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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

On February 9, 1945 (only a few months before Germany surrendered in Norway) the Dallachy strike wing of the RAF flew a mission over Førde fjord in Norway to attack German shipping along the Norwegian west coast. The ensuing battle was the largest aerial clash over Norway during World War II. While the air battle occurred over a large area, the battle center around the anchorage point of a German convoy in Førdefjord near a farm called Frammarsvik in the community of Naustdal. Several British planes were lost in the battle, crashing into the fjord or on nearby farms.

In 1990 a museum dedicated to the air battle along with a cafe was built in the Frammarsvik area and included artifacts from the battle, a movie and many battle plan maps, photographs and models. Over the past 10 years they have entertained guests from the UK, Canada, Germany and the USA who were involved in the air battle as well as war historians researching material on the battle.

Recently the Luftkampmuseeum (Aerial combat museum) and Håjen Café celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary while unveiling a major renovation of the museum and cafe. The renovation, funded in part by the Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune, includes photos recently released from the Norwegian National Archives as well a privately owned photos donated by family members of the pilots, recorded accounts from survivors of the battle, and a published book that was extensively research both in Norway and England.

The Luftkampmuseeum and Håjen Café are located on the Slettehaug family farm in Naustdal kommune in the fylke of Sogn og Fjordane on Norway’s west coast. Håjen Café includes a locally known lefse bakery along with it’s well received cafe and catering service. Chef Else Slettehaug builds her menu around locally produced foods, some grown just outside the cafe window. Håjen specializes in traditional foods made from scratch, including all sorts of lefse, pancakes and other traditional cakes such as “bløtkake”, kransekake, krumkake and many more. Holiday meals at Christmas and Easter may include pinnekjøtt, lutefisk and svineribbe. The café is also know for desserts and ice cream many of them made of raspberries from the farm.

Håjen Café can be followed on Facebook.

Contributing Editor
Ken Nordan

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“Back in the day”, the Citizens Band (“CB”) radio was all the rage. I had a CB, my friends had CBs, and we all hand “handles”. A handle is the little name that you gave yourself so that people could “call you” on the radio. I also had a license. CB users (at the time) were required by the FCC to have a Class “D” license and you were given a “call sign”. My call sign started with KAPA but I can not remember the rest right now.

Sorry… I am getting a little carried away with my memory recall. I’m sure you are asking yourself “how does this relate to the title of this entry: ‘Young people eat less fish in Norway’. Well, as I said above, I had a CB handle that friends would use to contact me. And this name does relate to this article. I called myself “The Norwegian Sardine”, because in our house we ate those little King Oscar brisling sardines. I never knew what a brisling was but boy I loved those little fish. Dad would pull from the cabinet one of those flat little cans wrapped in red plastic. After tearing open the wrapper he would pry off the skate key like tool and proceed to open the can. Around and around he would turn the key and after what felt like forever, it would eventually open.

We grew up eating sardines, it was part of our culture, every good Norwegian family as well as many other families from a European heritage had sardines for some of their meals. Back then we were not aware of the health benefits associated with eating fish with high concentrations of Omega-3 fatty oils, today we do know but we usually get our “O3” oils from a pill made from sardines.

I was reading an article last week on NRK.com about the fact that young people and especially young women eat less and less fatty fish in Norway. For most of them the reason is that they do not like the taste. Fish, like vegetables, are an acquired taste and if you are not introduced to them early (my wife the dietitian would say “early and often”) children rarely become adults who eat fish and vegetables. In this article one individual interviewed stated “…it is especially important to do something in relation to young women and get them to eat fish so they can transfer the good habits to the next generation when it comes to eating fish.”  The article noted an article by the Norwegian Helsedirektoratet discussing that “Fish consumption is lower than desired, and substantially lower than the consumption of meat.”

This is so true about many of the dietary issues we see here in the USA and now many health-care providers are seeing them in Norway. Whether it is eating balanced meals at home or ordering the right meals at restaurants and fast food establishments, it is the parents (and in many cases the mother) that have control over what families eat. My wife the dietitian reminds me over and over, parents are the prime teachers of good eating habits. Even if the fast food company targets the kids with toys in their fun meals, the parents have the final say, they can as the NRK.com article implies, use eating right as a “teaching moment”.

