5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes: Norwegian Waffles

Have your tastebuds been watering? Mine sure have. I love the smells of sweet breads and cookies baking that mingle through the house – especially during the cold months of the holiday season.

Today, I share a favorite recipe that is traditionally for breakfast but also makes a wonderful treat to enjoy with coffee or tea any time of the day, vaffler or Heart-Shaped Norwegian Waffles.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement for more information.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Våfflor @EvaVarga.net

A traditional Scandinavian waffle iron makes individual heart-shaped waffles. You can certainly use a standard waffle iron, though they may be slightly thicker and not quite so light. If you want to stay traditional, I recommend the Chef’s Choice 830 WafflePro Heart Waffle Iron. It is well constructed and takes a beating (my son actually knocked it off the counter once).

Våfflor

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons melted butter
butter for brushing the iron or non-stick spray
powdered sugar
lingonberry jam or fresh berries to serve with the waffles
whipped cream to serve with the waffles (optional)
Gjetost Goat Cheese (optional)

Stir flour and cardamon together and set aside. In a small bowl or electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together at high speed for 10 minutes until mixture forms ribbons when beaters are lifted.

Sprinkle flour mixture over eggs; stir the sour cream until smooth and add to the mixture, folding until batter is smooth. Fold in the melted butter.

Place the waffle iron over medium heat and heat until a drop of water sizzles on the griddle. Brush the griddle with butter or spray with non-stick spray. Spoon in the batter. Bake according to waffle iron instructions or until golden brown.

Remove from iron and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately with lingonberry or other jam, fresh berries and whipped cream, or thin slices of gjetost goat cheese.

~ ~ ~

Earlier this week, I shared a recipe for our favorite Norwegian cookies .. Nordic Almond Bars .. as well as a traditional flatbread that is popular in many Norwegian American homes .. Lefse.

Tomorrow, I bring you yet another recipe featuring Lingonberries .. Lingonberry Cardamon Rolls. Mmmmm .. I can smell them baking already.

Looking for more inspiration for a Nordic høytiden … read my earlier posts here and here.

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes @EvaVarga.net

It’s a holiday hopscotch! Join the iHomeschool Network bloggers for more Christmas themed posts all week!

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes: Lefse

Each day this week, I will be sharing one of our favorite Scandinavian recipes for the holiday season or høytiden. Yesterday, I shared our favorite cookie recipe, Nordic Almond Bars. Today, we try something a little more complicated.

For many Norwegian-American families, the biggest Christmas treat isn’t foil-wrapped chocolate or sugar-dusted cookies. It’s lefse, a simple flatbread. It is made with potatoes, flour, butter, and milk or cream. It is cooked on a griddle.

Lefse are sort of like soft tortillas, made mostly out of mashed potatoes (with a little fat and flour mixed in to form a tender dough). They’re usually spread with butter and sugar, or rolled up with a bit of lingonberry jam.

When we make them, we make them by the dozens. They freeze well and are the perfect way to eat up leftovers at Thanksgiving and Christmas – we simply roll em up.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement for more information.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Lefse @EvaVarga.netLefse

The following recipe comes from the Sons of Norway website; lodges across North America utilize a variation of this basic recipe each year for their annual lefse and bake sales.

Ingredients

10 Lbs. Russet Potatoes, peeled
1 Lb. Unsalted Sweetcream Butter (room temperature)
Salt
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

Materials Suggested

Electric Lefse Griddle by Bethany Housewares
Pastry Board and Cloth Set
Corrugated Wood Rolling Pin and 3-4 Rolling Pin Covers
Lefse Stick
Potato Ricer

Recipe

Step 1

Bring a large stock pot full of water to a boil. Cut your peeled potatoes 2-3 pieces depending on size and cook until they are tender. You may need to do multiple batches if you are using a smaller pot.

Step 2

Rice the cooked potatoes into a large bowl with your potato ricer. Once you have riced all of the potatoes cover and let them cool overnight in your refrigerator.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Lefse @EvaVarga.netStep 3

Remove your potatoes from the refrigerator and let them warm slightly. Move approximately half of the riced potatoes to a smaller bowl. Add the flour in 1/4 cup increments, along with 1/2 stick of butter in chunks and 1 Tsp. salt. Knead the mixture until everything is well mixed. Test the consistency of your dough, you are looking for a texture similar to light pie dough. It should form into a ball without sicking to your hands and hold its shape without cracking if you press the dough ball lightly with your thumb.

