Hurrah for Norge!

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My grandpa, "Poppy Per," loves any excuse to wear his Norwegian flag tie!

My grandpa, “Poppy Per,” loves any excuse to wear his Norwegian flag tie!

Sipping on a "Solo," a favorite Norwegian orange soda.

Sipping on a “Solo,” a favorite Norwegian orange soda.

Melkesjokolade {Norwegian milk chocolate} from Uncle Todd.

Melkesjokolade {Norwegian milk chocolate} from Uncle Todd.

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Norskie cousins.

Norskie cousins.

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Rain never stopped a Norwegian from celebrating May 17th–Norway’s national day–did it?  Just like we celebrate the 4th of July here in the US, Norwegians love their “Syttende Mai.”  I get so excited for it and I bribe my kids to wear their “bunads” {traditional Norwegian dress} while they still fit.  My siblings and I used to wear these on Christmas Eve and they’ve been passed through all the younger cousins, and now back to me, full circle.  The rain just added to the authenticity of the holiday, because it rains so much in Norway!

I don’t remember celebrating “17 Mai” while I was growing up, although I know that here in Salt Lake City, many Norwegians {including my grandparents} and their descendants have gathered for several years to commemorate the day.  It has only been the last few years that I’ve been taking my family to this fun event. There is a “parade” that anyone and everyone is welcome to march in and wave Norwegian flags, games for the kids, traditional food and little postcards and cookbooks to buy, and folk dancers all dressed up in their bunads.  I love seeing the familiar faces of my grandparents’ aging cousins and friends, along with my own extended family and siblings.  One of my second cousins, Brita, and I have made it a tradition now to meet up at the celebration and then to spread out a traditional Norwegian table for dinner.  This is year number three and we are getting better at it every year!

The first year, Brita invited us over and she made an amazing potato soup served with different breads and cheeses, and a salad.  I don’t remember what I brought, if anything!  The second year, we added in meatballs, cucumber salad, and bløttekake {Norwegian cream cake}.  This year was our best yet with smoked salmon, pinnekjøtt {traditional Norwegian lamb}, boiled potatoes with cream sauce, cucumber salad with dill, smørbrød {Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches spread with butter and topped with your choice of ham, cucumbers, lettuce, Jarlsberg cheese, shrimp, dill + lemon}, elderflower drinks, homemade Scandinavian toffee {similar to “Daim” bars you can find at IKEA}, and Brita made her fab bløttekake again.  I’d say it was a great success and the company couldn’t have been better!  I love that my kids are friends with their THIRD cousins and I hope that one day they will want to carry these traditions on with their own kids.

Brita’s Pinnekjøtt

This recipe has been adapted from my cousin’s Farfar {grandpa-or “father’s father} who used to salt the meat and nail it to the rafters to dry for three weeks before Christmas Eve dinner.  We have had some good laughs about that!  My own grandpa has a line strung across his furnace closet specifically for hanging the salted mutton at Christmas time.  Traditionally the meat is then cooked in a pressure cooker, but Brita and I are afraid of them exploding on us, so we are pretty excited about this modernized version of the recipe which, happily, doesn’t call for any nails or rafters.

  • lamb chops {she uses shoulder chops}
  • good amount of kosher salt

Cover all sides of each chop with kosher salt.  Allow to sit and “leach” for anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks in a covered container in the fridge.

On the morning of the day you’d like to serve it, rinse the salt off thoroughly in cold water.  Shake water off.  Cook in slow cooker on low heat for 6-8 hours.

Brita’s Béchamel Sauce

To serve over boiled potatoes.

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • fresh dill to taste

Melt butter in a pan.  Add four and cook over low hear for one minute, stirring to make a roux {thick paste}.  Remove from heat and slowly add milk, stirring constantly to form a smooth sauce.  Return to hear, stirring 2-5 minutes until sauce boils and thickens.  Add dill just before serving.

