Archive for December, 2015

Christmas means gløgg season at the Nielsen house

Nectar of the Gods. The Nielsen Christmas gløgg bottled, labeled and ready to gift

Nectar of the Gods. The Nielsen Christmas gløgg bottled, labeled and ready to gift

Every year we put on a smashing party and pack in 50 or 60 friends to imbibe Danish spiced (mulled) and fortified warm wine known as gløgg. In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced a little like water gurgling down a blocked drain. Glug. Glug. But with a kind of caveman growl. Put your whole body into it! Imagine how a Viking would sound.

We bottled the remainder, and I created some labels. Voila! Hostess gifts for those lovely friends who invite us this season.

Merry Christmas! Glaedelig Jul! Skål! Godt Nyt År. Happy New Year!

Countdown until guests arrive. Gløgg warm, glass cups, raisins and almonds ready.

Countdown until guests arrive. Gløgg warm. Glass cups, raisins and almonds ready. House smelling divine.


Cautionary note: Gløgg must be served warm – but never boiled. The boiling will not only burn off the alcohol but also dampen the spices. We’ve learned the hard way.

In each glass cup, put a spoonful of raisins and blanched almonds that have been soaked for days in brandy.

The key to the spicing is to use only fresh, be very generous, and let “mull” for at least two days. note: I buy only from Penzeys which sells the best spices in America. If you can’t make it to one of their many shops, order on line Penzeys.

Ingredients in our gløgg:
Red wine (mainly)
Port wine (generously)
Brandy (a little less than port)
Rum (go easy as this is what gives it real punch. You want your guests coherent)
Cinnamon sticks
Cardamon pods
Whole cloves
Fresh ginger root
Orange peel
Lemon peel
Sugar boiled in water to create syrup

The very beginning. Start with red wine and a bottle opener.

The very beginning. Start with red wine and a bottle opener.

Prep time with Jesper, Rex and Dawn

Prep time with Jesper, Rex and Dawn

December 21, 2015 at 10:30 pm 2 comments

A Christmas gift from my kitchen to my parents’ table

Instead of wracking my brain to think of yet another Christmas gift for my 90 year old mom and 91 year old dad who don’t need anything, I was inspired to cook up a bunch of homemade meals. The chicken in sherry and mushroom sauce is my mom’s recipe. I’m thinking they can have that for Christmas Eve. Or maybe the stuffed Cornish hens. The soups will be perfect on those cold winter evenings when the ground outside is icy. Ozark winters can be br-r-r-r cold.

It’s a win-win-win kind of gift. My dad will be happy eating. My mom will be free from cooking. I had a lot of fun in my kitchen, listening to Gregorian chants and filling the house with delicious aromas.

My Christmas gift to my parents. A box of home-cooked meals from my kitchen to their table.

What’s in the box?
– Chicken in sherry mushroom sauce with wild rice (enough for at least 2 meals for 2 people).
– Italian meatloaf (2 meals for 2)
– Mexican meatloaf (2 meals for 2)
– Bolognese spaghetti sauce (2 meals for 2 – probably 3-4)
– Cornish hens stuffed with cornbread, scallions, celery, sage, mushroom, raisins, walnut & water chestnut dressing. (2 hens) Sides of sweet potato delight with garnish of cranberry chutney.
– Turkey soup (1 liter)
– Minestrone with beans and ham (3 liters)
– Split Pea soup with smoked bacon (2 liters)

I put 10 lbs of dry ice to keep the already frozen meals icy cold for the 2 day UPS air trip from Coastal California to the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.

December 14, 2015 at 9:47 pm Leave a comment

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas…

There are few things I enjoy more than decorating for the holidays. Any holiday, actually. But there’s something about Christmas that truly sets me free to be as extravagant and outrageous as I desire.

The heart and soul of Christmas is my mantel. I never know what will evolve. Last year I craved purity and focused on white. This year I went “Borgia” with over-the-top opulence. The mood is quite changed from day to night, yet always lush.

Christmas 2015 mantal daye

Christmas 2015 mantel nighte

Antinous must be adorned as all gods demand of us. He’s sporting a gold necklace of stars this year to go with his Dionysus hair wreath.

antinous 2015e

The Ghost of Christmas Present from A Christmas Carol is a favorite.

Piano e

My grand piano with glitter and shine in mirror mosaics accented by golden angels.

We gave up on big trees and now recycle a lovely little fake tree that I picked up at Marshalls. I change the lights, use different ornaments – or none at all – and wrap the base in leopard or silver or gold. For the first time in ever so long, I strung garland. I’d forgotten how hard it is to hang just right.

tree daye

The end product turned out to be one of those old-fashioned trees you might see on a Christmas card.


Wrapping the base is a bit of an art form itself.

Apollo Belvedere e

Apollo Belvedere regards the room from the golden glow of a Greek god.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season filled with warmth, joy, peace and love. “Gods bless us everyone.”



December 6, 2015 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

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