2017 Dane of the Year: Susan Jacobsen

Our 2017 Dane of the Year was awarded at Danish Day to outgoing DAC Board President Susan Jacobsen. What follows is Carla Mortensen’s introduction to this most
worthy Dane of the Year. 

The Dane of the Year award suggests a particularly high level of commitment to the Danish American Center. When it comes to commitment, “First, you need to show up.” Most DAC members read the DANews and select the events we might like to attend. Susan is faithful about participating in and supporting many events. From decorating trees at the American Swedish Institute to building a gingerbread model of the Center, she shows up.

“Second, you need to stand up.” Susan is an ardent and faithful promoter of our reputation and standing locally and in the larger Scandinavian-American organizations. I am continually amazed at the connections she has across the Twin Cities, and how she taps into those connections to keep the Danes visible.

The third thing is “to speak up.” This year’s Dane of the Year is a faithful servant who sees the big picture and is a soft-spoken negotiator with a realistic and optimistic eye, searching for what might be possible rather than assuming “it should be done the way we always have done it.”

Susan has a keen eye for beauty and quality. She relishes and celebrates the accomplishments and contributions Danes have made in the areas of art and design as well as film and television. She also recognizes DAC’s opportunity to model this way of honoring history while celebrating an ever-blending cultural identity for new immigrants to this country.

The selection committee recognized these significant talents and attributes in the Tyler,
Minnesota native, a grandchild of Danish immigrants, my lifelong friend, and our current DAC president. Under her leadership, the DAC has flourished, dealing with ever-evolving city licensing rules, watching our bottom line, and never forgetting that our primary focus and function are always celebrating our heritage and fellowship with each other. Congratulations, Susan!

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Hygge is Hot!

pronunciation | “hU-ge (hU is pronounced with the U sound, closer to hyoo than hoo; ge is short, closer to g than geh)

 

Quote source: Helen Russell, The Year of Living Danishly

Capping off a year where it seems like nearly every media outpost (including our own Star TribunePioneer Press and Fox 9 Morning News) was either doing a story on it or proclaiming it the “lifestyle trend” of the moment, HYGGE was officially added to The Denmark Canon’s (danmarkskanon) values list after a nationwide online poll conducted by the Culture Ministry. In December, Time magazine pronounced it “the Nordic trend that could help you survive 2016.” That same month, “hygge” was shortlisted for the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year. All of this international hubub surrounding hygge didn’t exactly go unnoticed in Denmark. Articles in the Danish press are calling hygge Denmark’s newest successful export and doing their own wordsmithing to explain a concept that has been passed down generation to generation by experience.  

Darling Hygge

Hygge has been so prevalent, in fact, that we could stock a nice little hygge-nook / hyggekrog complete with hygge-scented candles, and booksarticles just about hygge. Want to mash up two hot trends at once? You can color the pages of your very own hygge coloring book. Not sure how to encourage hygge in your home? The UK HouseBeautiful has a guide for you (to be fair, while this article does talk about the “stuff” of hygge, it gets at describing the concept better than most). Want to experience hygge with your ipad or tv? Danes of a certain generation would classify that as a no-no. But a few Danish outposts have created videos containing ‘person on the street’ interviews that show the digital generations may not agree with their elders.

As anyone who’s had a discussion about hygge knows, if you ask 5 Danes what it is, you’ll likely get 10 answers. It’s a concept that’s at once culturally widespread, deeply personal, and lacking a direct translation into any other language. We can’t always explain what it is, we may not be able to help you pronounce it (HOO-GAH? please… no.), but we certainly know it when it happens. The recurring question we’ve been hearing these days is “Why now?” It’s not like New Nordic Cuisine, where a manifesto and a new crop of stellar restaurants made a sudden splash over a decade ago and then proceeded to take the world by storm. The concept of hygge is not new. So why now? Why indeed. Perhaps it all comes down to how our most basic desires connect with and feed our happiness.

The Pursuit of Happiness

As a society, Americans are a bit hardwired to pursue happiness. We learn from an early age that it’s codified in the Declaration of Independence as one of the big three unalienable rights; right up there with life and liberty. So it’s perhaps no surprise that the country that keeps topping the world rankings for happiness catches our eye. The inevitable deconstructing of how someone ELSE seems to have achieved something is also something we learn to do early on. And do we ever want to achieve happiness. This pursuit of happiness has been fueling a gangbusters self help book & article industry for decades. Which brings us right back to why we now have a bumper crop of materials on hygge, and why most of them focus on the trappings of it.