Brita’s Bløttekake

The way her grandparents made it.  Assemble 3-6 hours before serving and keep in the refrigerator.

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar

Beat with electric mixer until stiff {about 15 min.}.

  • a little over 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Sift together.  Fold dry ingredients into wet.  Grease two springform pans {with Crisco/butter and flour}.  Pour mixture in to pans an bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool.

  • one can fruit cocktail in lite syrup
  • strawberries, sliced thin
  • bananas, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups 7-Up soda
  • whipped cream
  • more fresh berries

Mix fruit cocktail syrup with 7-Up.  Cut the tops off the cakes to even them.  Spoon 1/2 of the liquid on one cake layer’s edge, then layer fruit cocktail and top with the other cake.  Spoon the other 1/2 of the liquid on the edges of the top cake.  Top that cake with bananas and strawberries.  “Frost” the entire cake with whipped cream and garnish with fresh berries.

 Scandinavian Cucumber Salad

  • cucumbers
  • white vinegar
  • sugar
  • dill, fresh or dried

Before slicing cucumbers, grate the edges of the peel lengthwise with a fork.  This isn’t necessary, but it looks pretty and allow the cucumbers to absorb more of the vinegar mixture.  Slice the cucumbers into 1/8-1/4-inch rounds.  Place in salad bowl.

Whisk together enough vinegar to coat the cucumbers with a small amount of sugar.  I typically cut up two cucumbers and use about 1/2 to 3/4 cup vinegar and a few tablespoons of sugar.  If it’s not sweet enough just add more sugar until it tastes evenly sweet and sour.  Pour over the cucumbers and sprinkle with dill, to taste.  Combine and serve immediately.

Homemade Scandinavian Toffee

Tastes just like Daim toffees…my favorite treat from my grandparents’ candy jar when I was a kid.  You can also buy big bags of them at IKEA if you don’t want to make your own.

1/2 cup butter {1 stick}
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
3/4 cup ground almonds {can be left out if you have nut allergies}
3/4-1 c. milk chocolate {I use two of the 100-gram milk chocolate bars from IKEA because it tastes just like Daim when covered with this chocolate!}

Place butter, sugar and corn syrup into a pan and put over medium/high heat until all melted together. Using a metal spoon stir occasionally so the sugar does not just burn on the bottom.

 

When all melted together and boiling reduce heat slightly and boil for about 5 minutes, stirring to make sure the bottom does not burn. You want the sugar to dissolve and the color to be a nice golden brown.

If using, add the ground almonds into the mix and keep on heat for further 30 seconds to one minute just to bring back to boil.

Pour the mixture into a parchment paper lined or greased tray or cookie sheet.  Spread out with a spoon to make sure you get it pretty thin. Do not touch it with your fingers though, the temperature is the equivalent of molten lava!  Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour.

Melt the chocolate and over the top of the cooled toffee.  Allow the chocolate to cool to room temperature and harden up.  When completely cooled, smash it up with the end of a rolling pin into biggish bite-sized pieces.  Best enjoyed with a cold glass of milk!

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.  I usually store mine it the fridge…that is if there’s any left!
 

 

 

Pippi Moves In

Pippi Longstocking

Summer and Pippi go hand in hand, if you ask me.  What kid wouldn’t want Pippi to move in next door?  She has a suitcase full of gold, is stronger than anyone on earth, and she is an excellent thing-searcher.  Pippi books and movies {the 1970s Swedish-dubbed-in-English variety} are favorites at our house, so when we unexpectedly discovered these comic book style books at the library, of course we had to check them out!  We have since added a few to our home library because they are so funny.  I promise that if you find a copy or two for your kids, they will be laughing!  In the meantime,  here’s an abbreviated version below, featuring photos I did with my three youngest, and words by Astrid Lindgren.  Happy reading!

