Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Make Your Own Norwegian Wedding Cake

In our July cover feature, "Tying the Knot, Nordic Style," we feature a traditional Scandinavian wedding cake, a kransekake. If you don't live near a bakery that makes kransekaker, you can still enjoy the traditional dessert on your big day.

First, you'll need to get your hands on a set of baking rings, available at many Scandinavian gift shops. Next, you'll need a good recipe, such as the one below from Sons of Norway's Recipe Box.

Kransekake can be a bit temperamental, so you'll definitely want to make a practice cake or two. I've heard the cake is moister if you freeze the rings after baking and thaw again before decorating. But don't take my word for it! If you're looking for expert tips, check out the "Fun Lessons in Lefse and Kransekake" DVD, featuring popular Ingebretsen's cooking instructors, available on Ingebretsen's website.

Kransekake (Almond Wreath Cake)

2 1/2 cups finely ground blanched almonds
2 1/2 cups finely ground unblanched almonds
4 1/3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar (sift first, then measure)
3 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine almonds and confectioner's sugar in a large saucepan. Add the unbeaten egg white and mix to a firm dough. Place the pan over low heat and knead until the dough is so hot that it is almost impossible to handle. Grease the ring pans for a 16-18 ring cake. Spoon the dough into a cookie press or pastry tube with a wide round tip. Press the dough into the rings, pressing the ends together to look as seamless as possible. Bake 12-15 minutes, until dry and firm outside, but still slightly soft inside. Cool slightly, then remove from the pans and cool completely.

1 scant cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1 egg

Sift the confectioner's sugar and combine with egg white to make a thick icing. Make a small cone of paper and cut off the tip. Pipe on garlands of icing and stack. Decorate with flowers, flags and/or candy.

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 by Jeremy Noble from St. Paul, United States (Kransekage Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, July 26, 2013

Love and Heart Waffles

Have you had a chance to check out "Tying the Knot, Nordic Style" in the July issue of Viking? In addition to a providing a ton of inspiration for those planning a wedding, we've also got gift-giving ideas for anyone sharing in the loving couple's big day.

When I'm looking for a wedding gift, one of my personal favorites is a heart-shaped waffle iron. The one featured in our gift guide is from the store at Vesterheim Norwegian-American museum, but I see them for sale in Scandinavian gift stores wherever I go. Along with the iron, I like to include a copy of my family's favorite Norwegian waffle recipe, which happens to be from Sons of Norway's Recipe Box!

Try sharing heart waffles with someone you love.

6 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
3 Tbsp. butter for frying
Mix eggs, sugar and cardamom together in a big bowl. Add in flour, baking powder and salt. Mix these ingredients and beat in sour cream and butter until the batter is smooth. Let the batter sit for about 20 minutes before you begin making the waffles. Heat up the iron and brush some of the butter onto the surface. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter in the iron, and cook until the waffle is golden brown. Serve warm, topped with jam, whipped cream or sour cream.

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 Flikr user torkemo

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sons of Norway Needs Your Help

A special message from Sons of Norway's CEO, Eivind Heiberg:

Dear Sons of Norway Members and Friends,

I am reaching out to you today on a matter of the utmost importance in asking you and your fellow lodge members to help Sons of Norway and the fraternal life insurance community as a whole.

Recently Sons of Norway was alerted to the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal for a “blank slate” tax reform that would potentially remove Sons of Norway’s tax exempt status, as well as that of all other fraternal life insurance organizations. It “operates from an assumption that all special [tax] provisions are out unless there is clear evidence that they: 1) help grow the economy, 2) make the tax code fairer, or 3) effectively promote other important policy objectives.” The leaders of the Finance Committee – Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah) – asked their colleagues in the Senate to provide them feedback on which tax preferences should be preserved by July 26.

Sons of Norway, along with the American Fraternal Alliance and its member organizations are taking steps to avoid this change in the tax code because its effect on our industry, all the way down to local lodges, would be catastrophic. Without these tax exemptions, fraternal life insurance organizations would no longer be able to provide members with the benefits they have come to enjoy. But in order to be successful, we need your help.

