It’s Getting Toward “That Time of Year”

… or “Steeling Myself for Christmas!”

Raised by a fundamentalist Jehovah’s Witness, I turned my back on organized religion long ago.  To my surprise, though I raised my daughter without organized religion or any related holidays, she’s become the Martha Stewart of holidays.   In fact, her garage is lined with shelves groaning under the weight of storage boxes containing an array of decorations appropriate for various holidays.

erasexmasboxChristmas seems to have become her personal favorite, as suggested by the many boxes in the garage marked “Xmas.”  As soon as Thanksgiving is over, the Thanksgiving decorations are returned to their box, and she opens the Christmas boxes and transforms her house into what would be described as a winter wonderland.  In fact, I think my grandchildren start counting the days until Christmas as soon as the first autumn leaf falls to the sidewalk!

This, of course, impacts this non-holiday-observing woman:  I show up for a week or two visit around Christmas and am included in the festivities.  Yet I know no Christmas songs – in either Norwegian or English – and any Christmas “traditions” I know only from watching Christmas-theme movies or listening to holiday songs.  And no matter how many times I’m compelled to listen to Christmas songs, nary a line of lyric stays in my head.

What I can do, however, is cook.  So on holidays I pull out my grandmother’s handwritten recipe book from husmorskol (housewife school) and start baking for my daughter and her family.

erase_ironIt goes without saying that I ready my three Jøtul jerner (irons) to make those goodies my mormor (grandmother) made with me and, 20 years later, with her first greatgrandchild (my daughter).

The rectangular goro jern (the iron on the far left) is used to make thin, rich cookies decadent with cream, butter, a dash of cognac, some lemon zest, sugar, cardamom, flour, a dash of potato flour and an egg.

I make krumkake (with the iron on the far right), one of Norway’s oldest cookies, with a dough laden with butter, eggs, sugar, cardamom and flour (and a dash of water).

In the center is my old vafler jern (waffle iron) with which I will make the spruced up version of the traditional Norwegian waffles, rommevafler,  by adding sour cream.

Here’s my dilemma:  As we no longer live within easy driving distance of my daughter and her family, how do I bring the gjerner with me this year?  Driving south means two days driving and through high mountain roads in the snow.  Flying is easier but I’m not sure I could get my jerner past the TSA folk! (I haven’t gotten over their confiscation of a set of my knitting needles soon after 911!)

Any ideas?  🙂


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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22 Responses to It’s Getting Toward “That Time of Year”

  1. fabrickated says:

    An interesting dilemma. I love lateral thinking but sometimes dilemmas cannot be resolved. I wonder what you did.

    I rather dread the whole Christmas thing, and I have always had respect for JW for going against the grain. Once I got the choice I never celebrated it, and actually disliked the whole thing – commercial, over indulgence, an obligation to buy presents, getting stuck with in-laws, being indoors too much or going on enforced walks. As soon as I could (age 16) I vowed to always be somewhere else for Christmas. I have more or less stuck to this, although in her very old age my Mum wants me there, and I have capitulated. But I would prefer to be in a warm country, preferably a non-Christian one, given the choice.

    We had German au pairs when the children were little and they often made wonderful Christmas biscuits and put little presents in the children’s shoes on St Nicholas day (I think). That was a nice modest way to celebrate Christmas rather than all this enforced spending.


  2. salpal1 says:

    I hope it works out for you – traditions like that are important.


  3. Sorry!
    I meant teaspoons, not tablespoons….
    So you´ll need 3 teaspoons of baking powder.


  4. Dry Waffles

    4 eggs
    250 grams white sugar
    250 grams melted butter
    500 grams potato starch
    3 tablespoons baking powder

    Sepearate the eggs, and beat the yolks and sugar thick and fluffy. Stir in cooled butter and sifted potato starch mixed with baking powder. Beat the egg whites stiff, and mix them carefully in with the rest. Let the batter rest for a few minutes. Set the batter on to the warm iron with a spoon, it will spread when warm. Bake the waffles and let them cool before storing.

    Note! I mix the seeds from 1 vanilla bean in with the sugar (or 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar).
    Note 2! You should not butter the waffle iron with dairy butter. Margarine is better.
    Note3! These are naturally gluten free, and if you chose dairy free butter, Dry Waffles are also lactose free.

    Good luck!


  5. Yes they are amazing – and durable. I’m going to visit the TSA folks at the local airport, but I have a hunch that as they are heavy and as such could be swung at anything with shattering 🙂 results, the TSA will give me thumbs down. So I may just have to order an electric one for my daughter. Better yet, I’ll send it to my granddaughter as a gift. 🙂


  6. I just checked the norsk links you sent me. As shipping from Norge is prohibitive, I found a company in the U.S. to order from. Thanks so much for your suggestions!


