09 December 2013

sing in a mist heavy with myrtle and listeners

All the usual excuses and explanations for long silences apply again. You know them all, and know also that I am sorry to go so long without a proper post.

I am sitting (metaphorically) on a great deal of knitting that I can't blog about yet, there's not much gardening going on here in the dark end of the year, and I'm trying very hard not to fall into the trap of writing endlessly about Violet's antics, which are adorable to me but not necessarily to anyone else.

But there is always food, isn't there?

If you are in the northern hemisphere, the grocery stores are full of cranberries, and it is a fine time to start some vattlingon. The name means 'watered lingonberries' in Swedish, but this method of preserving the berries is found across Scandinavia, into Russia, and quite possibly beyond.

Take fresh lingonberries or cranberries, wash them, put them in a glass jar, and cover them with water. Cover the jar and stick it in the back of your refrigerator for several months. Lingonberries, and their cousins the North American cranberries, contain benzoic acid so they need no additional preservatives or processing.

In the cool darkness of your fridge they will ferment quietly, and the tannins that make fresh cranberries so face-scrunching will mellow. Some of the Swedish sites I have read suggest using them in casseroles and sauces, or eating them with whipped cream and sugar. If you can wait until spring, you could also try Hank Shaw's Swedish Spring Salmon with Vattlingon and Peas (and you should be reading Hunter Angler Gardener Cook anyway, so get to it).

I have read but not been able to verify that the earliest written recipe for vattlingon appears in Hjelpreda I Hushållningen För Unga Fruentimber ("Assistant in Housekeeping for Young Women") a manual of domestic economy first published in 1755 by Casja Warg, who seems to have been Sweden's answer to Hannah Glasse.

And because I am only mortal, here is our little absence of light:

Our little absence of light

W.S. Graham

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