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It’s time for a celebration.
There’s never been a better time. It’s the holiday season and, to boot, civilization as we know it, according to many of the writers of letters to The SUN, is about to end.
Might as well make the celebration a doozy. After all, come the New Year, with Obamacare, the triumph of oppressive government, and the crushing of freedom (not to mention Christmas) under a liberal heel — when the systems crash, when civilian aircraft fall from the sky, when missiles fly, sewage treatment plants fail and the fabric of society is shredded — we’ll all be huddled in unheated yurts here in Siberia With a View, eating our pets and melting snow to obtain water.
The signs of impending disaster are clear: a black president with an insurance plan, odd intersecting contrails in the sky as the delivery boys for a horrible government experiment spray the stratosphere with noxious gene-altering chemicals, a black president, mutants heating up the action on Level 7 beneath Archuleta Mesa with a eye toward escape and the triumph of an utterly messy anarchy, a black president. If you go outside between the hours of 2 and 3 a.m. here in Siberia With a View, there is an almond scent in the air and you hear sounds not unlike the snapping of a cosmic bullwhip or the flapping of the leathery wings of an immense and lethal mythological bird. Probably a black bird.
Beyond the door to the New Year might lie a bleak landscape beneath a sky that rains ash — a skeleton of a civilization bereft of electrical power and therefore lacking the photon-rich entertainment to which we have become enslaved. No juice, no television. No television, no Duck Dynasty, no NFL, no Fox “news,” no Friends and Seinfeld reruns, no cooking shows with celebrity chefs, no Andy of Mayberry. The Internet will be gone. No free porn, no shopping opportunities, no Facebook on which to trade meaningless personal details. Cell phones will cease to operate. There will be no Arcade Fire, no twerking Mylie, no Hollywood blockbusters with exploding cars. Restaurants will cease to exist. There will be no gas to fire the stoves to heat the pans to make the velouté, nothing to stoke the ovens to bake the baguettes. There will be no mail-order paté, no cherries encased in fine Belgian chocolate. There will be no Belgium.
With this numbing prospect in mind, we need to do things up, while we have the time.
Let’s have a good time, until we can’t.
If I peer to the core of any decent celebration, past, present or future (well, maybe not future), I see wine. The grape. Sure, there’s got to be food, and fine food at that, but at a paradigm celebration the selection of food is relative to the choice of wine, not the other way round.
My choice for the pivot in this all-important collocation of weirdness, this celebration of what was and will never be again, is a wine-based beverage near and dear to my Swedish ancestors — folks responsible for packing half the genetic baggage on my father’s side of the family. After all, kids, according to the feeble-minded seers and scribes who forecast our destruction in letters to the editor, Ragnarok is upon us: the huge doors to the hall will soon swing their noisy ways open and a horde of heroes will pour forth, shield to shield with the gods, surging forward to meet certain doom.
As a bonus, the Viking concoction has a special link to my father, Raymond.
We’re dealing with a pre-meal beverage, but let’s not treat it lightly. We are going to get this holiday season, perhaps the final holiday season (with the possible exception of an Obama-inspired May Day), off to a ripping start!
I suggest you begin preparation of this beverage at 7 a.m. on the day it will be consumed. Don’t forget, many of the eastern-most parts of the former Soviet Union are approximately 16 hours ahead of us, as are many of the eastern-most parts of China. If the rusty, big birds are sent aloft from Vladivostok in reaction to the threat of Obamacare, they will leave their silos at 8 a.m., Mountain Standard Time. No sense going to a lot of trouble if you can’t enjoy the fruit of your labor, eh? Prepare the drink at the right time and you can stand on your deck here in Siberia With a View clutching a cup of this delightful infusion, watching the skyline glow as airbursts demolish once-peaceful North Dakota farm land and vaporize cattle in Montana.
Since I anticipate a run on local liquor stores prior to the cataclysm, I recommend the purchase of libations, now! As part of your purchase, include a couple of bottles of premium north coast zinfandel for this recipe. In fact, buy an extra case of zin if it is available. A bit of fine wine will come in handy, both to bolster the spirits and as valuable booty in the impending barter economy.
