Wednesday, December 29, 2010

savor your history.

Preparing recipes that have been in your family for a long time will bring you in touch with your ethnic roots in a very tangible way. Christmas a great time to ask your mother or your grandmother what they remember eating that formed food traditions in your family. It doesn't take long for a holiday food ritual to take hold so that "it wouldn't be Christmas without..."

Mother Rabbit is a purebred 100% Swede, and she is proud of it. Both parents are Swedish, all the grandparents are Swedish. You get the picture. It was actually a Bucket List item to make Ostakaka all by myself, and in December 2010 I did it. My Grandma Eunice Wallerstedt made it every Christmas and it was one of my favorite taste treats. For those non-Swedes out there who are wondering what it is, I would describe it as a yummy custard dessert that has an amazing and unique texture. It is made by curding raw milk with a rennet tablet and separating the whey (very similar to making cheese) then adding eggs and sugar before baking it. It is tradition to top it with ligonberries. I was always scared to make it because the process seemed foreign, but it was remarkably easy! My first Ostakaka was good, but I already think I know how I can make it even better. Similar to making bread or pie crust and needing to get the feel for the dough, I need to get a feel for the curds and whey. (I sound like Little Miss Muppet instead of Mother Rabbit.) Anyway, I was very proud of myself for making it, and felt like I honored my grandmothers by carrying on the tradition.

I am also proud to say that I baked Lutefisk and served it in a pepper cream sauce for Christmas Eve dinner. (Lutefisk is a fish that has been dried and reconstituted, and has gotten a very bad rap for its fishy taste and smell - which was not as bad as all the talk.) My grandmother would not have thought of having a Christmas dinner without lutefisk, maybe not because everybody loved it but because it was the Swedish thing to do.

Jag är glad att jag gjorde det.

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