If the dough feels too sticky add a little more flour, if it is too dry or is cracking when pressed add another couple pats of butter. Taste the Lefse dough as you go, it should taste like potatoes not flour. The dough should be slightly salty and buttery, but be careful not to over-do-it on the salt.

Warm your griddle to 400°F/200°C. If you are using a traditional lefse griddle remember to place it on a surface that will not be damaged by the high level of ambient heat. The heat from your lefse griddle could cause your stone counter top to crack or your laminate counter tops to delaminate. It is recommended that you use something to cover your countertop to help dissipate the heat.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Lefse @EvaVarga.netStep 4

Form the finished potato mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball. Flour a pastry board covered with a pastry cloth and rub the flour into the cloth. You want enough flour so that your lefse will not stick, but not so much that your lefse is completely covered in flour. Roll out your lefse on your pastry board until it is 1/8 inch thick. Using your lefse stick transfer the lefse to your griddle. Cook on the griddle until bubbles form and each side has browned. Place the lefse on a damp towel to cool slightly and then cover with a damp towel until ready to serve.

If you are storing the lefse, after it has cooled fold it in quarters and place 8-10 sheets into a 1 gallon freezer bag. Store in your freezer for upto 3 months. To thaw – remove from freezer, place on a plate covered with paper towels and allow to come to room temperature.

Tips

Making lefse takes practice. It may be helpful to watch a video tutorial or two. I have also written a Hub Page describing the process, How to Make Lefse. Better yet – contact your local Sons of Norway lodge. They may offer classes. 🙂

~ ~ ~

Join me tomorrow when I share our annual tradition of making Norwegian Heart-Shaped Waffles!

Looking for more inspiration for a Nordic høytiden … read my earlier posts here and here.

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes @EvaVarga.net

It’s a holiday hopscotch! Join the iHomeschool Network bloggers for more Christmas themed posts all week!

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars

My kids presently are working on earning their first Cultural Skills pin in cooking from Sons of Norway. They have opted to begin with Level 2: Baked Goods & Desserts and as the holiday season is upon us, I thought it the perfect Christmas Hopscotch.

Each day this week, I will be sharing one of our favorite Scandinavian recipes for the holiday season or høytiden. Try one and I guarantee you will want to make them all!

Christmas cookies are a must-have for any Christmas celebration and baking them at home is a great way to bring the family together. There are many wonderful cookie recipes in Norway some of the more popular cookies are:

  • pepperkaker or gingerbread,
  • krumkaker (waffle cookie curved in a cone shape),
  • sandkake or sand cakes that are simple short cake baked in molds and filled with jelly, and
  • fattigmann (poor man), a recipe that dates backs to over 100 years ago.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars @EvaVarga.netMy daughter’s favorite Nordic inspired cookies are Nordic Almond Bars and thus we begin …

Nordic Almond Bars

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Milk
1/2 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
Almond Icing

Materials Suggested

Rolling Pin
Mixing Bowl
Pastry Brush
Electric Mixer
Cookie Sheet
Oven

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars @EvaVarga.netRecipe

Step 1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Stir together flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until combined. Beat in egg and almond extract. Add flour mixture; beat until combined.

Step 2

Divide dough into four equal portions. Form each portion into a 12-inch long roll. Place two rolls 4 to 5 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Using your hands, flatten each roll until it is 3 inches wide. Repeat with the remaining rolls on another cookie sheet. Brush flattened rolls with milk and sprinkle with almonds. Bake one sheet at a time in a preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. While still warm, slice diagonally into 1-inch wide pieces. Transfer to wire racks; cool. Drizzle with Almond Icing. Makes 48.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars @EvaVarga.netAlmond Icing

In a small mixing bowl stir together 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, and enough milk (3 – 4 teaspoons) to make an icing of drizzling consistency.

Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze undecorated cookies for up to 3 months. Thaw cookies, then drizzle.

~ ~ ~

Join me tomorrow when I share our annual tradition of making Lefse! What will I share later in the week? You’ll have to come back to see! ?

Looking for more inspiration for a Nordic høytiden … read my earlier posts here and here.

