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!



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