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boller / skolebrød October 08 2014, 0 Comments

Boller (rolls)

Ingredients

2 ¼ cups flour

½ cup melted butter

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup to ½ cup sugar

1 ¾ cups milk

¼ cup fresh yeast (1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons dry)

Mix the melted butter into the milk, keeping it at body temperature. Dissolve the yeast in the mixture. You will need more flour than listed in the ingredients, but start carefully and add more as needed. Cover and let rise until double in size. Roll out and place on baking paper. Let rise another 15 minutes. Bake at 475 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Brush with milk twice once they are out of the oven.

Skolebrød

Heat vanilla sauce package with 3/4 cup milk on stove. Put pan in cold water to cool. When the rolls are ready to bake, snip a cross in the middle of each one, stretch out and fill with vanilla sauce. Bake until done. Dip in coconut when serving.

 


jo nesbø - the son July 05 2014, 0 Comments

 

 

No Harry Hole here. This is a new story with a new cast of characters. It's a bit much to swallow that one person can kick heroin, break out of prison and carry on with superhuman wits, strength and resources. But it's fun, as Jo's books always are.

I see he has a new translator. Still not American, although this book was published in the United States. No, the first one was British, as was the publisher. This translator is Danish with British English as her English background. I still don't get that. Almost every cultural reference -- except Norwegian ones -- is American. I'd love to see one of his books translated by an American into American English. Maybe if I say it often enough it will happen. C'mon, Jo.

international festival at heritage park June 19 2014, 0 Comments

Come see me at the International Festival at Heritage Park! Festival hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. Wear your bunad and walk in our parade (11 a.m. on Saturday), and sample foods from around the world in the Beaver Creek Church basement. Bring your whole family!


potato balls for dinner May 14 2014, 0 Comments

We had potato balls for dinner -- another of our favorite meals. We got together to celebrate a few birthdays and had chocolate cake, fresh strawberries and ice cream after dinner.


celebration in norway May 11 2014, 0 Comments

We celebrated our nephew's confirmation in Molde today. He had his reception at Seilet, the "Sail" Hotel. It was a beautiful day ... one of those perfect May days in Norway. We're so glad we were here to be a part of the celebration. Gratulerer til Martin!


cantus April 30 2014, 0 Comments

I had someone ask about getting CDs by Cantus, which has become wildly popular, thanks to the Disney movie Frozen. I don't see that CDs are available, but you can order their downloads from Amazon. And it looks like you can download the music from a CD from iTunes. I will check to see if I can find CDs when I'm in Norway next month. In the meantime, here is Cantus "Eatnemen Vuelie" by Frode Fjellheim on YouTube.

 

 


happy 2014! January 01 2014, 0 Comments

Thank you so much for all your support in 2013! Wishing you and yours the very best in 2014!

Happy New Year! Godt nyttår!


frozen December 08 2013, 0 Comments

Publicity for this movie says it is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen. Yes, it is loosely based on that -- very, very loosely based. The movie is about two royal Norwegian princesses -- Elsa and Anna -- one of whom has the power to freeze things, cute little rock trolls, a moose and a talking snowman named Olaf. The fairy tale is about an evil troll, a girl named Gerda, a boy named Kai, and the Snow Queen, and it takes place in Lapland and the area near the North Pole. In the movie, Anna saves Elsa by "an act of true love." In the book Gerda saves Kai by the power of love.

In any case, the movie is chock full of cute, cute, cute. My children loved it. The Norway references were sometimes funny, sometimes sweet and always beautiful.

This will be showing at our local theater in a couple of weeks, and I'd love to see it again.


the land of dreams by vidar sundstøl December 08 2013, 0 Comments

Title: The Land of Dreams, Part 1 of the Minnesota Trilogy, University of Minnesota Press, 2013, translated by Tiina Nunnally. Originally published in Norwegian as Drømmenes land in 2008. Awarded the Riverton Prize for best Norwegian crime story in 2008. Nominated for the Glass Key award for best Scandinavian crime novel of the year.
Author: Vidar Sundstøl grew up in Drangedal, in the county of Telemark, in Norway, and he has lived in Egypt and Two Harbors, Minnesota. He now lives in Bø i Telemark. He is married to an American, and they have one child.

