Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Mush



     Before we had children, we managed to fit both of our families into our Christmas routine: Christmas eve with his folks, Christmas morning with mine. The first Christmas we had Ivory, I refused to drive anywhere, and everyone came to us. The second Christmas we lived thousands of miles away from any family and for the very fist time we were on our own Christmas morning. We are about to celebrate our third Christmas away from our families and there are a few traditions that we have brought with us and some that we are cultivating on our own.
     Adam plays a Christmas eve morning game of phone tag with parents, siblings, aunts and cousins that I simply roll my eyes at, and I bake a giant wreath of cardamon bread that was a staple during my childhood holidays.


Every Christmas since Ivory was born, we have woken to the smell of cinnamon and apples and then have opened presents with steaming cup of coffee and a bowls of Christmas mush at our side.


The night before Christmas, usually around midnight, I pull out my Super Baby Food book, leaf through the pages until I find the Whole Grain Crockpot Breakfast Recipe.

Christmas Mush

1 cup barley
1 cup brown rice
½ cup raisins
2 peeled and chopped apples
6 cups water
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 jar of peaches

Put all ingredients except for the peaches in the crock pot. Cook them overnight on the low setting.
In the morning add a jar of peaches to the pot or spoon them over the individual bowls and top with cream (whipping is optional). I usually don't add sugar to mine, but Adam (who is a sugar addict) spoons on brown sugar and/or maple syrup.


As time passes, we are adding a few more traditions: handmade wrapping paper, 


Wrapping Paper 2010
Wrapping Paper 2011
our annual expedition into the forest to find and cut the perfect tree, 

and new this year – my grandmothers's Swedish Fruit Soup. 
    I have taken the liberty of including the recipe here as well, along with her notes. (Thank you Grandma, for sending it to me).

Fruit Soup, Mixed

BLANDAD FRUKTSOPPA
The Best of Swedish Cooking & Baking,  1966, Marianne Gronwall van der Tuuk
Many Americans like this typical Swedish Fruit Soup, which in Sweden is served chilled, for dessert.  In America I have been served the same soup as salad with roasted pork which was also a nice combination.
Makes 4-5 servings.
                                                                                      XX                              XXX
2/3 cup dried apricots                                       1 1/3                            2
2/3 cup dried prunes                                         1 1/3                            2
6 cups water*
1 stick cinnamon                                               2                                  3
2 lemon slices                                                   4                                  6
2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca                4                                  6
1/4 cup sugar                                                    1/2                               3/4
2 tablespoons raisins                                         4                                  6
1 apple, peeled and sliced                                 2                                  3
Wash dried fruits and soak in cold water half an hour.
Add cinnamon stick, lemon slices, tapioca and sugar; simmer covered until almost tender (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Stir in raisins and apple slices and cook a few minutes longer.
Taste soup, if you wish a stronger flavor add more sugar or lemon juice, or add 2 tablespoons of fruit syrup or grape juice.
*I have always doubled, mainly tripled, the recipe. 
When I double, I add 4 cups of water to the dried fruit.  After the fruit cooks, I usually add about 1 cup of cold water.  After the addition of the raisins and apple slices, I cook perhaps 10 minutes and then add about 1 cup of cold water.  I continue to cook the soup, with lid on but stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 to 20 minutes longer.  Length of time probably depends on the firmness of the apples and one’s personal preference.  I cool the soup in the pot, no lid.  Stir it from time to time.
When tripling, extrapolate from above.
Use heavy-bottom pot.  I use stainless steel Dutch oven with heavy bottom. 


As the Christmases go by, I hope that our family traditions will reflect who we are and where we came from and even if our families are not close by they can be found in the smells and tastes that fill our home during the holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

P.S.  I would love to hear some of your holiday traditions, old and new!

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