It’s easy to describe the candles. Add a couple pairs of feet wearing warm woolen socks in front of a roaring fire and and you have the stock photo that pops up most often in print articles these days.

For a different visual, take a peek at a painting in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection. It shows an after-dinner gathering of friends (that’s Danish artist P.S. Krøyer in the middle); that’s the epitome of hygge.

cat1014-pma

My Friends, Viggo Johansen, Danish, 1861-1935, Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

 

The Happiness Connection

One of the my favorite definitions of hygge comes from Danish Design guru Morten Georgsen who, in his interview with UK HouseBeautiful, said Danes “love the state of mind – hygge – because it’s peaceful, friendly and a fantastic stress reliever. It’s our zen, we breath it, almost live from it. Maybe it’s one of the reasons that the Danes year in, year out are ranked the happiest people in the world.”

American psychologist Dr. Steven Reiss has proposed that happiness, instead of being fueled simply by maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain, is driven instead by a combination of 16 basic desires. In his view, any one person’s peak “point of happiness” is governed by how they embrace and prioritize these different desires. An experience that aligns best with a person’s most valued basic desires will naturally better feed happiness. We can wonder then if it is no coincidence that a number of these basic desires-acceptance, curiosity, eating, family, honor, order, romance, social contact, and tranquility-show up time and again in definitions of hygge.

img_8424

Just finishing up talking Hygge with Fox 9’s MA Rosko in the Danish American Center’s Kaffestue (1/9/2017).

At the end of the day, hygge celebrates connections (with family, friends or even just ourselves), underscores our need for acceptance, thrives in an atmosphere of tranquility (hello candlelight) and order, and sates our hunger (with a meal, a home baked treat, or good conversation).

We live in a time with a seemingly ever-quickening pace of life where better, faster, more are the watchwords of the day. The answer to “Why now?” may well be as simple as “Why not?” There’s never been a better time for a trend that (though marketers and big brands would have you believe otherwise) has no real price tag attached. You can slow down and craft a hyggelig experience with the stuff you already have at home in the company of people you already know.

Want to talk about hygge? We’d love to know what you think about the #hyggehubub or what hygge means to you. Weigh in on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below. And watch this space for a few upcoming #hyggehistorier – short stories on our own hyggelig encounters. 

FOR FURTHER READING

Want to fall down a rabbit hole reading about hygge? Here’s a list of all the linked books & articles (and the occasional person, place or thing) in order of appearance above. It’s not an exhaustive list. We have, for example, opted to not link to the New Yorker article (so #nothyggelig) that made our blood boil.

Helen Russell, The Year of Living Danishly, April 12, 2016

Kim Ode, Minnesotans are getting ‘hygge’ with simple joys of Danish coziness, Star Tribune, January 14, 2017

Chris Hewett, Danish “hygge” is the perfect antidote to winter gloom, Twin Cities Pioneer Press, January 13, 2017

Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes, How to find comfort in the bleak midwinter: hygge, Washington Post, January 22, 2016

Amelia Diamond, Coziness is Trending for 2017 (We Need it) manrepeller.com, December 27, 2016

Penelope Green, Move Over, Marie Kondo: Make Room for the Hygge Hordes, New York Times, December 24, 2016

Christian W, It’s official: Hygge part of new Denmark Canon, CPH Post Online, December 13, 2016

TheLocal.DK, Danes define their national values in online poll, December 12, 2016

Suyin Haynes, Hygge, the Nordic Trend That Could Help You Survive 2016, Time, December 5, 2016

OxfordWords Blog, Word of the Year 2016: other words on the shortlist, http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/ November 2016

Oxfor Dictionary, Word of the Year 2016

Clarisse Loughrey, What is hygge? How the Danish lifestyle trend became a Word of the Year, Independent, November 3, 2016

Sara Malm, Ten reasons to HYGGE: ‘Hoo-ga’ is the Scandinavian lifestyle trend for ‘being cosy and content’. And yes, it will make you happier, fitter and slimmer! Daily Mail, October 8, 2016

Kristie McCrum, Are you hygge? The cosy lifestyle trend from Scandinavia that Brits just can’t get enough of, Mirror, November 2, 2016