There's good news and bad news about this book. The good news is that it's a wonderful read. The bad news is that the next two books that make up the Minnesota Trilogy -- Only the Dead and The Ravens -- won't be published until 2014 and 2015.

I was really busy in October, so I missed that the author was in Minnesota to promote the publication of his book in the States. If I had caught wind of it, I definitely would have made the trip up to see him. But you know who I would especially like to meet? Translator Tiina Nunnally. Wow, is all I can say. I've sung her praises before, but my admiration is well-deserved. She has a gentle touch but is at the same time sharp and precise. It's a joy to read her work. She was recently appointed Knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit for her efforts on behalf of Norwegian literature in the United States.

Ah, but back to the book.

From the book cover: The grandson of Norwegian immigrants, Lance Hansen is a U.S. Forest Service officer and has a nearly all-consuming passion for local genealogy and history. But his quiet routines are shattered one morning when he comes upon a Norwegian tourist brutally murdered near a stone cross on the shore of Lake Superior. Another Norwegian man is nearby; covered in blood and staring out across the lake, he can only utter the word kjærlighet. Love. FBI agent Bob Lecuyer is assigned to the case, as is Norwegian detective Eirik Nyland. As the investigation progresses, Lance makes shocking discoveries -- including one that involves the murder of an Ojibwe man on the very same site more than one hundred years ago. As Lance digs into two murders separated by a century, he finds that the clues may in fact lead toward someone much closer to home than he could have imagined. The Land of Dreams is a portrait of an extraordinary landscape, and exploration of hidden traumas and paths of silence that trouble history, and a haunting study in guilt and the bonds of blood.

Sundstøl says he likes to break the rules, and he does so in a satisfying and sometimes surprising way. Instead of taking readers to the typical Scandinavian landscape, he takes them to northern Minnesota, along the North Shore of Lake Superior. He lived there for two years and was fascinated by "the landscape and its cultural mix over the last 300 years. Ojibwe Indians, French fur traders, Scandinavian fishermen, all thrown in the American melting pot, but somehow still not quite melted yet."

His observations of Norwegian-Americans and visiting Norwegians must have been gained from personal experience. I expected to read at least one Norwegian-American say they were at least "100 percent Norwegian." But the "100 percent Norwegian" phrase came from the visiting Norwegian (p. 119).

He introduces the visiting Norwegian to the Norwegian- and Swedish-American Sven & Ole and Ole & Lena jokes.

He also captured the Norwegian-American sense of ownership of Norway when the character Sparky Redmeyer (whose family name was Rødmyr when they came from Norway) and Eirik Nyland, the Norwegian visitor, shared this exchange (p. 188):

"Herring," said Sparky Redmeyer. "Freshwater herring. It makes the best fish cakes in the world. And of course it's Norwegians who make them."

"Of course," say Nyland. "And by that you mean Norwegian Americans, right?"

"But isn't it the same thing? We all come from Norway, after all."

Sundstøl's storytelling is more introspective and less graphic than, say, Jo Nesbø's (although Nesbø digs deep sometimes). He takes a bit of a slower pace, but it's completely enjoyable.


thanksgiving in norway November 27 2013, 0 Comments

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I think back on the two Thanksgivings we celebrated while living in Norway. In 1999, we had a small gathering around our tiny table at home. It was an adventure to find a turkey and other fixings for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. I'm sure I had some things sent by kind souls in the States, too. 

We also got together with my American group that year. We had almost 30 people together for dinner in an old house by the sea -- "Fjærestua" -- that we rented from the Molde sailing club. One of the women sat in front of the fireplace with all the children and read the story of the first Thanksgiving. It was cozy with the fire burning inside and the wind and water blowing outside. We had an even bigger group the next year.

This year, I am thankful for all my Thanksgivings and the good memories I have. I am thankful for family and friends, including those who are no longer with us. I am thankful for tradition, good food and good company. I am thankful for you. Thank you for reading, and may you have a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

Trond, Marie, Anders and Beste Rise ready for Thanksgiving dinner at our home in Nordbyen in Molde, 1999.

