Theodish Thoughts

Musings on Theodism, religion, mythology, history, and contemporary Heathenry

Category: food

Julbord – traditional Yule dishes

Of course Christmas itself has just passed (and I hope that those of you who celebrate it had a wonderful holiday, even if you only do so as a secular holiday of family, plenty, and generosity, with no religious overtones, like my family does), but the traditional date of Yule is still more than two weeks or so away, so we’re continuing to Make Yule Great Again here at the Garden.

This time, I would like to present a few traditional dishes for your Yule feast. Most are more modern Scandinavian dishes from the traditional julbord, or Christmas buffet.
Swedish meatballs. It’s not particularly a Yule dish, but come on. Can you really do a traditional Scandinavian buffet without them? Recipe here.
The Christmas ham. This is the centerpiece of the julbord; the ham, or julskinka, is first boiled, and then served cold, with a crust of mustard and breadcrumbs. Also note the continuing references to boars and pork (associated with the god Freyr) with the holiday. The Local (a Swedish news outlet) mentions that the pigs are killed on Lussinatta, at night. Recipe here.
Pickled herring. Pickled fish is a staple in Scandinavian countries as a rule, but it is especially brought out in the cold winter months, when fresh fish would be something of a rarity. Generally, this is something to be store bought, but the adventurous might try to make their own with the recipe here.
Lutefisk. Errr… yum?
Lutefisk. Take air-dried whitefish, soak it in lye and salt for days, and then rinse it off and cook it once it becomes gelatinous. I’ve never dared try it (and I eat just about anything) but it’s a staple in Norway and Sweden in the traditional Julbord, eaten with boiled potatoes. Want to make it? There’s a recipe here. Good luck Paisan!
Yule bread. A traditional Viking recipe, flavored with cardamom and almonds. Recipe here.
Norwegian Christmas Bread. Another recipe, almost akin to an English pudding rather than a bread, with raisins and walnuts. Recipe here.
Dopp i grytan. Called “dip in the pot” in English, this is a custom of dipping bread into the reduced juices used to cook the ham, like a fondue. I’ve never done it, but it sounds amazingly good. Recipe here.
Janssons Frestelse. If you want to get more adventurous than the boiled potatoes mentioned above (and nothing says you can’t do both!), try this sort of scalloped potato dish, with anchovies (I happen to love anchovies, and the thought of the salty fish mixed in with the creamy potatoes and onions sounds great). Recipe here
Marzipan Pig. Obviously a new addition to the menu, this dessert course made of shaped almond paste seems obviously tied back to the recurring themes of boars and Freyr and Yule. And isn’t the little apple in its mouth adorable? Marzipan recipe here.
Glad Yule to all!

Smoking Bishop

“A Merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob!” — Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

One of the Yuletide traditions that my family has enjoyed for many years is the making of the traditional bowl of Smoking Bishop. Smoking Bishop is a drink (a very alcoholic drink) from Victorian times that is served hot and mixes fruit, spices, and sugar for a heart-warming drink perfect for cold winters’ nights. It’s particularly good for families such as ours that celebrate both Yule and Christmas. Here’s how I make it.

Take five oranges and one grapefruit with the peel on, and bake in a 350 degree oven until the skin turns slightly brown. Let cool.

Stud each fruit with cloves, place in a pot and cover with two bottles of red wine and half a pound of sugar. If desired, add a stick of cinnamon and/or a few sprigs of star anise. Let sit, covered, for a day.

Remove the fruit, cut in halves, and squeeze into the wine. Strain and pour into a slow cooker. Add a bottle of ruby port. Best to do this several hours before you intend to serve the mixture.

Let the slow cooker go on low for four hours minimum (you should see slight wisps of steam). Then serve with dessert.

Since my family celebrates Yule as well as Christmas, this recipe serves double duty. I make it for Yule, then pour what’s left into a container and save in the fridge for four days or so until Christmas, when I pour it back into the crock-pot and reheat to serve again. I’ve never had to reheat it more than once.

It has a very “Victorian” flavor, almost medieval, because of the cloves. Glad Yule, Merry Christmas, and enjoy!

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