Merry Christmas!

Central Park in the snow

Wishing a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to my readers.

Thank you to those who have read and occasionally commented on Circle of Ignorance during its first five months. You’ve made it a wonderful experience as I continue to learn and evolve the blog. Special thanks to my friends on Twitter and LinkedIn (especially Twitter’s #BlogChat) who teach and inspire me through our exchanges. You’ve given me enough ideas to keep posting until the crocuses bloom again in Central Park.


Pressgurka Recipe

Pressgurka is a tradition in our family and was the first recipe I learned to prepare as a child. Mom would peel and slice the cucumbers and I would measure out the ingredients for the dressing. When I was very little I would count aloud the five tablespoons of water and sugar as I measured them. (I’ve sometimes wondered if it was Mom’s sneaky way of getting me to practice arithmetic.)

This is a classic Swedish dish and was always part of our Christmas smörgåsbord (literally a “sandwich table,” but in reality it’s much more than sandwiches). The wonderful thing about smörgåsbord is that it is almost infinitely adaptable—you can add just about anything, and as my family is part Swedish but also part Scottish and French Canadian, we added other traditional dishes. Sometimes I’ve made fish balls (fiskbullar in Swedish), as both the Swedish cookbook and my other Grandmother’s Scottish cookbook contain nearly identical recipes. They were, after all, fishing from different sides of the North Sea.

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I spent Thanksgiving Day 2008 at my Dad’s house. Dad isn’t a techie; indeed, I call his house the “technology-free zone.” He’s never used a computer nor seen the Internet. I’ve told him that I have a blog, but I’m not sure if he really understands what that means.

What Dad knows and loves is sports, so Thanksgiving is a day-long football fest. As a non-football fan, I sometimes have difficulty following so many games at once. By mid-afternoon, Dad was channel surfing from game to game, and if I stepped away for a minute I don’t even know who the teams were when I returned.

On that day in November 2008, surfing past the news channels presented the horror of the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. Dad paused occasionally for updates. To New Yorkers it was eerily reminiscent of the feelings, if not the circumstances, of September 11, 2001. To me the drawn-out attack in Mumbai and the multiple gunmen in different parts of the city seemed, if possible, even more terrifying than the brief but intense attack on the United States seven years earlier.

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Karen’s Not-Yet-Famous Fruit Relish

Thanksgiving is this Thursday (in the United States; Canada celebrated in October) so it seems appropriate to digress from my usual posts and share a recipe. This tangy fruit relish has warm, spicy notes that feel very Autumnal and it goes well with a traditional feast.

I first made this relish two years ago and have been tinkering with it ever since; you’ll see there are several variations. I brought it to a couple of parties, where everyone seemed to like it and I’ve given out the recipe a few times, so now I’m sharing with the virtual community. It’s highly adaptable: you can tweak the spices and even the ingredients, and it goes equally well over a slice of pound cake or as a side dish. Aside from the sugar, it’s quite healthy–but don’t let that deter you!

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