Thursday, December 20, 2007

Friday Five: It's Almost Christmas!

This week RevHRod at RevGalBlogPals says:

I have debated with myself for weeks about today's Friday Five.
  • Self 1: It should be deep and theological.
  • Self 2: But it's almost Christmas, it should be fun and warm and sweet.
  • Self 1: But your last Friday Five was sort of silly. You should show your more serious side.
  • Self 2: You worry WAY too much!
So after consulting with my fourteen year old daughter, we're going playful, pals o' mine! I love stories, so I hope you'll tell some about your favorite Christmas memories.

  1. What was one of your favorite childhood gifts that you gave: I've been thinking about this lately, and I can't come up with a "favorite." But there is a gift I remember just because it's not something that any of my children would ever have given to a parent, and shows how times have changed. In fifth grade, I think it was, we had a visiting art teacher once a week, and she was teaching us a little bit about pottery. We got to make Christmas gifts for our parents. I made for mine an ashtray. It was quite misshapen and to make it even lovelier, I glazed it in bubble-gum pink. An Ashtray! It was a useful gift for my smoking parents. By the time our children got to elementary school, they would scold OHP during any of his relapses into smoking (he finally quit for the third and last time about 20 years ago) and they would never, never have given him an ashtray.
  2. What is one of your favorite Christmas recipes? Bonus points if you share the recipe with us. I like the ris a l'amande that we have for dessert on Christmas Eve. There is a nut hidden in it and whoever finds it gets an extra present. Sorry the recipe is so long, but you did ask, and here are two ways to do it: Ris A L’Amande – Two Methods, traditional and easy

    The traditional Risengrød (Christmas Rice Porridge) was served before the remainder of the Christmas Eve meal, to fill people up before the expensive food was served! As an added incentive to eat a lot of it, an almond was hidden in the porridge, with a prize for the person who found it. (When you find the almond in your portion, you must keep it hidden in your mouth as long as possible and then reveal it at the last minute!)
    With increasing affluence, Ris A L’Amande has become the common dessert for Christmas in Denmark. But the proper way to make it involves making Risengrød first.

    Risengrød – Christmas Rice Porridge, from Grethe Petersen, Danish-American Fellowship Cookbook, Minneapolis 1997

    1 cup medium-grain rice (NO long grain!)
    ½ tsp. Salt
    3-4 cups milk
    ½ cup heavy cream

    Butter a heavy kettle (1/2 gallon size). Bring milk to a boil, stirring often (and watching carefully!) Add rice and cover. Cook at low heat for 40 minutes. Stir often. If it is getting too stiff, add more milk. Add cream and salt. (To serve immediately: serve hot with a lump of butter in the middle and cinnamon sugar to season.)

    Ris A L’Amande (from same source)

    1 cup Christmas rice porridge (Risengrød as above)
    1 cup whipping cream, stiffly whipped with the vanilla and sugar
    ¼ cup chopped blanched almonds (optional; or use 1 tsp. Almond extract)
    ½ tsp. Sugar
    1 tsp. Vanilla extract
    One whole almond, blanched (if you can’t find whole blanched almonds, soak a whole almond in boiling water for a few minutes until the skin slips off easily)

    Mix gently (with a wooden spoon) the cold porridge with the whipped cream. There should be no lumps. Put the almond in and stir around so it is well hidden. Serve with a raspberry or cherry sauce. Heat canned or frozen cherries or raspberries to boiling point – thicken with a little cornstarch mixed with water. Add sugar to taste and cool. Don’t forget to have a prize ready for the one who finds the almond! (A Christmas ornament, for example, or sometimes a marzipan pig!)

    MUCH SIMPLER METHOD from Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook

    Rice Pudding with Raspberry Sauce

    2/3 cup sugar 2 cups milk
    ½ cup water 1 ½ cups cooked rice
    2 envelopes unflavored gelatin 1 teaspoon vanilla
    ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon almond extract
    1 cup whipping cream Raspberry Sauce (see below)

    Heat sugar, water, gelatin and salt in a 2-quart saucepan, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in milk, rice, vanilla, and almond extract. Place saucepan in a bowl of ice cubes, stirring occasionally, until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon. (Cookbook says this will take 10 minutes, in my experience it takes a while longer, but don’t be discouraged, it will happen.)

    Beat whipping cream in chilled bowl until stiff. Fold whipped cream into rice mixture. Pour into a pretty clear glass serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. (You can also use an ungreased 6-cup mold, and unmold by dipping the mold briefly in warm water, loosen edge with spatula, invert on serving plate. I’ve never done this.) Serve with Raspberry Sauce. 8 Servings.

    Raspberry Sauce

    1 package (10 oz.) frozen raspberries, thawed
    1 tablespoon cold water
    2 teaspoons cornstarch

    Heat raspberries (with their syrup) to boiling. Mix water and cornstarch, stir into raspberries. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute. Cool. Press through a sieve to remove seeds, if desired. The word "risengrod" should have the o with a slash through it, but my method of making foreign letters does something weird to Blogger.

  3. What is a tradition that your family can't do without? (And by family, I mean family of origin, family of adulthood, or that bunch of cool people that just feel like family.) I would say it has to be dancing around the Christmas tree. (Although one year some of us were sick and we danced around the poinsettia plant instead.) This is a Danish custom that I acquired when I married OHP, and we have now introduced it to my family here in Maine. It's not so much dancing as walking and then skipping. You can go here to see and hear a video of our last year's dance.
  4. Pastors and other church folk often have very strange traditions dictated by the "work" of the holidays. What happens at your place? I am pretty much a spectator now, and we have had to change our Christmas Eve schedule to fit the new church's service hour. In City of Lakes, for many years I read a children's story during the service, so that was my tradition; and OHP and the girls usually were singing; so we would all arrive breathless at church at 4:30 for the 5:30 service, while SonShineIn (who always disapproved of C&E churchgoers so refuses to be one) stayed behind to build the fire and monitor the potatoes.
  5. If you could just ditch all the traditions and do something unexpected... what would it be? Within a couple of years we may find ourselves travelling to Cordeliaknits' place of work and worship, God willing that she gets a call (with a parsonage with room for us, please!) But we'd probably be recreating the same traditions there. Should a time come when it seemed like a good idea to do something really different, I am such a traditionalist that I'd vote for having Christmas in Denmark, England or Germany.


Crimson Rambler said...

oh yes the ashtrays. And we made OURS, at least one year, out of POWDERED ASBESTOS. I'm not kidding. Mixed with water, it was felt to be a highly suitable artistic medium for the young.... can you imagine?

RevHRod said...

Thanks for reminding me of my American/Danish friend who also dances around her tree. It's a lovely idea. Is your tree in the middle of the room, then? Hmmm...

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Joan Calvin said...

I'm sure I made ashtrays as a child. But my adult son began smoking (much to my dismay--he's stopped now for three years) I gave him an ashtray I found somewhere that was black and in the shape of a pair of lungs. I'm a very subtle (OK, not so subtle) nagger.

Counselor in Process said...

Of course ashtrays. Everyone smoked, so and indespensible homemade gift

Auntie Knickers said...

Revhrod, it's even more interesting than that. The tree is in some normal sort of place (in current house, in front of picture window) until after dinner on Christmas Eve. Then all the presents are moved and the tree must be moved into the center of the room; sometimes duct tape is involved to keep dancers from tripping over the light cords. I always thought if I built a house I would have a room where I could set the tree up in the middle and have electric sockets in the ceiling. But, that's not going to happen.

Sally said...

catching up with F5's at the end of a long day- I love the soundn of that recipe.
Have a blessed Christmas :-)