summertime overnight oats

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Hello, July! It took a long time for summer to come to northern Norway, but by mid-June Tromsø was finally fully green again, with wildflowers growing out of every nook and cranny they could squeeze themselves into. The rare warm, sunny days here are such an incredibly special treat, and I’m grateful to have enjoyed a few of them (in between the more frequent chilly, grey, and rainy ones).

With those warm summer days in mind, I had a recipe published last month in the Norwegian American for chilled overnight oats. I love oats, and berries are one of my favorite things about summer, but when the apartment gets warm on sunny mornings, I can’t do warm oatmeal. Enter overnight oats – served cool, I love the fact that I can just pull them out of the fridge in the morning and the only prep needed is to add whatever topping you like. The recipe can be found over on the Norwegian American’s website!

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In the meantime, it will probably continue to stay quiet here for a little while longer – I’ve finished my degree and we are preparing to leave Norway by the end of the summer. It’s a bittersweet parting, but more on that later!

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a plea: the norwegian american needs your help

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a little while, you may know that I occasionally contribute recipes to the Taste of Norway section of the Norwegian American, a bi-weekly paper based out of Seattle that is America’s only remaining Norwegian-American newspaper. This paper has been published continuously (under a few different names over time) since 1889, and now they need our help. If you, like me, are interested in cultural heritage and Scandinavian-American culture, I hope you’ll read on. If you’re unfamiliar with the paper, you can read a little bit about it on their about page, or if you’re interested in a more detailed historical overview (I’m a nerd, you guys – I love this stuff) you can check out the Wikipedia page for the Norwegian American.

I am proud to contribute to this paper and lucky to call two of the recent past editors friends, but keeping any newspaper going is a challenge these days and the Norwegian American is no exception. In the past few years, the paper has begun to modernize, with a larger online presence in general as well as dipping their toes into social media. This has been a good move for them – in fact, my piece on Norwegian coffee culture was shared so widely that it actually attracted the attention of my local government here in Norway, eventually leading to my being named a digital entrepreneur by the county of Troms, where I currently reside. (The photo below is from the ceremony, and you can read the description here – in Norwegian, of course. I’m on the far left, and that’s our Executive Councillor for Health, Culture and Business Development kneeling in front.)

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What the paper is doing these days is relevant and interesting, and if you think so too, I hope you’ll consider contributing to their Indiegogo campaign, which runs for two more weeks. This fundraiser is intended to help cover operating costs not being met by subscriptions and advertising revenue alone. You can contribute as much or as little as you like, and there are a diverse array of perks to choose from based on your donation level. And finally – this is where I come in!

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One of the perks is a cookbook called A Taste of Norway: Flavors from the Norwegian American, which collects a selection of recipes that have been printed in the newspaper in the past into a single volume. Here’s what they have to say about it:

“By popular demand, we’re bringing you a collection of recipes that have been featured on the pages of The Norwegian American. From such acclaimed Nordic food writers as Daytona Strong, Sunny Gandara, Maria Stordahl Nelson, and this paper’s own former editor, Christy Olsen Field, the spiral-bound cookbook will cover main courses, soups and sides, and of course sweets. It even has a few drink recipes!”

There are, of course, many other kinds of perks (I’ve got one of those waffle bandanas and a set of vintage reproduction postcards lined up for myself) which you can peruse at your leisure. As the fundraising campaign runs for 14 more days, perhaps you might make a donation in honor of syttende mai, Norway’s national holiday happening next week? There’s a long way to go yet (we’re sitting at 44% of our goal) so we’d love your help. If you’re unable to financially contribute at this time, you can still help us out by spreading the news, or by following the Norwegian American on Facebook or Twitter.

And just to get you in the spirit, I’ll close with this photo from May 17 two years ago, when I watched the parade in Ballard (in Seattle, Washington) with my friends Christy and Kelsey, two of the past editors of the Norwegian American. We hope you’ll support the fundraiser!

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I turn in my thesis next week (before syttende mai, fortunately), so we’ll soon be back to regularly scheduled sporadic posts about Nordic baking. Thanks for indulging a little plea for help for a paper I love in the meantime!

homemade: almond cardamom scones

 

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This past fall, Beatrice Ojakangas published her new memoir, Homemade. Unsurprisingly, it falls into the combined memoir/cookbook genre – one I have enjoyed in the past, though upon reflection I haven’t actually read too many of them (when you find your favorites it can be hard to move past them, you know?). Nonetheless, I was really looking forward to this one when I first heard about it. For those who don’t know, Ojakangas has published an astoshingly diverse array of cookbooks throughout her life, including the one that led me to start this blog: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.

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While Homemade is a slim volume, it’s chock full of recipes and stories. It’s written in Ojakangas’s trademark straightforward style, which befits her own life story of growing up on a farm in northern Minnesota. If when you hear “food memoir” you’re expecting something in line with Molly Wizenburg’s A Homemade Life, keep an open mind with this book, which is nothing like that. The book is divided into two halves, which more or less correspond with Ojakangas’s childhood and youth, up through her college years (part 1) and her life after marriage (part 2). The “chapters” are small (many are only 2-3 pages), especially in the first half of the book. While I appreciated the glimpse of a childhood and an upbringing so completely unlike my own provided by part 1, I have to admit I enjoyed part 2 the most – this is the half of the book containing Beatrice’s stories of writing for Sunset Magazine, writing her cookbooks, spending a year in Finland, and meeting and working with both Julia Child and Martha Stewart. She truly has led a fascinating life.