Helen Russell, Get cosy: why we should all embrace the Danish art of ‘hygge’, The Telegraph, October 24, 2015

Claire Thomson, Hygge – den nye danske eksportsucces, videnskab.dk, November 16, 2016

Morten Svan, Internationalt medie hylder dansk hygge: Sådan gør de! BT, August 25, 2016

Bolig Indretning, Skab en hyggekrog, bolig.in

Hygge Scented Candle skandanavisk.com

Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, January 17, 2017

Gracie Olmstead, Hygge Helps Explain Millennials’ Longing For Reenchantment, thefederalist.com, December 23, 2016

Elizabeth James, The Cosy HYGGE Winter Colouring Book, September 16, 2016

Olivia Heath, Hygge: 7 styling tips to achieve the Scandinavian look at home, UK House Beautiful, October 18, 2016

VisitDenmark on youtube.com  So what is Danish hygge?, February 13, 2013

VisitDenmark The art of Danish hygge, visitdenmark.com

DenmarkDotDK on youtube.com Danes on Hygge, March 1, 2010

Huffington Post, 23 Fascinating Words With No Direct English Translations, February 22, 2014

AwesomeLifeHacks on youtube.com, How to pronounce hygge, December 25, 2016

Nordic Co-Operation, The New Nordic Food Manifesto

Restaurant: Relæ

Restaurant: noma

Restaurant: Aamanns

Sarah Mae Sincero, 16 Basic Desires Theory, explorable.com

National Archives, Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

World Happiness Report

Russell McLendon, How ‘hygge’ can help you get through winter, Mother Nature Network, December 12, 2013

Pia Edberg, The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge, April 7, 2016

Faith Cummings, Hygge is a Danish form of self-care (kind of) that everyone’s talking about, hellogigles.com, November 10, 2016

Happiest in the world denmark.dk

Dr Steven Reiss, Ohio State University, Department of Psychology Biography

Dr Steven Reiss, Secrets of Happiness, Psychology Today, published January 1, 2001, last reviewed June 9, 2016

And last but certainly not least, a DAC favorite: Grethe Petersen’s Mazarin Kage Opskrift

 

A NOTE about those Amazon links: All books with Amazon links listed above are directed to the smile.amazon.com store. Did you know that the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price on eligible AmazonSmile purchases to a charity of your choosing at no cost to you? Same products, same prices as amazon.com. All you have to do to participate is use the website smile.amazon.com when making your purchases. The first time you go there, you will be prompted to select an eligible 501(c)(3) public charitable organization. We’d be ever so grateful if you chose “Danebo Inc” as your charitable organization of choice. Tak!

Rugbrødslagkage (Rye Bread Layer Cake)

There was a new cake at our annual Akvavit Tasting event this year, but by no means is it a new cake. In a nod to event organizer Steen Moeller’s home region of Denmark, event chef Gry (Dawn) Terrell chose a cake from the tradition of the “sønderjysk kaffebord” that dates back to the 1750s to cap off our meal. Literally translated, “sønderjysk kaffebord” means “Southern Jutland Coffee Table,” but don’t let the name fool you. Coffee is essential, but it’s all about the cake – seven types of soft cake and seven types of hard cake (aka cookies or biscuits) to be exact.

Bread in cake?! Falling in the tradition of the ‘soft cakes,’ our rugbrødslagkage does indeed use traditional danish rye bread as a base, but a hint of cocoa and the requisite baking alchemy result in a light layer cake base. Topped with pillows of whipped cream and finished with chopped chocolate and hazelnuts, it’s a delicious dessert whether it’s paired with 13 other cakes or not.

2016-02-28_205510332_6579E_iOS

Rugbrødslagkage (Rye Bread Layer Cake)

adapted from a recipe by Camilla Biesbjerg, Camilla Zarah Lawes, Louisa Lorang 

Crust / Layer Ingredients:
  • 6 eggs

  • 1/3 lb. cane sugar

  • 1/2 lb rye bread (no kernels, no caraway)

  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)

  • 1 tbsp potato flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 2 oz. hazelnuts

