TRAVERSE CITY — Norwegian meatballs. Swedish sausage potatoes. Scandinavian apple salad.
They're just a few of the dishes on the menu for Trinity Lutheran Church's Scandinavian Luncheon and Bazaar Saturday, Nov. 17, at the historic church in Frankfort.
The annual event ushers in the Christmas season and has been a tradition at the church on and off for about a half-century, said coordinator Sandy Anderson. The church, which originally held worship services in Norwegian, began about 125 years ago as an outreach to the Scandinavian community.
Besides a traditional Scandinavian meal, the luncheon and bazaar feature a sale of traditional member-made crafts including woven wheat ornaments, woven paper hearts — traditionally hung on the tree to hold candy and nuts — and wooden ornaments shaped like rams, gnomes and dala horses and decoratively painted in a traditional art called Rosemaling.
"It keeps the old traditions somewhat alive and it's a great social event," said Sandy, an artist who was raised in a Norwegian Lutheran Church in South Dakota and retired to Frankfort about three years ago.
Preparation for the event goes on year-round, she said, beginning with summer workshops to teach the making of different cookies.
"Almost every one has a specialty tool," she said. "Rosettes (deep-fried holiday cookies) are made on an iron heated in cooking oil, and the irons have to be exactly the right temperature and properly seasoned. Krumkake (a Norwegian waffle cookie) is made on an iron sort of like a waffle iron. We use electric irons now but they all used to be made on the cookstove."
Other desserts include Spritz cookies, Fattigman (fried pastries or "poor man's doughnuts") and sand bakkels (molded almond-flavored treats).
All the dishes are church-made except for the Swedish sausage potatoes, a mixture of chopped potatoes and ground pork seasoned with fall spices and stuffed in sausage casings. That dish is being custom-made for the church by a local grocer.
"We can't stuff our own sausages — yet," Sandy said.
Traditional Scandinavian cuisine is based on a simple cooking style and is full of flavor — cardamom is a favorite — though not very spicy. Besides fish, meat is one of the main elements of most dishes, each of which has a special cooking method.
Sandy said church members make their own Norwegian meatballs for the luncheon from beef and pork ground together by a butcher three times to make it extra fine.
"Norwegian meatballs are the most flavorful," she said. "They have clove, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and pepper in them. The Swedish way is very bland. They only have onions, salt and pepper in them."
Chuck Anderson and his wife, Maudie, oversee the creation of the Scandinavian apple salad, one of Chuck's favorite seasonal dishes as a kid growing up in Frankfort.
"It grew from an old Scandinavian recipe," said the retired veterinarian, whose mostly Norwegian family goes back nearly 100 years in the area. "It's kind of a heritage thing for the Scandinavians."
The apples are peeled and shredded using a special grater handed down to him through the generations, then mixed with whipped cream, sugar, pineapple tidbits and banana slices.
"They're very carefully folded in," said Chuck, who prefers firm apples — this year donated from a congregation member's apple orchard. "You have to get that texture just right. One of the problems is you have to do it quickly before the apples turn brown."
Sandy said the dish is made fresh all during the luncheon and bazaar by a team of five, then spooned into cups and served as a side.
For those who can't get enough of Scandinavian bread and desserts — or who want to enhance their own seasonal baking — the bazaar also includes a bake sale of contemporary and traditional desserts.
"One man makes a sweet Finnish bread called pulla," said Sandy, who recalls her grandparents cooking a flatbread called lefse on top of a cookstove, using big sticks to flip it. "That sells off the table immediately. The traditional things fly off the table because they're so much work nobody wants to make them at home. And you can't buy them at the grocery store."
The Scandinavian Luncheon and Bazaar takes place from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Church members clad in traditional Scandinavian dress will seat guests at round tables for eight.
Meals are $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12. Takeout is available. Profits go to local, state and national charities including Benzie Area Christian Neighbors, Benzie Home Health Care and Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, Sandy said.
The church is located at 955 James Street, between Frankfort High School and Frankfort Elementary School, two blocks north of Glen's Markets.
These recipes were adapted from Trinity Lutheran Church's "100 Years of Good Cooking," a cookbook the congregation published in 1982. Many of its recipes came from older members who are no longer living.
(Cookies made in a tin mold)
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
½ t. almond extract
3 c. flour
Cream butter and beat in sugar. Add egg and extract. Beat well. Gradually stir in flour and salt and work dough until well mixed. Press approximately one teaspoon of dough inside the sand bakkel molds. Press the dough as thin as possible inside the molds. Set tins on a cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes until slightly brown at edges. Cool before removing from the molds. You may need to tap the tins lightly on the countertop or tap with a knife to remove them from the tins. Wipe the tins with a paper towel, but do not wash them, or they will lose their seasoning.
1½ lbs. beef
½ lb. pork
1 egg, beaten
1 medium onion
1 ½ t. salt
4 t. flour
½-1 t. Kitchen Bouquet
¼ t. each allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and pepper
Dash of garlic salt and onion salt
1 c. milk
4 bouillon cubes
Have butcher grind meat together 2-3 times. Place all remaining ingredients, except bullion cubes and Kitchen Bouquet, in blender. Whirl until onion is chopped fine. Combine liquid mixture with meat in heavy electric mixer or in large bowl to be mixed by hand. Mix well. Dissolve bouillon cubes in 4 cups of boiling water. Form meat into small balls the size of walnuts and drop into boiling broth. Simmer for 10 minutes. Make thickening for gravy by mixing ¼ c. flour into hot broth. It helps to remove the meatballs from the broth. Add Kitchen Bouquet to gravy to brown it. When gravy is thickened and smooth, return the meatballs to the gravy and simmer until ready to serve. Do not allow them to boil.
Norwegian Brown Bread
(Adapted for a bread machine)
2 T. Grandma's Molasses
3 T. brown sugar
1 T. honey
1¼ c. warm milk
2½ c. Better for Bread flour
½ c. rye flour
½ c. whole wheat flour
1 t. salt
2 t. dry yeast
2 T. margarine
Dissolve molasses, brown sugar and honey into warm milk. In bowl, mix flour and salt. Put all in bread machine and add dry yeast and margarine. Follow directions on the bread machine for mixing and baking.