Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bit by the Travel Bug?

Have you seen January's travel issue of Viking? I'm afraid the whole Viking staff was seriously infected by the travel bug while we were working on it. Among this month's features, you'll find "From Sea to Sky," an inspiring travelogue by Carter Walker describing a day trip her she took with her family through central Norway.

If you've also been bitten by the travel bug, you'll enjoy this amazing gallery of Norway photos on the National Geographic website. While you're there, you'll find helpful background information about the country, some interesting travel-related features and an interactive map--perfect for planning your next Norwegian adventure. Enjoy!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Suomi Star

Friday, December 24, 2010

Great Grøt for a God Jul

It’s Christmas Eve! Do you know what you’ll be feeding your nisse tonight? In the December issue of Viking, Carter Walker writes, “At Christmas time, dutiful farmers always made sure to leave offerings, including porridge, as thanks to the nisser for their magical help around the barn.” And whether or not you have a nisse living in your barn, garden shed or garage, you will certainly want to have some porridge on hand tonight when the julenisse visits your house.

My family tested this traditional recipe for risengrynsgrøt, or rice porridge, last night and it was a hit! It’s easy to make and delicious topped with a little sugar and cinnamon.

You can read more about Norwegian Christmas traditions in the December issue of Viking.

From the staff of Viking, we wish you a God Jul!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user apoxapox.

Getting into the spirit of Christmas!

In anticipation of all the festivities throughout the weekend, I give you two great videos to help get you in the spirit.

First is a video of Sissel Kjyrkebø singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Next is a video of Rick Steves' Christmas in Europe series, highlighting Christmas in Norway. Specifically in Drobak, Norway. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Julekonsert on PBS

The annual julekonsert, is a real Norwegian Christmas tradition. One which has been broadcast throughout Norway from a church in Hamar. I've seen video of it before and it truly is an amazingly beautiful juletide tradition.

Now, I've just heard that a number of PBS stations throughout the United States may be broadcasting the 2010 Julekonsert! Normally I would recommend spending the holidays enjoying the company of family and friends, rather than zoning out to another Charlie Brown Christmas Special, however this broadcast is so wonderful I'll break my rule this once. If your PBS station is showing the concert, definitely take the hour or so from your day and enjoy the luxurious sights and sounds of this awesome tradition.

Here's a preview with an intro by Princess Martha Louise and Harald Zwart.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lutefisk Capital of America? You Decide.

Here's a great video about a Sons of Norway member (and champion lutefisk eater) in Madison, MN. Enjoy the lutefisk!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gifts for the Young (and Young at Heart)

Not quite done with your holiday shopping? For a heritage-filled gift for the young people in your life, consider a “campership” to Norwegian language camp. Every Sons of Norway district is home to at least one language camp (including District 8 in Norway, home to camp Little America.)

And remember … camp isn’t just for the young. It’s an experience the whole family can enjoy together. Districts 1, 2 and 6 (any maybe others) offer family camping experiences. Check out your district website to find the opportunities and scholarships available near you.

If you live in the Midwest, consider the Norwegian Family Fun Weekend at Skogfjorden, Jan. 14-17. Northern Minnesota in January might sound like a frigid destination, but Skogfjorden is a wonderful, koselig place in the winter, especially if cross-country skiing or hiking is something you enjoy.

For more heritage-themed gift ideas, check out our holiday gift guide in the November issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Lutfisk on the Radio

In keeping with this weeks tasty, though totally unintentional, food theme, let's talk lutefisk. A curious food, to be sure; rarely will you find a culinary dish that is so widely, and vocally, debated by supporters and critics alike. For example, Jeffrey Stengarten once compared it to a weapon of mass destruction, while many others spend great amounts of time searching for and attending as many lutefisk dinners in their area as possible.

If you follow my Twitter feed (@SonsofNorway)then you probably saw the tweet earlier this week about KCRW, a public radio station in California, doing a piece on Sons of Norway and the making of lutefisk. During its "Good Food" segment, contributor Eddie Lynn visited Norrona lodge 6-050 in Van Nuys, California. While there, he interviewed lodge members, including VP Gerald Rowe, about lutesfisk and the tradition of lutefisk dinners.

