By Robert Lucke
Stop in at Margie and Norm Gorder's home this time of year and chances are good that two things will happen. First, you will not leave empty handed and, secondly, you might well be enlisted to help in cooking Scandinavian delicacies like lefsa, krumkake, sandbakkles or rosettes.
How did this all happen and what in the world are things like krumkake, one might ask, unless coming from Norway.
"Easy," said Margie Gorder. "I'm not a Scandinavian. Norm is, but I've become one. Married to one, it just sort of rolls off."
Not only that but Margie Gorder likes Scandinavian delicacies probably better than husband Norm.
"My family grew up next to Norm's aunt in Rudyard," continued Margie Gorder. "So we learned a lot about that kind of cooking. I think I might like Scandinavian cooking better than Norm because I didn't grow up with it."
Norm Gorder's relatives came from Norway and Denmark arriving to settle in Minnesota via Canada in 1870. From then until now, the same recipes have been used year after year to build delicate pastries and potato pancakes.
In Havre it is easy to find out more about Scandinavian Christmas delicacies. Just spend a little time at First Lutheran or Messiah Lutheran Churches.
Soon you will learn there are even tools of the trade to go with the delicate pastries. Things like Scandinavian krumkaka irons and rosette irons become a part of the language and you learn that if you don't want to make your own lefsa, there is a lefsa factory in Opheim that is run by the town of Opheim. Must be a few Scandinavians up there.
Norm and Margie Gorder cook together this time of year, getting prepared for Christmas in the old manner.
"We are behind schedule this year," Margie Gorder said. "So far we have made only one batch of sandbakkles and we are making lefsa this afternoon. Some years we have made to much. Best is to keep them in a cool place."
Keeping their six children in Scandinavian delights is a part of the job.
"With our kids, everything would be amiss if we didn't get them their lefsa before Christmas," said Norm Gorder with a hearty laugh.
Lefsa and lutefisk are the most often repeated of Scandinavian foods in these parts.
"Lefsa or potato bread are kind of thin pancakes made from potatoes," Norm Gorder said. "I think one reason that it was developed was that it did not take too much room on ships. It was sort of like lutefisk which is dried fish. It didn't take up much room either. You know those Scandinavians were always on the sea."
Lefsa is rolled and eaten with butter or brown sugar or white sugar or cinnamon or jelly or any combination or just plain for lefsa purists.
"And it can be filled with meat and things and be more like a soft taco," Norm Gorder added.
Krumkake or crumb cake is neither a cake or made from crumbs.
"It is made in an iron with very thin dough and when taken out is rolled while it is still hot," Margie Gorder said.
Sandbakkles are a rich dough made in a round tin. Some people fill them with ice cream but they are such a rich dough that most people eat them just plain according to Margie Gorder.
Rosettes are a deep fried cookie, sort of.
"Rosettes are made with an iron and cooked in hot oil," Margie Gorder said. "You have a rosette iron. Put it into hot oil first, then stick it into a thin batter, put it again into hot grease, count to 18 and it will be done and fall right off. Lots of people then dust their rosettes with powdered sugar. I like them plain with coffee."
You can bet that on Christmas Eve at the Gorder's house the menu will not vary too much from a hundred years ago. Lefsa, Swedish meatballs and lutefisk.
For those wanting to try lefsa for themselves, Margie Gorder's cookbook explains how.
"Yew tak yust ten big potatoes. Den yew boil dem till dar done. Yew add to di some sveet cream.
"An by cups it measures vun. Den yew steal tree ounce of butter and vit two fingers pinch some salt. Yew beat dis weary lightly. If it aint gude it iss your fault. Den yew roll dis tin vit flour and light brown on stove yew bake. Now call in all Scanhiuvians tew try da fine lefse yew make."