Tommy and Annika

PIPPI MOVES IN TO VILLA VILLEKULLA

On the outskirts of a tiny little town was a neglected garden.  In the garden stood an old house.  Many years ago, Pippi Longstocking’s father (a great sea captain) had bought the old house.  He had planned to live there with Pippi when he grew old and was no longer able to sail the seas.  Then, unfortunately, he was blown overboard.  While Pippi was waiting for him to come back, she headed straight home to Villa Villekulla.  That was what the house was called.  It stood there, all furnished and ready–just waiting for her to arrive.  Pippi took two things from the ship.  A little monkey whose name was Mr. Nilsson, and a suitcase full of gold coins.

Next to Villa Villekulla was another garden with another house.  In that house lived a father and a mother with their two sweet children, Tommy and Annika.  Tommy and Annika played nicely together in their garden, but they had often wished for a playmate.  While Pippi was still sailing the seas with her father, they would sometimes say to each other, “It’s so sad that no one has ever moved into that house!  Someone should live there, someone with children.”

Pippi Moves In

On that beautiful summer evening when Pippi stepped through the front door of Villa Villekulla for the very first time, Tommy and Annika had gone to visit their grandmother for a week.  That’s why they had no idea that someone had moved into the house next door.

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On the first day after they came home, when they were standing at their front gate and looking out at the street, they still didn’t know that a playmate was actually so close.  As they stood there, wondering what to do and whether anything fun was going to happen that day, or whether it was going to be one of those boring days when they couldn’t think of anything to do–just at that moment the gate to Villa Villekulla opened and a little girl came out.

Pippi Longstocking

Her hair was the color of a carrot and it was braided in two tight braids that stuck straight out.  Her nose was the shape of a very small potato, and it was completely covered with freckles.  Under her nose was an exceptionally wide mouth with nice white teeth.  Her dress was quite odd.  Pippi had made it herself.  There hadn’t been enough material, so Pippi had decided to sew on little patches here and there. What made Tommy and Annika really open their eyes wide was the monkey who was sitting on the strange little girl’s shoulder.

Pippi set off up the street.  She walked with one foot on the sidewalk and the other in the gutter.  Tommy and Annika fixed their eyes on her for as long as they could see her.  After a while she came back.  Now she was walking backward.  That was so she didn’t have to turn around when she came home.  As she reached the gate to Tommy and Annika’s house, she stopped.  The children looked at each other in silence.

Finally  Tommy said, “Why were you walking backward?”

“Why was I walking backward?” said Pippi.  “Don’t we live in a free country?  Can’t a person walk any way she likes?  Besides, I can tell you that in Egypt everyone walks like that, and nobody thinks there’s anything odd about it…I wonder what you would have said if I’d walked on my hands, like people do in Farthest India.”

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“Now you’re lying,” said Tommy.

Pippi thought for a moment.  “Yes, you’re right.  I was lying,” she said sadly.

“It’s bad to lie,” said Annika, finally opening her mouth.

“Yes, it’s very bad to lie,” said Pippi, sounding even sadder.  “But sometimes I forget, you see.  And how can you really expect a little girl whose mamma is an angel and whose pappa is king of the natives–a girl who has sailed the seas all her life–how can you expect her always to tell the truth?  And besides, let me tell you that in the Congo there isn’t a single person who tells the truth.  They tell lies all day long.  They start at seven o’clock in the morning and keep on going until sunset.  So if I happen to lie once in a while, you’ll have to forgive me and remember that it’s just because I’ve spent a little too much time in the Congo.  But we can still be friends, can’t we?”

“Of course,” said Tommy, and he suddenly thought that this was probably not going to be one of those boring kind of days.

“So is there anything stopping you from coming to have breakfast at my house?” said Pippi.

“No, of course not,” said Tommy.  “Come on, let’s go!”

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Afterward Pippi gave each of her new playmates a present as a souvenir.  “Now you better go home,” said Pippi, “so that you can come back tomorrow.  Because if you don’t go home, then you won’t be able to come back tomorrow.  And that would really be a shame.”