As part of a grassroots campaign Sons of Norway and the American Fraternal Alliance are asking all employees, agents and members to reach out to their senators and express support for the fraternal system and its tax exemption. To help with this, the Alliance has created an online resource where all you have to do you just fill in your name, address, and society information and instantly a message to your Senators will be created for you. If you believe in Sons of Norway and all the great work it does in your lodge or community, I urge you to click here to take action.

Because of the tight July 26 deadline for Senators to provide their feedback to Senators Baucus and Hatch it’s important for you to take action as soon as possible. If we don’t join together with one unified voice, expressing our displeasure with this proposal, it will not only affect Sons of Norway, but also churches, charities and credit unions. So, please, if you believe in the important role Sons of Norway plays in your community, join me letting our senators know who we are and what we do.

In closing, please take action today and if you know someone who may not have received this email, please forward it on to them so they can join in the effort to support Sons of Norway and the fraternal life insurance community.

Eivind Heiberg
Sons of Norway

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Norway is Paddlers' Paradise

Viking in Lofoten
Photo courtesy ReineAdventure.
Summertime is a great time to get out on the water, and this is especially true in Norway. The country's fjords, rivers and lakes all add up to one immense paradise for paddlers.

When Viking Art Director Jill Adler and I were in Norway recently, we visited the town of Reine in the Lofoten Islands. We had the opportunity to try kayaking—a first for me. I loved it! And it was easier than I expected. Lofoten's sparkling turquoise water and breathtaking views—along with some spectacular weather—made for an unforgettable outing, and we experienced the beauty of the area in a way we never would have on foot.

Lofoten is just one of the great kayaking areas all over Norway. Here are 19 more "paddling pearls," according to, an outdoor website. (View the original article in Norwegian here.)
  1. Helgeland
  2. Femundsmarka
  3. Setesdalsheiane
  4. Øygarden
  5. Telemarkskanalen
  6. Bulandet/Værlandet
  7. Hardangerfjorden
  8. Austrheim
  9. Vikna
  10. Fedje
  11. Haldenvassdraget
  12. Lysefjorden
  13. Barduelva
  14. Kristiansand
  15. Bugøyfjord
  16. Kjørull
  17. Hjertøya
  18. Hvaler
  19. Fjorda
Still not convinced? Don't take my word for it—check out this video of kayaking in Lofoten from ReineAdventures.

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

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sons of Norway ISO: Controller

This just in: Sons of Norway of Minneapolis, MN is seeking a new Controller in our Accounting Department. 

This position reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer and is part of the Senior Management Team. This person will contribute to development and implementation of company plans and strategies. This position is responsible for directing financial activities of Sons of Norway by performing the following duties personally or through a staff of four.
  • Accurate and timely financial reporting
  • Financial regulatory compliance
  • Budget preparation and reporting including analysis of variances
  • Ensure accurate transaction processing and accounting oversight
  • Review internal controls including identification and correction of any weaknesses
  • Direct the annual external audit process
  • Payroll and benefit plan administration
  • Maintaining adequate business insurance coverage for the organization
  • Work closely with the CEO and the Actuary to analyze operations and profitability

Supervisory Responsibilities
Manage four employees including overall direction, coordination and evaluation of their performance. This includes recruiting, training, assigning and directing work, and rewarding and disciplining employees.

  • Bachelor’s degree in accounting
  • 5+ years of experience in life insurance accounting
  • Demonstrated knowledge of statutory annual statement preparation
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills including the ability to interact effectively with all levels of employees and management, including the Board of Directors
To apply please send your resume, cover letter, and salary requirements to:
Sons of Norway
C/O Controller
1455 West Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Norway in Montana Youth Camp

One of the things that many Sons of Norway lodges are known for is their youth programming, be it during social meetings or at heritage camps. Recently the Missoulian ran an article about the first Norway in Montana day camp sponsored by the Missoula Sons of Norway lodge. Among other things, campers learned about Norwegian folk dancing from none other than Dan Rude, former international president of Sons of Norway.

Here’s some video of the 13 students learning the Shoemaker dance:

If you think this looks fun, be sure to check with your lodge to see what they offer for youth programming.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Catch the Action at Decorah's Nordic Fest

Skjaldborg reenactors
Vikings, folk-art, theater productions, storytellers, art demonstrations, and more—that's what you'll find when you visit Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum during Decorah’s 47th Annual Nordic Fest. This year's festival, themed “All Trails Lead to Nordic Fest,” runs July 25–27.