  • Butter/oil for greasing the pan

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of heavy cream

  • 2 oz. chocolate

  • 2 oz. hazelnuts

Directions:
  1. Turn on the oven at 360°F. Cover the bottom of a spring form pan (D: 8-9 inches) with baking paper, strap on the sides and grease them
  2. Separate the eggs and whisk yolks and sugar white and airy with an electric mixer.
  3. Add finely grated rye bread (see notes), cocoa powder, potato flour, baking powder and finely chopped hazelnuts. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Beat the egg whites firm and fold them gently into the dough little by little.
  5. Pour the dough into the spring form and bake the cake for ca. 45 min at 360°F.
  6. Let the cake cool off and split it horizontally into two layers (use a long, serrated knife).
  7. Whip the cream to a soft foam. Chop chocolate and hazelnuts coarsely.
  8. Use half of the whipped cream for filling between the two layers and spread the rest on the top of the cake. Decorate with the chopped chocolate and hazelnuts and serve promptly.

Notes:

  • Bread should preferably be stale and dry. If it’s too fresh it will clump.

  • Alternatively, the bread can be chopped very finely in a food processor

Thanks to Gry for passing her recipe along. If you tackle this interesting recipe, let us know how it goes!

Countdown to Jul – Risengrød

risengrodA Chill in the air and nights getting longer by the day mean Christmas is just around the corner! It’s also perfect weather to cozy up with a warm bowl of Nissen’s favorite dish, risengrød! It may not get all the press that fancy risalamande gets, but it’s a perennial favorite, and can be eaten all season long. As a bonus, it reheats well.

Risengrød (Danish Rice Pudding)

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

adapted from a recipe on alra.dk

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup arborio rice*
  • 4 1/2 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • butter
  • sugar
  • cinnamon

*NOTE – Grødris is used in Denmark but can be difficult to source in the United States. We have heard of many different types of rice being substituted here; whatever you choose, it should be a shortgrain rice.

Directions:

Bring water and rice to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan; cook over medium heat while stirring for about 2 minutes. Add milk, salt and vanilla sugar, and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes while stirring). Cover and cook for an additional 25 – 35 minutes, stirring often.

Mix sugar and cinnamon together to taste.

Serve the Risengrød warm, sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and a pat of butter in the middle.

 

 

April 2015 Onsdag Frokost Menu at DAC: New Nordic Cooking

For Foodies (food enthusiasts) nationwide — but especially here in MN — the buzz has been about “New Nordic” cuisine. The emphasis for this has been about the nordic tradition of using what is local and seasonal. Last month, DAC Board President, Susan Jacobsen, played host and executive chef for the monthly Wednesday Luncheon (Onsdag Frokost) at the Danish American Center serving a menu inspired by this movement.

What follows is her account of that lunch and some recipes for you to try at home.

Enjoy!


IMG_2159
New Nordic cooking is Denmark’s latest contribution to healthy living in modern times. It is not just new recipes, it is a philosophy or way of thinking about food with values like prioritizing local ingredients, eating healthy grains and vegetables and eating less meat. In April, we offered our first vegetarian meal at Onsdag Frokost and while a little surprising for our diners, it met with success.

saltThe first course consisted of three green vegetables. Asparagus is one of the first spring vegetables, fresh soy beans are quintessentially Minnesotan, and green beans rounded the dish out with a familiar vegetable. Dress vegetables in olive oil, although butter is also good. The finishing salt we used is from a small company in Portland, Oregon. Jacobsen Salt was founded by a Danish American, Ben Jacobsen, who learned about artisanal salt while studying and working in Denmark. When he returned to the US he wondered why we had to import sea salt. His salt has taken the US culinary scene by storm. Hazelnuts paired with leeks and mushrooms combine Danish ingredients in a rich and satisfying pate. To me, it gives the same satisfaction as leverpostej and makes vegetarians feel welcome at family meals. Dessert was a lighter version of custard with soaked prunes, another traditional Danish ingredient.

Here are some of the recipes you can try.

The recipes:

April 2015 Onsdag Frokost Menu

First Course:

SPRING VEGETABLES

Ingredients:

IMG_2160

  • Asparagus spears, 6-8 per person
  • Fresh frozen soy beans (Edamane) 1//2 cup per person
  • Green beans, 6-8 per person
  • Jacobsen salt – or other large flake finishing salt
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

  • Roll asparagus spears in olive oil.
  • Roast asparagus spears on cookie sheet at 350° for 15 minutes or until done.
  • Cook soybeans in water. Drain. Dress with olive oil.
  • Cook green beans in water. Drain. Dress with olive oil.
  • Place vegetables on plate and sprinkle with salt.

