Countdown to Christmas!
Today, the first Sunday of Advent marks the official start of the Christmas season in Iceland; definitely one of the most magical times of the year in all the Nordic countries. It’s when the lights start shining through the winter darkness and everyone starts preparing for the many festivities ahead, including many Christmas tree lightings accompanied by Christmas carols and our well known Yule lads who entertain both young and old and bring back happy memories of years past!
In most Icelandic homes today people will be making and lighting their Advent Wreath and while doing so, enjoying their first sips of our warm and tasty mulled wine called Glögg and munching home-made or bought Gingerbread cookies! In my home I also always serve my Granny’s pound-cake and yummy Saffron buns I learn to love during my husband’s 3 year posting to Sweden!
There are basically two types of Advent lights: the Advent Wreath with four candles, one for every Sunday of the Advent, and the triangle-shaped, seven-candle electric candelabra (available in Ikea stores around the world), which is normally placed on windowsills to shine out into the winter darkness. In my home, I always enjoy both . . . wherever I may be residing!
Here is a photo of an Advent Wreath I made during may time in Berlin, when, one year we were lucky to have plenty of snow! You will notice that all candles are lit, meaning Christmas had nearly arrived!
In Athens where I am presently residing, I normally opt for a simple Advent Wreath with Xmas scented candles.
To get you started please find my Glögg recipe, below, which some of you may already know . . . . as I’ve been making and giving it as a Christmas gift for years!
Once made, just pour it into fun bottles with sturdy corks and give it along with some raisins, almond and Christmas cookies; everything you need for a gathering of a few friends or a cosy evening at home!
Glögg - Mulled Red Wine!
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ - 1 cup brandy, to taste
1 whole orange with peel - thinly sliced
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cardamom
8 whole cloves,
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ - ½ cup Port, Sherry or Greek Mavrodaphne wine, to taste
2 - 3 bottles red wine, to taste
In a large pot, over low heat, melt sugar in brandy. Add orange slices, ginger, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks and bring to boil. Lower heat and add the Mavrodaphne wine and 1 bottle of red wine. Mix carefully and let simmer for 2 - 3 minutes. Do not boil!
Remove pot from stove and keep the wine mixture overnight at room temperature.
The following day, add 1 - 2 bottles of red wine (to taste) and heat thoroughly.
Remove pot from stove, strain and pour warm mulled wine into mugs or glass tea cups or into a pot to hold warm. If not using immediately, pour into sterilized bottles, allow to cool and then seal with a cork or other cap.
Serve with raisins, whole almonds and gingerbread cookies.
Yield: Enough for 18 - 20 persons!
For a non-alcoholic version, make the recipe with Apple Juice and just adjust the sugar and seasoning to your liking.
Always use good quality red wine . . . . it will make all the difference!
This year I added some fresh ginger to the mixture for an extra kick and those who have already tasted it . . . .really liked it! So, play around with the seasoning and adjust to your liking.
Always store in a cool place.
Should you have any left overs . . . . . use it in sauces or for sweets . . . such as poached pears!
©KaritasM – November 2016