Friday, December 24, 2010

It's a Scandahoovian Christmas

Def: Scandahoovian. A Hoosier whose ancestry includes that of Scandinavia.I'm Mostly Scottish (according to DNA tests) with a scattering of other more exotic bloods. Yet adopted and raised  by a Swedish/Norwegian Mom (and after her death, a Norwegian StepMom) I strongly relate to Luther League, lutefisk (as a science experience), the art of Norwegian seduction (yah, you have some nice snow tires, you betcha) and I have been trained in the art of making food that can be classified by the FDA as a sedative.

Like lefse, unleavened flatbread make out of mashed potatoes, cream and flour and cooked on a griddle. I eat mine a common way, adding butter to the lefse and rolling it up (lefse-klenning in the mother tongue). Other options include adding cinnamon, or spreading jelly or lingonberries upon it. We'd also eat it for lunch with thin sliced Danish ham and cheeses.

But most of Mom's Scandinavian Christmas dishes were of the cookie/dessert variety, mostly made at Christmas. One of those is Krumkaka which consists of a light sweet batter which is poured onto a hot mold and then quickly cooked and rolled into a cone shape while it is still warm. It's often served filled with real whipped cream, or just munched plain, while crisp, buttery and warm. (Note: photo was cropped to remove evidence of crime scene tape).

click to enlarge photo

Then there are the Rosettes. Also a batter in which a hot iron mold attached to a handle is dipped and the results deep fried and dusted with sugar. The cookie is light and delicate, almost like puff pastry, if done right. It looks easy. It is not. I've had many slip off the iron into the hot oil because the batter is too thin or the wrong temperature, only to resemble floating, fried .40 casings, and others that looked OK maybe, but would have ripped the dentures out of great grandma with their shriveled chewiness.
click to enlarge photo
But sometimes you get it right. Light, crunchy, perfection with just a hint of Cardamom.

Then there was fattigman, known as the "poor man's cookie", though our version was dressed up with a tablespoon of brandy to add to the heavy whipping cream, flour and butter. Like all of these recipes, it did require a special tool, one that is passed down from mother to daughter.

All the recipes seemed to call for lots and lots of flour. Why? Probably because my family could go through these cookies like locust on a summer day. Hours of work gone in minutes. I never knew how much energy, how much time, effort and love Mom and Grandma wrapped up in all those holiday treats until I tried to make them myself to share with coworkers and friends.
Only then did I truly appreciate the love that went into them.

These quiet times in the kitchen are my way of regrouping after a a long day or a long road trip. It's a time, wherein the faith I have, that can take a beating during the work week, is repaired, threads of hope and strength woven back into the areas that feel tattered as the leaves clinging stubbornly to the trees outside my window.

I love to cook for my friends and family. I've always spent at least one vacation week a year out West at my parents. There, I'd just give Mom a vacation herself and cook them three big meals a day, clean the house and do some light outdoor chores and keep them company while they got to put their feet up. Not much of a "vacation" for me, rest wise, but I loved how it made my parents smile and how good it was to hear them laugh.

I'll volunteer to take duty again  this Christmas to free up someone who has small children.  My Dad wants to be alone with his memories, not celebrating the holidays since my Mom died.  I understand.  There will be other Christmas's where I can cook and entertain. For meals here for my friends during the year, bring back memories of days when we had a family dinner table meal every night except the Saturday barbecue night. I can't recall so much of what we talked about or exactly what each meal was, memory being not just selective but discriminating, in the end only as reliable as we are. The dates and times and actual meals themselves are insignificant, but I remember the gathering, the smells of beef and fresh vegetables, of laughter, of stories from school, from work, a discarding of weighty thought and the simple gathering of those you love, for nourishment of the soul. I can't recreate that through what I cook, or who I serve it to, but I still can remember how those simple meals made me feel, the redemptive power of the communion of family.

For those of you who have that, treasure every moment.


