I am very excited about my new cookbook! My friend and colleague, Angela, went on a trip to the "north country" -- in her case Wisconsin and when she saw this cookbook, thought of me and brought it to me as a gift.
I am certainly not descended from Norwegians, but long ago, I lived a couple of years in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Even though I was a young and inexperienced girl from the south, the people there were very nice to me and I developed a deep appreciation for them, their culture and their hearty lifestyle. (Who else could thrive in sub-zero winter temperatures.)
The recipes in this cookbook bring back so many memories for me. Who could forget the amazing breads made with potatoes -- the potato pastries, krum kake, especially the lefsa, a potato flatbread that I tried a number of times. And the Norwegian dishes like fruit soup. Some dishes brought from the "old country" and some probably inspired by the harsh climate.
I remember the mounds of pickled herring in the grocery store and I remember, but never had the courage to try, lutefisk -- a dish made from whitefish soaked in lye until it becomes a jelly-like substance and then is baked or boiled and served on holidays. This dish has inspired a number of Lake Woebegone stories by Garrison Keillor. They always make me remember and smile. I now have the recipe, if ever I come across any lutefisk.
Some recipes I would like to try are the jelly-filled scones and I would really love to adapt some of these bread recipes into gluten-free breads using mashed potatoes.
I didn't find any recipes using rhubarb, especially the rhubarb coffee cake like I had there one time (and loved), but this is a great cookbook for me to get inspiration and to reminisce.
I know if I visited East Grand Forks now, it would be very different since many things were washed away by the big flood a few years back. (I can't believe the Westward Ho is gone, but it still lives in my memory.) I know the people are certainly the same and I will always appreciate them because I learned while I lived there, that you can venture any place in this country and find some great folks and enjoy things about any community.
I experienced a diversity of culture that I found charming. They loved my southern accent and I loved their northwestern/Norwegian accents. I can't see the movie Fargo or hear Michelle Bachman or Sarah Palin speak, without remembering people like my friends Joann, Darlene, Bill and Donnie. I will always remember the LumberMart where I worked and the potato chip factory, sugar beet plant, the Bjornstads and the Hagens. It was a huge learning experience for me and I appreciate that time.
I also appreciate the great cookbook that made me nostalgic. I don't remember the cold so much any more but I now can make lefsa way down here in the sunny south.