Tommy and Annika thought so too.  And so they went home.

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PIPPI IS A THING-SEARCHER

Annika woke early the next morning.  “Wake up, Tommy,” she said, shaking him by the arm.  “Let’s go over and see that funny girl.”

They threw on their clothes.  And a whole hour earlier than their mother expected, they came sliding down the banister.  They landed right at the breakfast table, where they sat down and began shouting that they wanted their hot cocoa at once.

“What’s going on?” asked their mother.  “Why are you in such a hurry?”

“We’re going over to see the new girl in the house next door,” said Tommy.

“We might stay there all day,” said Annika.

On that particular morning, Pippi was in the middle of baking gingersnaps.  She had made a huge batch of dough and rolled it out on the floor.

“Because you know what?” said Pippi, “What good is it to roll the dough on a table when you’re going to bake at least five hundred gingersnaps?”  So she lay on the floor, cutting out heart-shaped gingersnaps for dear life.

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Pippi could certainly work fast!

“Done,” said Pippi finally, as she slammed the oven door on the last baking sheets with a bang.

“What should we do now?” said Tommy.

“I don’t know what you’ve got in mind,” said Pippi, “but I’m not the sort to lie around.  I’m a thing-searcher, you see.  And that means I never have a moment to spare.”

“What did you say you were?” asked Annika.

“A thing-searcher.”

“What’s that?” asked Tommy.

“Someone who goes searching for things, of course!  The whole world is full of things, which means there’s a real need for someone to go searching for them.  And that’s exactly what a thing-searcher does.”

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All three thing-searchers set off.  Tommy and Annika watched Pippi to see how a thing-searcher was supposed to act.  Pippi ran from one side of the road to the other, shading her eyes with her hand, and she searched and searched.

“Can we really take anything that we find?” asked Annika.

“Yes, anything lying on the ground,” said Pippi.

Some distance away an old man was lying on the grass outside his house, sleeping.  “That man over there is lying on the ground,” said Pippi.  “And we found him. So let’s take him!”  Tommy and Annika were both quite startled.

“Oh, no, Pippi.  We can’t take an old man.  We just can’t,” said Tommy.  “Besides, what would we do with him?”

“We could put him in a little rabbit cage instead of a rabbit, and feed him dandelion leaves.  But if you don’t want to, that fine with me.  Even though I think it’s annoying that some other thing-searcher might come along and nab him.”

They kept on going.

Pippi gave out a roar and triumphantly held up a spool of thread.  “This seems to be my lucky day,” she said.  “Such a sweet, sweet little spool for blowing soap bubbles, or you could put it on a string and wear it like a necklace!  I’m going to go home and do that right now.”

When they reached Pippi’s garden, Tommy said that he didn’t think he and Annika were ever going to find anything.

“Tommy, why don’t you look inside that old tree?”  To please Pippi he stuck his hand into a hollow in the tree trunk.

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“Wait a minute,” he said in astonishment, and pulled out his hand.  And in it he was holding a truly splendid notebook.

“You see?” said Pippi.  “There’s nothing as great as being a thing-searcher.  It’s odd that more people don’t take up the profession.”  And then she looked at Annika. “Why don’t you go feel around inside that stump?”

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Annika stuck her hand inside and almost at once she found a necklace.  Then she and Tommy just stood there gaping for a long time, they were so surprised.  And they thought that from now on they were going to be thing-searchers every single day.

Pippi had been up half the night playing catch, and now she suddenly felt sleepy.  “I think I’d better go and lie down for a while,” she said.  “Why don’t you come along and tuck me in?”

Then she lay down to sleep.  She always slept with her feet on the pillow and her head under the covers. “They sleep like this in Guatamala,” she assured them. “I always have to sing to myself for a while, otherwise I can’t sleep a wink all night.”

