Every holiday season, my mother would make a Scandinavian drink called Gløgg. A traditional Christmas spiced drink in Norway, it is loaded with brandy, port and red wine. Now that my mother is gone, it is holiday tradition that my brother and I carry on and share with our families and friends. Since we live where it is cold this time of year, we make it for Thanksgiving as well as for the Christmas holidays.
The scene may take place in different locations but the ingredients are the same, laughter, a toasty fireplace warming us, a big chunk of stinky Stilton served with cultured butter, French bread and hot mugs of Gløgg. Reveling in the sweet and savory tastes, the aromatic bouquet of the Gløgg fills the room like an incense of memories; it is an ode to our beautiful mother who loved this time of year so much.
Through our laughter, joy and recollection of times gone by, the importance of a small family tradition is never lost. While we gather in thanks and eat our big meal, we think of our loved ones who are no longer with us, not in sadness, but with a giggle and appreciation of what they brought to our lives. For many, it is when we pull out our grandmother’s old recipes or china that we pause as a memory flashes by. We will always have those special memories of our families, and for my family, of our mother who looked like Grace Kelly, but was utterly goofy and adorable as the Norwegian tomboy that she once was.
This year we will be celebrating Thanksgiving in our new home with family and friends. We will be missing our kids who will be celebrating back east and other family members who live too far away to join us this year, but Ric and I feel so rich and filled with gratitude and love for our wonderful families and friends…and that is really what it’s all about, right?
With the Gløgg made now, I’ll begin the process of slicing, dicing, chopping, sautéing and baking in preparation of our big feast!
So to all of you, I wish you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving!
1.5 liter bottle inexpensive dry red wine
1.5 liter bottle inexpensive American port
750 ml bottle inexpensive brandy
3-4 cinnamon sticks
15 cardamom seed pods or 1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
1 dozen whole cloves
1 peel from 1 orange that has been washed, cut in long ribbons with a potato peeler
1/2 cup dark raisins, dried sweet cherries or a mixture of both
1 cup blanched almonds
2 cups sugar
It is best to make Gløgg a day or two ahead of time so the ingredients have time to steep and meld into each other.
Place all of the ingredients in a large heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes or so. Cover the pot, cool and store in the fridge. If you are concerned about someone biting into a clove or choking on the cardamom pods, you can strain the Gløgg through some cheesecloth or a mesh strainer, but to date, we’ve never had an incident.
Heat up to the Gløgg to the simmering point before serving.
Garnish with fresh orange peel ribbons or orange wedges.