Memories of my Italian family centered around the kitchen. We cooked, baked and enjoyed many treasured recipes with love. A reflection of my favorite family stories and recipes. So, come in and stay awhile, have fun and you are welcomed back anytime....
Saturday, December 19, 2015
"Christmas Around The World" Day--7 Recipe --“Glühwein” & “Linzer Tarts”
"Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone" - Charles Schulz
Welcome to the 7th day of “Christmas Around The World!” For my readers who are new, everyday for the next 12 days, till Christmas Eve, I will post a story of a country of the world and a Santa that goes according to the countries customs and traditions. Besides the World Santa’s, I will also share a holiday treat, a homemade gift idea, or just a favorite recipe that I think goes with that country, all leading up to “Christmas Eve.” This has been an incredible year! I have met many people, learned many new things, but most of all, I want to say thank you to my readers, as we prepare for the most joyous time of the year!
Day # 7, My country today is Germany! A big part of the Christmas celebrations in Germany is Advent. Several different types of Advent calendars are used in German homes. As well as the traditional ones that are used in many countries with a little present in it. Another type is called a “Advent Kranz” and is a ring of fir branches that has four candles on it. This is like the Advent candles that are used in churches for religious services.
Christmas Trees are very important in Germany. They were first used in Germany during the Middle Ages. If there are young children in the house, the trees are usually secretly decorated by the mother of the family. The Christmas tree was traditionally brought into the house on Christmas eve. In some parts of Germany, during the evening the family would read the Bible and sing Christmas songs such as O Tannenbaum, Ihr Kinderlein Kommet and Stille Nacht (Slient Night). Christmas Eve is the main day when Germans exchange presents with their families. In German Happy/Merry Christmas is “Frohe Weihnachten.”
Germany is well known for its Christmas Markets where all sorts of Christmas foods and decorations are sold. Perhaps the most famous German decorations are glass ornaments. The glass ornaments were originally hand blown glass and were imported in the USA in 1880s by the Woolworth stores. The legend of the glass “Christmas Pickle” is famous in the USA, but it's that, a legend. Most people in Germany have never heard of the Christmas Pickle! German tradition and that the pickle was the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree and then the first child to find the pickle got an extra present. The American city of Berrien Springs, MI (also known as the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World) has an annual pickle festival held during the early part of December.
In some parts of Germany, mainly the south east of the country, children write to the “Christkind/Christkindl” (The Christ Child in English) asking for presents. The letters to the Christkind are decorated with sugar glued to the envelope to make them sparkly and attractive to look at. Children leave the letters on the windowsill at the beginning of or during Advent. The Christkind is often described as a young girl with “Christ like” qualities. In Nürnberg a young girl is chosen every year to participate in a parade as the Christkind. She wears a long white and gold dress, has long blond curly hair and wears a gold crown and sometimes wings like an angel. This is similar to St Lucia is Sweden.
Santa Claus or Father Christmas (der Weihnachtsmann) brings the presents on December 24th. You might also write a letter to Weihnachtsmann in other parts of Germany. December 6th is St. Nicholas' Day and "der Nikolaus" brings some small gifts, such as sweets and chocolate, to the children. He comes in the night between the 5th and the 6th and puts the presents into the shoes of the children, who usually place them by their doors on the previous evening.
Another tradition is the Sternsinger (or star singers) who go from house to house, sing a song and collect money for charity (this is a predominantly Catholic tradition). They are four children, three who dress up like the Wise men and one carries a star on a stick as a symbol for the Star of Bethlehem. When they're finished singing, they write a signature with chalk over the door of the house. The sign is written in a special way, so Christmas 2015 would be: 20*C*M*B*16. It is considered to be bad luck to wash the sign away - it has to fade by itself. It has usually faded by the 6th of January (Epiphany). The Sternsingers visit houses between December 27th and January 6th.
Lastly, one of the most anticipated rituals of the holiday season is the festive Christmas dinner. The traditional German holiday meal consists of duck, goose, rabbit, a roast, and carp. Accompanied by German delicacies such as apple and sausage stuffing, red cabbage, and potato dumplings. Even the American fruitcake was adapted from one of the most famous German delicacies, Stollen. Since 1329, this unique “fruitcake” has been considered one of the most precious Christmas pastries in the world.
Glühwein (mulled wine) is an alcohol-containing hot drink enjoyed during Advent time and the cold Winter months in Germany. It is also a traditional beverage served at Christmas Markets. Red or white wine can be used depending on your preference. Red wine is most commonly used in Germany. However, in southern parts of Germany and in Austria, white wine is very popular. In Hessen, apple wine is also used. The wine should be medium-dry to dry. As a rule-of-thumb, choose a good quality wine. For a white Glühwein, try a good Riesling. For a red Glühwein, try a good Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). Classic Christmas spices are used in the Glühwein: cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, allspice, etc. Lemon and/or orange zest is added to refine the flavors. For an extra "kick," a shot of rum or Amaretto can be added, but this is not part of the original Glühwein recipe (Be warned! This goes right to the head!)
My recipes that I am going to share with you are both from Germany. The first one is a German mulled wine that is a very famous drink especially in the winter months. It is called “Glühwein.” Down the hatch…this should keep you nice and warm.
3/4 cup water ( or orange juice)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
10 whole cloves
1 bottle red wine/ white wine
Directions: In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer. Cut the orange in half, and squeeze the juice into the simmering water. Push the cloves into the outside of the orange peel, and place peel in the simmering water. Continue simmering for 30 minutes, until thick and syrupy. Pour in the wine, and heat until steaming but not simmering. Remove the clove-studded orange halves. Serve hot in mugs or glasses that have been preheated in warm water (cold glasses will break.) Serves: 6 *I know that this is the holiday, but please drink responsibly.* ***************** My next recipe is one that I have been making in my family for many years now. They are simple but oh so delicious. They are “Linzer Tarts”…
“Linzer Tarts” Ingredients:3/4 lb unsalted butter/room temp 1 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 3 1/2 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup good raspberry preserves Confectioners' sugar, for dusting