Main Course:

IMG_2158MUSHROOM & HAZELNUT PATE

PATE INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 ​leeks, (8 ounces)  finely sliced
  • 2 ounces ​olive oil
  • 3-4 ​cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 pound ​Portobello or Crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs ​fresh thyme
  • 3 ounces hazel nuts, finely chopped
  • 5 ounces fresh breadcrumbs
  • 5 ounces double cream
  • 8 ounces, grated Havarti cheese
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 T soft butter with 1 T soft breadcrumbs for mold

PATE DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 300°
  • Sauté leeks in oil until soft. Add garlic, mushrooms and thyme. Reduce and cook, stirring until liquid is absorbed. Add nuts, breadcrumbs and cream.
  • Cool for 15-20 minutes and add cheese and egg. Pour mixture into a buttered mold coated with breadcrumbs. Bake at 300˚ F until firm, approximately 45 minutes. Let set for 15-20 minutes before serving for best texture. Serve the pate warm or cold.

For Danish Smørrebrod

  • 10 slices rye pumpernickel breadIMG_2162
  • 5 apples or ½ Fuji apple thinly diced per serving
  • Butter rye bread or wheat bread and cover with lettuce
  • Place slices of pate on bread with lettuce.
  • Mix apple with lemon juice for topping.

Adapted from Smørrebrod – Danish Open by Katrine Klinken  © 2008

Dessert:

PRUNE FLAN

FLAN INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup or about 9 ounces pitted prunes

FLAN DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Pour one cup of the milk into a saucepan and cook the prunes on low heat until they have absorbed all of the liquid.
  • Boil remaining four cups of milk and remove from heat.
  • Mix eggs, sugar, and vanilla and beat well. Add flour slowly beating to avoid lumps.
  • Pour the boiled milk into the egg, sugar mixture and mix well.
  • Butter a baking pan and cover the bottom with prunes. Pour milk mixture over the top and bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Susan Jacobsen

(I am not related to Ben Jacobsen, but I am a great fan of his salt.)

Inside DAC’s Fyr Aften

Guest Post by Michael Petersen 

FyrAften-DSCN2629

I remember when I was sixteen, finding my farfar (grandpa) as he walked out of his extensive garden between an arched break in the tall hedges by their old west Jutland farmhouse. My farmor (grandma) had asked me to fetch him for dinner.   He was holding a long wooden box full of freshly harvested vegetables. I’m sure Farfar’s inner clock told him that it was nearing dinnertime, as he didn’t look surprised to see me. There was no need for words. He simply nodded in greeting and said in his dry, thick west coast Danish accent (Jysk), “Næh Michael, så holder jeg fyr aften” (‘well so Michael, I’m hanging it up for the evening’).  Another solemn nod followed, softened with a wry smile. We then walked quietly side by side together across the cobblestone farm courtyard to share in another of Farmor’s wonderful meals.

FyrAften-DSCN3087The words “Fyr Aften” have thus always meant to me “Quitting Time” or “Time to put your feet up and relax.” But those same two words also directly translate to “Guy Evening.”   So the term is fitting for a guy’s group get together through the Danish American Center (DAC).  I freely admit that we have, without a doubt, taken our inspiration and desire to have a guy’s night from the women’s group at the DAC called TøseAften.  Many of us have spouses and significant others on ‘that’ side.

Fyr Aften is a group of adult men with ties to the Danish American Community either through heritage, a Danish spouse, Danish birth, or perhaps they’ve studied in Denmark.  That love of Denmark and its culture is certainly a group bond.  An estimated half of the group speaks Danish, and those who do are quick to translate or teach those that don’t speak Danish.  We have been meeting now for a few years, with the last two being the most consistent.   We’ve now established a regular schedule of meeting on: the last Friday of each month from September – May, between 6pm and midnight at the Danish American Center (DAC).  We find the summer schedule to be too busy to meet up, and thus we take a break.  In the few years we’ve been meeting, the age group has varied anywhere from 18 – 74. The only age restriction is that you need to be an adult male and respect the legal MN drinking age of 21. We’ve explored several events such as go-cart racing, bowling, and even an introduction to firearms at a pistol range.

