Thursday, October 24, 2013

More Viking Holiday Gift Picks

The holiday season is fast approaching! As you’re making your shopping list, be sure to check out the November issue of Viking for our Scandinavian-inspired gift guide. Of course, not all of our favorite gifts could make the cut. Here are a few more gift ideas that we love.

The Little Scandinavian Girls Sticker Paper Dolls by Barbara Steadman is a perfectgift for little ones. Dress the dolls in eight traditional costumes with 25colorful stickers. $1.50,

Send greetings to your friends and family with these Rosemaling Design Note Cards, featuring eight blank cards by artwork from Ethel Kvalheim, an award-winning rosemaler from Wisconsin. $12.95,

Norwegian company Helly Hansen is known for its outdoor gear for men, women and children. The 3-in-1 waterproof Ashbury CIS Coat has a zip-in fleece jacket to keep you dry and warm throughout the year. $300.

Looking for a new crime thriller to cozy up with this season? Check out “Police,” the latest novel in the Harry Hole Series by award-winning Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s.

Anya Britzius is associate editor of Viking. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Who Was Gange Rolf?

Rollo statue in Rouen, France
At Viking, we're lucky to have so many engaged and knowledgeable readers. We recently received information from Joe Skodje of Clearwater, Fla. about Gange Rolf, the Viking leader credited for settling French Normandy. How much do you know about this important historical figure?

As legend has it, Rolf was so tall that his feet dragged the ground when he rode a horse, earning him the name Gange Rolf or "Walking Rolf."

During the 9th century, Vikings repeatedly sailed up the Seine, raiding and plundering. To put an end to these raids, King Charles the Simple made a treaty with Rolf, who became known as Rollo (or Rollon) in that area, granting him an area of land around Rouen. Rolf's people from the North (the Normans) settled in such high numbers in this area that it became known as Normandy. Gange Rolf went on to become the forefather of William the Conquerer, the first Norman king of England.

A statue of Rollo stands in a churchyard near the center of Rouen where Joan of Arc was buried. It was erected there in 1911 at the Normandy millennial celebration.

A second statue statue was given to the city of Fargo, N.D. from the city of Rouen. Commissioned in 1912, "it originally stood in a large grassy area next to the old Viking Hotel, just south of the Great Northern Depot on the north side of town," writes Skodje. On July 12, 1912, the Sons of Norway's Supreme Lodge Convention was recessed to give officers and delegates the opportunity to take part in the parade and dedication of the Gange Rolf statue. The statue now stands about a block north of Kringen Lodge in Fargo.

A third statue stands in the city of Ålesund, Norway. The statue commemorates the birthplace of Gange Rolf on the nearby island of Giske.

"All members of Sons of Norway should know the history of the man whose statue stands on these pedestals in Rouen, in Ålesund and in Fargo," Skodje writes. I fully agree. Thanks, Joe, for the history lesson!

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 Cross Duck.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dill Lover's Martini

Last week's Viking photo shoot served double-duty. Not only did we shoot three mouthwatering desserts from renowned pasty chef Sverre Sæatre, but we ended the day by getting some photos for our upcoming aquavit feature, which will appear in the same issue. (Note: I said we got photos—not shots—of aquavit!)

Here, food stylists Rachel Sherwood adds some garnishes to a Dill Martini, made with locally produced Gamle Ode dill aquavit. If you enjoy a cocktail now and then, you're definitely going to want this recipe—look for it in our December issue!

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, October 15, 2013

Holiday Baking With Viking

Prince Cake
One of the most rewarding parts of being an editor is seeing an idea become a full-blown article. And perhaps no subject is more satisfying to work with than (you guessed it) food! When I first became aware of master pastry chef Sverre Sætre and his cookbook "Norwegian Cakes and Cookies," I imagined his recipes would make a great holiday feature for Viking.

After browsing Sætre's collection, I found three recipes that I thought readers would especially enjoy for the holidays: Thick Lefse with Blueberry Butter, Prince Cake, and Butter Cookies With Almonds. Each of these recipes had a familiar-but-fresh quality to them: something potentially new for our mostly North American readership, but not so unusual or complicated that readers would shy away from experimenting with them.

Another thing I love about being an editor is being able to work with some really talented people. I shared the recipes with Viking art director Jill Adler, who ran with them. She found the perfect props to create a homey, holiday atmosphere. She also brought in the skillful help of food stylist Rachel Sherwood and photographer John Mowers of Unleashed Productions. The results? Deilig!

Look for Sætre's recipes in the upcoming December 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.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Minnesota's Own Nordic Noir

Vidar Sundstøl in Two Harbors. Photo by Shea Sundstøl.
I'm currently reading "Land of Dreams" by Norwegian crime novelist Vidar Sundstøl. Set on Lake Superior's North Shore, the book is Part One of the author's Minnesota Trilogy published by University of Minnesota Press and translated by Tiina Nunnally.

