Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

On behalf of everyone at Sons of Norway, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eats and Treats!

Thanksgiving is almost here! In a little over 24 hours I'll be knee deep in turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, lefse and pumpkin pie. Unlike past years I am hosting the dinner this year and that means I'm responsible for sending everyone home stuffed and satisfied. Kind of nerve wracking but I think I've got a good game plan in place. I've got it figured out as to when I need to start the turkey, then when I have to get the pie and stuffing cooking.

There's so much to plan out that it makes my head spin and I've gained a whole new respect for the folks who, year after year, host large family Thanksgiving celebrations. Seriously, it took me until this week just to decide on what I would serve , then it took me 3 days to figure out which recipes I would use!

So, in the spirit of the season, and in hope of helping others out there make it through Thanksgiving unscathed, I have put together a full Thanksgiving menu to use if you are running out of time or nerve. Enjoy!

Let's start with a traditional Lefse recipe.
2 quarts potatoes
1 tbsp lard
3 tbsp sweet milk

Run potatoes through a meat grinder, set aside to cool. Heat lard and milk. Pour over the cold potatoes. Knead well in flour, enough to roll out very thin. Bake on lefse iron.

Next, we need something warm to sup on (yes, I really did use the word "sup." And in the proper, not-greeting sort of way, too) since it's supposed to get pretty chilly around here on Thanksgiving. The following recipe for a warm Rhubarb Soup should do the trick.
12 ounces of Rhubarb
3 pints of water
6 ounces of sugar
3 tsp potato flour

Clean and cut fine the rhubarb. Bring to a boil in the water, then dissolve the potato flour in two tsp of water and stir into boiling soup. Bring the mixture to a boil again and add the sugar. This recipe will serve 6, so you can adjust up or down as needed.

Now that we have the soup course out of the way it's time to bring out the main course! If your family is anything like mine, that means that cooking a meal that appeals to everyone can be tricky. I've learned over the years from watching my mother and aunt cook for the fam that it's just a better idea to have a couple of entrees. That way everyone has a great Thanksgiving feast. So, in the interest of keeping the peace, I've got two different entrees that should work great for a traditional Norwegian Thanksgiving dinner.

The first entree is Faar I Kaal
4.5 to 5.5 lbs of lamb or mutton
1 large head of cabbage

2 oz butter
2 oz flour
1 tablespoon whole pepper corns

Wash the meat in lukewarm water. Cut into suitable pieces and place in just enough boiling, salted water to cover the meat. Skim when it rises to a boil and let simmer for for half an hour; then remove meat from water.

For the saus, melt butter and stir in flour. Add the strained broth. Place the meat in this mixture in alternate layers with the washed, parboiled and cut up cabbage together with the pepper tied in a cheese cloth pouch. Boil under cover until all is tender; usually 3 hours.

The next entree is the one I KNOW you ALL have been waiting for: LUTEFISK! Yes, the smelly, jelly-like fish dish that has numerous songs devoted to it! Unfortunately the recipe I have for it takes up to 2 weeks to prepare, but if you need a faster way to get this delicacy, then check out the Sons of Norway recipe box here for a great recipe.

9 lbs dried cod
2 lbs slaked lime
1 and 1/3 lbs washing soda (if you can't tell yet, this is a very old and traditional recipe)

Saw the fish into convenient pieces and place in a wooden receptacle and cover with cold water. Let it lie for a week changing water every day. Make a solution of the slaked lime, soda and fifteen quarts of water. Place the fish in this solution under weights to keep the pieces in position as they swell. Add more water if necessary to keep the pieces covered. In about a week, or when properly softened through, take out and rinse thoroughly and place in cold water for eight days, changing the water twice daily during the first few days.

Cut in pieces the size you wish to serve, skin and wash. Tie in a cloth and place in boiling water to cook for 10-15 minutes until tender. Serve with melted butter.

Now that's over, it's time for desert! Today I bring you a traditional Riskrem.

1 qt cream
2 cups cold boiled rice
2 tbsp gelatin
1 cup cold water
2 egg whites
1/2 cup blanched almonds
Sugar to taste

Soak gelatin in water, then put over heat to melt. At the same time, whip the cream until thick. When the gelatin is cold, add to the whipped cream. Add sugar, almonds and whites of eggs and beat until stiff. Serve very cold, and, if you like, add some grated pineapple for color and texture.

So there we have it--a four course Thanksgiving meal that will pull at the heartstrings of any Norwegian American family.

If you have your own recipes or Norwegian American family traditions for Thanksgiving, why not share them in the comments section below.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's Lefse Time!

Just a week left until Thanksgiving, which is called Lefse day at my house! Now I've never made my own lefse before, but I am considering it this year--if I have enough time. If I do, then I'll probably use the video below to help with the recipe. I thought all you readers might enjoy it as well.

Have fun!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NEWS ALERT: Big Change to Norwegian Passport Applications

According to an official alert, December 1st will mark a big change in how Norwegian passport applications are being handled. Beginning on that date, it will no longer be possible to apply for a new passport through Honorary Consulates, including the one in Minneapolis.

That being the case, anyone who has a passport that expires in the next couple of years is being encouraged to
contact their nearest Consulate for passport renewal before December 1. Thereby avoiding the inconvenience of a trip to one of the few remaining consulates in Washington, Houston, New York or San Fransisco.

