Traditions: Marzipan & a theme

Every year, for our Jul Celebration, we have a theme.  Yes, we, my mom and I are known as “Martha-want-to-be’s” by some.  I will accept that title! I see nothing wrong with Martha.  Yes she occasionally goes way over board, does some crazy stuff and leaves an ingredient or steps out of her recipes, but I still like her.  Okay back to the themes…

Every year we like to set the tables to a theme.  We have had snowmen, penguins, 1950’s, angels, Vikings, candy canes, candy, gingerbread houses, the sea, hearts, woodland (aka moss, branches, little red capped mushrooms & elf’s) it goes on and on.  We make marzipan candy’s in a shape to go along with the theme.  This year, it’s A B C’s.

We make our own marzipan (your thinking “of couse you do Martha”) because it’s so easy, cheaper and the end product is far yummier.  The recipe is below that we use, although this is a guide line, it really comes down to taste testing and adjusting.

Marzipan:

  • a half a pound of blanched almonds
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • maybe a splash of water

Toss the almonds in the food processor and whirl until almonds are finely ground, they will start to naturally form a dough, add powdered sugar while continuing to whirl.  If needed add a splash of water to help create a dough the consistance of play-dough. Form into what ever shape you want.  One super yummy thing to do with the left overs is to form into log shape (2″ x “6-ish) and dip in dark chocolate. To serve, slice into 1/4 pieces. 🙂

Marzipan after being chilled
Marzipan after being chilled
Stamped out letter "blocks"  (Cookie cutters are from
Stamped out letter “blocks” (Cookie cutters are from Cost Plus World Market, Fred Letterpress Cookie Set)
Chillin in Chocolate
Chillin in Chocolate
The final table setting
The final table setting with a wonky napkin (notice the three drink glasses… I will share that tomorrow)
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The Elder Table, this year we had only 34 people, so only 3 tables.

Everyone loved the theme this year, it was simple, cute and sparkly… Tomorrow I will share the craziness of our Jul Celebration, I know you can’t wait.

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Keeping up traditions, part 1

We have many traditions, especially when it comes to Christmas, or God Jul.  My mom’s family is from Sweden, she is the first generation in the Untied States, so many of our traditions are Swedish.  I love them all, the insane and the fun, and I will do all I can to keep them going, really it’s not that hard.

Yesterday we made Coffee Bread, Vetebrod, for Christmas morning.  My mom, with my “help,” has been making them since 1989.  I know this because the recipe has the number of times she doubled the recipe each year.  She makes a loaf for each family that comes to our Jul Celebration, we have made more than 20 loafs at a time, yesterday “only” 14.  And it was kiddo’s turn to start learning.

Vetebord recipe with years of notes
Vetebord recipe with years of notes

This Jul Coffee Bread is full of cardamon, cinnamon, butter, and sugar.  What could be better.  When we make 14 loaves, it’s an all day event.  Every year, we chat about the upcoming Smorgasbord preparations (more to come on this), who is coming (only 35 this year) and other funny random mom and daughter discussions. My mom says “This is why I don’t like baking, it takes so long.”  And I reply with “If you only made one, it would not take forever, but we are making 14” (or whatever the years number is).  With kiddo helping out this year, it was funny for sure.  “I want to make a pumpkin shaped Vetebrod for halloween, Nanny.”  “The sugar tastes glittery.” and my favorite “You can’t buy houses, they are too heavy to carry home!” HA!

Back to the bread, after the dough rises and has been kneaded, again, it’s time for the rolling and folding.

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Rolling out the bread dough
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Spreading the butter, sugar & cinnamon mixture
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After rolling the dough, you snip, snip, snip
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Then fold, fold, fold
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Second rise while waiting for the oven
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Done, and the house smells amazing!

Now these are in no way shape or form vegan, nor gluten free, but it’s one of those traditions that I will ignore my “food rules” for.  We all look forward to Christmas morning, a bit hung over from the Jul Celebration, with a strong cup of coffee and a slice or two or three of the Vetebrod while watching the kiddo’s open there stocking gifts. I can taste it already, God Jul!

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