I'm only a few chapters into it, but the book has caught my interest on a number of levels. It's interesting to read a crime novel set in an area of Minnesota I know so well. I'm also enjoying getting aquainted with Sundstøl's Norwegian-American characters, knowing they've been created by a native Norwegian. Finally, I'm intrigued by the author's relationship with the North Shore, an area he initially resisted living in, but came to love, as he described in a recent U of M Press blogpost:
"How did 'I hate this place' become 'I can't leave here'? It was a mixture of two things: The landscape with its special magic and the people with their stories."
Those of us living in the Twin Cities metro area have several opportunities to see Sundstøl in the next few days:

Tues., Oct. 15, 7 PM
Mindekirken—The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church
Q&A, reading, and book signing with the author. The event is free and open to the public, though reservations are required. Call 612-627-1932, email, or go to to register.

Wed., Oct. 16, 4:30–6 PM
Dock Café, Stillwater
Valley Bookseller’s monthly “Totally Criminal Cocktail Hour” meeting includes a talk by Sundstøl and a Q&A session. Cost is $10 and includes appetizers. Reservations are required; call 651-430-3385 for details. A cash bar will be available.

Thurs., Oct. 17, 1–3 PM
Ingebretsen’s, Minneapolis
Book signing

Thursday, October 17, 7 PM
Once Upon a Crime, Minneapolis
Author Q&A session and book signing

Viking magazine will also have the opportunity to meet with Sundstøl when he's in town. Stay tuned for an interview with the author in 2014!

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, October 9, 2013

Happy Leif Erikson Day!

Happy Leif Erikson Day! This year marks the 49th Anniversary of the Presidential Proclamation of Leif Erikson Day, originally signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and first-issued on October 9, 1964. This was quite an auspicious occasion, considering that the idea was first proposed in 1865 and enjoyed the support of many of groups and individuals, like Ole Bull, F.D.R., and Edgar Allen Poe, throughout the years. But, we Scandinavians are nothing if not tenacious, so even though it took almost a century, we finally were rewarded with the acknowledgement that Leif got here first and beat the better known Columbus by 500 years.

Here’s how it happened: After traveling from Greenland to Norway in 999, and becoming a hirdman for King Olaf Tryggvason, Leif was given a mission: introduce Christianity to Greenland. According to various sources, while Leif was on his voyage to Greenland he was blown off course to a land that he did not expect to see, where he found "self-sown wheat fields and grapevines".

After returning to Greenland Leif purchased a new ship, gathered a crew of thirty-five men, and mounted an expedition towards the land he had found. Leif landed first in a rocky and desolate place he named Helluland (Flat-Rock Land; possibly Baffin Island). After venturing further by sea, he landed the second time in a forested place he named Markland (Forest Land; possibly Labrador). Finally, after two more days at sea, he landed in a place he named Vinland. There, he and his crew built a small settlement which was called Leifsbúðir (Leif's Booths) by later visitors from Greenland. After having wintered over in Vinland, Leif returned to Greenland in the spring with a cargo of grapes and timber. The rest, as they say, is history.
Well, actually, it wasn’t until the 1960’s when a couple of archeologists by the names of Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad discovered L'Anse aux Meadows and changed history as we knew it. Their discovery proved that Norse explorers had not only set foot on North America long before Christopher Columbus, but they had settled there, too.

Today, all people of Nordic descent should be proud of their heritage, the great accomplishments of their ancestors, and the contributions that Nordic people have made to the world throughout history. Happy Leif Erikson Day!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Twin Cities' Leiv Eriksson Festival Offers Top-Notch Entertainment

Uranienborg Vocal Ensemble
The highlight of my week was hearing Oslo's Uranienborg Vocal Ensemble, (UraVok) when they performed in St. Olaf College's Boe Chapel last night. The 20-piece choir is currently touring the state. Tonight the group performs at Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church, as part of the Minneapolis Leiv Eriksson International Festival. The ensemble will perform at services at Immanuel Lutheran Church of Eden Prairie on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 5, and will give a 6 p.m. concert at the church that evening. (If you live outside the Twin Cities metro, you're still in luck: Last night's 80-minute concert is archived on St. Olaf's website.)

UraVok isn't the only top-notch Norwegian group to come to Minnesota for the festival. Two weeks of concerts and events were kicked off by trumpeter Kai Robert Johansen. The comedic duo of Uppstad and Waade from Rogaland, Norway will also entertain audiences at the Danish American Center and Mindekirken on Oct. 6 and 8, respectively.

The festival comes to a close with a performance of PATINA, which makes its U.S. premiere at Pantages Theater in downtown Minneapolis. Comprised of 27 rural Norwegian women aged 70 to 80, PATINA "celebrates the beauty, strength, wisdom, and experience of the daughters and granddaughters of the women who fought for and won the right to vote in Norway exactly 100 years ago." (Read more about Norway's celebration of women's suffrage in the June 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.