This is a love letter to my mom.

When I was four, we moved to Sweden.  It was the home country of my mom’s dad, and we all benefited from her pleasure at connecting with the country of her ancestors.  One Swedish tradition that persisted in our home ever since that time was Santa Lucia Day.

It is a day that has become synonymous over the years with the sweet, earthy smell of saffron and the rich yellow that results when you bake with it. This year, I was determined to have some saffronsbrod to offer at our Santa Lucia Day breakfast.

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You start with saffron.  This is one of the richest colors I know, and the scent immediately transports me back to countless Santa Lucia days of my childhood and later.  We always dry it on a piece of tinfoil.  It wasn’t until quite recently that I realized one could dry it on just about anything.  But in my childhood, part of the magic involved shaping a sparkly piece of tinfoil and shaking the saffron onto it to be dried in a low-heat oven.

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Next, you dissolve the yeast.  This is a bowl from my paternal grandmother.  I don’t particularly remember the bowl from her home, but it gives me such satisfaction to use something of hers while carrying out traditional family cooking.

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Melt some butter…

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…add flour and sugar and currants and stir.

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It is impossible not to spill flour on myself – or the floor.

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Let it rise…

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This scrap of paper with the recipe is over 25 years old.  I was in graduate school in LA and couldn’t find the recipe in my stuff.  I got on the phone with my mom and wrote it down.  On the other side are directions to my friend Liz’s home in Los Feliz, CA.

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Success!

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More success!

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My folks came over for breakfast this morning and we had a lovely time.  What a pure pleasure to make something that -through sight and scent -creates a thread reaching back almost as far as memory goes.  Thanks, Mom, for knowing what’s important and doing it all through my childhood.  I think I’m finally catching up.

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5 comments
  1. Jacquie said:

    Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful! Love to hear about other people’s family traditions. Your writing is so descriptive….I can smell that saffron. Happy Lucia Day Katrina!

  2. Dee Packard said:

    I know where you live and I’m coming over. But, wait! Are there any left?
    I am profusely doubtful. Well, never mind. The post was delicious in all ways,
    and tender with the threads of memory. Wonderful!

  3. Brita Gould said:

    What a joy to have such a “love letter” written for me. I think it is that “thread” that you mention that connects my heart to the years of this tradition in our family; it’s an instant filling up of light, love, and joy. Oh, and on a technical note (grin) you don’t mention putting the milk in the melted butter – did you use any?

  4. Tina said:

    Thank you for sharing, Katrina. So sweet. : )

  5. Ruth said:

    ❤️ Beautiful!

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