My holiday season has been somewhat nontraditional, but still a lot of fun. The original plan for my entire immediate family to come to Estonia for Christmas proved impossible to implement. My brother just got a new job, and my parents didn’t want him to be alone on his first Christmas back from Iraq, so my dad decided to stay home with him, and my mother decided to visit Estonia for the week and a half preceding Christmas and return to the States for Christmas Eve. My sister arrived in Estonia on the 20th of December and is staying for three weeks, so as you can see, my family is pretty much split in half this year. I was disappointed at first, but I accept that these sorts of things happen when one lives so far from their family. I was happy to have the opportunity to celebrate the holidays this year with my sister and J.
But we still wanted to do some traditional Estonian Christmas things while my mother was here, so we essentially celebrated Christmas Eve three nights early. We dressed up, decorated the Christmas tree, and made a big dinner that included (some might find this twisted) reindeer meat that J’s parents brought us from Finland. Reindeer isn’t a traditional Christmas dish in Finland, but my mother hadn’t eaten reindeer in a long time and my sister never had, so J agree to prepare it for us.
I love the deep red color of reindee. It just seems so… meaty.
Of course, we also had verivorst (blood sausage) topped with bacon, lingonberry sauce, sauerkraut braised in beer according to this recipe from Nami-nami, mashed potatoes prepared by J, and a cucumber salad made by my sister. All washed down with red wine and an ice-cold shot of good vodka, it was a perfect Christmas dinner.
After dinner we opened most of our presents. I’ll have to dedicate a whole other entry to this, since I got a ton of AMAZING kitchen stuff.
Dessert was more tame than usual, since I didn’t have as much time to bake cookies this year. That was OK, since we were so stuffed anyway. We had some store-bought gingersnaps (good ones!), rum balls (which I almost ruined by accidentally adding too much rum…), and some crispy salted white chocolate cookies (recipe from Smitten Kitchen; I added some lingonberries to some as an experiment). We also sipped some Kännu Kukk, a super-sweet Estonian liqueur known for its old-school label design and the fact that its start to crystallize inside its bottle. It was a wonderful night, but Christmas wasn’t over yet… Christmas dinner part II had yet to come. 🙂