My parents, Bob and Elly Porsild, were from Denmark and we always observed Christmas in the Scandinavian way, celebrating with dinner and pakke on the eve of December 24th. The meal always began with rice porridge with a blanched almond hidden in it, the finder of said almond receiving a small gift and a year’s worth of good luck.

The rice was followed by roast goose stuffed with prunes and apples, caramelized potatoes, sweet and sour red cabbage, and an assortment of pickles and relishes.

My parents have been gone for many years and some things have changed: roast turkey takes the place of the goose, mashed potatoes instead of sweet brown ones, and salads have been added to the menu. But we still always gather together (a lot more of us now) on Christmas Eve and begin our meal with the porridge.

Red cabbage (an acquired taste appreciated mainly by those of us with distinct European backgrounds) is always included in the menu—and probably will be as long as I am around to prepare it.

Rod Kal (Red Cabbage)

1 medium red cabbage, cored and finely slice

4 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup white vinegar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 large apples, grated

1/2 to 1 cup red current jelly

Melt butter in large pot or Dutch oven. Add cabbage, sugar, water, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir well, cover tightly, and cook over low heat until cabbage is tender, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Add grated apple and jelly

and stir gently.Taste and adjust flavouring (salt, pepper, vinegar) to taste.

Served to 6 or 8 appreciative people, assiduously avoided by 16 -18 others.

Good re-heated the next day. Traditionally served with goose or duck or pork.