey, cow and the angel proclaiming “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!”

We’d play for hours with it, trying not to break anything, and re-creating the birth of Jesus, and all the people who came to see him under the star in Bethlehem, which would be a large, hot, C7 bulb on a branch above. Our manger became lost for several years when we moved to Green Bay, tucked in a box somewhere in the the midst of the others the movers had packed. My little brother, Jordan, decided to build a new one based on his memory.

He ended up building three larger sets so my siblings could all each have one like the original in their own homes. I helped him glue the straw to the roofs. One Christmas, while rummaging in the basement, Dad found the original manger scene at last. It then returned to its traditional spot under the tree. This year will be hard moving on without my folks at Christmas again but I am doing better than the last two.

But... I have the wonderful memory of their undying love and all the Christmases past with the manger scene under my own tree this year. —

Merry Christmas to you, and all! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Swedish Spritz Christmas Cookies!

Woke up feeling Swedish today. I am half Swedish, from my full blooded Swedish-American mother, but think and relate Swedish instead of German or Bohemian, which are the other half of me from Dad. Christmas is very important to us Swedes. We celebrate it for 30 days! Dec 13th-Jan 13th, which is my birthday.

I had a Swedish Lodge meeting tonight I had to go to, always fun to meet with the local folks. So, I thought I'd make something Swedish for that and Christmas. With the weight gain of 45 lbs from  caregiving and grief, I am not going to be eating these babies!

The easiest thing to make today was Swedish Spritz cookies. They are a Swedish tradition from the old country.

I bought a pound of butter from Qwik Trip gas station, where it is always $1.99. Picked up eggs too for $. 99.

Got out Mom's Mixmaster, a model I had gotten her a few years ago, it's heavy duty for mixing. Softened the butter for a while in the bowl.

Of course, I was using the best cookbook ever made, the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture edition. This is a reprint I purchased several years ago.

Here is the recipe, still the best, it uses almond extract. I always put in extra.

Next came the assembling the materials, the cooky dough press, the cooky sheets.

Then came the final mixing up. I wanted it pliable to press onto the sheets.

Pressing them out of the cooky press was easy, but sometimes I had a few that ended up in the bowl to get reused again. If the dough gets too warm, you can chill it in the fridge for a while.

After I pressed them out on the sheets, I decorated them with colored sugar, just simple green and a pinch of red.

Then, into the oven they went at 400 degrees on an ungreased cooky sheet until golden brown.

Out they came and on to the cooling racks.

And, they looked so good when cooled before being packed up.
I made a double batch.

Butter cookies are easy to make and you have to be careful not to overmix the dough, or it will be hard when it bakes. You want them light as a feather.

NO CALORIES at all in these!

Did you know that gold angel chime thingy is Swedish too?  True!

At the Swedish Lodge, these were eaten with strong coffee, and that is why I am writing this post, I AM WIRED ON SWEDISH COFFEE and some of these cookies.

Advent has started, and I have my advent wreath on my table for devotions too at night before bed. Many Swedes have the electric inverted V shape ones in their windows.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed seeing how Spritz are made.

God Jul!