Mom, I eat my vegetable every day and still have a can of sardines once a week.

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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Every family has it’s traditions and Christmas is a time when many of those traditions get put on display. In my wife’s family it is tradition to reuse boxes, bows and wrapping paper that were originally used by their mother. Cancer took my mother-in-law way too early, so “the girls” (her three daughters) make a point of reusing gift tags, paper and boxes from Christmas long past to remember their mother. A typical gift tag could have 10 years or more of crossed out “from/to” names, but on every tag the oldest “from” would say “MOM”. You can imagine some of the confusion (and fun) when a name from a previous year does not get crossed out and the gift goes to the wrong person, or a “Precious Moments” box ends up as a gift box to a teenage boy whose girlfriend is attending her first family Christmas.. It has gotten to the point now that sometimes a year gets added to the “from/to” names for clarity.

I also brought a couple of traditions into our household and Christmas time has it’s share. My father started his Christmas season with Santa Lucia Day (December 13) and carried the holiday to Twelfth Night on January 6. He took the “Festival of Light” seriously and put lights on the large evergreen on the front lawn and all over the house. In Norway the lights are always white, because the light from candles are always white, but dad used a lot of colored lights. My mother, who did much of the cooking, got tired of so much turkey and ham being served between Thanksgiving and the end of Christmas, so she was always on the lookout for other foods to serve and normally puts out a leg of lamb on Christmas. This year we had Christmas Day at our house so we changed it up again and my wife and I made smørbrød (Traditional open-faced sandwiches) and Rice Pudding (similar to risengrynsgrøt, but with eggs in place of heavy cream).

Salmon and Scrambled Eggs

In the early days of making smørbrød we would put a little meat and cheese on a slice of bread and call it a meal. That was until we started making regular trips to Norway to visit family and friends. Norwegian (and Danish) smørbrød take their offerings to an art form, especially in the older generation.

Norwegian Goat Cheese and Apple

Our first exposure to the Norsk style sandwiches was at a luncheon in our honor, put on by a long time family friend in Oslo. The sandwiches we ate were far more that meat unceremoniously slapped on some whole grain bread, these were fine pieces of art carefully constructed to please the eye as well as the mouth. Solveig clearly took a lot of pride in serving her creations, and each time we traveled to Norway, be it with good friends or new acquaintances we developed a new appreciation for the maker and a connection to craft. Soon we were hooked on “building a better smørbrød!”

Rullepølse on Beet Salad with a Boiled Egg on top

Rullepølse on Beet Salad with a Boiled Egg on top


This year my wife made rullepølse (beef roll) and a beet salad for our smørbrød. I tried my hand at making chicken aspic with white asparagus as a garnish and a good hardy bread. (Note: bread is an important element in smørbrød, and not easy to find. But that is a topic for a different entry.) We had the typical smoked salmon with eggs (both hard boiled and scrambled), goat cheese on apples and a few other combinations.
Platter of smørbrød ready for serving

Platter of smørbrød ready for serving


A lot of work goes into the smørbrød, but all things considered, smørbrød for Christmas was a success and of course we finished it off with the rice pudding and a slice of mince meat pie with brandy sauce (not Norwegian but I still love it). Later that evening we poured ourselves a little homemade gløgg (a spiced wine) and our Christmas day was complete.

Christmas Table

Christmas Table

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. We are looking forward to a great and fun New Year.

Contributing Editor
Ken Nordan

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Football, Fish and Beer

When I was a young man my father and I would get together over a beer and a jar of herring (sild). Dad would open up the new jar with a little bit of ceremony declaring “to the fishermen of Norway we thank you.” It always seamed to me that a good beer with some fish and Wasa crackers (flatbrød) was a great combination. As a child, I had also gained an appreciation of smoked fish, mostly salmon, chub, trout and later mackerel. It has become a Sunday football tradition for me to pour myself a good beer (usually German or Irish) and bring out the herring or smoked fish. In recent years my appreciation for mackerel has increased due in part to the fun I had in Norway and the memories of my visits, many of those trips include stories about mackerel.

