In the spirit of Christmas

The cookies jar is another find at the Good S, but the
candle thing (what is that called) is German, but bought
in York, UK when I was a student. My uncle has one that
is white and big. He must have bought it in Prague where
he studied, but this was the biggest I could afford.
Bluegras is the Icelandic common name for Geranium sylvaticum.  It alludes to the fact that it was used for centuries to dye cloth blue.  Sometime after 1780 an old woman died in Iceland and with her the knowledge.  She didn't share it with anyone and the art was lost.  Just before 1980 another woman in Iceland was the only one left who knew her craft.  She had just been diagnosed with cancer when she told me that she was going to teach me how to wash, starch and iron the traditional priest's collars.  It wasn't a request.  All priests in Iceland prayed for her partly, I'm sure, because they feared that the knowledge would die with her.  I also prayed fervently because I wasn't at all sure that I would be able to supply the collars as perfectly as my aunt had done for decades.  My great aunt lived another good twenty years and by the time she died in her 90's she had taught others.

Knowledge and passing it on is what keeps civilizations going.  Traditions, recipes, ways of doing things, stories and wisdom is passed from one generation to the next.  I have a feeling that grandmothers have passed along the majority of the knowledge until there was printing and books.  Now the internet is this wonderful source of knowledge that one couldn't even have dreamt about before.

I am very grateful to the many women (and few men) who make soap and blog about it.  The knowledge that they share so generously has become a constant source of delight for me.  I eagerly wait for every new post and photo and I try to find new blogs every now and then.  And new countries.  I am also grateful for Google translate.   I know that the translation isn't perfect, in fact at times it makes foreigners speak the weirdest English, but how else would I have an inkling what bloggers in countries like Russia, Japan, Chile, Turkey and Spain are talking about.  As it is I have learned so much from so many people that I have never met, nor am I ever likely to.  I love that and I am grateful to every one of them.

I have a favorite recipe that I have never given to anyone (well, no one has ever asked so it's not like I said no, even if I would have wanted to).  It is my German grandmother's Christmas cookies.  My mother has made them every Christmas for as long as I remember and so have I ever since I had a home myself.  I usually make a double recipe because they are quick to go.  In the spirit of Christmas I would like to share it.

150 g. /5.3 oz. Hazelnuts (or Almonds if you prefer)
125 g. /4.4 oz. Dark chocolate
175 g. /6.0 oz. Icing sugar
2 egg whites

Grind the nuts and the chocolate in an almond grinder.  Blend the dry ingredients, siv the sugar if it is lumpy.  Whisk the egg whites stiff.  Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites.  Don't stir.  It will look like it is impossible to do but it will get there.  Make little tops with a teaspoon onto a baking paper and bake for 7-10 minutes at 175 degrees C.  Let cool on the baking paper.  Store in a cake tin.
The cookies sometimes keep their shape, but sometimes they go flat.  Either way they taste wonderful.  Crunchy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside and they are of course absolutely essential for reading comprehension during the holidays.


  1. Ambra, you are the Queen of Sharing, and I am so grateful for your posts (and still adoring your blog header)-I have learned so many interesting things from you, and not just about soap. Thanks for your generous spirit! Thanks so much for the cookie recipe, too -it sounds fabulous, and I intend to give them a whirl. Happy New Year to you! :) ~Becky

  2. That's so sweet; you re a great story teller aren't you.
    Thank you for this warm hearting, lovely post :D


  3. Ambra, I had been meaning to comment on your Alkanet post and time just slipped by. Firstly, waht a beautiful colour you got with Alkanet!!! Wow. Love it. It seems that purple is easier to achieve with lard or palm oil in the recipe but maybe that is not the trick? I have achieved some great purples lately too but can't seem to repeat them... My mystery continues. I too, love your blog. I love the stories about Iceland, about your family. Thanks for sharing! xo Jen

  4. Becky, I hope you like them if you make them :)
    Soaps and Bubbles, thank you for your kind words. I love the photo's in your last post.
    Jen, I just made some more Lavender soap. I'll let you know if it comes out the same as before. I can't wait for your blog about green. Thats a colour I need to start to experiment with.


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