FyrAften collageWe took it a notch further and did a weekend ice fishing trip on Lake Winnibigosh this past February, which was fantastic. Reservations have already made  to return to Lake ‘Winni’ in Feb. 2016.  There are discussions around a group camping trip this summer. All our events revolve around sharing a meal together, more often than not it being a Danish favorite. We’ve found that what we probably enjoy most is fixing a meal together at the DAC, sharing some drinks, and then settling in to play cards or games. The guys all pitch in towards dinner, dessert and kringle for coffee, so it usually costs each of us between $10-12. In short, we create ‘hygge’ together while getting to know each other better, for a lasting bond, and enjoy the amazing gathering place that we have in the Danish American Center. When you think about it, it’s not very often that men get a chance to socialize. Fyr Aften is one such opportunity at the DAC.

If you’re interested in joining Fyr Aften, please contact Michael at 651-247-4878 or  hjemdemiguel@yahoo.com.

Direct from Denmark: New Danish Fiction

Save the Date!

Saturday, April 11, 7pm,

Danish American Center

3030 West River Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55406

Three leading Danish novelists, including two Nordic Prize winners, join their translators to read from and discuss their work. The event will be moderated by translator K.F. Semmel, and will feature a Q & A followed by a reception.

_____________

Naja Marie Aidt  BaboonRock, Paper, Scissors.Rock_Paper_Scissors

Naja Marie Aidt is a Danish poet and author with nearly 20 works in various genres to her name. Her work includes the recently translated collection Baboon (winner of the prestigious Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2008), and a novel, Rock, Paper, Scissors, which publishes in the U.S. in 2015.

civil twilightSimon Fruelund: Civil Twilight and Milk & Other Stories

Simon Fruelund is the author of five books, including Civil Twilight and Milk & Other Stories. His work has been translated into Italian, Swedish, and English, and his short stories have appeared in a number of magazines across the U.S., including World Literature Today, Redivider, and Absinthe.

PROPHETS

Kim Leine: The Prophets of Eternal Fjord

Kim Leine is a Danish-Norwegian author. He lived in Greenland for 15 years, and draws on his experiences there in his work. His most recent book, the historical novel The Prophets of Eternal Fjord, received several major Danish literary awards, as well as the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2013.

______________

K.E. Semmel is an independent writer and translator who has translated six books of fiction, including Karin Fossum’s The Caller; Jussi Adler-Olsen’s The Absent One, Simon Fruelund’s Milk, and Naja Marie Aidt’s Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Martin Aitken is a widely published translator of Danish literature. He received the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Translation Prize in 2012. Recent books are Peter Høeg’s The Elephant Keepers’ Children, Dorthe Nors’ Karate Chop, and Kim Leine’s The Prophets of Eternal Fjord.

Behind the Scenes: DAC Kitchen Tour and Class (with a bonus recipe!)

DAC Kitchen ClassWould you be surprised to learn that the DAC is entirely run by volunteers? From weekly office staffing to special event coordination and yes, even our æbleskive breakfasts*, we do it all with the help of a great group of dedicated volunteers.

After the completion of our remodeled kitchen, new scullery, and expanded dining room, it was time for a tour of how the new spaces work with each other and brush up on our kitchen safety protocols with resident kitchen safety experts Grethe Petersen and Lise Day.

Want to know one of the secrets behind cultivating a great group of volunteers like this? At the end of the 2 hour session we all sat down to a lunch of homemade leverpostej and pickled beets, cheeses and fruit, and a fresh-out-of-the-oven cake and lots of good strong coffee. This is not an uncommon occurrence.

It’s also no surprise that Grethe was generous with her coffee cake recipe. If you’re looking for a relatively quick and easy coffee cake here’s one to try.

Grethe's Danish Yeast Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 12-20
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:
  • 1 envelope of dry yeast.
  • 1 1/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/3 cup soft margarine/butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs ( lightly mixed)
  • 4-5 cups of flour
Filling:
  • 1/2 cup soft margarine/butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • Optional sliced 1 peeled thinly sliced apple
Directions:
  • Dissolve yeast in 1/8 cup of lukewarm water (not too hot or it will kill the yeast’s ability to rise).  Mix first 3 ingredients, add sugar and eggs. Mix. Add flour gradually and mix gently to dough slips easily from the bowl.
  • Let it rise 1 hour.
  • On a floured surface form into 2 flat 1″ high, 5-6″ wide, 1 foot long loaves.
  • Place the filling in the middle of the loaves. If you’re using the apple slices, place them on top of the filling.
  • Fold both ends in and then both sides into 2 loaves (they will be about 2″ high, 3-4″ wide and 1 foot long). Place both loaves in a lightly buttered 9×13 pan and sprinkle sugar on top.
  • Bake approx. 20 min in a 375 degree oven- until light brown.