Mackerel, beer and salad

Mackerel, beer and salad

One of those memories include a day with my cousin Marit and her husband Arne. My cousin has a few rental cabins on their island near Trondheim, each cabin includes access to a small boat for fishing. A family of Germans had rented one cabin and been fishing most of the day. They invited us over for an evening meal with a small keg of beer, mackerel (cooked over an open fire) and potato salad. As the late night summer sun finally set (probably 1 o’clock in the morning) we were all laughing and enjoying each others company.

My second memory occurred a few years later when myself and a group of my friends rented a small boat to take us on a tour of the fjords near Ålesund. As part of the tour the owner gave us fishing poles and allowed us to catch a few fish. We had a great time wetting our lines, enjoying the competition and excitement, even though we only caught a few small mackerel. Later, a member of the crew gladly took the fish off our hands and I’m sure he enjoyed the fish at his evening meal. For me, it is important knowing where my food comes from and the work involved in bringing that food to my table.

MackerelYesterday was another Football Sunday and once again I enjoyed a nice beer (this time a Chicago brew) and some smoked mackerel on Swedish knåckebrød. The food and the memories helped me get through another humiliating loss by my favorite team. “To the fishermen of the world, thank you.”

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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Every year the Chicago area Scandinavian community gathers at Vasa Park in South Elgin, Illinois. The event brings together organizations from the Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Icelandic communities to exchange cultural news, share artistic expressions and sing national songs. This years was the 30th anniversary of the event and one of the biggest I can remember. It is such a treat to have so many people with similar interests in the Scandinavian community gathering together for this all day event. The day opened with a flag ceremony and the signing of the National Anthems of each of the Scandinavian countries.

Vasa Park vendors under a canopy of oak trees

Vasa Park vendors under a canopy of oak trees

Several vendors from all over the Midwest and even from the East Coast displayed items for sale. Historical organizations from the Swedish and Norwegian community as well as North Park College had booths to display information about their activities. Some of my favorite booths include the Danish Bakery in Darien (I love the cardamom cake they bake), the Sons of Norway lodge booths and the hand made textiles booths. And of course we can’t forget about the Viking encampment put on by a group called Norsa.

Lorraine Straw at the Viking Ship Booth

The Viking Ship Booth, the ship is open for viewing Saturday September 19, 2009 1 – 4 PM.

Diane Hoven Handmade Hardanger from Diane's Stitches of Baldwin WI

Diane Hoven Handmade Hardanger from Diane's Stitches of Baldwin WI

Viking Encampment

Viking Encampment

Some of my friends at the Nordic Nook said sales were good, I know the number of vendors was up this year from prior years. We saw all kinds of t-shirts, doll bunads, rosemaled items, and lots of Nordic inspired things that you could use as gifts or in your own home. Food was a big item also. I enjoyed having a pølse wrapped in a piece of lefse as well as herring and a “sloppy uff-da”. A couple of us enjoyed a little “water of life” to help with our digestion. Throughout the day various groups entertained us from the park stage, including the Leikarringen “Heimhug” dancers.

The Leikarringen Heimhug Dancers

The Leikarringen Heimhug Dancers

This was a great event and if you missed it this year keep an eye out for announcements for next years event.

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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Berries, Berries, Berries

I’ve always liked berries! Growing up, our summer table very often had fresh sweet or tart berries and all winter our toast had jams and preserves to keep our mouths happy. I could walk outside and pick a handful to put on my cereal. I loved the berries dad planted. We had red raspberries (bringebær), black raspberries (Svart-bringebær), blackberries (bjørnebær or trollbær), gooseberries (stikklesbær) and red currants (rips). Dad didn’t use much Norwegian in the house, but he always told us the Norwegian names for berries. We did not grow strawberries (jordbær) or blueberries (blåbær), but we could easily go to “pick your own” farms in Wisconsin or Michigan to fill that need.

Black Raspberry (blackcap)

Black Raspberry (blackcap)

I never knew the work and to what length that some people would have to go to get their share of fresh berries, that is until I took a summer trip to Norway. During that trip, I learned how to appreciate berries the way Norwegians do by visiting my 2nd cousin (who lives on an island off the coast near Trondheim) and a friend of mine in Naustdal, Sunnfjord.