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes @EvaVarga.net

It’s a holiday hopscotch! Join the iHomeschool Network bloggers for more Christmas themed posts all week!

The Raven: A Mini Unit for Middle School

I have been fascinated with ravens since I was a child. I recall my mother reading aloud Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven at Halloween. Poe was one of her favorite authors and she delighted in reading this glorious poem in narrative voice.

Ravens Mini Unit @EvaVarga.netNew research has found that ravens remember prior interactions with people and even communicate these interactions with others of their kind. I’ve read stories of ravens leaving trinkets and gifts for those who have shown them kindness. My father has a pair of ravens that visit him regularly and when we visit, they can always be seen perched nearby keeping an eye on things.

Raven Mini Unit

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an Audubon post, How to Tell a Raven From a Crow on Facebook and the wheels in my head immediately started spinning. Would not this make a wonderful Halloween themed mini unit? Yes! I must put something together …

Science

The Audubon link I shared above is the perfect place to begin. While ravens and crows may look similar in some ways, there are several distinctive traits that help set them apart.

You probably know that ravens are larger, the size of a red-tailed hawk. Ravens often travel in pairs, while crows are seen in larger groups. Also, watch the bird’s tail as it flies overhead. The crow’s tail feathers are basically the same length, so when the bird spreads its tail, it opens like a fan. Ravens, however, have longer middle feathers in their tails, so their tail appears wedge-shaped when open.

Go outside and watch them. Bring along your nature journal and record your observations. How many do you see? How do they interact? What are they eating? Do they scratch at the soil with their feet? What sounds do they make?

Consider adding several quick sketches in your journal or taking photographs. When you return indoors, take more time to illustrate the birds you observed. Feel free to use a field guide or photograph to help you.

Literature

Ravens are perhaps the most common bird symbol in the mythologies and religions of ancient cultures. They assume a variety of roles, ranging from messengers of deities and sages to oracles and tricksters. They play a central part in many creation myths and are typically associated with the supernatural realms lying beyond the ordinary experience.

The Raven: Mini Unit for Middle School @EvaVarga.netThe history of ravens as mythical birds can be traced as far as the 1000-year-old Norse mythology. Odin, the chief god in Norse mythology, had a pair ravens called Hugin and Munin perching on his shoulders. Each morning they were sent out into the world to observe what was happening and question everybody. They would come back by sunrise and whisper to Odin what they had learned. Sometimes Odin himself would turn into a raven.

Hugin and Munin
Fly every day
Over all the world;
I worry for Hugin
That he might not return,
But I worry more for Munin.

Huginn ok Muninn
fljúga hverjan dag
Jörmungrund yfir;
óumk ek of Hugin,
at hann aftr né komi-t,
þó sjámk meir of Munin.

I encourage you to research the symbolism of ravens in a culture of your choice. Here are two of my favorites:

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

How Raven Stole the Sun (Native American Myth)

Art

Ravens have appeared in the mythology of many ancient people. It is no surprise, therefore, that ravens are also popular subjects in art.

I have often been inspired by children’s books. My kids and I will periodically try to recreate the illustrations we enjoy in picture books. I am not alone.

Ravens Mini Unit @EvaVarga.netOn the website, Native American Art Projects and Lesson Plans, I found two lesson plans centered around children’s books featuring ravens:

A Man Called Raven (Oil Pastel)

How the Raven Stole the Sun (Crayon Batik)

 

Jumping into National History Day

I love history! My favorite books are all historical fiction. Had I not pursued a degree in science – I likely would have considered a career in history.

History, as a school subject, is often overlooked in the elementary years (with the exception of a few isolated unit studies). As a homeschool mom, I am blessed to be able to immerse my children in a comprehensive and chronological study of history.

When we first started homeschooling, we had the opportunity to volunteer at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon as living history interpreters. It was an amazing experience living and homeschooling in 1880.

In addition to reading about history, initially in the four volume series by Susan Wise Bauer, Story of the World and now in her series for older readers, The History of the Ancient World, we enjoy a variety of research projects, timelines, hands-on activities, and field trips around the world. One of our favorite annual experiences is a living wax museum.

Create a Living History Day @EvaVarga.net

I have written previously about our experiences in Bringing History to Life and the Collision of Art & Literary History. We have had a lot of fun over the years and have learned a great deal not just about the historical characters we have researched, but also about public speaking, goal setting, and historical re-enactments.

