December is my favorite month – I love thinking about the holidays, planning the holidays and enjoying the holidays. When I was young I spent time in Sweden and was struck with the beauty, simplicity and meaning of Christmas over there. This was back in the mid 80′s so I’m sure things have changed drastically now, although I’ve since been back for Christmas in the mid to late 90′s and things were pretty much as magical as I had remembered them.
I did my Christmas shopping at outdoor, open markets or country markets held in large barns by local people who brought handmade and beautifully crafted treasures – leather workings, ornaments, home baked breads, knitted sweaters and hats, and hand made cheeses, sausages and soaps.
Decorations consisted mainly of natural elements that had been brought in from the forests or simple red and white hearts. Any lights were white to celebrate the sun during the darkest part of the year. Imagine seeing daylight for maybe 2-4 hours per day and you get the idea of how much a celebration of light the solstice is.
That period of time from mid December to Christmas is marked by musical pageants put on by children clothed in white robes with simple crowns of candles and a vast array of baked goods. The Christmas table (Julbard if you can imagine a tiny circle over the a, similar to a smorgasbord which literally means sandwich table) is piled high with culinary delights. 3-4 types of pickled herring, root vegetable salads, ham, meatballs, roast beef, potatoes several ways, several types of cooked cabbage or kale dishes, a bread basket and cheese platter, along with many types of sauces. It puts our Thanksgiving to shame.
It’s a time to celebrate what you have and include as many others in your riches as possible. It was decidedly and refreshingly not at all commercial.
Grandma has been here recently so we’ve been busy spending as much time as possible with cousins and other family, visiting Santa and enjoying each other. And baking. Mostly not dark day friendly so I am only including a few things. I actually went to the store to get things to make it easy for Grandma to feed the kids and give me more time to enjoy her while she was here.
My dark day entry for week 4 is Santa Lucia buns, the blue hubbard squash scones from a few posts back, and an amazingly healthy snack of crispy garbanzo beans. I wish I could remember whose blog I saw two weeks ago that had these bean snacks on them because they are brilliant!
I made these from cooked garbanzo beans from Azure Standard but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you could use any type of bean. I frequently make bean dip and I know you can use ANY bean for that. You just add olive oil, roasted garlic, salt & lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. In fact I made some black eyed pea dip this week but I didn’t photograph it and am not entirely sure where the beans were from.
To make the crispy beans I simply poured a few tablespoons of olive oil on a cookie sheet, added my cooked garbanzo beans and sprinkled on coarse sea salt, cumin and chili powder then mixed it all up and baked it at 325 until they were crispy. It took about an hour if I remember correctly.
It’s so nice to have something like this around for the kids to snack on whenever they want, especially given that we have nut allergies in the house. Just think how much better for you these are than potato chips! I’m wondering too if you could even crisp them then make a nut brittle with them in place of peanuts. I’ll give it a shot if I find the time. If you try it let me know how they come out!