Marit (my 2nd cousin) asked if I wanted to go and pick blåbær, and of course I agreed. I was accustomed to picking blueberries at a farm so needless to say I was surprised when we put on our hiking gear, gathered our buckets and began our climbed up the fjell (mountain) behind her farm. After a little hike we came to a place where we would find the berries. The fruit was similar to the ones we had picked in Michigan, but different. I later learned that these berries were what we call bilberries, having the same family and genus as North American blueberries but classified slightly differently. The hike was magnificent. Because we were so high up we could see a very long distance down the coast. We could also see the sail boats and fishing boat moving past our little island. To get to this island we had to take two ferry boats from Trondheim. After a few hours picking, our buckets were full and we headed back down the mountain for home. Our hands were blue and my back was a little sore but we had a great time. Marit make a small cake and we had fresh blueberries on top.

Blue Hands

Blue Hands

After visiting Marit for a few days, I went on to visit my friend Aud in Naustdal. Her family owns a raspberry farm and restaurant near Naustdal. We enjoyed the fresh picked berries, juices and flavored ice at the restaurant. Had we only picked bringebær at the farm I would have been happy. The bringebær were big (an inch long in most cases) and juicy (because of the long but soft summer sun). Aud’s sister Else is a trained Chef and the cakes she made were out of this world. But, the best part of the whole stay at the farm was when Aud took me to her private and secret Molter patch on the mountain behind the farm. Molter (cloudberries) are a real treat. If you have only had the jam sold at the Ikea then you know only half the story. These berries grow in small bogs high up on the mountain and Norwegian generally guard their location like a card player guards his cards.

Multer

Multer

I had by now become accustomed to putting on hiking gear to go pick berries. But this mountain was significantly higher than the one I hiked with Marit, and the weather changed as we moved up the mountain. By the time we got to Aud’s hytte (mountain cabin) it had begun to rain. We ducked into the hytte for a few minutes to warm up some raspberry soft (juice) and have a cookie or two, then we donned our rain gear and hiked out to the bog. Molter grows very close to the ground, one berry per plant. You can see the berries from a distance because the berry sits on top of the plant. So in a gentle rain we picked berries until we had picked all that we could. It was then that I realized just how far people (and I’m now one of those people) would go to pick the best berry in all of Norway.

A fruit tort that Else made.

A fruit tort that Else made.

After returning to the farm we made a small jar of Multer preserves for me to take home. I put the multer with whipped cream on Krumkaker the following Christmas and shared it with my family. My tante (aunt) Solvieg took one look and broke into tears, “Multe!” she said. It made me cry too, she knew the work and love that went into making that small jar of multer preserves.

Krumkaker med Multe og Krem

Krumkaker med Multe og Krem

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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How Odin Gave Man, Beer

Every culture that I’ve studied (I enjoy learning about people and how they live) has a set of stories that explain “how things became as they are”. The stories usually include a god or powerful person doing something that caused the thing to exist.

A week or so ago I was reading a special issue magazine about Norway and it contained a story about how beer (øl) came to the land of our ancestors. It also just so happened this past weekend that I was sitting one fine and star filled night around a campfire with some good and long time friends and as such I recounted this story to them and in a similar fashion I will recount it again here.

“Now, we all familiar with the fact that Odin loved to drink and celebrate with his friends after a long and successful campaign, much as we are here tonight. But did you know that Odin did not always have his favorite beverage nor has man always know of this powerful drink. So then you ask, how is it that Odin came to have his mead? Suttung the chief of the Jotuns, the Frost Giants of Norway, who had taken the mead of inspiration from the dwarfs, hid the mead deep within the mountains of Jotunsheim. Odin, learning of its location decided to steal some of the mead for himself and changed himself into a snake so he could follow a crack deep into the mountain. Odin took the mead and escaped from the mountain drinking some of the mead as he ran. Suttung learned of the theft and pursued Odin. As the two great immortals thundered along in the mountains the local men came to watch. Odin became so very besot with mead that he needed to stop several times to relieve himself, this allowed the peasants to be able to catch the frothy drops from their god and they soon learned of its intoxicating properties. To escape Suttung, Odin changed into an eagle and flew up to Asgard, it was in this way Odin acquired his mead and man came to know øl.”

My father always told that beer was given to man from the gods, but I never knew that it came is such a way “from” the gods.

Ken Nordan, Contributing Editor

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