To listen to the entire story, click here and fast-forward to the 15:20 mark. For me, the highlight of the story was when the interviewer called lutefisk "a poor man's lobster." Sounds to me like there's another lutefisk convert waiting in the wings!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Favorite Krumkake Recipe

Something interesting happened to me yesterday. A colleague asked me what I like most about this time of year, and I must admit it was a tough question to answer. Not because I'm some sort of grinch, exactly the opposite, actually. There are so many things I love about this time of year that I'm hard pressed to narrow it down to any single thing.

If I had to narrow it down, though, I'd have to say it's the food. Beyond the fact that this time of year is famous for the variety, the flavor and sheer volume of food, it's also notorious as a time of reflection. Maybe it's because December offers a great vantage point from which we can survey the year gone by; remembering the things that brought us joy, finding contentment in our successes and humor in our failings and considering the road not taken. More likely though, it's probably because it's been proven that food (or more accurately the smell of food) is one of the strongest triggers in recalling memories. I'm sure we all, at one point or another, have come to relate a certain smell with a memory of good times gone by.

For me, it's the smell of cookies baking. Specifically the smell of krumkake being made on a griddle. That particular smell takes me back to my childhood, spent with great-aunts and uncles who were one-generation-off-the-boat Norwegian Americans living in Northern Minnesota. It makes me think of their kitchens filled to the brim with people; some of them baking, some watching, some tasting, but all of them enjoying each others' company. And the noise, oh the sound of them all talking and laughing! Great memories to be sure.

So, because food is so important to the holiday season, I thought I'd share my favorite krumkake recipe with everyone! This is a tried and true recipe, that my wife and I love. In face we just made it over the weekend and can attest to its wonderful flavor. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have and that it can be a part of your own cherished memories.

Ingredients (makes approximately 50 krumkake)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (approx. 1 stick) unsalted sweet cream butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

In a mixer, combine eggs and sugar and slowly beat together. Next, pour the melted butter or margarine into your mixer along with the vanilla extract and ground cardamom.

Sift flour and corn starch then add to egg mixture. Mix together until dough has a thick pancake batter-like, or somewhat doughy, consistency.

Once your maker is up to full heat, it’s time place the dough on the griddle. For expedience it’s a good idea to use two spoons (one to scoop batter and the other to scrape the batter onto your krumkake maker. Remember to place krumkake dough a bit above the center of your griddle pattern, so there is ample room for the batter to move forward as you close the lid.

Leave the batter in the maker with the lid closed for 35 seconds.

Once done, remove with a thin spatula and roll or lay flat to cool. If you are going to roll them into their traditional cone shape, you will need to do so immediately as they cool and harden quickly. 

This recipe definitely has been described as very "cardamom-y" in that the cardamom flavor definitely comes through. If you are looking for a krumkake that's a bit sweeter you can either serve this recipe with whipped cream and preserves (which I wholeheartedly recommend), or you can reduce the amount of cardamom and increase the amount of sugar used. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Certainties in life: Tomorrow the sun will rise and we shall make Gløgg!

We’ve all heard the saying that “only two things in life are certain: death and taxes.” Now, I don’t know about you but I find that to be a very bleak perspective. I'm guessing good ol' Ben Franklin came up with that little saying because he never heard of Gløgg. If he had, then he'd probably have demanded that this holiday staple be served at all of his Christmas and New Year's parties!

So, since it 'tis the season, I bring you something that will brighten up the day and help spread joy among all:  the annual posting of the Gløgg recipe!    

I’ve been monitoring a marked increase in searches for a Gløgg recipe, so it’s time once again to post a link and make it easier to find. Just a reminder, this is a 40+ year old recipe and even though it dates back to the days of LBJ it still holds up as good as ever.

