December is a weird month. It’s weird because it feels like the shortest month of the year, shorter than any leap year I’ve ever experienced , but at the same time more happens in December than at any other other time. Here in the Netherlands December begins with the Sinterklaas celebration which occur at the beginning of the month. This celebration involves presents exchange, special foods, time for and with family, harmony and warmth. The weeks building up to Christmas also involve a certain special approach, yes we go to work, make dinner and take out our dogs, but in the mean time we feel the excitement and pressure of the impending “big day”. Whether we are religious or not the feeling of advent has a huge effect on our psychic and physical life. Christmas decorations, Christmas music, candles, Christmas celebrations at work and at schools, a natural feeling or desire to look inwards, to light candles, to show compassion and love for humanity, to be home curled up with a fine book and a warm drink, while at the same time feeling the pressure to hunt for the right Christmas presents, fantasize about making the perfect Christmas dinner and planning for the perfect Christmas evening with the right dynamic of loving friends and family. At the same time December is a time for wrapping things up at work and at school, students have tests, have to turn in papers and teachers have to grade them. Musicians and dancers play and dance more than at other times of the year. All in all money and stress seem to have taken central role in this special time of the year.
I also have contributed to the December frenzy. I also hurried to celebrate Sinterklaas with my younger kids. Ran around trying to find the right number of presents so that one wouldn’t have more than the other. I too stayed up late grading tests in the company of a lit candle, trying to get a feel for advent while my eyes closed craving sleep. I did my early morning December march along with hundred of other Amsterdam commuters, coffee in hand walking side by side each other, fixated on catching a train, not seeing the Christmas ornaments and advertisements, but having them subliminally address our need for something which goes way deeper than the consumer behavior which they are meant to awaken in us.
As we all know December’s craze is not done with the celebration of the Messiah’s birth, there are five days of cease fire before we embark on that last ritual of the year. New Year’s eve celebrations provides another potential moment for reflection plus a cause for rejoicing in the fact that we’ve made it through the 365 day cycle yet one more time. In Holland the New Year is welcome with an unbelievable amount of dangerous, expensive and often illegal fireworks, which create quite a lot of commotion as well as its share of accidents. The next day, the streets are filled with the remnants of the previous night’s activities and in a state not too different from that of a war zone. December has come to an end, and with its madness.
But don’t get me wrong, I am not a cynic, I have always loved December and have always experienced it as a special time of the year in the positive sense. However this December I had to reflect when my twelve year old daughter complained about how fast “everything” was going. Indeed as a fifty year old I feel an exponential quality to the way in which December wheezes by, but the fact that my young daughter experiences such a hastiness during this period makes me wonder if we are not creating a life for ourselves which resembles a film in accelerated motion.
In moments of doubt I did that which cannot be rushed, that is cook!
Most of my days have been spend cooking and baking. This post may not show the extent of this truth, since I am getting used to my new camera and haven’t been able to to take the kind of pictures I would like with it. But the time will come when my Canon EOS 1100D will serve my purpose.
Blueberry Glogg Pie
This recipe was inspired by the Scandinavian Christmas drink Glogg, which we so much enjoyed this Christmas. I figured why not make a pie out of it!
2 cups whole spelt flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbs coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup of cold water
-mix all the dry ingredients
-add the coconut oil and mix with a fork until you reach a sandy consistency
-add the water and create a ball of dough
-flatten the ball and roll between two pieces of wax paper to create a thin large circle to fit into your pie form
-fit the dough into the pie form and poke with a fork in several places on the bottom of the dough
-with the remnants of dough, after fitting it on the pie form, make a lattice top for the pie, after you have poured in the fillings.
1 cup raw cashews
3 tbs. coconut flour
1 cup water
4 tbs. honey or rice syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
-put everything in the blender and blend well
-pour on the bottom of the uncooked pie crust
2 cups of (frozen)
1 orange, zest
a dusting of powder cloves
1 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
handful of raisins
2 whole star anise
1 inch/2,5 cm fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2cups of red wine with
3 tablespoons of arrowroot
1/2 to 1 cup of honey or rice syrup
-mix all the ingredients in a bowl
-pour filling in the prepared pie crust, on top of the cashew cream and make a lattice cover for it
-bake for about 20 minutes in a pre warmed oven at 200* cent.