  1. All cookies should be stored in an air tight container or they will get soft.


    2 eggs
    1/4 cup Baker’s (superfine) sugar
    1 Tbsp.brandy (optional)
    3 Tbsp. melted butter
    1/3 cup heavy cream (whipped to stiff peaks)
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. salt
    vegetable / canola oil for frying
    confectioner’s sugar

    Cream together the eggs, sugar, and brandy (if using). Stir in the melted butter. Gently fold the whipped cream into the batter. Sift together the remaining ingredients; with a light hand, mix the dry ingredients into the batter to form a soft dough. Chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

    Roll the chilled dough out on a floured counter to an 1/8″ thickness. Using a fattigman cutter or a pastry cutter, cut the dough into diamond shapes (approximately 1 1/4″ wide by 3 1/2″ long. If using a pastry cutter: cut the dough first into 1 1/4″ inch strips and then cut across these diagonally to form diamonds. Use a knife to cut a 1/2″ slash in the middle of each diamond). Twist one corner of each diamond up through the center slash to make a knot.

    Heat two inches of the cooking oil in the bottom of a heavy pot to 375.º Drop in the pastry knots and fry until golden, turning occasionally. Remove and drain on paper towels.

    Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately (Note: if making ahead, do not sprinkle sugar on after baking, store, then warm in a low oven and sprinkle with the sugar just before serving.)

    Spritz Butter Cookies (from Grandma Gullikson)

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in the egg and vanilla (and almond extract, if desired). Gradually add in the flour, mixing by hand until combined.

    Fill a cookie press with the dough, and squeeze cookies out onto an ungreased baking sheet. Decorate cookies with colored sugar or sprinkles. Place baking sheet on middle rack in oven and bake 5 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE! The edges should just be barely brown. Remove sheet from oven. Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

    1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    2/3 c. sugar
    1 egg
    1 t. pure vanilla extract
    1 t. pure almond extract (optional)
    2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

    colored sugar for decorating

    Repeat process with remaining dough. If dough gets too soft to work with, stick in the fridge for a few minutes. These also freeze well, as if you will have any left.

  2. Rossettes

    makes about 3 and a half dozen

    2 eggs
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1 cup milk
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon almond extract
    1 cup sifted flour

    Fat for deep frying

    Confectioners sugar

    Beat eggs until very light. Beat in sugar, milk, salt and flavoring.
    Finally beat in flour and continue beating until a smooth batter is formed.

    Heat fat to 365 °F. (to test, a one- inch cube of bread should brown in 1 minute.)

    Heat Rosette Iron in the hot fat.
    Dip hot iron in batter so that the batter comes just short of the top of the iron.

    Lower batter covered iron into hot fat and fry until delicately browned.

    If the rosette falls off the iron, fish it off with a fork when it is delicately browned. It will be ugly but still tasty.
    Drain on paper towels and dust with powdered sugar.


    You will need a krumkaka iron for this, waffle iron will not work.

    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup softened butter
    2 eggs
    1 cup milk
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    water if you need it if the batter gets a little thick

    In a medium bowl, cream the sugar with the butter. Beat in the eggs until mixture is light and lemon colored. Beat in the milk, and flour until blended and smooth. Let stand 30 minutes.

    Preheat krumkake iron over medium heat on top of the range until a drop of water sizzles when dropped on top.

    Open iron; lightly brush inside --top and bottom--with melted butter. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter onto center of the hot iron. Close iron. Bake about 1 minute on each side until cookie is lightly browned. Insert tip of knife under cookie to remove from iron; roll hot cookie into a cigar or cone shape. Cool on rack --cookies become crisp as they cool. Repeat with remaining batter. As you work batter becomes thicker so as it does add a bit of water--1 tablespoon at a time.

  3. "Hoosier" in the Indiana way or in the St. Louis way?