Notes: Do not add too much flour and handle the dough gently. Mix it all by hand with just a bowl and wooden spoon.

*psst! the next æbleskive breakfast is this Sunday, January 18 (9:30am – 12:30 pm)

Medisterpølse MasterClass (with a bonus recipe: Brunede Kartofler)

mediesterpølse with brunede kartoffler

Platter of medisterpølse with a side of brunede kartofler

In what has quickly become a highly anticipated happening at the Danish American Center, pounds and pounds and pounds of medisterpølse are cranked out over the course of a morning. Joel Mortensen, our own master of medisterpølse, teaches an occasional and very hands-on class on how to make this quintessential Danish sausage. In the class, Joel goes over every step of the process starting with what cut (and fat-to-meat ratio) to request from your butcher. He shares the recipe–no closely guarded family secrets here; the recipe is freely given to everyone who attends–and then it’s to work. Participants not only chop their own onions, and grind/measure out their own spices, they mix by hand, prep the casings and help crank out the end product. As you can see in the photo, they pair wonderfully with brunede kartofler (sugar browned potatoes). Recipes and pictures from Joel’s November 2014 Class after the jump Continue reading

From the Archive: Danish Royal Visit of 1939

royalty visits DaneboSeventy-five years ago, readers of The Minneapolis Journal, April 22nd evening edition, saw large bold headlines: “THOUSANDS CHEER IN WELCOME TO DANISH ROYALTY STREETS DECKED WITH FLAGS FOR PRINCE AND PRINCESS WILL MEET PUBLIC AT AUDITORIUM RECEPTION TONIGHT”

Readers of DANEBO, the April issue, had already learned of the forthcoming royal visit. On the front page of Vol. 4, No 13, Meta L. Lillienskiold announced: “It is with pleasure that I today bring to Danebo’s many friends some very important news. Perhaps you already knew that Danish royalty will be the honored guests of the Twin Cities in April, but you don’t know that the executive committee for our Crown Prince and Crown Princess entertainment here, on which committee Danebo’s president is also the chairman, are planning and hoping to have their Highnesses stop at Danebo on a sightseeing tour in the early afternoon of April 22nd.”

The royal visitors, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Ingrid, arrived by train on the evening of April 21 and attended a symphony concert, featuring soprano Kirsten Flagstad, and conducted by Dmitri Mitropoulos. The next day they toured the Twin Cities, meeting local dignitaries, before attending a formal banquet and reception in their honor at the Minneapolis Auditorium.

The Danish Male Chorus, directed by Peter Kirkegaard, performed, as did the Combined Scandinavian Chorus and United Scandinavian Folkdancers. Governor Harold E. Stassen introduced His Royal Highness. The Journal had characterized the royal visitors as “goodwill ambassadors” and printed a headline “PRINCE SILENT ON POLITICS AND PEACE.” In 1939, Europe was teetering on the brink of World War II.

Other headlines in the paper read: “THE NAZI SHADOW OVER GREECE,” “BRITISH ANTI AIRCRAFT GUNS IN ACTION,”  and “DICTATOR SHAKING WORLD.”  When asked if he could make some remarks on world peace, the Crown Prince smiled and declined graciously.

However, Crown Princess Ingrid gave an extensive interview, saying that she loved to travel, play tennis, ride and swim but that she also enjoyed needlework, cooking and flowers. And she shared that, if she were not a Crown Princess, she would be a social worker. Another headline read “STYLISH INGRID THRILLS GIRLS”

On April 22, 1939, Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Ingrid participated in a sesquicentennial tree planting in front of Danebo to celebrate American government 1789 – 1939.

Crown Prince Visiting Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Ingrid at the Danebo April 22, 1939 Danish Crown Prince Frederik Planting Sesquicentennial Tree in front of Danebo April 22, 1939 Salute at the tree planting