Thursday, December 29, 2011

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 19

Military encampment and South Gate at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, 1909

During the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909 each day of the week except Sunday was designated a special day for one of the various organizations represented at the Fair. The D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution), S.A.R. (Sons of the American Revolution) and G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic – survivors and descendants of Civil War soldiers) were all invited and did participate. The Oregon ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) was also represented. There was a special military day at the Fair.

I found this postcard interesting but was unable find out much information about the military encampment shown except that this group was invited to demonstrate military exercises and engage in competitions to show off their skill and the range of training. The “games” were probably held on the green open space seen in the middle of the picture and would have involved horsemanship, marksmanship, parade drills and other like activities.

The camp was located near the south gate to the Fair grounds and can be seen at the upper mid-left of the card. It included horses as well as military personnel. The group was housed in tents much like they must have used when they were actually on duty. Fair visitors could walk through and around the camp to get a feeling of what a military camp would be like.

Two of the older remaining buildings on the University of Washington campus today are Lewis and Clark Halls. The University’s ROTC program is still housed in one of these buildings. Both are located near where this encampment was found in 1909.

For more information about the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in general, please see

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

B's big quilt

Ready to start sewing

B asked for a quilt for Christmas. He doesn’t usually ask for things so I wanted to make one for him if possible. He wanted one big enough to wrap up in when he was sitting at his computer station at home and that meant approximately twin sized (or 11 six inch squares by 15 six in squares = 66” X 90”). That is a lot bigger than the 45” X 60” lap or baby quilts I normally put together. This was not going to be a three-hour project but more like a couple of days. He wanted earth tones and something warm. An added complication was that he was in the house doing the plumbing project while I needed to do the sewing and I didn’t want him to see the finished product before he opened the package on Christmas. But it all worked out and he didn’t know I had been working on it so he was a little surprised, I think.

Here are the fabric samples:

Bright yellow cat print fabric for the light contrast and because he likes cats

Manly wrench fabric for dark contrast

Green leaf batik pattern for the earthy warm tones

The overall pattern turned into a modified combination nine-patch/Irish chain when it was finished.

With a very warm flannel back in a large print that picked up the colors from the pieced front.

As with all my other quilts this one does not have any fancy stitch work, is just tied, and the only hand stitching is the hem along the edges. It is washable, warm, soft, and big enough so that B will be able to roll up it in and possibly do so with the new baby expected in February.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A good time was had by all . . .

A splendid Christmas Eve Dinner

About once or twice a year we spurge and have Dungeness cracked crab. Usually this occurs on Christmas Eve or New Year's then if we have out of state visitors in the summer (Q & Lou for example) we’ll do it again when we can have a big crowd. I will not lie it is expensive for 11 to 18 people with one good sized crab for two normal eaters and almost a full crab for those who like to “pig out.” But boy, oh boy, is it tasty. This year the Gimlet volunteered to stand in line at the University Fish & Poultry Market to pick up the crab where they hand out candy canes and the line sometimes stretches all around the block. They must have had slightly smaller crabs than we have had before since the market recommended 8 crabs to feed 11 including three big eaters. The Gimlet got there at 10 or 10:30 am and the line had thinned out so he did get a candy cane but he didn’t have to wait an hour to pick up the pre-ordered crab. It was ready to go when it was his turn at the counter. The crabs were caught early that morning and fresh cooked, very sweet, and we managed to make a respectable dent in the bowls with just enough leftovers to make broiled open faced sandwiches for lunch.

Leftover crab for lunch.

Petra Lee's monogrammed linen napkins

Mrs Gimlet inherited her great-grandmother’s linen napkins that had been stored in the bottom of her grandmother’s cedar chest for probably 70 plus years. They were somewhat yellowed and spotted with age but otherwise lovely with a hand embroidered monogrammed “L”. The week before Christmas Mrs. G soaked the linens in special soap and then painstakingly ironed them dry. Now we know why we love clothes dryers and modern laundry methods! The napkins turned out beautifully and it was fun to use them for the first time in more than 75 years. The original tablecloth that accompanied the napkins was lost years ago but Mrs. G’s holiday tablecloth was similar enough that it made a splendid table indeed.

