Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Mother's Kringlas

Every holiday season when I was growing up in Madelia, MN, my mother, Edith, would bake hundreds of Christmas cookies, scrolls, and kringlas--a Norwegian pastry twisted into figure eights and flavored with anise. She'd put the goodies in big round cookie tins and store them in the unheated porch off the dining room. The treats would carry us through Christmas and well into the winter.

It's been a long time since I've tasted my mother's pastries. Twenty years ago she hung up her apron, unable to follow the recipes or operate the oven. She was seventy-five. Since then, Mom has become less and less verbal, but she can be alert, follow a conversation, and communicate what she wants.

Although she doesn't say much, Mom's sweet tooth has not diminished. She loves pecan pie, chocolates, cookies, and ice cream. She may pick at the meat loaf, baked potato, and green beans at the Madelia nursing home, but she spoons up every last bit of her brownie.

As a special treat for her 95th birthday this week, I baked a batch of kringlas. I had tried in the past to make them from a recipe she wrote by hand in an old spiral notebook. The results looked like kringlas but were dry and tough.

Recently my sister sent me her recipe for Mom's kringlas (see below). This recipe said to chill the dough overnight before rolling it into ropes. Doh! I made another attempt, and this time the results were . . . well . . . surprisingly good.

I will never equal my mother's baking skills, nor attain her artistry in creating uniform figure eights, but my new kringlas have the taste and the texture I remember. I hope that the anise-flavored pastries will trigger some long dormant synapses in my gentle mother's brain.


Edith Bohan's Kringlas

1 cup sugar
2 Tbl butter
2 eggs
1 tsp anise 1 cup sour cream
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

Mix sugar, butter, beaten eggs and anise. Stir baking soda into the sour cream and add. Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Refrigerate overnight. Roll, rope fashion, cut in strips and fold in knot or figure 8. Bake until light brown at 375 degrees.

Note: Dough must be chilled well. Work with small amount at a time.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Luminary Loppet

As we were basking in the warmth of Mexico and thinking about our return to a Minnesota winter, we decided to not let the cold and snow keep us indoors. We would go outdoors and, by gosh, we'd enjoy it!!

True to our vow, five days after arriving home, Nancy and I clicked into our cross country skis for a lap around the frozen Lake of the Isles near downtown Minneapolis. We were part of the annual City of Lakes Luminary Loppet that draws thousands of participants into a crisp January evening. (The term loppet, Swedish for citizens’ race, refers to a recreational cross-country ski event popular in Scandinavia.)

Candles placed in nearly 500 small and large hollow ice blocks lined the 3-kilometer circuit. Bonfires blazed at select points where kids and adults could roast marshmallows and sip hot chocolate or apple cider. A one point there was a group of ice pillars with candles hanging inside. At another point, a five-foot ice pyramid glowed eerily atop the dark, silent, snowy lake.

Thanks to cell phones, our friends, Ann and George, who entered us in the event, found us in crowd and the dark. It was fun to join up with them and also pleasurable to be on our own, whizzing along, with only an occasional candle to show the path, trusting the ski tracks in a strange meditative state of consciousness.

We skied under a wedge of silvery moon and eyed Orion's Belt, a favorite sky-mark on our night walks on the beach of Isla Mujeres, now latitudes away.

It was a magical evening...perhaps the greatest magic being back in winter and enjoying it!