Thanksgiving, 1999, at Fjærestua.

Wilhelm, Amy and Kevin, Thanksgiving, 1999.

Amy & Julia whip some cream. 

Cindy reads the story of the first Thanksgiving, 1999.

Thanksgiving gathering, 2000.

ylvis: what does the fox say? book on sale in december November 26 2013, 1 Comment

We will have the book on sale in mid-December. Watch the shop to order. Or add your name to the waiting list by sending an email to becky@vaersaagod.com.


jo nesbø: police October 27 2013, 0 Comments

Jo does it again. He builds suspense, has readers believing they know who's in a coma ... or dead ... or the latest suspect. When, in fact, they know nothing at all until Jo wants them to know it. I still want to pick on him for not using an American translator. Other than that, this one is brilliant. I love the Breaking Bad reference, too. Well done, Jo. Well done.


krumkaker October 13 2013, 0 Comments

Krumkaker (Norwegian waffle cookies)

from Marie Gjendem's kitchen

Ingredients

2 eggs

sugar

butter

flour

2 or 3 drops lemon juice

Weigh the eggs. Use the same weight for the rest of the ingredients.

Melt butter in saucepan. Set aside and cool.

Mix egg and sugar well.

Sift flour, then add to the egg and sugar mixture.

Pour in cooled melted butter. Add lemon juice. Mix together. Let stand for a bit.

NOTE: For chocolate krumkaker, add 2 tablespoons cocoa and 1 tablespoon sugar.

Enjoy!


waldorf college community artist series - river city barbershop chorus October 13 2013, 0 Comments

I'm a sponsor of the Waldorf College Community Artist Series, and here was the first concert -- the River City Barbershop Chorus -- at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Forest City.


taste of forest city at waldorf college October 13 2013, 0 Comments

I shared a table with Cabin Coffee at the Taste of Forest City to welcome back Waldorf students.


potetsalat / potato salad June 17 2013, 0 Comments


It's summertime! Time for grilling and good food eaten outdoors. This is inspired by my mother-in-law's recipe. It's tasty with a grilled pork chop or a hamburger or hot dog. I like to watch people eat it for the first time, waiting for their first bite of apple. Surprise!

Potetsalat (potato salad)

inspired by Marie Gjendem

Ingredients

8 potatoes, cooked and diced

1/2 leek, sliced (or a bundle of green onions, sliced)

5 baby dill pickles, chopped

3 apples, peeled and chopped

5 tablespoons dill pickle brine

16 ounces mayonnaise (I use Hellman's.)

8 ounces sour cream

Cook the potatoes and let them cool before dicing them. Then mix all the ingredients together. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator overnight.


hurra for syttende mai! May 16 2013, 0 Comments

Twenty years ago, I celebrated my first syttende mai ... the day after our wedding, which was a day after our graduation from college, which was a day after my husband's 25th birthday. We celebrated at the Dodge Park Pavilion with the Elveby Lodge in Omaha. My mother-in-law contacted the Sons of Norway from her home in Norway and set it all up. I see that lodge is celebrating 25 years this year, so it was a fairly young lodge when we descended upon it with 11 Norwegians from the old country and one newly inducted Norwegian-by-marriage. I remember the flags and the parade and all the food. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful start to our life together.

Making it official: Our forlovere and the judge sign our marriage license.

All of our wedding guests on the grand staircase of the Cornhusker Hotel.

This year, we celebrated my husband's 45th birthday and our 20th wedding anniversary. We'll celebrate syttende mai with Kite Day at Heritage Park and a date later on Saturday.

To all of you on syttende mai ... gratulerer med dagen! Hurra, hurra, hurra!

.....................................................

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snow day in may May 02 2013, 0 Comments

It's beginning to look a lot like ... Norway ...


This is what we woke up to this morning, May 2, 2013, and it's still snowing. I understand it's doing the same in our hometown, Molde.


sigrid undset: kristin lavransdatter April 21 2013, 0 Comments


I just finished reading Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. It's a trilogy, consisting of The Wreath, The Wife and The Cross, and it covers the life of the main character, Kristin Lavransdatter, in the 14th century. It was more than 1,000 pages of reading, but it was captivating and well worth the time I invested in reading it. I had tried to read it years before, but I only made it to page 31 before putting it back on the shelf again. This time, I read the version translated by Tiina Nunnally, and it made a world of difference! (I've read Nunnally's work over the years without realizing it: Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg and Before You Sleep by Linn Ullmann.)

Compare this (Nunnally's version): "I see you have your daughter with you," she said after she had greeted them. "I thought I'd have a look at her. You must take off her cap. They say she has such fair hair." (Page 11.)

To this: "I saw you had your daughter with you," she said, when she had greeted them, "and methought I must needs have a sight of her. But you must take the cap from her head; they say she hath such bonny hair." (Page 9.)

No wonder I didn't finish it before!


If you haven't read Sigrid Undset yet, I highly recommend doing so. Now I want to read everything else she wrote. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 for Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken.

Here's some more information from the book: "Sigrid Undset was born in Denmark in 1882, the eldest daughter of a Norwegian father and a Danish mother, and moved with her family to Oslo two years later. She published her first novel, Fru Marta Oulie (Mrs. Marta Oulie) in 1907 and her second book, Den lykkelige alder (The Happy Age), in 1908. The following year she published her first work set in the Middle Ages, Fortællingen om Viga-Ljot of Vigdis (later translated into English under the title Gunnar's Daughter and now available in Penguin Classics). More novels and stories followed, including Jenny (1911, first translated 1920), Fattige skjæbner (Fates of the Poor, 1912), Vaaren (Spring, 1914), Splinten av troldspeilet (translated in part as Images in a Mirror, 1917), and De kloge jomfruer (The Wise Virgins, 1918). In 1920 Undset published the first volume of Kristin Lavransdatter, the medieval trilogy that would become her most famous work. Kransen (The Wreath) was followed by Husfrue (The Wife) in 1921 and Korset (The Cross) in 1922. Beginning in 1925 she published the four-volume Olav Audunssøn i Hestviken), translated into English under the title The Master of Hestviken), also set in the Middle Ages. In 1928 Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize in Literature. During the 1930s she published several more novels, notably the autobigraphical Elleve aar (translated as The Longest Years, 1934). She was also a prolific essayist on subjects ranging from Scandinavian history and literature to the Catholic Church (to which she became a convert in 1924) and politics. During the Nazi occupation of Norway, Undset lived as a refugee in New York City. She returned home in 1945 and lived in Lillehammer until her death in 1949."

Kristin Lavransdatter was made into a film in 1995 and directed by Liv Ullmann.

Bjerkebæk, Undset's Lillehammer home from 1919 to 1949, is a part of Maihaugen, one of Northern Europe's largest open-air museums.


Here I am at an old fisherman's church in Maihaugen, about 20 years ago.

jo nesbø: the bat April 10 2013, 0 Comments


I just finished reading The Bat by Jo Nesbø. It's his first novel and the first in the Harry Hole series. While many other books in the series have been translated into English, the first two -- The Bat and The Cockroaches -- initially were not. That's because they took place in countries other than Norway. The Bat takes place in Australia, and The Cockroaches takes place in Thailand.

The Bat was first published in Norway in 1998. (It was called Flaggermusmannen, i.e., The Batman in Norwegian.) It was a great success in Norway. It was awarded Rivertonprisen, The Riverton Prize, which is a literature award given each year to the best Norwegian crime story (novel, short story, play or original screenplay). The prize is also known as "The Golden Revolver," and was established in 1972 by the Riverton Club. It also was awarded Glasnyckeln, The Glass Key, for "best Nordic crime novel of the year" in 1998.

I got my copy as a Christmas gift from Norway. I can tell it was his first novel. It's not quite as clean as his others, but it's still an entertaining read. I love that the Australians call him "Harry Holy." It's all about pronunciation. Listen to Nesbø talk about The Bat here, and you can hear how he pronounces Harry Hole.

I'm looking forward to reading The Cockroaches when it's published in English. I've read all the other Harry Hole books, and I highly recommend them. (I'm a big fan.)