My brother and his family drove up from Tumwater to share the evening with us and brought three platters of cured salmon sliced so thin one could see through it seasoned with lime juice, tiny red peppers, cilantro, sweet onions, ginger (what have I forgotten?) that were picked clean within seconds of placement on the table. Mrs. Gimlet had her famous deviled eggs and Wassail on the sideboard. The Tumwater contingent also brought a baked Jerusalem Artichoke vegetable dish that is a true favorite with all of us. Curly had provided a spinach and fruit salad with tangy dressing. A community effort to fill the table. So much food, but so good.

A few hungry souls sit down as soon as dinner is announced

Christmas Day has always been a quiet relaxed day here with just our immediate family and a few gifts to open. Bopa's son S & his wife, D, came down to Seattle from Lynden and made several stops visiting his mother, sister and brother and their families and then on to share an early dinner and gifts with us. They are vegetarians so it is a whole different world as far as the menu goes. Curly has been gravitating toward vegetarianism for a while now so I asked her if she would do the main dish. She made the most incredible, edible vegetable lasagna. I think part of the wonderful taste is her secret red sauce but whatever it was it was marvelous. Even the carnivores didn’t complain. We had such a nice visit with S & D even though The Bride of Satan absented herself upon hearing their voices and then proceeded to scream, hiss, growl and otherwise be obnoxious to me after they left. She is sweet today, however.

TBS at repose

My special gift--the plumbing project is almost completed. All that is left is the upstairs shower. It is so wonderful to have hot water at full pressure in all the faucets now. The downstairs shower is heaven! What a wonderful gift. Thanks to B & the Gimlet.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ho Ho Ho

Ho Ho Ho

Each year since 1995 the Gimlet has acted as “elf” and driver for Santa (who needs help getting dressed and finds it difficult to drive once he is ensconced in his suit). This particular Santa has been the special guest at a private party for 30 years now and no one, except the elf, knows who he is! His visits were originally auctioned off as a way to donate to our local Children’s Hospital and were a huge success. The family who won the auction has continued the tradition all these years. It has turned into a multi generation event sometimes including neighbors as well as family. This year there were many, many small children (Santa got a real workout and the elf did too since he had the privilege of carrying Santa's bag of presents). It was an earlier evening than past years to accommodate the ages but Santa was just as charming as ever. As a bonus Santa makes an extra appearance at his elf’s home and the Gimlet children, Thing One and Thing Two, get a much more quiet but very welcome visit complete with candy canes. Mrs. Gimlet got some good pictures with her fancy camera but these are just from my phone and some turned out better than others. Oh yes, Santa did leave the Gimlets with a plateful of ‘tis the season cookies. Just a small thank you for all the joy and excitement he brings to the children each year.

Teenager Thing One is almost as tall as Santa now. “Grandma you need to hold the phone steady or the picture will be blurred.” Ooops.

Thing Two is still a bit over awed by Santa. “I’m not afraid.”

Thing Two says Santa is 8 feet tall!

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Thursday, December 22, 2011

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 18

Christmas postcard, ca 1900

Since it is only a few days before Christmas I thought I would slip this in as the Thursday postcard. The only writing on the reverse side says “ønskes af M.V.” [wishes of M.V.]. The card is not dated but appears to be from about 1900. It was probably sent much like the modern day Christmas cards and may have been put inside with a regular letter (now missing). It shows a not very realistic winter skiing scene complete with stabbur (storage building), snow, trees and a bird. Instead of the traditional flag on the building there is a broom! The long wooden skis each have three people—would that even be possible? No poles. Seems to me that long skis like these would be used for cross-country and would need poles. The character at the front left looks a bit like a julenisse [Santa]. He is holding onto what might be a beer stein as is the man at the end of the ski. The fellow in the middle is carrying a bottle, one presumes of spirits. The ladies are holding up pretzels and a sausage. They all appear to be dressed in generic national costumes and have very jolly looks on their faces. The printed greeting is the older version of--