(Note: Several years ago, after I recommended zinfandel to accompany a dish I highlighted in a column, an acquaintance approached me and levied a harsh charge. She believed I had recommended white zinfandel and was determined to bring me to my knees. This is a serious and abusive accusation. And very, very wrong. Let me be clear about this: given the choice, I’ll drink my mouthwash before I drink white zinfandel. In fact, with the exception of a few superior whites, I’ll chug a gallon of Lavoris before I entertain a glass of wine clear enough to see through. You can have your white zins, your cheap pinot grigio, your blushes in boxes. Leave me some fine rosés and the occasional high-end French white, and take the rest to the landfill.)
When I say “zinfandel” I refer to the noble red, and one of the few quality varietals we Americans pretend is our own (even though the original vine is said to have originated somewhere in what is today Croatia — and what will remain Croatia until Obamacare destroys it.) It is a pedal-to-the-metal heavyweight with a serious punch — some versions bordeaux-like with a spicy giddyap, many lugging ramified berry overtones and so versatile they go with turkey as well as with major-league slabs o’beef. There are some great Napa Valley and Sonoma County zins for sale so, for the recipe that follows, get out your wallet and buy a good one.
With the certain demise of the species on the horizon, we’re making glog, or glug, or glugg, or glogg — where’s an umlaut when you need one? — pick your homophone.
Glog is a Nordic invention, designed to propel the most despondent Dane, Nord or Swede out of the slough of despond into a temporary, snappy mood. This potion will come in handy for everyone if the lid closes on the Big Box.
If you carry Nordic genes, you know what I mean when I mention a despondent Swede. The fancy psychospeak term for our winter-to-spring problem is, “seasonal affective disorder,” translated as “Yumpin’ Yimminy, am I depressed. I need to tear apart a monastery, burn invaluable manuscripts and slaughter a herd of monks.” Glog was invented to fuel the monk-harassing engine.
Glog reminds me of my dad.
My father was a master mixologist and he created his version of glog for several reasons. First, the above-mentioned anti-Nordic gene effect. Second, to make my mother mad. Third, to incapacitate my Uncle Jack prior to a dinner attended by members of my mother’s kin — the English side of the family.
Raymond’s third reason related to the fact that, at Thanksgiving dinner at my maternal grandmother’s house, Uncle Jack was called on to carve the turkey. In true colonialist fashion, it was assumed by members of my mother’s family that Jack should shoulder the burden of the carving chores wherever he went. He was of English descent, after all. It was a matter of seniority and cultural superiority, but my old man never saw it that way. To him, as a physician with what he believed were prodigious surgical skills, the carving was his to perform when it was done in his abode. My Uncle Jack, lovely man that he was, was a wildlife biologist. Who, thought Ray, should do the carving? Someone who counted fish, or someone who could wield a blade to save human lives?
When dinner moved to Ray’s home turf during the oppressive winter months and its holidays, he took a step to ensure Uncle Jack was incapable of doing the carving without suffering or inflicting grievous injury.
Good cheer, driven home with a hammer.
After a trip to Lloyd’s Libations for supplies, the old man assembled the equipment and ingredients in the kitchen, on a table set apart from the activity attendant to the production of a big holiday dinner. My brother Kurt and I watched our father, fascinated by the hermetic process, the alchemist’s apprentices, if you will.
Raymond put on an apron, rolled up his sleeves, splashed two fingers of Johnny Walker Blue in a glass of milk in order to lubricate the impending procedure (the milk calmed an irritating ulcer) and set to work.
Fluids were mixed in measures passed down through the generations, part of an oral tradition designed to protect the concoction from prying, non-Nordic eyes.
The old man was like the mad scientist in a ’50s Hammer Film, working in his lab, obsessed with his creation. Components were simmered together with esoteric additives. A veil of steam rose from the pot; a heady and exotic aroma mingled with the smells of foods being prepared nearby.
At just the right moment, a second pot was placed on the table and a piece of screen was put on top of it. On the screen was placed a layer of perfect sugar cubes. White. Pure. Innocent. Cubes.
