Tag Archives: cardamom

Krumkake Update…

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First of all, the spelling is without a “b” as previously reported.  Second, they are made on a specialized electric waffle iron-type appliance.  Third, I didn’t use any band-aids.  Making Krumkake (kroom’-kock-ah) was great fun.  It was easy and not particularly messy.  There was no deep frying involved.

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My family here in Wisconsin, celebrates its Norwegian heritage.  Pretty much everyone here does.  Pretty much everyone here has ancestors that came to the area directly from Norway, and they worked like Trojans to keep their families housed, fed, and clothed.  It paid off, and now, the descendantsfattigman enjoy the climate, scenery, and rural lifestyle of southern Wisconsin.  They don’t forget, though.

In Stoughton, Wisconsin, where the tractor trailers you see being pulled behind nearly every semi- in the United States are made, there is a state-of-the-art heritage center.  It is called Livsreise.  That is pronounced lifes-rye’-sa.  It means “life’s journey.”  The whole interior of the building still smells like fresh wood, over a year after it opened.  The woodwork all comes from Wisconsin trees.  It has the feel of a Viking lodge, and I have never been in one of those, but I knew the sensation instinctively.  The displays tell the stories of local families, with touch screens which have excerpts from diaries, pictures, and stories of the people who immigrated.  Arts, music, artifacts, and Norwegian attire are featured.  The center is about the people’s journey from Norway, and their journey in establishing themselves in the new world.  You can find out more by visiting the website http://www.livsreise.org.

In light of the heritage, we gathered to make Krumkake this morning.  The Norwegians have a sweet tooth, and among the pastries that I have participated in making, Krumkake was the easiest.  Lefse is labor intensive because of the thin rolling of the potato-based dough; donuts and Fattigman are deep fried and therefore messy, and so are Rosettes.  No one in my family has made Rosettes.  We just like to eat them.  All of them are made from the same basic ingredients of milk or cream, eggs, sugar, flour, butter, and some sort of flavoring like cardamom, almond, or vanilla.  There is a special beauty in each of these pastries, and it reflects the artistic skills of the people.

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In replicating the practices of our ancestors, we keep alive their memories.  I wonder how our memories will be kept alive by our descendants?

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Getting in touch with my Norwegian roots…

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Today, my sister and I made Fattigmand.  It is a Norwegian delicacy usually made before Christmas.  We were a week late this year, due to lack of motivation.  Now that Christmas Day is over, we had some time on our hands, and Mom had already bought all the eggs. The cream was in the freezer, and the Peanut Oil was sitting in the pantry.  It was a good thing to do on a cold Sunday afternoon while waiting for a baby to come, but that is another blog for the future.

A few years ago, I was able to get in on the Lefse making, and the doughnut making, but I had not experienced the Fattigmand making.  Basically, it is deep fried egg yolks with cardamom and a little bit of brandy, but I was at Mass when my sister made the dough, so I am sure there is more to it than that.  She rolled the dough.  I had the dangerous job of manning the fryer.

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The dough is rolled very thin, sliced with a crimping tool into diamond shapes, and then a slit is cut in the middle.  You are supposed to turn the dough through the hole to make a twist.  That was too delicate for us, so we just fried it in diamonds, and it crinkled on its own.  The Fattigmand comes out as a very thin,  crispy pastry.  After the pieces are cooled, the perfect ones are sorted out, and sprinkled with powdered sugar just before serving.  It is pretty labor intensive.  Fosdal’s Bakery in Stoughton charges a dollar apiece for Fattigmand, and they don’t taste as good because theirs are baked.  We say forget that healthy method.

I love sharing all these practices with my family, here…the Christmas Eve worship, the gathering celebrations, and the specialty foods.   I am not Norwegian by birth.  I am Norwegian by a marriage of 61 years.  It is good to get in touch with your history, especially when it is your present.

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