So since this yule calendar is kind of like an anti-yule calendar I thought I might share an anti-recipe with you… because this yule calendar is about reclaiming stuff and creating a new story, a reason why to celebrate christmas, I need a reason, a real reason, this anti- recipe is kind of reasonable.
Here´s the story:
I come from Denmark. I live in the wild woods of Värmland, Sweden. Close to the Norwegian border.
This is Denmark: A land of milk and honey, butter, cream, cheese, pigs, bacon, cattle, wheat, rye, clover and fertile soil.
We call Denmark the hall of Freya, the goddess of fertility. We sing so every time there´s a football game going on, this is our national anthem “And this is the hall of Freya/this is the hall of Freya”. Wraaah! GOAL!
This is Sweden: a land of endless forest, forest lakes, rocks and wildlife.
This is Norway: fjords, mountains, skies.
There was a time when people would flee Denmark like Denmark was toxic. They would escape to America and try to build themselves a new life, a different life, they had hopes. They did so because the richness of my country was poorly distributed. A few people ate all of the butter and all of the cream, all of the bacon and all of the bread while people would die in the gutter, just read a Hans Christian Andersen story, it’s all there. The peasants die for their kings, the kings die from greed.
It was even worse for the Swedes. Half the country emigrated. HALF the country!
Let’s pretend they found a better life in America. Let´s pretend I have a rich uncle.
So why did I run away from my country? Why did I flee the hall of Freya, who would do that?
I did so because they plowed all of the land and killed all of the wildlife (except ONE wolf), they “corrected” every stream, all the streams runs in lines now. The took down the trees, drained the bogs, flattened the burial mounds of our ancestors, they fenced in everything “You are not allowed to walk here”. Pig farms. Pig transports on the highway. It stinks like shit out in the country… but nobody ever goes there anymore, everyone live in the city, the politicians just made another law: better the conditions for the factory farms, growth, growth, growth and I cry because of that, I do. This forest lady can’t breathe in a country where they took down all of the trees and you know what else happened? All of the ash trees got a disease so all of the ash trees are dying. In the country where the holy tree of life is an ash called Yggdrasil.
In the old days the farmers would leave 10% of the harvest for the “vætter”, the land spirits, the birds, the stones, the universe as such. Off course they don´t anymore so there is a question about land spirits that needs to be asked. Also there is the matter of the trolls. Even the trolls have fled the country. Everybody knows that. We are all taught so in kindergarten “Yeah, yeah, all of the trolls are gone” they say and then we sing songs about how the trolls live in Norway now.
There is dishonour and there is shame.
There is love for the Motherland.
I miss her. I miss the beeches and the birch, I miss the language and the air. It’s misty.
Yes. I fled the country like so many have done before me but as so many before me I haven’t forgotten her, not at all. Maybe I even consider this blog as a political act, an act of resistance, an act of fighting for her.
Maybe I do.
It was the hall of Freya, so fertile, you could throw a seed anywhere and something golden would sprout. Rich, dark soil. It was rich, dark soil until they sprayed it, not with fairy dust but with poison, and animals are screaming, echoes over the fields, nobody wants to listen.
(but you can’t kill the resistance, we hide in the woods, like Robin Hood, beware)
So now you know why the following recipe is important for me. This is national treasure. These cakes go way back and you can buy them in every market in Istanbul and the small shops of Tokyo. It’s the “Danish Buttercookies” I talk of, off course. This is the taste of my country. This is the smell. This is the feel.
We used to have a lot of butter and cream and bacon and meat, wheat, rye and all kinds of food. We used to have that in my country – in my country there is no need for anyone to go to bed hungry, no hungry children, no beggars, this is the land of plenty… it’s just badly distributed.
So badly distributed.
This is how I think when I make Danish Buttercookies. There are stages of anger, grief, sorrow, acceptance and so forth, a new life afterwards.
THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED
Around (you have to FEEL the consistency of the dough)
250 grams of butter
200 grams of sugar
1 vanilla pod (and maybe some extra vanilla)
100 grams of almond flower (I just use crushed almonds)
300 grams of wheat flour
THIS IS WHAT YOU DO
Cut up the butter, cover it with sugar, touch it with your hands, knead. Until the butter and the sugar is integrated.
Crush the almonds. NOW IF you want to you can just buy almond flour but I never have that in my pantry. You adjust how course you want the butter cookies by how thoroughly you crush the almonds (you need to crush them real good if you want to follow this recipe)
As for all things alive you have to check for consistency. Mindlessly following the recipe is not a guarantee, your eggs might be bigger or smaller than mine, you flour might be of another quality, there are all sorts of weird factors to take into consideration so here is my advice
1. Bake a lot of cookies. You´ll learn how to tell when the dough is perfectly saturated
2. Accept that you will fail
3. Always do a tester. One cookie in the oven. If it looks like this
– you need to add more flour (can you see the angry face in the cookie? Cookies get really mad if you don´t give them enough flour)
Now put your dough into this thing (I don´t know what it´s called in english)
This being christmas and all let’s make them round and lets call them vanilla wreaths.
Bake in your oven at around 175 degrees until they look burnt on the edges.
See? A pretty finger ring!
I like to bake these cookies because they kind of embrace everything we try to do here. We try to take back that which belongs to us. Time. Life. Love Even the small things such as butter which is really a big thing: food.
This is my reason to bake butter cookies: they remind me of my homeland and they remind me of wealth, there is plenty, there should be plenty for everyone. Especially for the kids.