Then — egad Igor, the doctor has lost his mind! — after Ray took a final nip of his Walker and cow juice, things were set alight and flames were everywhere. Liquids were poured from one container to another. The pace was frantic (with an occasional halt to sample the product) and finally the old man stepped into the living room proudly displaying the pot of glog to the assembled crowd.
Raymond put a 78 of “Holiday Favorites by the Stan Kenton Orchestra,” on the hi fi, and ladled the goods into crystal cups.
All the old gals in the crowd had a spot of glog. The English gals from my mom’s side of the family developed rosy blooms on their cheeks. The gals on my dad’s side of the family attempted to smile … but failed. Though they were not Swedes (that was my father’s father), their tradition was gloomy enough that they seemed Nordic.
My mom — who never allowed an atom of alcohol to pass her lips — stood at the edge of the room, her little arms folded, scowling, her foot tapping on the hardwood floor.
Two down, one to go.
Dad then used an implied threat to Uncle Jack’s manhood, and a challenge to the glory of England, to force Jack to match him dram for dram.
Nolo contendre. You cannot keep pace in a glog competition with a man suffering seasonal affective disorder.
After ten to twelve cups of glog, Uncle Jack was “resting” in the guest bedroom and Raymond was standing at the head of the table, razor-sharp carving knife clutched in a frighteningly steady hand.
All was right with the world. The good doctor had overrun the monastery.
What a great way to start a celebration.
And what a great way to begin a final tip of the hat, or the cup, to a once powerful, freedom loving civilzation sent to its knees by an overdose of misguided liberal compassion. And a black president.
Got some relatives coming over for a holiday dinner this year?
Got some scores to settle?
Give glog a try.
You need a bottle of Aquavit. (Talk to Swedes or Danes and they’ll tell you everyone needs a bottle of Aquavit.)
Pour the Aquavit into a large pot and add a couple bottles of red wine (here’s where the zin comes in). Put in ten cardamom seeds, five cloves, three pieces of bitter orange peel, one cup of almonds, one cup of raisins and one to two cinnamon sticks.
Bring this mess up to heat, but don’t evaporate the alcohol. For crying out loud, there would be no reason to drink the stuff without the alcohol!
Take a piece of screen and place it over another kettle. Put two pounds of lump sugar on the grill.
Light the liquid on fire and pour it over the sugar into the second kettle. (Do not let kids or pets too close while you do this. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Wear bunker gear, if you have it.)
Enjoy, immediately. Enjoy again. And again.
Eat a lot, because. . .well, it might be your last feast.
In keeping with Nordic tradition, I recommend roast goose for the post-glog meal.
A second reason for the recommendation is the gaggle of geese that winters at the local golf course here in Siberia With a View. They’ll be easy pickings once the power grid goes down and you’ve exhausted your supply of ammo shooting at shadows lurking at the end of the cul de sac. Pretend you’re going to feed the birds, lure the dumb creatures close, then dispatch them with a 5-iron.
If you procure a goose with a 5-iron, you will have to pluck it and dress it. If you have a frozen goose available, you’ll need to defrost it. Unless, of course, the lack of electrical power has done your work for you.
Once the bird is ready, prick the skin across the entire body with a skewer or knife in order to allow the fat to run off. Use salt and pepper on the bird and place it in a roasting pan, on a rack, breast side down. Put the bird in a 350 degree oven. Prick the skin periodically over the course of 35 to 40 minutes as the goose roasts, providing more exits for a copious amount of rendered fat. Occasionally drain fat from the pan and save to use in a confit after your next “golfing” excursion. The fat will also give a nice mouthfeel to those moldy potatoes you’ll be frying over a fire made with splintered furniture.
After 45 minutes, turn the bird right side up and roast for an hour or so, continuing to prick the skin until the goose is cooked. Raise the oven temperature to 450 for a couple of minutes to brown the skin.
Serve this beauty with potatoes and green beans.
And a bottle of zinfandel.
The red kind.
Go ahead, you carve.