Here are just of few of the events Vesterheim will be hosting during the festival weekend:

The museum's “National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition” will be on display through July 27, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, in the museum’s Main Building. Enjoy an exhibition of knifemaking, rosemaling, weaving and woodworking by contemporary American artists.

Three artists from Norway—weaver Marta Kløve Juuhl, knifemaker Morten Håkonsen, and rosemaler Turid Helle Fatland—will be on hand to demonstrate their work.

An original children’s theater production “East o' the Sun & West o' the Moon”—a collaboration between Vesterheim, Upstart Crow Theatreworks, and Arthaus—is inspired by lives and writings of Asbjørnsen and Moe, who collected and published traditional Norwegian tales and legends during the nineteenth century.

The re-enactment group “Skjaldborg,” returns this year from Elk Horn, Iowa. Visit their Viking camp in the museum’s Open Air Division to see how the Vikings lived and to see one of their full combat demonstrations.

Craft demonstrations
Living heritage demonstrators from Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin will exibit blacksmithing, figure carving, leather work, knifemaking, woodturning, chair-making and more.

Of course Vesterheim's events are just a portion of what Nordic Fest has to offer. You can learn more about activities for the whole family, including dancing, sporting events, food and plenty of entertainment, by calling 1-800-382-FEST, or visiting the Nordic Fest website. Looking for more Nordic fun this summer? Check out the Kalender each month in Viking magazine!
Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.         

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Learn From the Locals in Svalbard

You can learn a lot about a place when you get familiar with the local customs, counsel and lore. For example, in "Gliding Through Norway," in the December 2012 issue of Viking, we included the fjellvettregler, the Norwegian mountain code, for safe hiking and skiing. These nine common-sense rules were developed by the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) and the Norwegian Red Cross in 1967 and have become an essential part of outdoor life in Norway. Rules such as "Leave word of your route,""Learn from the locals," and "Turn back in time" can tell you a bit about the Norwegian psyche, as well as the situations that can arise while in Norway's mountains.

While writing about a recent visit to Svalbard, I came across the Svalbardvettregler—Svalbard's own version of the mountain code. I think it's telling—and not at all surprising—that this Arctic archipelago has developed a set of wilderness guidelines, both for human safely as well as protection of this fragile environment. What might these rules tell us about Svalbard and the people who choose to live there? 

The Svalbard Code
  1. Don't litter. Leave no lasting trace of your path.
  2. Don't disturb the animals and birds. Remember it's you who is the guest.
  3. Don't pick the flowers. Be mindful of biodiversity.
  4. Don't damage or remove human artifacts. Sites of human activity prior to 1946 are protected.
  5. It's prohibited to seek out, follow or otherwise disturb polar bears. It's a matter of safety for both bears and humans.  
  6. Don't leave the settlements without a weapon and experience using it. 
  7. Show consideration for others.
  8. Notify the Governor before embarking on a long solo trip. Notification is required before traveling throughout large portions of Svalbard.
  9. Get to know the laws and rules for interaction and activity in Svalbard.
  10. Organized tours are recommended, for both your interest and the environment's.
Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Norway Today

Since the great migration of the late 19th century, the Norwegian-American’s have had a long and storied history of publishing newspapers and magazines that kept the community unified and informed about their home country. Over the past century this has included publications, like the Norwegian-American, Den Norsk Amerikaner, and Viking magazine. These publications, and countless others, were part of a proud tradition and today there’s a new chapter unfolding before us, called Norway Today.

The Norwegian Embassy in the U.S. is now offering free access to Norway Today, its magazine about contemporary Norwegian culture, society, economy and public policy. The magazine, which highlights Norwegian culture in the U.S., is available both as a free app and as a Digimag, which can be read online.
I’ve been reading the Embassy’s publication for a number of years and this is truly their best offering yet. The current issue has a wonderful introduction from HM Queen Sonja, articles on Norwegian architecture, design and literature, as well as an in-depth feature on energy production in Norway.

So, if you’ve already devoured the current issue of Viking magazine I highly recommend you visit the embassy’s website to view this great publication! It is carrying on the great traditions of educational and informative content for the Norwegian-American community.