Excerpt from vaer saa god:
GROWING UP FOODS
Back in the days of the big black cookstove, the saying “the coffee pot is always on” was definitely true. Grandpa was up first in the morning and started a fire in the cookstove, making the first pot of coffee for the day. What was not consumed at breakfast was kept hot on the back of the stove until Grandma emptied the grounds and made a fresh pot. The coffee pot was a very important utensil in those days as it set boiling or simmering on the old cookstove from morning to night.
Coffee time came between three and four o’clock in the afternoon. If the men were working in the fields at that time, Grandma would send coffee and lunch out to them. But if Grandpa was working around the barnyard, he would come in and pour himself a cup of coffee, sit down at the kitchen table and enjoy it. He would fill his saucer with the hot coffee and then slowly sip it. The sukkerbits (sugar cubes) were a necessary part of this routine. The process was to dip the cube into the cup, let it absorb the coffee, and then quickly get it into the mouth before it disintegrated. On those happy days, Grandpa would let us grandchildren each dip a sugar cube into his coffee cup. It would be the highlight of our day. And Grandma would come with a plate of cookies for us all. She had a large tin container where she kept her cookies. White rolled out sugar and oatmeal raisin drop cookies were her standbys. This was in the days before chocolate chips.
THE CHICKEN – EGG SAGA
Before homes had freezers, it wasn’t often that fresh meat was on the menu. Unless you had made a trip to the butcher shop, only canned meat or side pork was served. But the chicken would come to the rescue. On the farm, the chicken was available whenever you wanted fresh meat.
And on the farm, the chicken came before the egg. In March, Grandma brought these tiny chicks to her warm brooder house in large cardboard boxes. She daily fed and cared for them and in the late summer the young roosters or broilers would be ready for the frying pan. The majority of the farm women did the butchering themselves. With an ax and a tree stomp, they got the job done. And then they had to pluck the feathers off. Pouring boiling water over the feathers made the job easier. When the meat was cut into serving pieces, it was ready for the pan. Later, when the roosters were larger, they could be roasted whole, and the cavity filled with dressing. In fact, I never ate turkey and dressing until in the sixties. When you had chicken available, you didn’t need turkey.
In late August every year, the Fall Festival was usually held in Grandpa’s grove. Besides a platform for the program and a pop stand, a large tent was set up where the ladies from the three churches served a fried chicken supper. The ladies brought prepared fried chicken from their flocks. Also during the fall, many Ladies Aids served fried chicken suppers. These were delicious meals.
In early fall, the young hens (pullets) began laying eggs. However, these first eggs were quite small and could not be put in the egg crate to sell. At that time Grandma would do a lot of baking and serve scrambled eggs and omelets to use these up. Later in the winter, many of the hens would go into a molt and quit laying and the egg supply would go down, but when spring came, most began laying again.
At some time the end would come for each rooster, or for each hen that had quit laying. Now their meat wasn’t as tender, so they ended up in the chicken soup or as creamed chicken.
There were always a few roosters that remained. These were the farmers’ alarm clocks. Their cheery “cock-a-doodle-doos” came at the break of day, and also off and on during the day. There were times that we had a belligerent rooster. One especially enjoyed attacking only females. It was a scary thing to have it run toward us and fly at our faces. That rooster soon ended up in the soup.
When we have visited Norway, we have been fortunate to have hit the strawberry season. The strawberries there are delicious – large, red, sweet and juicy. Their weather must be just right for strawberries. The berries are usually served plain with cream and sugar, and are often the ending to a delicious salmon dinner.
Strawberries are also used in Norway’s most popular dessert – blotkake, a layer cake, filled and topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit – usually strawberries. Often at a get-together, two or three ladies will arrive with a blotkake in hand. It is baked in a large 10 or 12 inch springform pan, and when it is cool, it is cut into 2 or 3 layers. Often a custard filling is used between one layer and whipped cream mixed with berries or fruit between one layer and the whole cake covered with whipped cream and decorated with strawberries or other fruit (multebaer, bananas, pineapple, peaches or apricots) or finely chopped walnuts. The cake is served whole and each guest must cut their own piece.
In Norway, Blotkake is served at the table, where each piece is cut and placed on the plate. If the cake remains standing and you are single, you are soon to be married.
BLØTKAKE – CREAM CAKE
(The Norwegian “o” in blotkake has a slash through it.)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy – 6 or 8 minutes at high speed with the electric mixer. Add 1 tablespoon water. Mix some more. Sift dry ingredients together and gently fold into egg mixture. Mix carefully. Pour into 10″ to 12″ springform pan, the bottom greased and floured. Bake in the center of the oven at 325 degrees about 40 minutes, or until center is firm. When cool, remove from pan. Cut cake in two or three layers, using a long, thin knife.
1 to 2 cups berries or fruit (strawberries, peaches, pineapple or apricots, fresh, canned or frozen)
3 cups whipping cream
½ tsp. vanilla
1 or more tablespoon powdered sugar
Whip the cream, add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix cut up fruit with half of whipped cream and spread between layers. Put remaining whipped cream on top and sides of cake. Extra berries and fruit can also be added for decoration.
Variation: Vanilla pudding or vanilla cream filling can be used between the layers. Decorate with fruit.
One Norwegian recipe that I make every year is rommegrot. It is served with our lunches at our bazaar and I usually make a double or triple batch…..and it all goes. Rommegrot is a kind of pudding, which was originally made from cream. When they cooked it, the butter came to the top. In Norway in the past, it was made and brought along to new mothers when they visited them. It is a sweet and tasty pudding. I don’t make it of cream as in the olden days, but use the recipe which the Decorah Norwegian Museum serves at its special events. It isn’t as rich. It is served warm. A mixture of sugar and cinnamon is sprinkled on each serving.
Heat 1 quart milk and 1 cup half and half, being careful not to scorch. In a heavy pan, melt 1 cup butter and add gradually 3/4 cup flour. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in hot milk mixture gradually, stirring frequently until mixture bubbles and thickens. Stir in ½ cup sugar. Stir and cook a little longer. Stir till you have a smooth texture. This may be kept warm, and served from a crock-pot. Use low heat. Serve with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled over.