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!
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.
The 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.
April 2015 Onsdag Frokost Menu
- 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.
MUSHROOM & HAZELNUT PATE
- 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 bread
- 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.
(I am not related to Ben Jacobsen, but I am a great fan of his salt.)
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 (photo credit: Tina Paulsen)