In all the years we have been engaged in these long-term history projects, I have had a little whisper in my ear to take it to the next level through participation in National History Day. National History Day began in April 1974 – an idea of history professor David Van Tassel, who was worried about the decline of the humanities in general and history in particular in America’s schools.

Van Tassel was particularly distressed by the boring rote memorization he saw in most history classrooms.  He wanted to reinvigorate the teaching and learning of history.

Today, National History Day contests are taking place in every state. Providing a learning adventure that teaches critical thinking, writing and research skills and boosts performance across all subjects – not just history.

Meet Historical Figures at a Living History Event @EvaVarga.net

Can you identify the important historical figures portrayed here? (Answers revealed at the end of the post)

Every year National History Day frames students’ research within a historical theme. The theme is chosen for the broad application to world, national, or state history and its relevance to ancient history or to the more recent past. This year’s theme is Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.

The theme provides an opportunity for students to push past the antiquated view of history as mere facts and dates. It encourages students to use critical thinking skills to dive into historical content and thereby develop perspective and understanding.

We will be participating for in the National History Day contest for the first time this academic year. I’ll be coordinating the contest for the Southern Oregon coast and sharing our progress along the way.

I want to encourage you to join us. The NHD website provides an incredible array of lesson materials and curriculum to help you get started.

 

1. Gudrid Thorbjarnardotter (mother to first Viking child born in the Americas), 2. Ansel Adams, 3. Chief Joseph 4. Irena Sendler 5. Amelia Earhart 5. Mærsk McKinney Møller

Hurra for Deg: The Norwegian Birthday Song

Two things about birthday celebrations that remain consistent in every culture are songs and greetings. These are universal ways of honoring and sharing with others the special moment and the joy of the guest of honor. Did you realize, however, that the song is not the same in every culture?

Hurra for Deg @EvaVarga.netOne of the Norwegian traditions I like best is the singing of Hurra for Deg (Cheers for You),  the Norwegian birthday song. It was written by Margrethe Aabel Munthe (1860 – 1931). Though there are two verses, more often only the first verse is sung.

The kids are at heritage camp this week learning Norwegian and the traditional handcrafts of our heritage. This year, parents have been provided little glimpses of camp life via Facebook. I was delighted that one of the counselors shared a short video of some of the girls singing Hurra for Deg as they worked on their Rosemaling. While I am unable to share the video, it inspired me to share the lyrics with you.

Hurra for deg som fyller ditt år!
Ja, deg vil vi gratulere!
Alle i ring omkring deg vi står,
og se, nå vil vi marsjere,
bukke, nikke, neie, snu oss omkring,
danse for deg med hopp og sprett og spring,
ønske deg av hjertet alle gode ting!
Og si meg så, hva vil du mere?
Gratulere!

Hurray for you for celebrating your birthday!
Yes, we congratulate you!
We all stand around you in a ring,
And look, now we’ll march,
Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around,
Dance for you and hop and skip and jump!
Wishing you from the heart all good things!
And tell me, what more could you want?
Congratulations!

Hurra for Deg is a lively tune and a lot of fun to sing. Consider adding a few dance movements for a more rousing version:

Everyone stands in a circle around the birthday honoree. Begin singing while you are standing in the ring.

When you come to “march”, then march all around the birthday child with high knee-lift, while looking at him/her.

On “Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around”, make these movements wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.

On “Dance for you, hop and skip and jump,” begin to dance in a circle around the birthday child. Try to make eye contact with him / her, as this gives attention.Continue the dance the rest of the song.

After the song is finished, deserves celebrating a real generous applause!

If you are interested, here’s the second verse:

Høyt våre flagg vi svinger. Hurra!
Ja, nå vil vi riktig feste!
Dagen er din, og dagen er bra,
men du er den aller beste!
Se deg om i ringen, hvem du vil ta!
Dans en liten dans med den du helst vil ha!
Vi vil alle sammen svinge oss så glad:
En av oss skal bli den neste!
Til å feste!

We wave our flags up high! Hurray!
Yes now we’ll really celebrate!
The day is yours, the day is great,
But you’re the best!
Look in the ring who you want to choose!
Dance a little dance with who you want to!
We’ll all turn around together so joyfully,
And one of us shall be the next – to celebrate!