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Of weird smells and traditions

‘What’s that smell in here??’

Thus spake my perpetually-disgruntled 14-year old daughter on her arrival home from school yesterday.

That smell was actually the smell of her mother’s baking.

To be fair, it’s not surprising that the child does not recognize the smell of baking when it greets her. YT is not terribly proficient in that particular area of the culinary arts [or any other cooking area, for that matter]. However, it is now the advent season, and that means that Icelandic women are required to bake cookies – ideally lots of them.

You see, in the past, Icelandic women measured their domestic merit by the number of ‘cookie sorts’ they could bake pre-Christmas every year. I remember my grandmother always baking at least five: rounded ginger snaps with a whole almond stuck on top, chocolate and hazelnut, shortbread, oatmeal and raisin, and a fluffy sugar type cookie that I don’t know the name of. She got away with baking only five sorts because she had a job and worked every other day. The women who were full-time homemakers routinely baked around 10-12 sorts during advent.

Obviously in later years, with most women being employed outside the home, the requirement to bake lots of cookie sorts has dwindled somewhat. However, it has not disappeared altogether. Just as women are still largely responsible for the household chores despite working full-time, there’s still the slight pressure to bake at least one or two sorts before Christmas. [And to purchase the rest from the local bakery.] In fact it never ceases to amaze me that many women still boast – albeit in a sort of ironic, offhand way – about the number of sorts they have already baked. [Something that YT finds utterly provincial and, if the truth be told, rather undignified.]

Anyway. Yesterday YT decided to bow to tradition and bake. [Besides I had nothing better to do.] The result? Some very un-traditional Pistachio and Lemon Biscotti. That incidentally I had planned to bake last year at this time, but didn’t because I baked Sarah Bernhard cookies instead. [Yes, the pistachios sat in a bag in the cupboard for a full year.] And if this current lull in assignments continues, I may even serve up more weird smells around here in the days to come.

MEANWHILE, IT SMELLS LIKE WIND
And indeed, it is wind! Outside, that is. Lots and lots of it. That YT will have to brave if she wishes to have her dose of endorphin today, which she does. It’s now 11.03am and finally light enough out there to see where you’re going, so I shall get myself all geared up and go see if I can safely run along the seashore, as the wind has a tendency to toss big-assed rocks and sea gunk over the embankment at high tide. Temps are a moderate 2°C and sunrise somewhere behind the thick cloud cover was at 10.43 and sunset will be at 15.50.

OH AND P.S.!!
I have been meaning to do this for Nancy for several days now and having a mind like a sieve, I always forget. People! Nancy is pregnant and she’s 40 years old and this is her first pregnancy. She needs advice and she needs it badly. Things like what she should buy, what she absolutely cannot do without when the baby comes, that sort of thing. If you can help, go here and put in your two cents. PPS – she wants brand names, as per her contribution in today’s comment box.

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