Sunday 4 January 2009

Post-Christmas Round-up

The main event this year was in Orillia--specifically, in Grammie's new kitchen. Having lived for the first 18 years of my life in a house with a kitchen in various states of renovation, it was quite a shock to walk into this kitchen for the first time since the demolition this summer. I must say, Grammie's new kitchen was a beautiful place to congregate with family this holiday.

We arrived in Orillia in the afternoon on Christmas Eve day, slightly ahead of Gigi and Auntie Belle. Presents were unpacked and stacked under Grammie's modest Christmas tree, ready to be ripped into the next morning. One good thing about Istra and Emeth's age (among many good things, of course) is that they do not yet anticipate Christmas with trembling, sleep-depriving excitement; so, we all got to sleep in on Christmas morning... at least a little bit. Though I will add that by the time Poppy got up, Istra had already ripped into a few things and started to dismantle her stocking.

Most Christmas traditions around here are food traditions and one of my favourites is stollen on Christmas morning. For the past couple of years I've been responsible for baking the stollen; last year I went with the traditional recipe, but this year I couldn't resist an experiment. A month or so before Christmas I bought the book Wild Fermentation and started playing around with making sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee and sourdough bread. When I searched online to see if anyone had ever done a sourdough stollen, I found that (apparently, according to the Internet) stollen in Dresden is done this way. So I tried it. I modified the recipe a little bit further to include dried cherries; our traditional stollen always included red and green candied cherries, but I thought the dried natural variety might go better with sourdough.

The stollen baked to brown, round perfection and on Christmas morning I iced it with a lime frosting. This is not traditional (the recipe called for a dusting of icing sugar on top), but I always loved the icing my mom made for the stollen and couldn't bear to change it. The experimental stollen was enjoyed by all--the addition of dried cherries especially--but next year, unless my sourdough improves with practice--I think we'll be sticking to yeasted bread.

Anyhow, the tale of our Christmas is best told in pictures: the kids opening their presents, a foray out onto the frozen lake, certain members of the family dancing naked to Dan Zanes, and a cottage keys-locked-in-car adventure. Sounds wild, doesn't it? Take a look."

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