    Because if it's the St. Louis definition we'd expect to see you sittin on the front porch enjoyin' all those tasty treats, comfortably ensconced in the front bench seat out of a '63 Impala, wearing a wife beater with a good week of stubbly beard on your face, smilin' through the missing teeth in the front of your mouth and reachin' for a cold one in the icebox which is kept on the porch, next to the bench seat, just for convenience sake.

    Just lookin' for a bit of clarification so I can get the right picture centered in my head.

  4. Oh my Lord, Brigid. That was just like wandering into my mom's kitchen in the 1970s. I'm a bit shell-shocked from the memories that that brought up. I have not had a good Rosette since that time.

    I'm overwhelmed remembering the feeling that every moment spent bathed in love and warmth in that old house was special.


    Thank you for stirring up the memories. You'll be in my thoughts today and tomorrow. Merry Christmas.

  5. Merry Christmas Brigid, and wishing you the happiest of New Years.

  6. Thank yo ever so much! I lost the recipie my mother gave me for these cookies 15 years ago; I still have the fattigman wheel ( passed from mother to son ) but I still have this nagging feeling that the Danish version has more butter in it. I allways burned the first ones.

  7. Catawissa - Indiana, My Dad's Mom is from a little town about 50 minutes north of Indianapolis. I don't live far from there now.

  8. "Spritz Butter Cookies"

    Oooooooooo, I just so luuuuuv butter cookies!

    Brigid, you have a very Merry Christmas, and hopefully, that dratted batphone will keep quiet.


  9. Thanks, Brigid, the picture has been adjusted.

    I don't know how "hoosier" came to have the meaning it does around here but I'm pretty sure it is really, really localized since most from other areas have no idea what we're talking about when we use the word.

    Now, if I can just get my Danish wife to give these recipes a try. She's not real fond of cooking and isn't afraid to show it. Who would have known that the Danes were capable of such colorful speech and violent actions? Must be something she got from her Viking ancestors.

    Yet, I taught her how to shoot (she's really good at it) and bought her a gun.

    I suppose I'll cook 'em myself.

    Merry Christmas!

  10. Holiday Batphone duty? Been there. I remember being on a conference call one Mothers Day morning at 3AM when the question floated across the line about whether we were paid overtime for holiday duty. The response came back, in a *female* voice, "Their bonus is that they get to keep their jobs."

    If you do get called out and find yourself rolling back to a hotel room at 4AM tomorrow morning in need of decompression, TBS is running "A Christmas Story" continuously for 24 hours.

  11. Brigid,
    Unfortunately, those baked treats are not part of my heritage, but they're certainly to my taste.

    What we have in common, though, is that I never realized until much later how much work and love my mother put into all our meals, as well as the special goodies.

    As I read your descriptions and see the pictures, I can feel the warmth of a home kitchen on a cold winter's day, smell the delicious aromas, and bask in the soft glow of love in the air.

    Baked goods brought to the office (previous post) may be tasty, but in this context they're like getting a big warm, sweet hug.

    Thanks for my "memory hug" this morning.

    Have a Very, Very Merry Christmas. May your batphone be as silent as the proverbial mouse.

    Love and best wishes from my family to yours,

  12. Could you explain the difference between Scandahooviann, and a Norsekadinger? My Grandmother was born in Norway. That was one of her expressions.

  13. What no lefse? It just isn't Christmas without lefse.

  14. And they are DELICIOUS!!! (and calories don't count during the holidays, right?)

    WV- bedevil Yep, you bedevil us with all the great recipes :-)

  15. I'm glad you've had a little peace. Those cookies look all kinds of good, too.


  16. Stop for a visit and before finished have get a cloth to catch the river of drool rolling down the chin, Ohh that looks good, granma used to make those things and going to granma's..........

    Merry Christmas

  17. I'm sorry, I have to inform you that I'm take back my offer of marriage as I just don't think it would work out. I've been contemplating over the last few food post. I fear I would put on 40lbs. after we got married, and you would then leave me, as I would no longer be the pretty trophy husband you married.
    Where would that leave me?
    I'll tell you where that would leave me with a newly formed cooky habbit, and no source of cookies.
    So again, I'm sorry I have to inform I can no longer marry you.


