2018 Danes of the Year

2018 Danes of the Year

Whitey & Lis Jorgensen (left & right) with fellow 2018 Dane of the Year, Renee Showalter-Hansen (center)

Our 2018 Danes of the Year were awarded at Danish Day to Renee Showalter-Hansen and Lis & Whitey Jorgensen. What follows is Carla Mortensen’s introduction for Renee and Susan Jacobsen’s introduction for Lis & Whitey. 

The Danish American Center is a community of mostly like-minded people. We know one another and enjoy one another’s company on many levels. We know, or at least think we do, who can do what and whom we can trust for all the variety of jobs it takes to keep the Center running smoothly. We gather for celebrations such as today, and we use our center for birthday parties. We have huge Julefests, luncheons and akvavit tasting parties. We practice and live “hygge” while strangers try to figure out what it is, how to pronounce it and why it’s so essential to happiness. And once a year, we choose someone who has helped make all that happen and call them, Dane of the Year.

Counting on volunteers to step up when needed is how the DAC works. So if, when my task is staffing those volunteers, for æbleskive breakfasts, for example, my job is quite easy as this Dane of the Year even volunteers before being asked. This Dane of the Year has been active in supporting DAC participation in the annual Christmas exhibits at the American Swedish Institute, has served on the DAC board and has been instrumental in ensuring Virkelyst’s survival as we moved to be part of the DAC and in celebrating our 80th anniversary.

This recipient’s Danish roots swept her up in their safety and enrichment when she was but a toddler, growing up in Chicago. Her mother steeped her in the power of her grandfather, S.D. Rodholm’s theology, celebrating his Grundtvigian roots as well
as his creative genius as a prolific translator. Her family nurtured these roots by returning to Danebod Family Camp, the Folk Meeting, and West Denmark Family Camp as well as sending her to Grand View College. This recipient has had a career in education, teaching in Cedar Rapids IA before moving to Minnesota where she taught special education in the Wayzata schools. She and her husband Bob have two daughters Emma and Laura. After retiring and selling their home in Minnetonka, they split their time between homes on the north shore of Minnesota, in Green Valley, Arizona and the Danish American Center where she stays when in town, just in case a volunteer opportunity arises.

Please join me in congratulating my friend of 60 years Renee Showalter-Hanson as Dane of the Year for 2018.

* * * * *

Lis & Whitey Jorgensen have been active members in the Danish American community in the Twin Cities since they moved here in 1952. First it was Virkelyst and the Danish Young People’s Home, then the Danish American Fellowship, and now the Danish American Center.

They have made sandwiches and æbleskiver, taught kids to folk dance, raised money through everything from taste testing to rummage sales. They have worked at Festival of Nations, done the set up and take down of Danish Day at Wabun Park, and hosted visiting Danish Royalty. Now they participate in the DAC Wednesday lunches, monthly breakfasts, Christmas celebrations, annual meetings and sing alongs.

And they have been generous…Lis has shared her story of coming of age and living in Denmark during the German occupation with audiences at the Danish Center, Mindekirken, and other organizations. In addition to donating their time, have given a
wonderful Danish painting of a ship at sea to our collection.

All the while, they are promoting the Danish American culture and welcoming anyone who walks through the door of the DAC. They are true ambassadors! Please join me in honoring Lis & Whitey Jorgensen as Danes of the Year.



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!

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.


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:




  • 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


  • 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:



  • 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


  • 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




  • 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


  • 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.)

2014 Holiday Events at the Danish American Center

Looking to infuse your holiday season with a little Danish hygge? Want to sample one of our events to see if membership is for you? We have a couple upcoming Christmas events that are open to all.

JULESANGAFTEN (CHRISTMAS SONG EVENING)  (Sunday, December 7: 7pm) – Join us for our annual Christmas Song Evening in the Atrium. We will sing all the old familiar carols accompanied by Rita Juhl on the piano. It is always a joyous evening where, by singing, you get into the mood of the season. Refreshments will be served.

CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY  (Sunday, December 14: 3-6pm) – An annual favorite for the kids! Come and enjoy story time, making decorations, baking cookies, and dancing around the tree. A light supper will be offered. Please bring a gift addressed to your child for Santa’s bag.  (Cost is $7/adult and $4/child. No reservations needed)

Looking for inspiration to attend? Check out these photos from last year’s Children’s Christmas Party:

Fun times at the 2013 Children's Christmas Party at the Danish American Center in Minneapolis

Fun times at the 2013 Children’s Christmas Party at the Danish American Center in Minneapolis (photo credit: Tina Paulsen)