Thursday, December 13, 2012

St. Lucia Blog Procession 2012

Heather at Audrey Eclectic (that's her work above) is hosting a St. Lucia Blog Procession today to celebrate St. Lucia Day, which happens every December 13th. Before we switched to the Gregorian calendar, the feast of St. Lucia coincided with the winter solstice.* The holiday is a celebration of the return of light after months of short days and darkness.

There's a town just north of us that does a Swedish Lucia Fest every year. Paul and I visited in 2010 and there's more about our visit at this previous post. I still haven't managed to make it back to Lindsborg to photograph the awesome taxidermy.

Heather made the traditional St. Lucia buns last year, so I thought I'd provide a couple of other Swedish recipes you can use this holiday season. They're both terribly yummy and can be scaled up for a party.

Swedish Meatballs

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 large russet potato, mashed and cooled
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 lb ground beef
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 sprigs fresh parsley, minced

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a small skillet. When the foam subsides, add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes or until softened and translucent. Turn the heat down, as needed, to keep the onions from browning. Leave to cool for a few minutes.

Combine the onions with the remaining ingredients and knead well with your hands until everything is combined and the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Roll into 1-inch diameter spheres and chill (in a single layer) for at least 1 hour before cooking. Meatballs can also be frozen at this point. Simply defrost before cooking.

Makes enough meatballs for about 6 people

To serve 2:
1 tablespoon clarified butter (also called ghee)
10 meatballs
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
6 ounces egg noodles, cooked

Preheat oven to 200˚ Fahrenheit.

In a large skillet, melt the clarified butter over medium-high heat. When the fat is nice and hot, add the meatballs and sauté, turning frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until browned on the outside and cooked through. Remove the meatballs to a heat-proof dish and place in the preheated oven to keep warm.

To make a pan sauce, whisk the teaspoon of flour into the fat in the skillet, scraping up the bits of meatball that are stuck to the bottom. Cook for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat and whisk in the milk. Return to the heat and bring to a bubble and cook a couple of minutes. Making sure the heat isn't above medium and the sauce won't boil, whisk in the sour cream and whisk for a bit to heat though. Season well with salt and pepper.

Top the noodles with the meatballs and cover everything in the pan sauce. Enjoy!

Adapted from The Cooking of Scandinavia.

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1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup sweet vermouth (also called "red" or "Italian")
1/4 teaspoon bitters
2 tablespoons raisins
one ribbon orange zest
1 cardamom pod, crushed
1 clove
1 cinnamon stick
1/2" fresh ginger, peeled

To serve:
4 teaspoons aquavit
4 teaspoons demerara sugar
2 tablespoons blanched almonds
2 cinnamon sticks
2 orange curls

Up to a couple of days before serving, place all the ingredients from red wine to fresh ginger in a quart-sized mason jar and leave out for at least 12 hours.

When you're ready to serve, pour the contents of the mason jar along with the aquavit and sugar into a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Pull off the heat immediately and strain into a heat-proof container. (I used my Pyrex measuring cup since it has a nice pour spout.) Reserve the raisins but discard the spices, ginger and orange peel.

Divide the raisins between two mugs and add a tablespoon of almonds to each mug. Divide the glögg between them and garnish with a cinnamon stick and a curl of orange peel. Skål!

Serves 2

Adapted from The Cooking of Scandinavia.

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A Nocturnal Upon S. Lucy's Day, Being the Shortest Day
by John Donne

'TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
The world's whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.
Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
For I am every dead thing,
In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.
All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drown'd the whole world, us two; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.
But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
Were I a man, that I were one
I needs must know; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.
But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
At this time to the Goat is run
To fetch new lust, and give it you,
Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night's festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.

(from Wikipedia)

Coming up in 2013:
I want to start a video Q&A segment. I'm not sure of how often I'll make them, but I've been wanting to "dip my toe" into making videos for this blog for a while. If you have any questions you'd like me to answer, please post them either a) in the comments, b) on twitter, or c) via e-mail. My twitter handle is @hairstoncollado and my e-mail is


  1. Ooooh, this looks so, so good! And my Lucia print looks so sweet among all your cooking goodies! I'm thinking tonight is the perfect night for Swedish meatballs!
    Glogg sounds fascinating too...and from the ingredients, looks better than it sounds, haha!
    Thanks for taking part, my friend!~ God Jul!

    1. Our Christmas stuff was still in the basement and I made Paul go down there and "find Heather's Lucia!!!" She's propped up on the organ now for the season.

      I know, aquavit smells revolting (I hate anything anise-flavored) but turned out really tasty in the glögg. Now I have to figure out what to do with the rest of the bottle...

  2. Mmmmm...I need Swedish meatballs and glogg! Yum.

  3. OOooo, the Glogg sounds gooooood! I don't eat meat, but my husband might be very interested in the Swedish meatballs recipe! Pleased to "meet" you via Heather's blog procession!

    1. Lauren-- I think you and Danzel hail from the same town! :D so two Swedish loving ladies in the same place!~!

  4. I'm so excited that you posted your Swedish Meatball recipe. My grandmother used to make them for us when we were little, but my mom somehow never picked up the tradition (or the recipe!)
    This is the first time I've come across John Donne's poem for Lucia Day. I think I'll read it every year on December 13th. Beautiful. God Jul!

  5. Those meatballs are making my mouth water! And I'm trying to give up gluten, but I don't know how you could make them and not enjoy egg noodles alongside. Thanks for these recipes, and it's nice to meet you! God Jul!

  6. Yay! Glögg! Linking straight to this blog and that recipe on day 13 of I am so excited about this Glögg, can't wait! Great blog, great!

  7. Both recipes sound amazing! I like the added potato in the meatballs. And sipping warm glogg sounds like a perfect way to spend a chilly evening! St Lucia buns are so pretty, too - I'll have to try baking them.

    1. I always wondered what made Swedish meatballs different; must be the potato!

  8. Guess what -- I made your recipe!! Today! Actually I already had Ikea meatball and I made your sauce to go with them ~~ lovely!! Thank you!

    next up: the GLOGG. Very happy to find your blog, I'm always happy to meet foodie-minded people :)

  9. GOOD GRAVY!!!! I just realized what the gist of your blog was -- OH MY STARS -- vintage English-ish, old timey recipes, obscure holidays, lots of period films -- I AM IN HEAVEN.

    I feel like I just won the lottery.

  10. Gorgeous recipes! I think we'll try the meatballs, something my toddler will also adore.

    Here's my first Q for your Q&A : can you help me find a mulled/hot "wine" recipe that is tasty, Christmassy, not too acid and also non-alcoholic? (The constraints of pregnancy!) I saw a cranberry one at a party but fear my sickness/heartburn won't cope with something so acid... Any help gratefully received!

    1. It's been a bit of a brain teaser (love that!) but I believe I've found a solution. Stay tuned...

      P.S. Thanks for your question!

    2. Oooh exciting! Yes I realise I was asking for the impossible - I'm all the more intrigued to see what you've come up with! Yay!


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