God Jul (& Godt Nytt År!)
[Merry Christmas & Happy New Year]

The artist’s name at the lower left is Wilhelm Larsen and just under the greeting are the initials N.W.D. & S.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Landaas family Christmas story

Christmas 2011

The week before Christmas seems a perfect time to share the following story that has been passed down orally from the Landaas family. By the time Petra and Maggie were teenage girls the large Landaas family had fallen on hard times along with many others living in the city of Bergen, Norway. The economic down turn had in part caused the mass exodus from Norway to America by those seeking a better life. It would not be too many more years before Maggie would leave and then Petra to be next followed one by one until the entire family, parents and all nine children, had left their homeland for a new life in a new country.

Petra Landaas, ca 1887

Petra used to say that the one Christmas that she remembered the most and the one that meant the most to her was the year that they had no money to buy presents, or have a tree, or decorate it or anything at all. She and her older sister, Maggie, were the two oldest of all the children and were no longer in school by that time. They were working in the knitting factory located below their apartment. They added their earnings to their father’s to help support the family but there was nothing left over for Christmas. As there were seven younger children Maggie and Petra went to their father and hatched a plan to make Christmas for the younger children.

Knitting factory on the lower level, Landaas apartment on top level

Peder was a woodworker/carpenter who knew he could fashion a small tree out of twigs and scraps of wood so he set about that task. Maggie and Petra collected twigs, little bits of yarn and scraps of ribbon from the factory where they worked and from the streets near their home. Between the father and the two daughters they made and decorated, from all accounts, a wonderful little tree that would amaze and delight the younger children. They pooled all the small change they could find and bought one or two oranges and a handful of nuts that they divided between all the members of the family and that was their entire Christmas.

It was the act of working with their father making something for others together, not expecting anything in return, with the happiness of her younger siblings at that made this Christmas so special creating a memory Petra treasured the rest of her life. She said she never could remember tasting such a sweet orange as the one they had that year.

We all have similar stories. Part of family history is recording and sharing these oral histories so that our children and grandchildren can better know those that have gone before.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jorand Mikalsdatter Hornnes

Olav Knutsen Lauvrak, Jorand Mikalsdatter Hornnes with two of their children, Birte or Bibbi and Knut, ca 1901.
[photo courtesy of Alf Georg Kjetså]

Jorand was born 13 January 1869 in Hornnes, Aust Agder, Norway the fourth child of Mikal Aflsen and Anne Gundersdatter. Lil Anna wrote in her journal about the wedding of Jorand and Olav Knutsen Lauvrak 30 October 1894. Lil Anna would have been ten years old at the time and remembered the redecorating of the house in preparation for all the guests including the silver maple leaf wallpaper in the main room of the house at Espetveit. The wedding party lasted a week and must have truly been a memorable occasion.

Olav was born 30 August 1864 in Herefoss, Aust Agder just south and east of Hornnes. He and Jorand had four children the first two were Knut born 18 August 1895 and Birte or Bibbi born a year later 8 September 1896. In 1900 the family was living at Løvrak 8 as tenants. Olav is listed as farmer and forester (logger) tenant while Jorand is identified as the wife, housekeeper and tender of the animals. The farm had cattle, chickens, a vegetable garden as well as producing crops of grain and potatoes. In addition to their two small children there were four other adults living on this farm: a single man, Aasmund Pedersen, who worked in the forest and was a day laborer; a widow, Sigrid Olsdatter whose regular residence was in Froland, who did worked in the house and the garden; and an elderly couple, Kittel Hanssen and Maren Larsdatter, husband and wife.

