Submitted by Emma Northup, Oregon's Crowned 2013 Lucia
As a Finnish-American, I’ve always known Christmas (Joulu) to be a blend of both cultures. We celebrate on Christmas Eve, as most Finns do. But we open our presents on Christmas morning as is traditional in the US. My favorite part of the holiday, however, is the food. You would be hard-pressed to convince me that anything is better than Finnish Christmas food and pastries. I wait for it all year long. One of our favorite family traditions is having rice porridge and plum soup (riisipuuro ja luumukeitto) on Christmas Eve morning. Why is this so special, you ask? Well, truthfully, it’s not so much about the porridge itself. It’s the almond. The almond’s significance varies from family to family. For some, it means you’ll get married or have good luck. For us, it meant getting to open the first present and bragging rights. One almond is stirred into the pot, and a battle of heaping bowls of riisipuuro ensues.
Rice Porridge (Riisipuuro)
· ¾ Cup Porridge Rice (short grain)
· 1 ¾ Cups Water
· 1 Tsp Salt
· 3 Cups Whole Milk
· 1 Cinnamon Stick (optional)
· 1 Almond (optional)
1. Combine rice, water, and salt in a 3-quart saucepan.
2. Bring to a simmer; cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
3. Stir in milk, and add cinnamon stick if desired.
4. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
5. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until rice is tender, stirring occasionally.
6. Once cooked, add one almond and stir well! Serve warm with butter, sugar, ground cinnamon, and cold milk. Or you can serve with plum soup (luumukeitto). Good luck!