Tag Archives: norway

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!



party time!

It’s that time again for the line up of family parties! Here are a few highlights from this year’s festivities…taken with our little point and shoot because I was too overwhelmed to pack in my good camera with loading all the kids, diapers, gifts, food, p.j.’s, etc. Dang it.

The annual Nativity put on by the Tycksen grandkids at my in-law’s house.

Clayton and all the brothers {minus Erik who is in Kuwait}, brothers-in-law and our friend Joey surprised Ruthie by singing a few carols. She loves to hear them sing, and I thought it was really sweet they put that together.

Needless to say, the white elephant game ended in tears.

Little Will overwhelmed by the chaos. Or maybe he’s enjoying it, I’m not sure.

My kids spent at least an hour on their gingerbread houses!

Liv decided to paint her fingernails with the frosting…

…and her toenails! I love that she’s wearing her angel costume in these pictures.

So pretty!

Casch and Ben at my mom’s dinner party. We always have “crackers” that pop with toys, lame British jokes and crowns inside.
Grandma reading her joke…I love that she’s wearing a crown too!

Me and “Willoughby.”

My BFF, Emily, came to town for the holidays…we had a sleepover at my house, soaked it up in our “KSL Hot Tub,” and went to the Carl Bloch exhibit at BYU.

All the girls {minus Cami} at my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve.

Little Norwegian girls! Nina, Olivia, and my niece Bria.

Poppy Per making faces in the background, haha!

Baby Casch sporting his Norwegian costume. I love him!

Every Christmas Eve of my life {except for one} has been spent with my dad’s family, gathered around a constantly expanding table for a Norwegian Christmas dinner. It’s my favorite meal of the whole year! Clayton was sick this year and missed it, poor guy. He loves the dinner too. At the end of the night, Poppy Per drops one blanched almond into the giant bowl of riskrem {rice pudding} and whoever ends up with it in their bowl wins a tall chocolate Santa. Guess who won this year? Our own little Olivia! Hooray!

Here’s the recipe if you ever want to try it for yourself…it’s super delicious.
{Norwegian Christmas Rice Pudding}


3/4 cup long grain white rice {not Minute Rice}

1 teaspoon salt

1 quart whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups heavy cream, whipped and sweetened to taste

1 whole almond

Raspberry Sauce {recipe follows}


Cook rice, salt, and milk in double boiler until rice is soft and mixture is thick – about 1 1/2 hours. Fluff the rice a few times for the first half-hour to prevent lumps on the bottom. You want the rice to be nice and fluffy.

While still hot, add sugar. Cover with plastic wrap, directly onto the rice to prevent a hard film from forming on the top, and chill. When completely chilled, stir in almond extract. Fold in the whipped cream. Add the almond and stir to hide it. Serve topped with raspberry sauce.

The person who receives the whole almond receives a special gift {often a marzipan pig or a chocolate Santa}.

Raspberry Sauce

1 pkg. Danish dessert {near the Jello at the grocery store}

3 1/2 c. cold water

small pkg. of frozen, sweetened raspberries

Cook the Danish dessert and water until thickened. Cool, but do not refrigerate {if you do, it will jell too much}. Add desired amount of raspberries with some of the juice and serve on top of the rice cream.

o christmas tree

Say hello to my little Christmas tree! This was the first year that we didn’t do a fresh cut tree. I never thought I’d be one of “Those People” who only do fake trees {no offense}, but here I am. Just like I swore I’d never drive a minivan, right? I did miss the smell of the fresh tree, but it was sure nice to not shell out the money for it. And even nicer to not have to vacuum up pine needles for two months!
We have quite the collection of ornaments around here. My cute mom-in-law gives each of us a new ornament every year, so now that’s 7 a year for our family! She lets us each choose one from the Hallmark catalog. They are so great! This year Will’s is a miniature version of the old Fisher Price Little People airplane. The door even opens up and you can see the tiny people in it! The kids will take their ornaments once they’ve moved out, of course, but for now it’s a lot of fun to plaster them all together on the tree.
Last year I bought a box of blue and silver ornaments on clearance at IKEA, thinking, “Hey! These would be perfect since I have blue walls!” I put them on the upstairs tree this year, but it just wasn’t hitting the spot. I just couldn’t do without red and green. So I decided to decorate it with all my Norwegian/Elf/Woodland themed ornaments instead, and it’s a keeper. Some of the ornaments were brought from Norway years ago when my sister Cami went there to study abroad. My parents gave me a few from Norway too. The little green elf is part of a collection made by my super awesome friend Julie, and she gave me the little grey-bearded elves from IKEA too. Others, including the Norwegian flag garland, were purchased as newlyweds from the Scandinavian shop downtown {when it was still in business, so sad it’s gone}.
I let the kids decorate the other little tree in the basement with all the ornaments from Grandma Ruthie, and we love it! Ben even made a popcorn string for it…too bad Olivia ate most it.
That’s the story of this year’s Christmas trees. I think we’ll do the same thing next year!