To serve 20-25

2 quarts dry red wine (about 2 standard 750 mL bottles)
2 quarts muscatel (or muscato)
1 pint sweet vermouth
2 tablespoons Angostura bitters
2 cups raisins
Peelings of 1 orange
12 whole cardamoms, bruised in a mortar with a pestle or by covering with a towel and crushing with a rolling pin
10 whole cloves
1 piece (about 2 inches) of fresh ginger
1 stick cinnamon
1 ½ cups akevitt (preferably Linie)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups whole almonds, blanched and peeled

 Adapted from Recipes: The Cooking of Scandinavia. Time-Life Books. New York, 1968

Before you start cooking/drinking this holiday elixir, though, make sure you read the original blog post with commentary from Cultural Advisor, Colin Thonsen. It’ll make the preparation and cooking process go a lot smoother.

Enjoy the Gløgg!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rosemaling the winter away

If you've been following the news lately, then you know we Minnesotans have had a heck of a winter so far. Let's run down the checklist, Shall we?
  • So much snow that it caved in a professional sports stadium? Check.
  • High temps in the single digits and overnight lows in the negative doubles? Check.
  • Getting less than 7 hours of sunlight per day? Check.
If the winter so far is any indication, I think it's fairly certain that most of us in the upper Midwest will be spending a LOT of time indoors over the next couple of months.

Unfortunately, for many of us, cabin fever sets in all too easily, which can make the coldest months of the year some of the longest and most excruciating of all. So, that leaves us with the question of what to do to fill the time until spring comes?

How about rosemaling?

I've just gotten word that Sons of Norway and Vesterheim are collaborating on an new type of rosemaling class. It's going to follow the first level of the Sons of Norway Rosemaling Cultural Skills Program, but will be taught in a group setting by Vesterheim Gold Medall Winner, Shirley Evenstad! If you aren't familiar with her work, check out one of your recent Viking magazines and look for the Sons of Norway Christmas ornament--Shirley is the talented artist behind this year't Hallingdal Rose design! She's an amazing artist who has studied with several master teachers at Vesterheim and in Norway.

This four-part class is going to be held every Saturday, from January 22nd until February 12, 2011 at Church of the Good Shepherd on 48th and France Avenue in Minneapolis, MN. Aspiring rosemalers will learn the basic strokes, simple flower and scroll forms, and complete a small 5-6 inch design done on a backgrounded plate or paper. Cost the class is $85 for Sons of Norway or Vesterheim members, plus an additional $40-$50 for supplies.

I think this sounds like a really fun way to while away the hours this winter! If you do as well, then all you need to do is register contact Vesterheim Museum at (563) 382-9681 or by e-mail at

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Scandinavian Chic

Looking for a heritage-inspired gift for your favorite fashionista? If you haven’t noticed, Nordic-inspired knits are bigger than ever.

Travel + Leisure magazine recently featured a lovely assortment of woolly wares in their October issue. Seem strangely familiar? Yep, they are to me too. These are the type of staple items—many of them hand-knits or hand-me-downs—that have gotten me through a lifetime of Minnesota winters.

CNBC’s Consumer Nation website featured a Scandinavian-style sweater among their trendiest holiday gifts for 2010. “Nordic chic—I think this trend is only going to grow bigger,” explains fashion trend consultant Catherine Moellering in the site’s gift guide.

Feeling inspired? You’ll find a traditional Norwegian mitten pattern in the September issue of Viking. If you’re not a knitter, you’re still in luck. Scandinavian retailers like Ingebretsen’s offer a great selection of hats, mittens and sweaters online. Bargain hunters might want to check out eBay or Google Shopping for serious deals on new and vintage knitwear. Even Target is picking up on the trend with Nordic knit slippers.

I’m glad to know that—at least this winter—my collection of well-loved Norwegian sweaters, hats and mittens are in style. But I won’t be packing them up when the trend is over … I’ll just be ready when it comes around again!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user aslakr.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Royal Respite

This time of year, everyone is ready for a change of pace. Apparently that’s true for Norway’s royals as well.

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit began a two-month vacation with their children at the end of November.

“We want to be together as a family,” the Crown Prince told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. “We want to show our children a bit of the world, that there are many different cultures and many ways of living.”

The family isn’t disclosing where they will be traveling and they’ve requested to take a holiday from the press as well. They chose to travel now because their royal duties were relatively light in December and January, according to an article on the website News and Views from Norway.