Peppered throughout these anecdote-like chapters are, of course, recipes. They are definitely not purely Nordic, but again, the diversity of recipes is a strength. I flagged a few as I read that I wanted to try out, and the publisher has very kindly agreed to let me share my favorite here: almond cardamom scones. These are easy-peasy drop scones, and the secret to really getting these right is using freshly ground cardamom. Grinding the cardamom seeds is the most labor intensive part, but the fragrance and the aroma just can’t be matched by the pre-ground stuff. You’ll find the recipe below.

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Almond Cardamom Scones

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, to sprinkle over the top of the scones

Preheat the oven to 400ºF (205ºC). Lightly grease a large cookie sheet or cover with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder, cardamom, sugar, and almonds in a large bowl.

Grate the frozen butter onto the flour mixture.

Mix the eggs and 1/2 cup of the yogurt in a small bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and blend quickly, just until a dough forms. (Add a bit more yogurt or buttermilk if needed.)

Using an ice cream scoop, place in mounds of dough on the cookie sheet, about 3 inches apart. Sprinkle tops with the sugar.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes until light brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.

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Recipe excerpted with kind permission from HomemadeFinnish Rye, Feed Sack Fashion, and Other Simple Ingredients from My Life in Food by Beatrice Ojakangas.

gifts from the kitchen

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My latest piece for the Norwegian American is out now, and this one’s special: it’s a joint piece with my friend Christy! We worked on this piece together for the annual gift guide, so our recipes are for simple gifts from the kitchen.

My contribution is a quick recipe for a staple in my kitchen, lingonberry jam, and Christy provided recipes for homemade vanilla sugar and the slightly more unusual cardamom syrup (which I’m dying to try). You can find the recipes for all three right here.

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coffee & fennel

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Hello after a long unintentional pause! As usual with this blog, I didn’t mean to go so long without posting, but life sometimes has other plans. I broke my shoulder just a few days before my last post in March, and that definitely derailed my year to a degree – but I’m beginning to get back into old routines again and have even done a bit of baking this weekend. More on that soon, but first I figured I’d mention two pieces I wrote in the past few months for the Norwegian American (previously known as the Norwegian American Weekly). The first is a recipe: A simple fennel slaw for summer. This is truly simple; a no-heat recipe accompanied by some musings on the culture of outdoor music festivals in the summertime. I also wrote a piece about Norwegian coffee culture which you can find here: Norwegian coffee culture 101. I had a lot of fun with both!

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I’ll be back soon with more baking posts!

 

chocolate bergamot cookies in pom pom quarterly

I posted about this elsewhere already, but it also seemed appropriate for the baking blog: I’ve got a cookie recipe in the spring issue of Pom Pom Quarterly! Pom Pom is a lovely UK-based publication focused on knit, crochet, and craft, but they often include a recipe, and I’m incredibly happy they chose to include mine in their spring issue. It’s the first time I’ve had a recipe in print, which is, admittedly, pretty exciting.

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The recipe is for chocolate bergamot cookies (bergamot is the citrus oil that flavors Earl Grey tea). When I wanted to make some chocolate cookies with bergamot several months ago, I could find plenty of recipes out on the internet that involved chocolate and bergamot, but they were all a little bit more decadent than what I had in mind (think bergamot flavored cream sandwiched between two chocolate cookies, or macarons, or… you get the idea), so I got to work on a recipe of my own. These are simple chocolate cookies with a drop or two of bergamot oil for flavor – if you do want some extra decadence, I suggest adding dark chocolate chips. But they’re plenty good without, and simple to boot! They’ve become my go-to cookie recipe and they’re always a crowd pleaser.

Pom Pom is available in a print edition or a digital PDF version, and both are available from the Pom Pom webstore here. Spring 2014 is the issue for my recipe, but they’re all divine, so I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to grab a few more!

lingonberry compote

It’s been an insanely busy fall (I put out a collection of knitwear patterns) and an insanely busy holiday season (we had friends staying with us all week last week) so my Scandinavian baking skills have been lying somewhat dormant. I baked a couple of apple pies around Thanksgiving, as I’ve been getting really into heirloom apple varieties and my local farmer’s market sells some wonderful ones, but otherwise there hasn’t been a ton of time for baking.

In need of some last minute gifts and some alone time in the kitchen, I pulled Scandinavian Christmas by Trine Hahnemann down off the shelf. The book was a Christmas gift from my folks last year, but once Christmas is over, you feel a bit silly doing anything remotely Christmas-themed, so I hadn’t had a chance to try out any of the recipes. One of the sections in the book focuses on gifts from the kitchen, and I’d been itching to make some of the lingonberry compote. And so I did!

It’s hard to think of anything simpler. Assuming you can get a hold of lingonberries (you can find frozen berries in Seattle, fortunately), it’s a recipe for instant gratification. The process is basically just creating a reduction out of berries, water, and sugar, and it takes less than half an hour. Sometimes the simplest things are the most satisfying.

I made several jars this Christmas which I doled out to family and friends with glee. We’ve got one tucked in our own fridge for when we get back from traveling (it’s New Year’s in Norway once again). Back to our regularly (if sparsely) scheduled program when I get back. I’m determined to do some good baking this winter, and I’ve got rye flour in the freezer just waiting to become buns…

A very happy new year to you all. x