The Bat will be released by Random House in the United States on July 2, 2013. If you're a purist, you'll want to read this one first, then wait for The Cockroaches to come out.

Happy reading!


potetballer / potato balls March 10 2013, 0 Comments

We eat potato balls almost every Sunday for dinner. They're called potato balls where my husband comes from in Norway, near Molde. They're also known as kumla or klubb. Some people love them. Others hate them. My kids all say this is their favorite meal, so I guess you could say we love them.

Ingredients

8 or 9 potatoes, peeled and grated
flour
salt

You really have to watch someone do this. Here’s some more information from Norwegian National Recipes:

“Grate or grind potatoes and flour and salt. The exact amount of flour depends on the water content of the potatoes and is impossible to specify. … Too much flour will make the potato balls dry and hard, too little flour will make them sticky or ‘kleimete.’”

Form mixture into balls and drop in water. Cook with sausage, carrots and rutabaga for 45 minutes. Serve with bacon on the side and milk to drink.

Note: These make wonderful leftovers, too! Slice up the potato balls and fry them -- with anything else left over -- in butter and serve. Then you'll get to try and decide which way you like best.

Originally posted on my personal blog. 

© Becky Gjendem


party lefse March 07 2013, 0 Comments


Wish you were going to this party? I just delivered these platters of lefse to a local customer, who's expecting more than 100 people to attend the party. Hope they enjoy the lefse!


påske / easter March 05 2013, 0 Comments

That is this year's påskekrim (Easter crime) book available in Norway. It features some of Norway's best-known crime novelists. One publishing company has been compiling påskekrim books for a few years now, but the tradition of påskekrim started 90 years ago as an elaborate April Fool's joke. Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie wrote a story under the pseudonym Jonathan Jerv about a robbery on the Bergen train during the Easter holiday. Grieg's brother, who worked for a publishing company, helped get the story published as a book. It made quite a sensation. It was released as a "true story," and many people called the train station to check on loved ones who were supposed to have been on that train.

The rest is history.

Påskekrim isn't limited to crime novels. NRK, the national television network, airs several mystery series and crime shows, such as Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock. TINE, the national dairy company, even gets into the act with mysteries to solve on their milk cartons.

Norwegians will soon be decorating their homes with Easter eggs and little yellow chicks, and they'll get ready to head out to their hytte (cabin) or to go skiing ... or both. They'll have to stand in line and stock up on supplies for the 10-day break, because many of the stores will be closed over the holiday. So they'll want to make sure they have the latest påskekrim novel packed!

We don't have that kind of Easter tradition in the United States, but I like the idea of reading påskekrim novels, whether it's at Easter or all year round. I'm a big fan of Jo Nesbø, who happens to be from my husband's hometown, Molde. I've read most of his crime novels, and the kids and I have also read his Doctor Proctor books, which he wrote for his daughter. I highly recommend them all.

I have also enjoyed Anne Holt, Karin Fossum, Peter Høeg, Stieg Larsson and Anne B. Ragde. I've barely scratched the surface. I hope to read some Camilla Läckberg and Henning Mankell one of these days. So many great Scandinavian crime novelists out there, so little time.

If you want to be a little "Norwegian" this Easter and read a Scandinavian crime novel, here's a decent list of some of the authors. They don't all have books translated into English ... yet. Check them out, if you're interested.

Jussi Adler-Olsen
Karin Alvtegen
Arne Dahl (Jan Arnald)
Tim Davys (a pseudonym for a well-known Swedish public figure ... the plot thickens!)
A. J. Kazinski (Anders Rønnow Klarlund and Jakob Weinreich)
Lars Kepler (Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril)
Björn Larsson
Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström
I don't have any of their books for sale in my shop, but here are some of the books (and a bookmark) I DO have in stock. Many of these you won't find anywhere else!
     
     
Here's some interesting information about Scandinavian crime fiction.

spring fever March 04 2013, 0 Comments


Got spring fever yet? I ask as we're waiting to see what Winter Storm Saturn will do. Seems odd to name winter storms -- as if they were hurricanes -- before they hit instead of after, as they used to do. Case in point: The Children's Blizzard of 1888 was so named because it claimed so many lives of children. I read the book by David Laskin this January. I started it 125 years to the day the storm hit.