Tommy and Annika listened to the humming sound coming form under the covers.  Carefully they tiptoed out of the room.  In the doorway they turned around and cast one last glance at the bed.  They could see nothing but Pippi’s feet, resting on the pillow.

Then Tommy and Annika ran home.  Annika was clutching her necklace tightly in her hand.  “Tommy, you don’t think that…you don’t think that Pippi put these things there beforehand, do you?”

“You never know,” said Tommy.  “You never really know anything when it comes to Pippi Longstocking.”

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PIPPI ORGANIZES AN EXPEDITION

“Today we’re not going to school,” Tommy told Pippi.  “Because it’s a house-cleaning holiday.”

Outside, the sun was shining in a bright blue sky. Pippi had an idea.  “What do you think about taking Mr. Nilsson with us and going on a little expedition?”

“Oh, yes,” shouted Tommy and Annika with delight.

“Run home and ask your mother then,” said Pippi.  “In the meantime I’ll make a packed lunch.”

Tommy and Annika dashed home, and it wasn’t long before they were back.  By then Pippi was already standing at the gate with Mr. Nilsson on her shoulder, a walking stick in one hand and a big basket in the other.

At first the children walked along the country road, but then they turned off into a field where a nice little path wound its way between birch tree and hazel thickets. Some distance away was a small hill that could be easily and quickly climbed.  On top of the hill was a sunny little ledge, just like a balcony.  That’s where they sat down.

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sky full of stars

Flag crew<!

I'm pretty sure there's a reason my dad wore this shirt.

I’m pretty sure there’s a reason my dad wore this shirt.

 

"If you go down, I'm going down with you and our cameras are toast!"

“If you go down, I’m going down with you and our cameras are toast!”

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DSC_5427 copy Our team on the other side of the canyon!

Clay reeling in the first line.

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My brother is a serious gamer from the future! Actually, he is using his ninja filming skills to control the camera that’s attached to the helicopter.

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Perfect shirt for my British-American brother-in-law!

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Sisters, minus one. {We miss you Cami!}

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My husband pretty much ROCKS.

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Snow a few days after the flag went up.

Nothing is impossible for Harold Haugen.  Some may know him as the “Star Man.” Ten years ago, he dreamt of lighting a giant star on the mountain above his home for the Christmas season, and he made that dream a reality.  It’s now a tradition that hundreds look forward to each year.  Last year he had another dream…to suspend a massive American flag in that same canyon, and he made that happen too.

I’m proud to say that Harold Haugen is my dad, and I love that he dreams big and does it for the community and nothing else.  He is on year two of hanging the flag for the summer holidays, and I see this as the beginning of a new tradition many people will look forward to each year.

Why would anyone want to go to such an effort?

My dad’s parents came from Norway at the end of WWII, and they loved becoming Americans.  They struggled learning English, but they did it.  My grandpa fought as an American soldier in the Korean war, and they taught their children to work hard.  They have always flown an American flag in their front yard and taught all of us to appreciate the freedoms and liberties we so often take for granted.  My grandpa still tells about the day the U.S. forces came to his small town of Haugesund and freed them from the Nazi regime.  He teaches us to be proud to be Americans.  On a special family trip to Norway years ago, my grandma insisted that we all wear matching sweatshirts that said “USA” in big letters on the front.  She was so proud to bring her family to her homeland, and wanted everyone there to know we were American {trust me, it was pretty obvious, even without the sweatshirts}.

So that’s a little background for you.

Now let me tell you, my dad is the most selfless, hardworking person I know.  He’s also very patriotic and I’ve seen him tear up talking about our country’s flag and what it represents.  Throughout the history of our nation, the flag has been a symbol of bravery, freedom, liberty, and happiness to all the world.  It waves hope to all who see it.  At least that’s how I see it.

When my dad saw small European villages displaying their countries’ flags in canyons on his travels, the idea sparked to do this in his own neighborhood.  So, a couple family dinners worth of talking and planning and the first flag went up last year.  I didn’t think it could be done, but he did it!  It was three days worth of work last year.  This year, there was a new plan involving a couple remote controlled Phantom helicopters to carry lines {and video cameras!} from one side of the canyon to the other, which made the work so much faster {three hours instead of three days!}.  And next year it will probably be even better.  He is grateful for the team of people that help him with this project.

The flag is 25×40 feet, and the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.  If you live in the SLC area, you’ll find it at the mouth of Little Willow Canyon off of Wasatch Boulevard in Sandy.

Oh say, does that star spangled banner yet wave?  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

I hope it always will.

Please go watch the amazing video my sister Hailey edited with the footage she and my brother Trevor shot that day:  http://www.somethingdevineblog.com/2014/07/red-white-and-blue.html

A news article is here: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=30571279

And to see me make a fool of myself on the news go here:  http://fox13now.com/2014/07/03/giant-american-flag-flying-in-canyon-inspired-by-european-custom-patriotism/

Happy Fourth of July!

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This makes me laugh so hard.

This makes me laugh so hard.

a pirate’s life for me

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Avast, me hearties!  Behold me wee pirate lad, set to sail the seven seas and find where ‘X’ marks the spot!  Now where be me treasure map?

This little Halloween costume has been one of Will’s go-to outfits for the past year {who wouldn’t want to wear this everyday, right?}.  So, all last summer I was scheming a photo shoot of him like this.  On a beach.  With a treasure chest {thank you, Mom, for having crazy things like this at your house}. 

It was a warm day last September and my schedule was open.  Let’s go!  The very next day, cold weather snapped and I don’t know if I would’ve had another chance for months.  Although the sun was shining, this shoot was SUCH an immense effort!  I wish somebody had taken some behind the scenes photos or videos because they would be so funny to see now.  {Why do I do these things to myself?  Am I a crazy person??}

Here’s how the pirate shoot went down:

Four of my five kids came along for the 45-minute ride out to the Great Salt Lake {Hannah opted out of this one. smart girl}, and when we arrived, the water was disappointingly low.  Meaning Ben and I had to lug this incredibly heavy treasure chest for about a half mile?  A mile?  I have no idea.  And we still didn’t make it all the way to the water.  It took forever, as we tried not to lose our flip-flops in the squelchy, slippery mud.  Thank goodness for my teenage boy, I couldn’t have done this without his help!

When we finally set the chest down, the girls of course had to pee, and I realized I had left the coconuts in the car {palm to the forehead}.  Ben ran another mile and back to grab the coconuts while the girls tinkled on the beach…which I figured was fine because we were still at least a mile from the water’s edge anyway!

Exhausted before I even pulled out my camera, I was SO thankful that Will was happy and completely in pirate mode.  I shot all of these in about twenty minutes, finishing up just as somebody came to tell us they were locking up the parking lot and we needed to leave right now unless we wanted to spend the night.  Arrgh, matey!!  Running this time, back to the car we heaved the chest and the other props, with ten pounds of sticky mud glued to the bottoms of our feet, mosquitos attacking us from all sides, and children whining all the way!  Some members of the crew were nearly forced to walk the plank, I tell you.

I’d do it all over again though, because I LOVE these pictures of my pirate boy so much.  Yo-ho!

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norwegian cinnamon + cardamom buns

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He gives it his thumb of approval.

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It was one of those cozy, cloudy, rainy spring days.  The kind that makes me want to do nothing but bake up something warm and sweet.  What better than cinnamon buns?  And Norwegian ones at that?

I have two favorite cinnamon bun recipes…I couldn’t decide which one to use, so I did a mash up of them both.  Here is my version of Norwegian Cinnamon Buns, based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her book, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, and this one from Tessa Kiros, author of Apples for Jam and Falling Cloudberries.  I love Kiros’ addition of cardamom, such a Scandinavian flavor that brings back memories of my grandparents for me.

