I am sitting in my grandmother’s living room and listening to her while she is telling stories. I love her stories. Stories about her youth and childhood. When snow crackled below their feet while they were walking to the church. She remembers the carol singers, who visited each house singing Christmas carols. The smell of traditional pig slaughters. She tells about the jumper she made for my grandfather. It was a beautiful blue wool jumper for that she span the yarn for. Unfortunately once they washed it in warm water by accident so it shrunk to a kid size.
I listen to my grandmother and I unwillingly compare her memories to today’s Christmas’s. I have such a strong desire to smuggle this feeling somehow to the present world. I feel lucky I am living in this a village because in some aspects it seems the time has stopped here. The church- which looks like a Christmas candle holder- will be filled up with people to listen to the children’s and adult’s choir at the Advent celebration. On the way back home neighbours walk arm in arm chatting and trying to pull their coat as high as possible to protect themselves from the cold wind. For the 6. December, Santa Nikolaus’s celebration crepes will be baked for children, soon there will be the Christmas festivity in the village community house with hot tea and mulled wine, and according to Swabian tradition Christkindl will come visiting each house singing Christmas carols.
I decorate our Advent wreath with berries and leaves collected in our garden, I light candles and check the fire in our tile stove. Than I go directly to the kitchen holding my other grandmother’s recipe book in my hand to fill up the air with the scent of vanilla and walnut. The scent of Christmas. Vaníliás kifli (vanilla crescents) will be often made with ground almond but my father’s mother used walnut most probably because they had walnut trees in their orchard. I remember from my childhood how much I loved this kiifli which she kept in the cold pantry in metal containers until Christmas, and allowed my to eat only a few pieces before. She is not with us any more but she remained with us in small details. We built up her pantry shelves -that my grandfather had designed- in our cold pantry, and I will store on them vaníliás kifli in metal containers. We live in the small village she grew up and a lot of people still remember her. I think this is the way memories and traditions link to each other and we carry along this thin thread that we got as a present from our grandmothers. Which possibly is the best Christmas present one can have.
Vaníliás kifli (Vanilla crescents)
400 g flour
250 g butter or margarine
100 g confectioner’s sugar
100 g ground walnut
1 tbsp. sour cream if the dough doesn’t stick well
1 package of vanilla sugar
confectioner’s sugar for rolling
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Grate the butter or cut it into small pieces. Mix butter, flour, walnut and sugar. According to my grandmother’s recipe, if the dough doesn’t stick together very well, add a bit of sour cream. For me it was necessary so I added a tablespoon of it and it worked well. Than working always with smaller portions roll the dough into cylinders as thick as a pencil and cut it into 8-10 cm long pieces. Form a horseshoe-shape and lay them on a baking pan lined with paper. Bake them until they get a light colour (approximately 10-15 minutes) Mix a few tablespoons of sugar with the vanilla sugar and roll the crescents into the mixture while they are still warm. These crescents keep well in an airtight container for weeks.