A full explanation of the change can be found here at the website.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Norwegian Time Machine: 1924 Telemark Rye Bread

Since the last recipe was a hearty Lapskaus recipe, I thought it might be nice to include a traditional accompaniment: Telemark Rye Bread. Once again, this is the 1924 version of the recipe. For a modern version, check out the link at the bottom of the post.

And if you do give this one a try, please let me know how it turns out. Leave a comment or e-mail me--I'd love to hear if this recipe has held up for the past 85 years.

8-quart kettleful of potatoes
Graham Rye Flour (sifted)
White flour (sifted)
1 cake compressed yeast or its equivalent in any other good yeast

In the evening boil potatoes very well. Salt more than ordinary. Drain. Put through a potato ricer and mash thoroughly. While hot, work in with a potato masher as much graham-rye and white flour (half of each) as you can. Set aside to cool. When lukewarm, knead using the same proportion of graham-rye and white flour—half of each—as before. Make dough very stiff. When nearly through add the cakeof yeast dissolved in a little water. Let stand over night but not in too warm a place as the large proportion of potatoes causes it to sour very easily. In the morning form into small round loaves. Brushthe tops with a mixture of egg yolk and a little cream. Dent the top of each loaf with the point of the little finger and put immediately in the oven and bake slowly for one and one-half to two hours. Caraway seeds and a little grated primost may be added to the potatoes when mashing if desired.

IMPORTANT—be sure to mash the potatoes well. Don’t let the mixture be too warm when adding the yeast. Do not keep in too warm a place over night. Make dough very stiff as it always softens. Much depends upon carefully following instructions otherwise the bread will not be a success. The dough is sticky and may be hard to handle, requiring patience, but this will be more than rewarded by the finished product.

Now, for a more modern version of this recipe, I found this one, which should be fairly similar, with the exception of the molasses. Anyone up for trying both recipes and reporting back on how they turned out?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Norwegian Time Machine: 1924 Recipe for Lapskaus

It's the time of year when we are all thinking about food. With Thanksgiving right around the corner it's hard not to, right? As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, I turn more and more to comfort foods when planning meals at home. I love good hot meals, heavy stews and thick, fragrant sauces. So, today I give you a recipe from 1924 for one of my favorite Norwegian foods, Lapskaus. I first came across this delicacy 8 or 9 years ago when I was visiting the Vegas Viking 6-152 lodge. They made an absolutely wonderful lapskaus with potatoes, and large chunks of meat in a sauce that was beyond belief. I'll never forget that when I asked for the recipe I was told they didn't really use one beyond the various type of ingredients. Too bad for me, right?

Well, in any case, when made correctly it can be the finest, yet most simple meal to enjoy on a cold November night. So, with that, I give you the 1924 recipe and a link to a more current recipe as the one below may be hard to replicate (can you even get "salt meat" anymore?).

1 soup plate of boiled salt meat
1 soup plate of fresh raw meat
1/2 lb pork
1 qt potatoes
1 small onion
1/2 tsp pepper

Cut the fresh meat, pork and potatoes into small cubes. Place over the fire in water. Add finely chopped onion, pepper and salt to taste. Boil under cover for about one and one-half hours. Add the salt meat after the fresh meat has boiled for half an hour. Serve.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Norwegian Time Machine Recipes: Lefse No 1

To the mothers of Norwegian descent in America:

Who with courage and fortitude almost incomprehensible came to this country in advance of civilization

Who have been the centers about which our happy homes have been reared

Who never stinted in toil of the hands of effort of the mind that those about them might be happy

Who by their love, loyalty, interest, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, radiant optimism, and hopefulness

And not least by their observance of customs and occasions and the serving of good things to eat

Did their part in building and maintaining a morale so necessary in the work of transforming the wild forests and prairies of this great country into golden harvest fields, comfortable homes, and thriving cities

This humble volume is respectfully dedicated

The year was 1924 when these words were written and the passage comes from the introduction of a small, green-canvas-hard-cover, frayed on the edges and definitely well-loved cook book of popular Norwegian recipes called (logically) COOK BOOK of POPULAR NORWEGIAN RECIPES.

I found it a while back when I was doing some cleaning and going through the space under my stairs and after reading the above passage I got to thinking that this cook book probably had a number of recipes from our parents’/grandparents’ generations and thus maybe a wider audience. I think we all have at least one or two favorite family recipes that always seem to taste better than modern variants, right? I think of my grandma Almira’s cooking, using recipes that her folks brought over from the old country and how modern recipes never seem to match them.

So, in hopes of helping a few folks out there reconnect with their heritage and to reminisce about times gone by, I’ll be posting a number of these recipes throughout November and December. Now, before we get onto the recipes, here’s a couple items to give this book some historical perspective: Vladamir Lenin had just passed away and Marlon Brando was born; Also Calvin Coolidge was the president of the 48 United States of America and had just given the first ever presidential address from the Whitehouse over the radio.

So, with that, enjoy today’s Time Machine Recipe:

Lefse No 1

Potatoes, as many as desired

Peel potatoes and cook till well done. Mash fine and add a little salt. When cold, add a little cream and flour enough to mold. Sprinkle the molding board well with flour. Take a large spoonful of dough at a time and roll out thin. Bake on top of a moderately warm stove until a very light brown. Turn with a long pointed stick (made for the purpose) and brown lightly on the other side. Fold and place in cloths to keep soft.