Nothing says “Christmas” like a nut-covered cheese ball, right? RIGHT??
Well, maybe not for you, but my grandmother always scored one from somewhere and we had it with Ritz crackers and egg nog on Christmas Eve as a pre-dinner lactose tolerance test. Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant and seeking comfort food like a missile seeks a…well, some sort of sweet or savory target. If missiles do that, which they probably don’t. But it would be excellent if they did. Small missiles. Programmed to find macaroni and cheese. And Mallomars. Someone should get on that. I’m talking to you, Pentagon/Steve Jobs/Better Homes & Gardens.
Maybe it’s because it’s been a pretty daunting autumn and I’m determined to make Christmas feel like home. And by “home” I mean the parts of the holiday chaos that I enjoyed, not the yelling and the tube socks.
Has everyone had a difficult time these last few months? Divorce, career disruption, family issues, financial problems, unwelcome moves, relationship drama, you name it, someone in my inner circle is dealing with it. And, of course, I’m pregnant for the first time, which is not at all a bad thing but has become something of a private thing in the surrounding storm. So I’m turning to cheese balls for steadiness (they can get quite sturdy if you freeze them) and planning a low-key, carb-heavy, small Swedish Christmas in our little apartment away from the economic and metaphorical recession.
A key feature of that plan is items that involve risen dough, namely my grandmother’s sticky buns (sweet rolls with an extra coating of sugary goodness) and homemade bread. For those of you unfamiliar with my background in the kitchen, this is not a solid plan. Dough and I have a history, a history in which I have consistently been on the losing side, as have the walls of the kitchen. Dough and I, we’re like Afghanistan and anyone who’s invaded Afghanistan. It seems like I might be the destined-for-victory, well-intentioned exception when I come by with my troops of well-organized ingredients and clean counters and what not, but as soon as I get a toehold of control, the stuck-together insurgency creeps off into the tricky hills, taking any hope of smooth success with them. I’m left holding a bag of flour and staring at a pile of mess in some country where I don’t understand the rules or the language.
But Christmas isn’t just for winners, people! If the sticky buns come out like little nuggets of holiday cement covered in burned sugar, well, we’ll goddam well eat ’em anyway, because it’s Christmas and you weren’t raised in a barn, so show a little class and finish what’s in front of you.
Now that’s the Swedish Christmas spirit I remember!
Really though, I hope you’re taking a moment out of the chaos to score a tree, have some cocoa and listen to a little soothing Christmas music. Even with the chill and the drama, if you pause for a moment, Christmas is a lovely time of year, don’t you think?