Welcome (back) to my kitchen

This paper’s former Managing Editor, Christy Olsen Field, is now Taste of Norway editor

Christy Olsen Field - waffles

Photo: Christy Olsen Field
Fluffy, heart-shaped waffles are easy to whip up and make a great base for your favorite toppings, both sweet and savory.

Christy Olsen Field
Taste of Norway Editor

Christy Olsen Field

Image courtesy of Christy Olsen Field
Christy Olsen Field was previously the Managing Editor of The Norwegian American.

Hei! I am delighted to introduce myself as the new Taste of Norway Editor! If you’re a long-time reader of The Norwegian American, you might recognize my name. I served on the editorial staff of the Norwegian American Weekly from 2008 to 2012, and contributed to the Taste of Norway section in the years since. I was honored to be part of the A Taste of Norway cookbook, published by The Norwegian American in 2016.

I am grateful to my friend Daytona Strong, who has successfully helmed the Taste of Norway section for the past four years. I first met Daytona when I interviewed her for an article for the Taste of Norway section. Daytona’s work has inspired me with her meticulously tested recipes and light-filled photos, adding to my own repertoire of Norwegian dishes. Tusen takk, Daytona, for your wonderful contributions to this publication!

My creative outlet is in the kitchen, and I am an enthusiastic home cook and baker, especially when it comes to Norwegian food.

I come from a family with deep Norwegian-American roots on both sides. The Norwegian cooking we did was reserved for the holidays, mostly in the form of lefse and kjøttboller (meatballs), with the recipes lovingly taught to us by my Great-grandmother Alice Gjerde.

It wasn’t until I went to college at Pacific Lutheran University and spent a semester in Hamar, Norway, that I began to learn about Norwegian cuisine in a new, modern, context.

That semester felt like a revelation, even on a student budget. I fell in love with peel-your-own reker (prawns) on a late summer evening at Oslo’s Aker Brygge. My first taste of multekrem, sweet golden berries folded into whipped cream, was at the old family farm in Hallingdal. My relative Ellen was delighted with how much I loved it, and served me a second helping (and maybe even a third). I also learned how to make a matpakke (packed lunch) of a few simple smørbrød (open-faced sandwiches) combinations, a useful skill for a college student.

After college, my interest in Norwegian cooking and baking continued. When I was on the editorial staff of the Norwegian American Weekly, the Taste of Norway page was my favorite. Later, I worked at the Nordic Museum in Seattle for a few years as the grantwriter, and I was the staff member who gladly volunteered to work in the kitchen for festivals and special events with a team of dedicated volunteers churning out sandwiches, pølser med lompe (good-quality hot dogs wrapped in a lefse-like flatbread), soups, and more.

Have I mentioned that I really love Norwegian cuisine?

With the Taste of Norway section, I’m excited to talk about Norwegian and Norwegian-inspired food and drinks, and the people and traditions behind them.

Is there a recipe that you want to know more about? Or a Norwegian ingredient or technique? Maybe a Norwegian-American restaurant or food producer that we should profile? I welcome ideas and suggestions! Please write to me at food@na-weekly.com.

Love at first bite

Christy Olsen Field

Photo: Christy Olsen Field

Norwegian waffles always make a treat

Creamy, soft, and a little sweet, heart-shaped vafler are my very favorite Norwegian dish to make at home. I was first introduced to Norwegian waffles in the college cafeteria when I studied in Hamar, Norway, for a semester. I had never heard of them before, only familiar with square waffles with maple syrup. Served with strawberry jam and brown cheese, it was love at first bite.

That semester, my friends and I bought a waffle maker and used it every week with the Toro brand pouches of waffle mix. I continued the weekly waffle tradition when I returned to the United States, making them for my friends and family. I even made them for my weekly conversation table when I worked as the student Norwegian language tutor, as a way to entice students to come. It totally worked: my conversation table had more participants than any other languages that school year! These waffles are popular at any gathering.

I like to make these when hosting people at my home, to introduce them to one of my favorite food traditions. So with my first issue as Taste of Norway editor, it is fitting to welcome you to my kitchen with this recipe.

There are many recipes for Norwegian vafler, but this one is my favorite. It’s called Pappas beste vafler (Pappa’s Best Waffles), and the recipe was given to me by my college mentor and friend Claudia Berguson. I don’t know where the original recipe came from, but it is a total winner. Over the years, many people have asked for the recipe, but the recipe was in Norwegian with metric measurements. I have adapted this recipe for American measurements. Happy Baking!

Sour Cream Waffles

Recipe adapted from Pappas beste vafler on Matprat.no

Christy Olsen Field - waffles

Photo: Christy Olsen Field

1 stick (8 tbsps.) unsalted butter

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 ½ cup light sour cream

2 ½ cups milk

5 eggs

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ¼ tsps. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly ground cardamom

In a small saucepan, melt butter and set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, sour cream, milk, and eggs until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Stir the dry ingredients into the large bowl, and stir until combined. There will be lumps, and that is okay! Set aside to let the waffle batter to svelle, or slightly rise, for at least 15 minutes. You can also prepare it a day ahead of time and store in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake the waffles, preheat the waffle iron. If the batter is too thick, stir in up to ¼ cup water. Bake one at a time. I cool each one on a metal rack while I bake the next one.

Norwegian vafler are excellent when served warm or room temperature. I serve mine with strawberry jam, a dollop of sour cream, and a slice of brunost (Norwegian brown cheese).

Note: These are best made in a heart-shaped waffle iron, available from Scandinavian shops and specialty kitchen stores, as well as online.

 

Christy Olsen Field became the Taste of Norway Editor in April 2019. An enthusiastic home cook and baker, she lives north of Seattle with her husband and two young sons. She is a grantwriter for small nonprofits in the Seattle area. Write to her at food@na-weekly.com.

This article originally appeared in the April 19, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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