  18. Ps. Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to you and your family.

    (Note: Almost spelled it marry Christmas.)

  19. Thank you for the incredible memories! I'm staunchly English/Scottish but grew up with those wonderful patries for the holidays. Our community included scandanavians, frenchmen, canadians, greeks, portugese, deutschers and plenty of scots, irish and english. Since my parents worked for all of them we had plenty of good eats come Christmas time, some of those recipes carried with me today.

  20. With our mixed/mongrel Scots-Irish-English ancestry, there were no exotic or identifiably ethnic treats in my childhood home. Just a joyous conglomeration of Ozark Mountain treats.

    Merry Christmas, my friend.

  21. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Brigid!

    Ya know, that Batphone'll never ring if'n you remove the battery....! Just sayin'...


  22. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    I like the birch logman in the last photo and hope the batphone doesn't ring.

  23. Geez.. my pants got tighter just looking at the pictures :) Merry Christmas to you and the Pooch, Brigid!

  24. Paladin,
    Brigid has that effect on men...

    ...Oh, wait! You were talking about the cookies, weren't you?

  25. Merry Christmas Brigid, to you and Barkley.

  26. And a very Merry Christmas to Miss Brigid and Sir Barkley!

  27. Merry Christmas and thanks for another year's entertainment.

    If you are looking for something interesting Christmas Eve, may I recommend:

    Ladies and Gentlemen Aviators

    This Christmas Eve, take a half hour of your precious time and dial up CBC Radio at 1830 hrs EST, or if you are not in Canada, go on-line to hear this amazing "radio play" about a fighter pilot trying to get home for Christmas. We first ran this story in 2008, but it's worth a second look. Alan Maitland's reading of The Shepherd has been a Canadian Christmas Tradition for 30 years. It is a haunting story that will, if you have a pulse and a heart, make the hair on your neck stand up and your imagination float away on the wind. Guaranteed. Follow this link to learn more:

  28. Ponyexpress - always lefse.

    10 pounds potatoes, peeled
    1/2 cup butter
    1/3 cup heavy cream
    1 tablespoon salt
    1 tablespoon white sugar
    2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour

    1.Cover potatoes with water and cook until tender. Run hot potatoes through a potato ricer. Place into a large bowl. Beat butter, cream, salt, and sugar into the hot riced potato. Let cool to room temperature.
    2.Stir flour into the potato mixture when it it is completely cool. Start with 2 and 1/2 cups and add up to 3 if mixture is "wet". Pull off pieces of the dough and form into walnut size balls. Lightly flour a pastry cloth and roll out lefse balls to 1/8 inch thickness.
    3.Cook on a hot (400 degree F/200 C) griddle until bubbles form and each side has browned. Place on a damp towel to cool slightly and then cover with damp towel until ready to serve.

  29. Merry Christmas Brigid. Thanks for everything.

  30. Popular here in the Pacific Northwet, and back in Michigan, too: I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas - Yogi Yorgesson

    Scandihovvian cooking is said to be "blonde and bland", although, when pressed, the local sqvareheads admit the bland part is appearance more than flavor.

  31. We eat pounds of lefse. Our version we add ground poppyseed and butter as the topping. I'll hit about 3-4 cups of poppy per sitting.

  32. Merry Christmas to you and Barkley!

  33. Those cookies look like the kinds my mom use to make. Brings back great memories. Have a wonderful Christmas and New years

  34. What you call a Fattigman looks exactly like what my German/Swabian/Besarabian ancestors would call a Kuechle. (actually they would say Kueckla). We would skip the cardamom and use vanilin-zucher but otherwise identical.

    We always had to cut the slot in the middle by hand with a pastry cutter though.