The younger children of Olav and Jorand were Anne Marie born 31 March 1908 and Olav Jørgen born 16 September 1912. The 1910 census shows the family living at Lauvrak 6 with the number of the household listed as 8 with 7 people residents. In addition to Olav and Jorand and three of their four children we find the bachelor Osmund (Aasmund) Pedersen still living with them doing logging and day labor and the widow Johanna Osuldsdatter who is a pensioner and not a member of the family. Also living there as a lodger is Halvor Halvorsen Berget. He is listed as a laborer in the mine and stone jetty. Halvor is apparently there only temporarily for work.

Olav is listed as leiglending (tenant) on both census records but that seems somewhat strange to me since there are other people living there as well who seem to be helping with the general operation of the farm and not listed as tenants or owners. Olav died in 1938*. I do not have a death date for Jorand. The digital archives for Norway restrict information for privacy reasons with the cut off years between 1925 and 1930.

There is a four volume set of books about Froland. The first volume is a general history of the community authored by Birger Dannevig, the remaining three volumes are about the farms and families that lived on them by Egil Fiane. At least one volume should include the farm named Lauvrak or Løvrak but the books are not currently available on microfilm so I cannot order them to look through. I keep checking at the international book sellers to see if a set will turn up but so far no luck. If I do locate copies and find more information, I will either add to this post or make an additional post for this family.


* Correction and addition information:

Bjørn Arnhaug was able to add this additional information:

Jorand died 6 April 1938. Olav died 28 November 1932 (not 1938 as mentioned above). Their oldest son, Knut, died in a German concentration camp 6 December 1944. The cinerary urn was sent to Norway 27 November 1954. Bjørn obtained this information from Dis Norge.

Thank you, Bjørn.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 17

Trondhjem town square with Augustin Hotel, mailed 1920

I.C. Lee had several friends who traveled and would send him postcards from time to time. This card was among the few that survived the years and is of a snowy scene in the streets of Trondhjem, Sør Trøndelag, Norway with the town square and the Augustin Hotel. Even though it shows a winter scene the card is dated the 27th of June 1920 and sent by O. B. Engen. The hotel was built in 1915 with funds from a man from Trøndelag who had emigrated from Norway to America and made his fortune building hospitals. The hotel was originally known as the Grand Hotel. The architect was Morten Anker Bachke. For more about the hotel see

With a population of more than 173,000 Trondhjem is the third largest city in Norway. It was founded in 997 and was the capital of Norway during the Viking Age up until 1217. The Nidaros Cathedral was also a religious destination for pilgrims in the middle ages and was the seat of the Archdiocese of Nidaros from 1152-1537. If you want to get some feeling of how it was to live in the Middle Ages in Norway Sigrid Undset’s trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter is worth reading.

Trondhjem has a rich history, everything from being a military center, a place for free men to assemble, a place where the Kings of Norway were hailed, a religious center, and today known for the University of Science and Technology, St. Olav’s University Hospital and other technology-oriented institutions.

The old city was originally a city of wooden buildings and as such has suffered several major fires that caused severe damage. One fire in 1651 destroyed 90% of all the buildings within the city. After another horrible fire in 1681 an effort was made to prevent such devastating fires in the future by creating broad avenues as fire breaks. The city has not always been as large as it is today, as the years have gone by it has expanded by annexing in neighboring smaller communities. For more information about Trondhjem please see

This card shows the coronation parade of 1905 in Trondhjem with the famous Nidaros Cathedral in the background.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Carmel apple pie & no claws

The Bride of Satan after de-clawing

On Friday the Gimlets took me up to Lynden (about 90 miles north of here) to pick up my cat. I have had this cat for about 5 years now. She is beautiful with long silky black fur and gold & green eyes. I have become quite fond of her but she is a handful. Her nickname is The Bride of Satan (TBS).

