Sunday, November 29, 2009

Homemade Soup, Christmas Decor, Norwegian Advent, and Ancient Greek Poetry

Have patience, Faithful Reader. Yes, another week has come and gone without a Scandinavian Saturday meal for you to read about and enjoy photos of. This and this explain what we ate instead (and why) the past two weeks. And this week I didn't prepare a Nordic feast because of an abundance of Thanksgiving leftovers that needed to be used up, and I didn't know what Scandinavian thing to do with cold turkey other than to make smørbød ["open-faced sandwiches"].

Instead I made homemade turkey soup that simmered all afternoon: bacon, a couple onions, a bunch of celery, carrots, potatoes, leftover cooked broccoli and cauliflower, turkey stock, chicken stock, beer, fresh thyme, dried rosemary herb mix, cracked black pepper, seasoned salt, lemon pepper, garlic, fresh parsley, scallions, leftover turkey, and--at the end--cream. It was mighty delicious, I must say.

In between making supper and sitting down with my laptop to get some work done, I helped a bit with Christmas decorating. I moved some furniture and got the tree set up and strung with lights and then let the ladies decorate it (well, except for the hiding of the pickle ornament, which is my job--remember?). We usually put the Christmas tree upstairs in the living room, but this year we decided to try it downstairs in the family room. There's plenty of room there for it, after all, and it does look nice there, adding a beautiful sparkle to the family room where we spend many an evening together. There's also plenty of room to stack presents underneath and beside it . . .

Thanks to Susan and the girls, the entire house now looks Christmas-y and is ready for the arrival of our holiday guests: Susan's sister Cassie, her husband Nick, and their son Davis, who will be in Dickinson with us for his very first Christmas! Yay! It's bound to feel more like Christmas for them here in ND than in SC anyway. Yesterday as the girls would set out this or that Noel knickknack on a table or shelf, they'd remark how Davis should enjoy grabbing for it or chewing on it, etc. Funny how we're looking forward to Davis' getting into things in our house, but when it was our own children doing the crawling around and grabbing, we weren't so thrilled. Hm.

In lieu of tales of my own Scandinavian cooking this week, I offer you this morsel to sate your desire for something Norwegian: info about Advent in Norway from someone who lives there(remember this catablogue entry from a couple months ago?). It seems appropriate to share it with you today, the first Sunday of Advent . . . and the day after the night on which I usually make Norwegian food for my family. The blogger offers us readers not only a traditional Norwegian Advent song but also a traditional Norwegian Advent calendar that is so simple, you may even have the supplies in your kitchen right now to make it and set it out to use and enjoy. Check it out!

P.S. This is neither Scandinavian nor Advent-related, but have I mentioned that, a few weeks ago, Hillary checked out from the library the Greek epic The Odyssey and that we have been reading it aloud as a family? It's pretty fantastic, actually, to see the girls "getting into" the story and hear them asking/answering questions about the people, the Greek gods, the plot, the characters' motivations, the dramatic irony (e.g., "We know ___, but the characters don't know that!"), etc.

So far we're at Book IV, in which Telemachus, searching for news of his missing father Odysseus, has arrived at Lacadaemon to ask Menelaus if he knows what became of Odysseus following the end of the Trojan War, in which both Menelaus and Odysseus had fought. Got that? The girls do.

And they know that Menelaus' wife Helen essentially caused the Trojan War by leaving her husband and running off to Troy with its handsome prince Paris, causing the Greeks to board warships to Troy to reclaim Helen . . . thus starting the decade-long Trojan War. So the girls knew perfectly well the meaning behind Helen's words when, thinking back in time while speaking to her husband Menelaus in Book IV, she says, "When all you [Greeks] fought at Troy, launching your headlong battles just for my sake, shameless whore that I was." I did get a "What's a whore?" after that, of course. Classic literature = good times for the entire family!

By the way, I'll save you a trip to the library to check out The Odyssey for yourself. You can read it online here, and this site is a helpful source of information to serve as a companion to your reading.

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