  35. I'm so glad that I can't have gluten now. Or I'd be adding more weight from trying all those yummy looking recipes.

    Hope the holiday is peaceful for you.

  36. Yah, you betcha!


    Merry Christmas, Brigid.

  37. Merry Christmas, Brigid. I hope you get to celebrate with some bacon, too.

  38. We had a small family gathering on Christmas Eve aftrernoon/evening. Lotsa heavy snack stuff consumed, but I got hungry all over again, reading this article. We MUST try your recipes.

    Here's wishing you and yours a joyous Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.

    Johnny & Holly

  39. Merry Christmas, and best wishes for the holidays.

  40. As much as it may sound like a cop out, we've always had better luck using potato flakes as opposed to boiling potatoes. You seem to get more consistent dough with the flakes.

    There seems like there are as many lefse recipes as there are Norwegians. I'll add yours to the recipe box.

    Merry Christmas

  41. Merry Christmas, Brigid! Peace to people of good will.

  42. Merry Christmas! Samples of cookies are forthcoming, right?


  43. Merry Christmas!

    I had far too many cookies last night for a man of my age and girth, so I'll just drool here... :)

  44. Brigid,

    Merry Christmas. And, thank you for your wonderful words that you share with us. AND, the FOOD!!!


  45. Oh, those cookies sound heavenly! I hope you and Barkley have a very merry Christmas, and may the bat phone remain silent this day.

  46. I'm letting the cookie dough chill right now, so there'll be fresh peanut butter cookies as a present when the last third of this house stirs.

    Thanks for all the recipes and the thoughtful posts, Brigid, and may the batphone keep a silent night!

    Merry Christmas to you n' Barkley!

  47. Merry Christmas, Brigid and Barkley.

    You're one of my inspirations. (no, not Barkley, I'm a cat-person).

  48. Brigid,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. A Merry Christmas to you, as well. And thanks for the lessen on Christmas eats -- Hoosier/Scandahoovian style!

  49. Merry Deliciousness! My Swedish grandma used to make the rosettes.

  50. Merry Christmas, Brigid! Hope 2011 is a good one for you all the way around! Jason's Mom

  51. Merry Christmas, Brigid. Thanks for all the many ways you bless me throughout the year!

  52. B;

    Merry Christmas to all at the Range from all here at Casa d'Alger.

    Big hugs.

    Mark Alger

  53. Merry Christmas Brigid ... I'm copying down all the recipes here for next year :)

  54. Sorry for the delayed greeting, trapped at Mother's. Wishing you health, happiness at this festive season.

    I now have a large amount of Roe deer that I must sort.

    Have fun

    A Ghost of Christmas

  55. Ever notice how most Scandinavian recipes start with "get a pound of butter and put it in a bowl"?

    Thanks for the memories Brigid. My grandmother used to start baking on holidays beginning at 4 AM and didn't stop until we had all eaten our fill and had bags to take home. Krumkaka was my favorite, but she always made sure I had a few rosettes in my sack as well.

    And nothing is better than fresh lefse with dinner. Unfortunately, mine could be used as reinforcement for SAPI plates.

  56. "Because if it's the St. Louis definition we'd expect to see you sittin on the front porch enjoyin' all those tasty treats, comfortably ensconced in the front bench seat out of a '63 Impala, wearing a wife beater with a good week of stubbly beard on your face, smilin' through the missing teeth in the front of your mouth and reachin' for a cold one in the icebox which is kept on the porch, next to the bench seat, just for convenience sake."

    Brigid is a redneck? Who could tell? I would have guessed a redhead, but not the other. :-)

    Merry Christmas to everyone, and here's best wishes for a fantastic 2011. 2010 was good, but 11 should be far better.


I started this blog so the child I gave up for adoption could get to know me, and in turn, her children, as well as share stories for a family that lives too far away. So please keep it friendly and kid safe. Posts that are only a link or include an ad for an unknown business automatically to to SPAM..