TBS was a feral kitten when we got her and I had hoped with kind treatment and lots of gentle handling she would become a nice, tame cat. But no. She can be sweet (although my family disputes that assertion). She is poly-dactyl and has 13 toes on her front feet. She does not like anybody to touch her feet, period. This has been a problem because at least three of her claws could not be retracted, hence they would grow into the pad of her foot and cause her pain and make her even more cranky than normal.

My regular vet here has put a big black dot on her file and will not see her unless she is sedated. They approach cautiously with gloves up to their elbows and it takes two people to hold her down for an examination or claw clipping. It is very traumatic for everyone. Bopa's oldest son, S, is married to a veternarian, D, and they stop by the house every couple of months with a net and a big blanket/quilt to trap her and clip her claws for me so I don't have to take her into a clinic. I was told not to try and do the claw clipping myself since she can be ferocious and dangerous. The last couple of times TBS heard them coming and figured out how to get away from them. Even when I locked her in the bathroom she got the laundry chute open and went down in there to get away from D. Finally D reluctantly suggested that TBS needed to be de-clawed. Just the front feet. Vets do not generally like to de-claw but she is an indoor only cat and a special case. The end result was S & D took her up to KVH on Monday last and removed her front claws. She spent a miserable week up there and we went to pick her up Friday. I think everybody at KVH were all glad to be rid of her. They laughed when I told them her nickname but they all agreed it fit. The screaming, hissing, growling, howling grows old after awhile but she can be terrifying when she gets like that. Her feet are still a bit tender but she is eating now and not growling so much. When she was out they cleaned her teeth too so she is good to go for a couple more years. We pretty much agreed that TBS shouldn't go into a clinic unless she needs medical treatment. No annual checkups required.

The trip to Lynden was fun, it was a lovely day, and we saw a couple of Bald Eagles and an Eagle nest, visited the Dutch Bakery and came home with a Carmel Apple pie and a sedated cat. We would have bought Apple Carmel muffins too but those were all sold out.

Across the way from S & D's house is a dairy farm. The owner got interested in Watusi cattle a couple of years ago and bought a few plus a Texas Longhorn to add to his herd sort of as pets, I guess, since they are separated from the dairy cows. These cattle walked out to the front of the pasture while we were having lunch and we got to see them but not close enough to take a photo. The horns are unbelievably huge. Next time we go up that way we will have to take a telephoto lens so we can get a picture.

Lynden is a very picturesque small town (population 7500) with a decidedly Dutch influence. The town planning commission has seen fit to make most of the buildings look like old Holland complete with a town Windmill. Besides the Bakery there are several Antique shops and interesting things to walk around and look at.

Lynden bakery shop

The box

What is left of the pie inside the box

The Lynden bakery has been written up in magazines and newspapers as having the best pies in the world. This is a really DEEP dish apple pie the top crust covered with a layer of Carmel. So rich, so sweet, so good.

'Tis the season, Cookies, 6

Kitchen Aid with paddle

Here is another true Norwegian cookie I make called Hjortebakkels. I think they may be region specific to Os the area just south of Bergen. They take a whole crew of people to make and are a wonderful family activity during the holidays. This year we did manage to get enough people together to make them. It really is too much work for one person, although it can be done by one. We had four of us this year some years we have had six or more people helping. The cookies look a little like the better-known Fattigmann but Hjortebakkels are more like a donut and do not have powdered sugar on them. Just plain little brown twisted cookies that have that same cardamom bite. I could never figure out why Fattigmann is called Poor Man when it takes so much butter, many eggs, and expensive spices. Maybe the baker is poor after making them!

As a side note, I once offered Hjortebakkels to a young man I didn’t know very well. He wouldn’t even taste it because he thought it was fish (I made the tactical error of telling him they were Norwegian cookies). Go figure….