  7. I agree … sometimes we’re just too focused on “the issue” without being able to open our eyes a little wider and think more outside the box … we need others to “jog” our minds, I guess! 🙂


  8. As suggested above by blogger woolandgathering, I’m going to see about getting my daughter an electric krumkake jern … as krumkaker were always her favorite jern-made goodie! But your suggestion of giving them a gift certificate in advance is wonderful … then I can make them on the electric jern … if I can figure out how to use that “modern convenience!” 🙂


  9. I remember my grandmother would often make them and freeze in advance … I hadn’t thought of doing that. Thanks for the reminder! I don’t usually stress over anything Christmas related because that is not a holiday I am involved in besides participating in what my daughter has planned. (But I’ve hosted very relaxed and quite marvelous Thanksgiving dinners where everyone brings a favorite dish and all I have to do is bake the turkey! 🙂


  10. You make a good suggestion! My daughter likes the food I make with the jerns, but she doesn’t like the “mess” they create (the leaking butter/batter). So your suggestion of the electric version is great and well-taken. I will see if I can convince her … 🙂 Oh, I can’t remember mormor making tørre vafler; would you share your recipe with me?


  11. Susan says:

    Oh, those women were/are brilliant with all their suggestions. Funny how we sometimes cannot see the forest for the trees/or the solution for the dilemma! Funny also how things skip around in families. Those are wonderful tools of the trade………C O O K I E S!!!


  12. Deb says:

    I am not sure if you do gifts for holidays , but I would see if I could find one of the irons on line and send it as a present to your daughter ,or perhaps a grandchild, in advance with a gift certificate for “60 fresh baked cookies”. Then the next year find another item from your family history that you can buy and do the same thing. Start a tradition while also making your style of cookware available when you reach your daughter’s house. This type of gift giving may also get passed down through the generations.


  13. I think I could ship at least one down, but then I’d have to ship it back and that gets pricey. My daughter is not a cook and I shudder to think of my jerner out in the garage for the rest of the year! Now the train is a great idea and, in fact, initially I planned on taking the train! But I had an unused airline ticket that was close to expiring so I was forced to buy a plane ticket.


  14. What a great idea! But I want to use MY jerner. (I don’t know the emoticon for a pout.) My grandmother and I picked them out together 30 years ago, and she taught my daughter how to use those specific irons back in her kitchen back in Flekkefjord. (This is where I’d put that emoticon again.) But it’s a good idea so I will mull it over! Thanks. 🙂


  15. Your idea to check with the TSA is brilliant! Though I’m flying out of Portland International 2 hours’ north, there’s a local airport here I can easily visit!


  16. salpal1 says:

    oh dear – that IS a dilemma. I can think of a few solutions, but they might not be what you want to do! First off, I would take them over to the airport and ask a TSA supervisor if you can bring them on board on your carry on. If he says yes, get him to write it down! Then go ahead and fly with them.

    If you only make these things for Christmas, are you open to leaving the irons at your daughter’s when you finally figure out how to get them there?

    Obviously, driving there in winter isn’t great, but are you likely to drive to her some other time of year? You could deliver them then, and have them there when you arrive next year. Which doesn’t solve the problem for this year…


  17. See if you can find one on ebay or somewhere and have it shipped to your daughter’s — for her to keep — and you to use! Good luck and enjoy!


  18. knotrune says:

    Love your Norwegian irons! Could you post them? Or is that too expensive and unreliable? What about trains? You could probably buy a new waffle iron for your daughter so she had one that you could use, then it would just be a matter of transporting the two more unusual ones.


  19. I think I would not take the risk of taking such precious things on a plane. I assume all those delicious things can only be enjoyed fresh? It might be time for a change of tradition (and I say that as a person who values Christmas as a family event full of traditions) Can you make something else for Christmas and all the delicious Norwegian things when they come and visit you?
    I had to change Christmas traditions last year and it was actually really lovely. And maybe one of the most relaxed Christmases I ever had (because there was only a very normal sized delicious meal rather than the usual constant eating where at least one family member is never present because busy in the kitchen – there was suddenly much more time to be enjoyed together and no worries about meeting certain expectations as lovely as they would have been.)


  20. You have the most wonderful traditional irons for xmas cooking! I have the waffle iron (vaffeljern) myself, but unfortunately no stove to use it on, so we use it on hiking trips, over the bonfire. Luckily there´s electrical tools on the marked. I´ve listed krumkakejern, gorojern and vaffeljern from a Norwegian store below. Put any of these on your xmas wish list, and cross your fingers:)
    Note! for xmas we use the waffle iron to make “Dry Waffles” (tørre vafler), you might find the recipe in your old “Husmorskolens Kokebok”… or; I´ll happily share it with you!


  21. No clever ideas, but a sincere admiration of those beautiful tools for cooking delicious treats. 🙂


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