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Klub? Yep, klub. December 5, 2008

Filed under: Cooking — LotusMama @ 6:56 pm
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On Thanksgiving night, my father reminisced fondly of a dish his Norwegian uncle used to make – klub (sounds like cloooob). He remembered Uncle Oscar and Aunt Alma inviting the family over for a big batch, probably around the holidays. As with all Norwegian food, I was scared to ask what it was, but the two helpings of stuffing and gravy gave me fortitude. Klub, my father informed me, is a boiled potato ball/dumpling that has a bit of ham in the center. Nordic humbau, if you will. The potato isn’t mashed or shredded, it is riced into tiny bits, to which a bit of Crisco or some other greasing agent is added. This mixture is wrapped around the ham bit and boiled slowly in a pot of water. Or that’s the gist of it any way.

I told my dad that I would make some klub for him. Maybe it was my current Scandinavian Christmas fixation that pushed me over the edge or the Princess cake in Martha Stewart’s December issue, but whatever it was, I agreed to give klub a whirl. Now, I must admit that this dish doesn’t sound good to me. It has several strikes against it in my book, but I’m game to give it a whirl, provided I can find a recipe.

Now, you’d think finding such a recipe would be easy in this age of the WWW but those that I have found, I haven’t liked the sound of. Some call for beef suet (no way) or pork hocks or salt pork (no thanks). I checked out a Scandinavian cookbook from the library, filled with just about every recipe known to Viking…except klub. Finally, I did find a recipe for Potet Klub that might fit the bill. It comes from the “Midwest’s Number 1 Roadside Cafe” so how can you argue with that? I’ll probably try it over the weekend and I’ll let you know how it goes.

If anyone has tried this (Auntie R I know you have), please feel free to share your thoughts on what makes good klub. I hope salt figures into your equation.

 

Sailing, pillaging and baking – it’s a viking thing November 26, 2008

Filed under: Baking,Holidays — LotusMama @ 4:36 pm
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Ok, so the Vikings weren’t bakers; no room for a puffy hat on top of those horn helmets. But they did sail and pillage and generally roam the world, bringing back treasure to the Norse homeland. One of those treasures was cardamom. You know, the spice. You gotta hand it to those hearty seafarers that they managed to make it so far in their big dragon headed boats; depending on who tells the story, they picked up cardamom in India, Constantinople or somewhere in the middle east. And you thought they only discovered America.

So cardamom makes its way from Viking ships to Scandinavian bakeries. Quite an interesting tale, I’m sure, but we’ll save that for another day. The point (and yes, I do have one) is that cardamom is a very popular spice in Scandinavia, particularly in baked goods. Myself, I really like cardamom. I’m not sure I could accurately describe the flavor to someone who hasn’t tried it but think “sweet”, “aromatic” and “pungent” (wikipedia’s best description). Weirdly, it works in sweets as well as Swedish meatballs and even Indian curries (the land of its birth).

So, yesterday I baked up a coffee cake for breakfast, featuring cardamom. Inspired by my Scandinavian Christmas projects, I thought a wedge of this cake and some good coffee (thanks, Mom for the great “Royal Vinter”) would start me off right. Sure enough, the cake was great from the oven but even better in the evening when hubby had it for dessert. I upped the salt in the recipe and I used ground cardamom, rather than pulverizing fresh cardamom pods, but otherwise I made it as is. If you need a nice coffee cake to take to the neighbors or when you go out pillaging on the seas, you might give this one a try.

 

Ya sure you betcha, it’s Christmas (almost) November 24, 2008

Filed under: Holidays — LotusMama @ 5:02 pm
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I said this a few days ago but I’m excited to put up my Christmas tree. Some years, I really dread doing it and I put it off until the last moment. That’s a stinky, Grinchy, Bah-Humbug kind of attitude, huh? Yeah, well, I have small streak of Grinch if I’m not careful.

But not this year. This year, I’m in the Spirit – spike the egg nog, Auntie Mame on roller skates, capital S kind of Spirit. I’m also inspired by those countries that know a thing or two about snow, the land of my forefathers/mothers – Norway. Yeah, the spirit hasn’t completely made me crazy; I won’t be sampling lutefisk or donning the St. Lucia crown of burning candles. But I will be adding some Scandinavian spirit to the festivities this year. What makes it Scandinavian, you ask? Plenty of red and white, heart motifs, snowy stuff and gnomes, of course. Well, that’s my version anyway. I suppose someone in Stockholm might have a different perspective, but this is my interpretation.

I’ll be conjuring up a few decorations and posting photos in December but I thought a little inspiration from Flickr was in order. There are some amazing (and mundane and weird) photos on Flickr, as well as some things that inspire me for Christmas. Here are some of my favorites: