March sucks and I am glad it is over. Many feel the month symbolizes beginnings and endings: winter melts into spring; cool nights lighten into warmer days ─ a constant revolution of life and death on the planet. This final segment of the year is anything but a gentle curve for my family. My mother also came “full-circle” in March, as a baby, later a bride, and then a can of ashes.
I thought about writing a jaunty little Easter dinner post, but I deleted it, every character on the screen. I could give a rip about sharing how to cook the ham, mash the potatoes, etc., because it is not that important. Coping with a loss during a holiday or a month that is chocked full of memories can be “challenging.” I hate therapy lingo, I prefer to keep with “it sucks.” Rituals and traditions quickly lose their luster if you don’t take time to acknowledge or “process” (I dislike this term too) hard emotions. I am not a counselor, but I have some “been-there-done-that-experience” and wanted to share what has worked for me thus far. (I have yet to be on the six o’clock news, yet.)
1. Get up; brush your teeth; and wash your face.
2. Find your sneakers and move yourself. Feel the air in your chest and remember you are still living ─ you have important shit to do.
3. Make good coffee; life is short.
4. Focus on helping someone else for the day (or longer). It’s okay if you feel a little annoyed at first. Time to develop that dry sense humor, even feeling pissy or off-color is better than being depressed.
5. Do your work in whatever expression it needs to take form in.
6. Don’t pick your nose, because your loved one can probably see you.
7. Come home and make something delicious and share with those you love. My mother’s world famous kringle is a recipe I turn to when I think of her.
8. Set a place setting for the one you miss.
9. Rest well and repeat.
The following is my mother’s recipe for Kringle (pronounced “Kringla”- short e sound). There are many versions, but I am partial to my mother’s which is common in Norway. The Danes and Swedes have similar versions that appear in rings and with various fillings. This one is simple and is often requested at family and other social gatherings.
There are three main steps to this pastry, not including the extra miles you will need to run after eating this ─ think Paula Deen and her love for butter and now don’t think of it, because you will want to avoid eating this. Tell your skinny jeans to shut the hell up. I promise it is worth it. The first two layers are both pastry: buttery, flaky crust on the bottom with a puffier dough resting on top. The final layer is all confection, glossy almond icing with toasted almonds running the entire length of the pastry. You might as well just keep those running shoes close by. “Diet Coke Math” cannot save you here, either. This dessert is rich so keep the servings small and remember to give the one you miss a piece. You can eat it later, Mom would want it that way.
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter
1 cup of white flour
1 tablespoon of cold water
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter… you were warned.
1 cup of white flour
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2 cups of powdered sugar (You can adjust for desired consistency.)
1-2 teaspoons of almond extract (Are you hardcore with the almond extract? Adjust to taste, rebel.)
2-3 tablespoons of cream or milk (Just use the cream and go down in a blaze of caloric glory.)
*Optional, top with slivered almonds if you want to be extra fancy.
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2) In a large-ish bowl, cut the butter into flour until crumbly.
3) Add a tablespoon of cold water and from the dough into a ball.
4) Divide the ball in half and pat each half into a 2-3-inch-wide/oblong strip on each (ungreased) cookie sheet. This dough will be stretched thin, don’t panic.
5) Take another stick of butter and peel it like a banana, bon appetit…Go straight to step 5 instead.
6) Melt the butter in a sauce pan; add a cup of water; and bring to a boil.
7) As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, turn stove off, and remove pan from heat.
8) Add the flour; this will make a slick mass of dough.
9) As the dough cools, stir in each egg separately.
10) Add the almond extract and mix in.
11) Spread the mixture onto of the crust, on each cookie sheet.
12) Bake for approximately 45 minutes; watch to make sure it doesn’t get too brown. It should be golden and puffy.
13) Mix powdered sugar, almond extract, and cream until a thin icing consistency forms.
14) Spread icing on pastries after they have cooled completely.
15) Add almonds on top if desired.
16) Serve to those you love the most.