Saturday, December 26, 2009

So where do I start now?

Next number at window A is 2010, 2010, does anyone know where 2010 is? Oh yeah, just around the corner!
About time to light a new year candle.

So Christmas has now come and gone, and there is another year sneaking up on me around the corner. Yet I still have photos that I haven't even looked at from Summer, Autumn and I even found some from Spring! That is a little scary, actually, it is very scary.

For all those in other locations who have been eagerly awaiting some photos of a white Christmas, your Christmas has been cancelled! Alas, there is none for you this year, maybe you need to be better? We had a fantastic covering of snow two days before the big day, but on the day in question, it rained and rained and rained and rained. For a little while on Christmas Eve day, I was thinking on my wish list I should have asked for an Ark. Then I realised I don't like animals in twos, anyway this rain washed away the majority of the snow. So instead of making snow angels, Snow men and losing an eye to a snow ball fight, I had to content myself cooking.
Mistletow was abound though (thanks to Marty who took this great photo)
Christmas in Poland is THE biggest event of the year. Most of the country lives for it. Except maybe the Orthodox and the Tatars. It was funny to hear many of my students complain about the complete commercialisation of Christmas, but from what I have seen it doesn't touch Australia, the US or the UK. Not even close.

Poland still maintains many traditions around this time, some that may even appear to be heavy and burdensome and maybe slightly cruel. Of this I will speak more of later. Firstly some basics:

- The Poles focus their celebration on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas Day, as we do back home.
- They serve 12 different dishes on this night, some people include salt and pepper as a dish to save on cooking.
- No meat is eaten, and in the strictly Catholic families, no one is allowed to drink either (this is part of the cruelty!)
- Passages are read from the Bible before you start the meal, and wishes are given to each individual at the meal.
- The preference for fish is either Northern Herring or buying live Carp as one of the main meals (not eaten live but just bought live)
- The Christmas tree is decorated only on Christmas Eve Day
- And many people attend church services on CED, especially at midnight.

I was lucky enough not to have to kill the carp, as they are notoriously hard to knock off, also I skipped out on church. I did get the chance to give everyone best wishes, eat at least 12 dishes, have a celebratory drink, and decorate the tree. So overall, I think I must have been about a 50% Pole for the day. But I tried to be in the kitchen all day chopping and roasting and baking to make sure that all were fed.

We cooked up some lovely food as our 12 dishes. They were:
Firstly the ones I didn't photographt (or photograph well)
- Pickled Herring in onion and vinegar
- Fresh pickled cucumbers
- Boiled vegetables, pickles and egg salad
- Dark chocolate cake with marinated plums and vanilla cream mousse
- Kompot (a drink made from dried fruit that are boiled for some time)
- Smoked salmon on bread with a horseradish, chive, cream and garlic sauce

- Carp roasted with a mushroom sauce
- Roasted Tench (another freshwater fish)
- Roasted herb potatoes
- Fish Greek style
- Tortellini salad
- Beetroot and Herring salad
- Fried butterfish
- Barszcz (beetroot soup) with uszka, or little ears (tortellini-shaped dumplings with cabbage and sauerkraut).
- A Gingerbread house

The end result.
So we demolished most of the above that evening. Not too bad for 8 people, one of which is 3 years old! He did the most of his damage to the Gingerbread house, or as he called it domek, or little house. Sebastian lining up his first attack on the structure of the house.
Marty analysing the damaged parts.
During the battle the Santa near the chimney ended up being a casualty.
We think that building a house will be a new tradition for Marty and me (not that Sebastian agrees here), to build a different house each year and keep a record of it (probably just a photographic record) and change the design each year. This was the first time I had ever made one, so I am pretty happy with the end result.

This year Marta designed it, I baked it and a team of Marty, me, her mum and her brother all decorated it with
smarties, malteasers, chocolate wafers for tiles and shutters, and melted dark to help stick it together and white chocolate around the place as glue and faux snow. Not to forget an army of chocolate Santas to guard it.

So this was the Christmas Eve..... Then there was Christmas day where I made scones in the morning for the family for the first time ever, and then cooked a turkey as well. I stuffed it with breadcrumbs, garlic, apple, ham, onion, pig fat, herbs, salt and pepper and of course some water to bind it all together. This was the first time the family had roasted a whole turkey ever. So once cooked, I made gravy from its juices where I also roasted some potatoes. It went down a treat. I think it will be a new tradition..... maybe, unless we decide on goose next year!
Thanks for reading this year. I hope I can keep you interested enough to continue to read me in the new decade that starts in just over 24 hours!

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