Christmas is approaching. I presume that most of you are aware of that. You may have started putting up the Christmas decorations yourselves. If not, you just have to walk out through the door to be surrounded by glittering stars, flashing raindeers with associated Santa Clause, obscure little gnomes, and millions of Christmas lights.
You know it’s high time to start planning the Christmas dinner.
Here in Sweden, we must start planning in good time if we are to have a chance to be ready on time.
The list of required food items is long. There has to be, ham, potatoes, stewed kale, pickled herrings, smoked salmon, spare ribs, mushroom omelet, mustard, sausages…..
It’s easy to get overwhelmed. And from a food waste perspective, it’s quite depressing. We have to waste most of the food we are cooking because there’s no chance that we can eat all of it. Something I use to rant about to my family’s dismay.
But we have tried to reduce the amount of food the last years. Instead of cooking everything that is supposed to be on the Christmas table, we are focusing on what we want.
For me, that includes three things. Ham, pickled herring, and meatballs. A small potato to the herring is desirable, but not necessary. If I can also get a glass of good Christmas beer and a schnaps, I’m more than happy.
But meatballs are a must.
And for most other Swedes too. I don’t think I have ever experienced a Swedish Christmas meal without meatballs. What can I say? We take our meatballs seriously.
Baking sourdough bread is one of the most satisfying things I know unless my starter is messing with me. That’s why I’m trying to bake on a regular basis, at least once a week. I try to avoid my starter getting into a deeper sleep. If they are allowed to fall into a coma they can be a bit grumpy when you try to wake them up. Trust me.
But if you bake often there will be a lot of bread. And quite often my family and I don’t manage to eat everything before it gets stale.
It’s not a big deal since there are lots of things you can do with stale bread like bread crumbs, croutons, etc.
But the easiest way to take care of stale bread is perhaps to make a grilled sandwich or crostini out of it. The result is often delicious. Much better than if you had used some junk bread from the grocery store. And the best thing is that you can put almost anything on a crostini. Search your refrigerator to see what you can find. With a little imagination, you can create a fantastic lunch, at almost no cost.
This week I found some leftover brown mushrooms in the fridge. That felt like a good start. Nothing can go completely wrong with mushrooms. Now I only had to find something that goes well with mushrooms. Butter and garlic are the obvious choices. But I also found some creme cheese. That should work as well.
Now it was time to be a little bit more adventurous. Instead of choosing mushroom-friendly herbs like thyme or oregano I went for star anise. I also wanted a hint of sweetness, and I had already grabbed the bottle with balsamic glaze when I changed my mind. Balsamic glaze is great, but not very adventurous. Besides, it was not long ago that I published a recipe with mushrooms and balsamic glaze. Another one would feel a bit boring. But what should I choose instead?