This recipe is from Maggie Landaas Lorig and may have come originally from her mother, Karen Landaas or even her grandmother, Kristi mor. There were no mixing instructions just a list of ingredients but my mother told me to just mix it up as you would normally do for a cake or cookies, i.e, cream the butter, sugar, eggs and add the dry ingredients so I am providing those instructions with the list. I do make most of my cookies by hand with a wooden spoon and not a mixer but I cannot imagine making these without a heavy-duty mixer with a paddle or dough hook. The dough is just too thick and sticky to work by hand.


6 eggs (at room temperature)
6 Tablespoons butter (at room temperature, softened)
6 Tablespoons cream (in a pinch you can used canned milk)
[it calls for ½ cup Brandy here but since my family does not use alcohol we substitute 1/3 cup orange juice and it seems to work fine]
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
1 teaspoon mace
Enough flour to roll out (5 or 6 cups)


Deep fryer
Plenty of paper towels
Ruffled edged cutter like a pasta cutter
Slotted tool to turn and lift out the cookies from the fryer
Large bowl or pan to put the finished cookies in
Some sort of pastry board for rolling and cutting the dough
A “Gonzo” mixer helps (like a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook or paddle blade)
Sharp paring knife for cutting the slits
Metal spatula for lifting dough off the cutting board

1 Use a heavy-duty mixer to cream the butter, add the sugar and eggs then the cream.
2. When these are well creamed together add some of the flour (I usually put in about 2 cups of flour with the spices and baking powder), then the extra liquid (orange juice or brandy)
3. Gradually add more flour until the dough is very thick (pulls away from the side of the bowl).
4. Put in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight. (This will help when rolling it out.)

Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight before rolling

The dough can be quite sticky so you may have to add more flour as you begin to roll out. Warning: the more flour you add the harder the cookie so if you want a soft donut like cookie use less and deal with the stickies.

5. Roll to make a rectangle and choose how thick you want your cookies to be. Thin cookies will be crunchier thick ones will be more donut-like.
6. Cut into roughly diamond shapes by cutting long strips two directions.
7. Cut a slit in the center of the diamond and draw one pointed corner through to make a buckle shape. (You may need to use a metal spatula to get the dough off the cutting surface.)

Roll, cut into strips to make diamond shapes, cut a slit and pull one corner through

Ruffled pasta cutter used to cut the strips of dough

Bee preheating and melting the shortening in the fryer

8. Drop raw cookies carefully into preheated, melted shortening in the fryer.

(I have never tried using cooking oil but I suppose it would work, we always just use Fluffo or Crisco brands of vegetable shortening.)

Oh boy, these are ready to turn! See the slotted utensil used to turn and lift the cookies out of the fryer?

9. Watch the cookies carefully as they cook, turning as soon as you see the brown from the underside edging around the sides. Once they are turned it will not take too long for the other side to cook.

Mrs. Gimlet and Curly cooking and cutting. Chinook are you hoping for a treat to fall on the floor?

10. Lift out and place on paper towels to drain.

Oooh, don’t they look pretty? Yummy

Warning: Makes a TON of cookies but it is never enough for those of us who have acquired the taste for them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 16

Christmas greeting on the front of the postcard

Message on the reverse side of the card

Since this card was sent as a Christmas and New Years’ greeting to Petra Lee and her family probably before 1920 it seemed appropriate to share it during December. It must have been included in another envelope or package because there is no stamp or date on the card itself. As a child I can remember packages being put together to send to Norway. It was quite exciting to see all the things my grandmother and mother stuffed into a big box and took to the post office. One of the things we received in return was Geitost. It is a very sweet yellow-brown goat cheese that is sliced extremely thin. Unfortunately, as a child that was not one of my favorite things to eat but my Grandpa Dick Thompson really liked it and I think Petra did too. Once we (the children) got handmade mittens. Another thing that came was a wooden nutcracker. When you put a peanut in his mouth and closed the lever to crack the shell smoke would come out his mouth and ears. I have no idea what happened to the nutcracker it was not in with the other things we found when we closed out Mom’s apartment.

