This always seems to be the time of year that we whip out our family traditions. It rings especially true of us Americans. We all have such different ethnic backgrounds that our traditions can range from African and English to Italian and Swedish. We sure are a crazy bunch over here. Being one of these insanely complicated Americans, my extended family has quite a few customs that we like to carry on and most of them involve food. Why not, right?! We have talked about my sweet love and fondness for lefse, a Norwegian potato-based tortilla, but it is worth mentioning again if not simply for it being an absolute family favorite. I am fairly certain that the Norwegian woman, from whom I stole the recipe, is not even blood related to myself. I think she was my great-aunt’s mother-in-law. See? We Americans are impossibly confusing. In any case, lefse is a family favorite and everyone looks forward to its appearance every holiday.
Norwegian kransekake; photo via Flickr
Now that Trevor and I have started our own family, our inner circle if you will, we are starting our own traditions. We are pulling from our ancestor’s cultures and searching for delights to inspire our holiday season. The main reason being that we want Cami to know where we come from. As a seventh-generation Californian (on one side anyway), it may be a little strange that I am reaching out into seemingly foreign cultures to find some sort of connection. But getting “back to our roots” is not only a matter of more self-reliant living or learning lost skills, it is also finding the roots of our heritage. I was not born in these places and neither were my parents or grand-parents, but roots run deep and so must we reach to find them.
I just found out that my grandmother reads this blog –which I find hilarious– and I think she would agree with this statement; anyone who knows me personally would say that I am just about as far from a “traditional” person as one could be. Myself and Trevor prefer to celebrate the changing of seasons, the beginning of winter, and the longest night of the year rather than a religious Christian or Catholic Christmas. We perpetuate the spirit of Santa Claus, make homemade gifts and treats for family and neighbors, and even open our presents from “Santa” a wee bit early on the first day of winter, Yule. That is our personal preference of course. We rather respect and honor Christmas for what it is and we choose to celebrate something entirely different. I usually don’t discuss religion or politics here, but since this season for holiday merriment is so personal to us all, I felt I should clarify just a bit. That said, we also love to spend Christmas with my extended family and share a warm meal. No worries Grammy, we will still be at your doorstep come Christmas Eve.
But this means that Trevor and I are going all out to create new experiences in our home. We have our German nutcrackers and German gingerbread, our Swedish Yule goat made of straw, and a new German weihnachtspyramide (yes, I had to look up the spelling) of which I remember my parents having on the table at Christmas-time as a child.
Dutch stroopwafels; photo via Wikipedia
This year we are adding some Scottish, Dutch, and Norwegian foods to our plates. We are going to try “kilted sausages” (bacon wrapped sausages) from Scotland and “kransekake” (towering marzipan rings) from Norway for the first time along with my all-time favorite, “stroopwafel” (caramel syrup filled wafel-esque cookies) from the Netherlands. The sausages are a no-brainer and the kransekake can be made without the special baking rings, but the stroopwafel requires a special “stroopwafel iron”… go figure. Think: miniature, thin waffle iron. Thankfully, Trevor has tried these round pieces of heaven before, so it didn’t take much convincing to get him to order me a stroopwafel iron for a gift. Thank you Internet shopping sites with 2-day delivery! If you are around town in the near future, hit me up for a stroopwafel… they are the best thing since sliced bread.
What special holiday or Christmas traditions do you have? Any delicious foods you couldn’t live without?