“I know myself linked by chains of fires,
to every woman who has kept a hearth.
In the resinous smoke
I smell hut, castle, cave,
mansion and hovel,
See in the shifting flame
my mother and grandmothers
out over the world.”
Today was the first big snow of the winter at my home in the Midwest and instead of jumping on my to-do list, we spent the day on several family traditions. First, we made snow ice cream! We always did this when I was a kid and my kids love it too. (My own parents moved to Missouri from California, so I don’t think they made snow ice cream during their own childhoods!)
- One can of evaporated milk (or one cup of whole milk or cream or coconut milk or something else milk-like and thick)
- 1/3 c. sugar
- vanilla to taste
Stir up and spoon over bowls of fresh snow!
After the ice cream, we made grebble. Grebble is a Volga German doughnut-like item that we inherited from one of my great grandmas. There are lots of recipes online, but I just use a basic bread dough recipe. The tradition that evolved in my childhood household was to make grebble for breakfast on the morning of the first snowfall. We usually go over to my mom’s house on this day and she makes grebble for all of us. Today, since we are all snowed in at our respective houses, I made grebble for the first time for my own kids. In the twisting of the dough and the hot oil, I felt myself linked by chains of fires to the kitchens of my ancestresses.
Simple Grebble Recipe
Dissolve yeast into water. Add other ingredients and mix in bread machine on dough cycle until it has risen the first time. Take out, roll into two fairly skinny loaves and slice each (still dough) loaf into rounds. Cut a slit in each round and pull one end of the piece through the hole and back out the other side to form a little twist. Fry in hot oil, turning once. Eat dipped in granulated sugar!
After the grebble we made salt dough ornaments. They’re still (slowly, slowly) baking!
Basic Salt Dough Ornament Recipe
- 1 c. cheap white flour
- 1 c. sea salt or other salt
- ~1 c. water (add slowly–may need a little bit more or a little bit less to get dough the right consistency)
Stir up until thick, non-sticky dough is the result. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters or hand-build into small ornaments and sculptures. Bake in oven on low temperature (200 degrees) for around three hours or until totally, totally dry and petrified. Then, paint or otherwise embellish. Yes, we used awesome Star Wars cookie cutters
And, in a full circle around to my opening quote, today my blog post about my grandmother’s memorial service (which I planned and served as the priestess for) was published on Feminism and Religion:
It was deeply important to me to have multiple voices represented during the small, family-only, service and I enlisted all the grandchildren present, as well as her step-grandchildren, in an adapted responsive reading based on Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road”. I chose it precisely because it spoke to the irrepressible, adventuresome spirit of my grandmother. It was a lot of pressure to be responsible for the family ceremony for the interment of her ashes. I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted it to be what she deserved. I wanted it to “speak” to every person there. I wanted it to be worthy of her. I hope it was enough.
May we all live well and wisely and take any opportunity to play in the snow!