The message on the reverse of the card is written in an older form of Norwegian that is probably closer to Danish. I did try the Google Translate but not everything could be translated. That may also be my inability to decipher some of the script so I decided to show both sides of the card. My own interpretation of the message is:

"Dear Petra and family,

Thousand thanks for the letter and the picture(s). It was very nice and nicely done [much appreciated]. We have so few [pictures] of Nils. [Cornelius?]. On Sunday we went up to visit Grandmother. She was glad when we arrived. She had been sick but was better. Greetings from Hama, Otta, Ole"
* At the bottom of the front of the card is the standard Happy [Merry] Christmas & Good New Year greeting.

The statue on the card is of Ole Bull a famous Norwegian musician who was born in Bergen, Norway in 1810 and died on Lysøen, an island near Os he bought and where he had built an estate, in 1880. Os is south of Bergen and is where my great-great grandmother, Karen Landaas, was born. He was what we would call a child prodigy and at age 4 or 5 could play all the songs he had heard his mother play on the violin. At the age of 9 years old he was a soloist with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. When the director of the Musical Lyceum became ill, Bull took over as director. He was only 18 years old the time. He was married twice and fathered 7 children however only 3 survived him. His second wife, Sara, wrote a book titled: “Ole Bull: a memoir by Sara C. Bull.” Ole Bull knew other famous musicians such as Edvard Grieg and Franz Liszt. He had homes in both Norway and the United States. For more information about him see



* After this post went up I got an email from Bjørn & Marit who kindly translated the postcard message this way:

Petra and husband,

Thank you for your letter and the picture. It was very nice and beautiful too. You have got a very good looking man too , be now only good to him. Greet him so much from us. Sunday we were visiting your grandmother. You may think she was happy when we arrived, she has been a little sick but was better now.

Here is Petra's handsome husband, I.C. Lee, as he looked in 1904.

I.C. Lee, ca 1904

So I even though I didn't get it completely right I didn't do too badly with the translation after all. Bjørn noticed that I mistook "hils" for "Nils". That answered a question for me because I couldn't figure out why she would be sending them a picture of her brother. Also, I noticed that in the salutation it had the word for marriage but I have seen this same word sometimes appearing in connection with family so it was good to get that cleared up. I would now guess that the date of the card would be early 1900s and not so close to 1920 as I originally thought. Thanks so much for sending the translation,
Bjørn & Marit, I appreciate it very much!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

'Tis the season, Cookies, 5


These are Norwegian cookies that are baked in a special Krumkake Iron or Krumkake Baker. I have used both. The Iron was old and heavy, fit on the small size burner on the stove and only allowed for making one cookie at a time. Since my Dad gave me the Iron it had sentimental value and I valiantly struggled on well past time to replace it. Making the cookies took forever! A few years ago I caved in and got the more modern Baker. It is electric and cooks two cookies at once. The entire batch of cookies is completed in an hour instead of taking almost all day. It is a little tricky getting both cookies out and rolled up before they get too brown or set up and crumble (as the name suggests). This recipe has been passed down from my great-great grandmother and is different from the recipes that come with either the Iron or the Baker.


3 well beaten eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup melted butter
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla [alternative flavoring almond or lemon]
1 teaspoon freshly grated cardamom

Makes 2 dozen cookies or maybe a couple more than that.

I use a wire whisk but you could use an electric mixer to
1. beat the eggs until foamy
2. then add the sugar, melted butter,
3. and last the flour and flavorings.

It should make a thick, sticky, slightly runny batter.

Krumkake baker

4. Scoop out a spoonful of batter and put it on the preheated Iron or Baker. The Baker has a convenient light that tells you when it is hot enough and when the cookies are done. You will just have to guess with the Iron (much turning back and forth and peeking inside to see if it is ready to come out).
5. Use a spatula to lift the finished cookies out of the Baker or Iron.
6. Roll the flat cookies immediately (hot, hot, hot, watch your fingers!).