To read more about the Norwegian monarchy, check out the December issue of Viking. You can also follow the Royal Couple on Twitter, although I wouldn’t expect many Tweets from them until the family returns home at the end of January.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo: Sølve Sundsbø / Det kongelige hoff

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Welcome New Cultural Coordinator, Marit Barkve!

Sons of Norway’s Fraternal Department is happy to welcome our newest staff member, Marit Barkve. Marit comes to us with a wealth of Norwegian knowledge and will be working closely with our members as our new cultural coordinator. But, before we learn more about what Marit will be doing, lets learn more about her. So here goes!

Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Shoreview, Minnesota.

Where did you work before joining Sons of Norway?
I worked with two non-profit organizations, one based out of Washington state called Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, the other was Refugee Council USA out of Washington D.C.

What is your educational background?
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Norwegian Language and Global Studies as well as a minor in Political Science from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. I also had the opportunity to study abroad at Hedmark University College or (Høgskolen i Hedmark) in Hamar.

So, I have to ask…Are you Norwegian?
Yes! Both of my parents have Norwegian ancestry. My father’s side of the family emigrated from a town in Norway called Jørpeland, just east of Stavanger, where my Norwegian “slekt” (family) resides today. I’m actually in contact with my fantastic relatives in Norway – I was fortunate enough to celebrate jul with them a few years back.

As the newest member of the Fraternal team, what are you most looking forward to in working at Sons of Norway?

I am thrilled to be a part of the Nordic community at Sons of Norway. I’ve always had a passion for my heritage and Norwegian culture and it is great to be able to work with it on a daily basis. I’ve been very warmly welcomed at headquarters and am really looking forward to learning more about Sons of Norway as an organization.

As Cultural Coordinator, what types of things will you help members with?
Primarily, I will be organizing and maintaining the media lending library, however I will also be working on the Sports Medal Program, doing some event planning and assisting with any basic Norwegian language or culture questions.

Now that you will be overseeing the Media Lending Library…Do you have any favorite Norwegian films or musical artists?
I enjoy Scandinavian films in general but if I had to pick a favorite it would be a Norwegian film called “Folk flest bor i Kina.” Unfortunately, the film isn’t available in the U.S. yet.

Any hobbies?

Running. Swimming. Biking. I really enjoy being active and being outdoors. My favorite activity is downhill skiing. When I lived in Washington I went skiing on a regular basis. My newest venture is relearning how to cross-country ski.

Do you have any hidden talents that will be handy at Sons of Norway?

Usually when I get asked about any hidden talents I can fall back on the fact that I can speak fluent Norwegian, although at Sons of Norway that talent certainly won’t be hidden.

Have you ever had any experience with Norwegian food? Lefse or Lutefisk? If so, what did you think of it?
I grew up in a Norwegian family and lived in Norway for a year so I have had a lot of exposure to Norwegian cuisine—I’ve pretty much tried it all! I haven’t yet learned how to make lefsedespite it being a holiday tradition in my family—but I am looking forward to learning to make it later this week at headquarters. There aren’t many Norwegian foods that I dislike except for lutefisk – but don’t tell my grandmother, as she will not tolerate lutefisk badmouthing or disloyalty.

When I lived in Hamar I worked in a cafe that had a variety of types of food that were both traditional and untraditional. There was a local elderly customer who came in regularly who always ordered the same traditional Norwegian meals, reinforcing the stereotype that Norwegians like their food mild or bland. One day we were able to convince the customer to try lasagna instead…he couldn’t believe how exotic it was! It was funny, as an American, to think of lasagna as being exotic.

Are there any things at Headquarters that you’ve learned or experienced that have surprised you?
I’ve been really impressed with how active and passionate the lodges are! There really is a lot of activity, which has been really exciting for me.

Any closing thoughts or things you want the members to know about you that we haven’t talked about?

I’m really excited to be here and am looking forward to collaborating with the staff and members to learn and try new things.

We are all very excited to welcome Marit to the team and look forward to working with her. So if you wish to extend your own words of welcome or if you want to pick up a great title from the lending library, just leave a comment on the blog or email Marit at