Better Than Cookies…


Or other applicable titles:
Who Knew?-
More than Just Cookies-
Words Where Pictures Fail-
God Plans Ahead-

The invitation came from Mrs. Radichel, the part-time teacher of our Christian day school. Our eighth grade class of six was invited to  a  Christmas Smorgasbord at her home.  I arrived at the dinner with trepidation. What would I, a meat and potatoes, full-blooded German, be expected to politely consume? I was unprepared for the array crowded on the table. Aladdin’s first sight of the treasure cave comes to mind.  Who knew I could fall so completely in love with Norwegian cooking? Fall in love at first sight, without a first bite! I have no picture to post of that feast, only words from a  memory.

Pieces of jeweled fruit bobbed in a dark, wine colored liquid. Meatballs peeked from a rich gravy next to a mountain of mashed potatoes. Small slices of bread, rolled, dark spotted lefse lined platters. And then the cookies…better than cookies, more than just cookies…Norwegian pastries, krum kaka, rosettes, spritz. I doubt lutefisk was offered, but if It had been I probably would have tasted it too. I devoured Norwegian and savored every bite.

Who knew how far ahead God was planning? My ‘halfling’ (I know, ‘halflings’ are hobbits, but it sounds better than ‘half-blood’) husband, (half German, half Norwegian) had been raised on traditional Norwegian Christmas foods. Even before we married I willingly jumped into the smorgasbord. My sister gifted me a krum kaka iron, a co-worker the best recipe, along with insider tips. By our first Christmas I had added, fruit soup, and Christmas bread, (cardamom Julekage).  For our second Christmas  I attempted  rossettes (unsatisfactory results). A garage sale cookie press armed me for spritz. (Love hate relationship with cookie presses, after breaking press number 4?- 5? I’ve quit.) Years later we took the plunge as a family into lefse production. Griddle, turners, another recipe with insider information, our first attempt was a success. Still later I began a New Year’s Day smorgasbord. I bought a book complete with recipes, menus and buffet table arrangement. The successful result began a new tradition.

Our quarterling offspring have difficulty separating the mix of cultures. German Christmas foods have blended with the Norwegian. Scandinavian meatballs ooze beside a pot of German stroganoff. Julekagar peacefully resides with stollen, pfeffernuesse  among the spritz. Lefse sits alone, the brown sugar leaks a buttery syrup across the platter. The children also have mingled both cultures into their Christmas celebration. One son requested the New Year’s smorgasbord for his wedding rehearsal dinner. At the wedding, the couple included a taste of Scandinavia for their reception. (Picture posted. The cupcakes are American, Ethnic foods– modern American– it’s all good.)

Mrs. Radichel, my husband thanks you, my children thank you, my grandchildren thank you, and I thank you.



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