Roll the Krumkake into cones

The Baker came with a cone shaped roller device. I used to just roll the flat cookie into a tube with my fingers when I used the Iron.

Cardamom, whole seeds

I know it is a lot of work to get the whole cardamom seeds, break them open, and then chop them up finely but you really do want the freshest cardamom—strong enough to make your eyes water when the little seeds are ground up. After I get enough loose seeds out of the pod I use a Krups grinder to finely chop them up.

As long as the cookies are kept in an airtight container (so they don’t get soft) they will keep for a very long time but usually they get eaten up before too much times goes by. The cookies can be eaten as they are or just before serving the cones can also be filled with whipped cream and fruit sort of like an ice cream cone.

Hardanger embroidery, Norwegian national costumes

When we were cleaning out Mom’s apartment we found some very old Hardanger lace embroidery in the bottom of a cedar chest. As I have mentioned previously, my daughter, Mrs. Gimlet, does this type of embroidery and was quite excited to find these pieces. We think they were inserts for an apron or perhaps a blouse but they could have been practice pieces as well. They were in remarkably good condition for being folded and stored away for probably 70 years or more. We think my grandmother made them or maybe even her mother or grandmother so they have got to be more than 100 years old. There are a few “rust-like” spots that we would like to remove so Mrs. Gimlet has ordered some special soap to wash them in and (maybe before we attempt the cleaning) after the holidays we will go to the Nordic Heritage Museum and see what they can tell us about the pieces and how to take care of them. I’ll try to remember to post “before and after” photos later.

Sample of antique Hardanger lace embroidery, 1

Sample of antique Hardanger lace embroidery, 2

This next picture is of my grandmother, Petra Landaas, on the right, in the national costume for Hardanger. You can see some of the embroidery work on the aprons. I have always thought that the girl on the left was her friend, Bertha Ottesen, who traveled with her from Bergen but looking at it now it might be her sister, Mikkeline (Maggie) instead. There are few pictures of Petra with her hair down like this and no pictures of Maggie with her hair down and that makes the identification a little more difficult. The photograph was taken shortly after Petra arrived in Seattle from Bergen, Norway, in 1893.

Petra Landaas, ca 1893

These next photographs are of a child’s bunad from Telemark. Petra’s husband, I.C. Lee came from Telemark and I’m not completely sure how we got this bunad but I think it originally came from his niece Magda. Her daughter, Ingrid, wore it, I wore it, and here you see Mrs. Gimlet wearing it when she was ten years old.
A child's chore was to gather eggs and the apron was supposedly used to hold the eggs.

Mrs. Gimlet, age 10, wearing bunad from Telemark

This little dress or jumper and the blouse are both made completely by hand, no machine stitching anywhere on either piece. The dress is wool, the blouse is linen.

Close up showing the top half of the back of the dress with crewel embroidery.

'Tis the season, Cookies, 4

Icebox cookies are great because you can make the dough a day or two in advance of the actual baking. That means you can make another cookie like the Spritz cookies that bake at the same temperature and when you are through baking those leave the oven on and bake the icebox cookies.

These were one of Bopa’s favorite cookies. They have finely chopped walnuts in them but otherwise are small and plain—no sprinkles or sugary frostings. The recipe comes from the 1963 McCall’s Cook Book, p. 180.

Vanilla Icebox Cookies

Bake in preheated oven 375℉
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes

2 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

1. In a large bowl beat the butter until light with a wooden spoon
2. Add sugar, then egg and flavoring continue beating until light and fluffy
3. Add the dry ingredients in two portions and mix with hands to form stiff dough
4. Add the chopped nuts and combine well.
5. Form dough into a large ball, cut in half.

6. Roll the portions into two long rolls.
7. Wrap in plastic wrap and foil. Refrigerate overnight.
8. When ready to bake use a sharp knife to cut penny slices and bake on ungreased cookie sheets for approximately 9 min.

Makes about 120 small cookies.