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|I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday. I know I did. I got to spend time with friends and family. We played a puzzle that took all of us to solve. That was great! This week, the theme for our guest bloggers is patience. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite this week. The weekly winner receives a $100 MMS gift certificate!
One of our favorite holiday traditions is an exercise in patience. My Norwegian grandmother, who passed away in 2009 at the age of nearly 102, made traditional Scandinavian cookies for the holidays, all of which are incredibly delicious and incredibly time consuming. Sandkake, for example, are made by pressing dough into fluted tart tins painstakingly by hand to just the right thinness. Krumkake, which she made only once a year, require the use of an iron placed on the stove top. If you have ever made pizelle cookies, the equipment is similar. You place a dollop of batter (equal parts by weight of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs augmented with freshly ground cardamom and almond flavor) in the center of the iron, close it, wait about thirty seconds to a minute, flip it, wait another thirty seconds, and then remove a delicately thin circle measuring about six inches across. You then shift gears from patience to panic ❗ as you must roll the cookie around a wooden dowel to form a cylinder before it hardens and crumbles. And then you repeat the process.
This is not a process that can be rushed. As a child I looked forward to these cookies every year when we went to her house for holiday dinners. As my grandmother aged, handling the iron became more difficult for her as it is made of cast iron and is quite heavy. After my grandfather passed she moved out of her home into an apartment and she gave me her krumkake iron, which had been passed down from her mother. It dates from the 19th century and is made of cast iron. The inside is engraved with delicate tracery and the patina of over a century of use. The outside is blackened from over a century of cooking grease. It is one of my most treasured possessions. During the last few years of her life, I made krumkake for her. Towards the end her mind wasn’t very clear but she knew and recognized those cookies.
For me, these cookies are emblematic of patience. When I think of her and her long life and its many struggles, they are indelibly linked with these krumkake. When I make them every year for my own children, I feel connected to her. And the fact that you can’t make them slowly, requires me to slow down during a very hectic time of year. Making them one at a time becomes a kind of meditative exercise, relaxing in its own way, and evocative of long-standing family traditions and of my grandmother.
I am still perfecting a soap recipe in her honor that is inspired by krumkake and evokes the scents of almond and cardamom.