Norwegian Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns

for the dough:

  • 5 cups white flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons yeast (yes, really!  3 TABLESPOONS.)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 2/3 cups milk
  • 2 eggs

for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar {plus additional for sprinkling over buns, optional}
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

for the glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • a few spoonfuls of sugar {for sparkle effect, it’s a good thing}

OR…you can do this frosting instead of the sprinkled sugar glaze if you’re craving something extra sweet and sticky:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract {or vanilla, but almond is better in this particular recipe}

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and yeast in a large bowl {that’s right, you don’t need to dissolve the yeast first! I know, it’s completely insane but it works, trust me!}. Melt the butter and whisk it into the milk and eggs, then stir it into the flour mixture.  Mix to combine and then knead the dough either by hand or using the dough hook of an electric mixer until it’s smooth and springy.  Add a little additional flour if the dough is too sticky.  Form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl {I usually use the one I mixed the dough in, just so I don’t have so many dishes to wash}, cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel, and leave it to rise for about 25 minutes.  I’ve heard that a slightly warm clothes dryer is a great place to let bread dough rise…I’m going to try it next time!

While the dough is rising, mix together all the filling ingredients.

Take half of the dough and roll it on a lightly floured surface into a 20×10 inch rectangle. Spread the dough with half of the filling mixture, doing your best to cover it entirely.  Roll it up from the longest side.  Now, grab your sharpest knife or a pizza cutter, and get ready to cut your dough into buns.  You can just do the traditional, slice, slice, slice straight across, but if you want to up the wow factor here is what you do.  Imagine you are cutting the letter ‘V’ right side up, then upside down, all across your rolled up dough.  The point of your ‘V’ should be about 3/4-inch across, and the base of it should be about 2 inches across. Does that make sense?  See the photo above if I’m not making sense, which most likely I’m not.

Great work!  Now do the exact same thing with the other half of your dough and filling.

Place a sheet of parchment paper over a cookie sheet, or grease the pan if you don’t have parchment paper around.  Take all those little ‘V’ shaped pieces of pudgy dough and sit them on their fat bottoms into the pan.  So it will look somewhat like an upside-down ‘V’.  Now press your thumb down into the center of each one until you almost reach the pan, but be careful not to break a hole through the bottom of your dough.  Along the sides you will see the cinnamon stripes peeking up and outward.  Leave a little bit of space between each one to allow room to rise while they bake.  Brush them with the beaten egg {and sprinkle with sugar if you’d like} and then let them rise again for about 15 minutes.

Put into the hot oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.  They should have risen and turned a golden brown.  If you are using the frosting, allow the buns to cool slightly before drizzling it over the tops.  Enjoy warm with an ice cold glass of milk.

Makes about 24.

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camping 2013 part 2

I told you I fell in love with camping again this summer, so of course we had to squeeze in one more trip before the cold weather moved in.  The High Uintas have become our favorite…can you see why?  Look at this meadow…we even spotted some moose here.

Ben helping Olivia build a fairy hammock.

Ben helping Olivia build a fairy hammock.

Mirror Lake.

Mirror Lake.

Building s'more city.

Building s’more city.

forest

We ate like royalty once again with the Camp Chef stove {breakfast burritos, taco salad, blueberry pancakes…}, jumped and twirled through the grassy meadow, spotted a moose, felt grateful for our portable throne, built fairy houses and hammocks {fairies even came overnight and left treasures!}, read books and played games during the rainstorm, and talked about first kisses around the campfire {Ben had a couple stories!?!}.  Oh, and we tolerated some drunk, fighting neighbors and celebrated when their big, fat motor home bumped away into the distance!

Roll over the photos for descriptions. :)

superhero birthday party

super hero party invitation

Come to our party!

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superhero party

Easy party craft…paper plate Captain America shields!

superhero party

Little heroes creating their super shields.

superhero party

Part of our superhero training–toss the Kryptonite through the hoop.

superhero party

Another part of superhero training–”Hulk-smash” the city.

