Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shut Up and Blog! (about Glögg)

It can be hard to maintain that holiday cheer when everybody is stressed out all around you, beating you to the bargains in the clearance isle at Marshalls, and making mean-spirited comments on the blogs (the chickens do come home to roost, don't they?). But rather than give you a list of my pet peeves (they're better rationed out as full fledged blog features), I'm gonna take a piece of advice that I've seen a lot lately (see title) and share this instant smile tonic with you.

I got this bag of "Swedish Glugg Spices" from the "Manager's Special" bin at Kroger. That plastic bag contains raisins, orange peel, apricots, almonds, prunes and spices (basically a deconstructed pumpkin pie spiced fruit-cake). At first, I thought "glugg" was like a hot cider drink, but it turns out that you've got to add three kinds of alcohol and it's closer to a mulled wine or a hot Long Island Iced Tea. If it sounds familiar, you've probably seen cases of the non-alcoholic variety at the Ikea checkout area. Basically, glugg/glogg/glögg is a popular warm drink during the winter months in Nordic countries.

From the Drunken Blog:
Glogg is basically a type of swedish mulled wine, the ancient form of recreational pharmaceuticals designed to make one forget that no one bathed, it was cold as hell, you couldn't go anywhere because of the snow, and your home was made of stones and straw and poo. It is in Glogg's nature to knock you on your ass before you're aware of what's happening, so do plan accordingly for what this will do to people.
This guy's "Oh Glögg, You Devil" entry includes a much more detailed recipe than the back of Grandpa Lundquist's sticky package of spices. The drunken blogger also tells of a technique where you set fire to a pan full of sugar and brandy before adding that into the mix. Sounds really good, as long as you do this BEFORE consuming a bunch of drinks. Can you tell that I've never flambe'd? Maybe I'll start this weekend. The gist is to let all those spirits (and some water) simmer for an hour or so. It smells up the house real nice and puts a smile on people's faces.

That sounds like a plan to me. Let's toast the new year with holiday cheer.

Is this picture out of focus, or is the Glögg starting to kick in?


  1. Glog is a fairly entrenched Danish tradition. There is, however, no set way to make it that I'm aware of. I've had it made with all sorts of different alcohols and wines with old family blends for the spices down to store bought sachets and powders.

    While I am not a big fan the best I've had are the simplest for the alcohol, red wine (if you wouldn't drink it straight don't use it here), and then a blend of spices you've made yourself. Throw in an orange or lemon, cinnamon sticks, cloves, a little sugar and whatever else floats your boat. You can even go so far as adding a few drops of almond extract. Steep it half an hour or so - do not boil! The flavours will be even more intense if you make it the day before, refrigerate and then reheat.

    In Denmark the tradition is to drink it on Lille Jule Aften - or Little Christmas Eve. On the 23rd of December the whole family sits down to a dinner of rice porridge with sliced almonds drizzled with lingonberry preserves. One whole almond is hidden in the rice pudding and whoever gets it wins a prize, usually a marzipan pig. After the meal the children take a couple of bowls of the porridge out and leave it on the steps (or in our case out in the hayloft) for the nisse (the elves or gnomes that bring the presents). The next morning you go out (and eye the very happy cats...) and there is one present for everyone. The nisse traditionally leave simple, homemade gifts like wooden carved toys and such.

    Once that is done it's time to get the tree. Yep, Danes put the tree up on the 24th. The tradition has held due to the use of actual lit candles on the and that requires a fresh tree, normally one you've cut yourself. When you get back from you snowy tree hunting... more glog! Then dinner and more drinking. When the sun goes down the candles on the tree get lit (dangerously near the paper and straw ornaments...) and everyone joins hands in a circle around the tree and sings. The dancing and stomping of feet tend to get a bit raucous. With all the alcohol fueled roughhousing around a burning tree it's surprising that more house don't burn down each year.

    Since the presents are then opened on the 24th there is very little to do on Christmas day.... Except recover from the glog.

  2. That's quite a detailed description of a holiday tradition (and not one mention of houses "made of poo").


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