Now that it's March, though, I'm getting a little itchy for spring to arrive. I've had spring fever before, but the worst was 13 years ago when we were living in Molde, Norway.

Here's what I wrote about it at the time (Jack Torrance much?):

"Why would we move from sunny Florida to a country that has almost six months of winter? I asked myself that question several times over the last year, especially during that time I had the involuntary tic in my neck and the propensity to talk to myself. That was 'round about March and April when I was struck with the most severe case of spring fever in recorded history. 

"It was sometime in March when the depression kicked back, settled in and decided to 'set a spell.' I didn't mark the day in my calendar, but it was sometime after that and before the last snow on April 15 that the last thread that tethered me to my sanity snapped. My body and mind couldn't deal with the hip-deep snow in the back yard that just might hang around until July, by the looks of it. Their only respite was to daydream about the well-on-its-way-to-summer Tallahassee spring that happens in March, blooming azaleas and shorts weather. 

"The long, dark, cold, wet winter had taken its toll on me. When I lamented the December darkness, I got an 'April will be here soon' reply. By the time April rolled around, I couldn't see what was so great about it. If it wasn't snowing, I had to wallow through slush. If it wasn't slush, it was ice, on which I have to do the Edward Scissorlegs walk. We had so much snow in our part of town that they quit clearing it from the walkways. That made for a mini-Mt. Everest climbing adventure (in the dark, no less) every morning on the way to the bus stop and every evening on the way home. 

"One day as I scaled the mountain, I did my best to avoid the soft spots. They're the ones that suck you in up to your butt and force you into strange contortions that would embarrass even the most limber high-school cheerleader. I muttered to myself, 'I am not a Norwegian. This is not fun. I want to go back to being a lazy American and driving my car everywhere!'" 

"To Norwegians who cheerily asked if I were surviving the winter, my reply was, 'Nok er nok!' (Enough is enough!) What I hadn't told anyone was that I was, indeed, ready to run screaming to the airport and hijack a plane to Florida."

Ah. Spring fever. It's here. But they're right. April will be here soon. And I'll be singing this ...



In the meantime, here are some things to make you think of spring:

         


Spring fever

Spring 2000

Why would we move from sunny Florida to a country that has almost six months of winter? I asked myself that question several times over the last year, especially during that time I had the involuntary tic in my neck and the propensity to talk to myself. That was 'round about March and April when I was struck with the most severe case of spring fever in recorded history. 

It was sometime in March when the depression kicked back, settled in and decided to "set a spell." I didn't mark the day in my calendar, but it was sometime after that and before the last snow on April 15 that the last thread that tethered me to my sanity snapped. My body and mind couldn't deal with the hip-deep snow in the back yard that just might hang around until July, by the looks of it. Their only respite was to daydream about the well-on-its-way-to-summer Tallahassee spring that happens in March, blooming azaleas and shorts weather. 

The long, dark, cold, wet winter had taken its toll on me. When I lamented the December darkness, I got an "April will be here soon" reply. By the time April rolled around, I couldn't see what was so great about it. If it wasn't snowing, I had to wallow through slush. If it wasn't slush, it was ice, on which I have to do what I call the Edward Scissorlegs walk. We had so much snow in our part of town that they quit clearing it from the walkways. That made for a mini-Mt. Everest climbing adventure (in the dark, no less) every morning on the way to the bus stop and every evening on the way home. 

One day as I scaled the mountain, I did my best to avoid the soft spots. They're the ones that suck you in up to your butt and force you into strange contortions that would embarrass even the most limber high-school cheerleader. I muttered to myself, "I am not a Norwegian. This is not fun. I want to go back to being a lazy American and driving my car everywhere!" 

To Norwegians who cheerily asked if I were surviving the winter, my reply was, "Nok er nok!" (Enough is enough!) What I hadn't told anyone was that I was, indeed, ready to run screaming to the airport and hijack a plane to Florida.