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superhero party

Will is three!

superhero party

superhero party

I was going to label these Kryptonite, but remembered that Kryptonite is a bad thing…

superhero party

A peek inside the treat bags.

superhero party

Treat bags for all the superheroes as they fly home.

My little superhero has been “planning” this party for months on his own, telling me that the cake should be a red heart with Avengers stickers all around the sides and a toy Nick Fury on top.  I didn’t quite do that, but his cute little ideas definitely helped inspire this party.

For the invitations, I put to use the goods from this photo session and tried my best to put it all together in Photoshop (links below for fonts and graphics).  I really wanted it to look like it came out of a comic book.  What do you think?

The decorations were pretty simple to pull together, really.  Enough white butcher paper to cover the table, some bright cups, plates, stripey straws, and some nicely designed Iron Man napkins.  I wrapped every smallish-sized box in the house (including boxes of pasta, with pasta still inside) with more butcher paper, and glued yellow “windows” to create skyscrapers.  The windows aren’t exactly straight, but hey, I was in a hurry (as always).  I loved Will’s idea of putting a toy superhero on the cake, so not only did we do that, but we scattered them all over our table cityscape as well.  Heroes are always in the city, fighting crime, right?  I found “BANG” and “POW” graphics online to add a little pop to the scene.  At the last minute, I had the idea to put some newspaper on the table since Clark Kent and Peter Parker work for the newspaper, but since I don’t subscribe and I was out of time, I had very little to work with.  My son, Ben, however found a great newspaper article he had stashed away that featured Spidey.  Perfect!  We had Hulk stomp through the grapes, and Iron Man protect the strawberries from any bad guys.

Of course, I had to include tissue paper pom-poms…what’s a party without them?  So I had some red and aqua blue ones floating over the table.  Since my husband loves superheroes as much as Will does, we happened to have a couple framed prints to hang on the wall, which I personalized with a comic-style speech bubble.  Then I added a few blasts of yellow stars to finish off the wall.  The console table in the other room was covered with superhero books and masks.

What do you feed little superheroes?  Captain America star-shaped watermelon, Hulk grapes, popcorn, pretzels, Iron Man strawberries, raspberry sherbet and a patriotic cake (topped with toy superheroes and other fun things).

Since our party guests were just little guys, I had to think of a very simple craft for them to work on as we waited for everyone to arrive.  Hey, how about super shields made from paper plates?  Yes!  I stapled a strip of red elastic onto the back side for a handle, and then provided a pile of superhero stickers for them to plaster all over their shields.  Success!  They loved it, and it was nice that they could do it on their own while I was answering the door.

Superhero Training was next.  Each hero had to display their shield throwing skills, toss “Kryptonite” through a hoop, and detonate bombs (black water balloons).  They “Hulk-smashed” the “city” with big, green fists, and shot down a bad guy (a Loki figurine) with “webs” (Silly String).  When their training was complete, each one received a gold medal to show off their bravery.

We always end birthday parties with the “fishing pond.”  Kids love it!  Old-fashioned games are the best.  Wooden dowels with strings and clothespins attached are the “fishing poles.”  We cover the railing with a blanket so the kids can’t see into the pond, and they fish over the railing for a surprise.  My older kids sit on the stairs below and help the little kids catch a treat bag to take home.  Inside the treat bags there were patriotic butter mints from the party store (perfect for Captain America!), blue Hershey’s kisses “bombs”, red licorice “laser lassos,” and “anti-Kryptonite” rock candy sticks (because Kryptonite is a bad thing for Superman…this builds his immunity to it).

Such a fun day, watching Will soaking up every minute of his dream party.  I hope this gives you lots of inspiration for your own superhero party!

P.S.  Fonts I used for the invitation and decorations found here and here.  Here are the PNG files I found for the yellow explosion stars, BANG, BAM, POW, KA-POW, and speech bubbles one, two, and three.