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Food Preparation the Scandinavian Way

The following is from my mum's mother, who emigrated from Denmark in the early 20th century, with her parents and siblings. 

I am told that as WWI was raging, most households were given cookbooks to help, not only with the austerity but immigrants to the locally available ingredients.  Our cookbook was titled, "War Time Cookery", published in November 1917. 

My mum tells me that my grandmother enjoyed cornbread, which they had not really had in Denmark. Here is the 'recipe' in the 1917 vernacular - not 21st century - all punctuation original.

Corn Bread

Two cupfuls corn meal, one cupful wheat,

One cupful sour milk, one cupful sweet,

One good egg that you will beat,

Half a cupful molasses too,

Half a cupful sugar thereto;

With one spoonful of butter new,

Salt and soda, each a spoon,

Mix up quickly and bake it soon.

Then you will have Corn bread you'll meet,

It will make your boy's eyes shine,

If he's like that boy of mine.

If you have a dozen boys

To increase your household joys,

Double then this rule you should,

And you'll have two Corn cakes good.

When you've nothing nice for tea,

This is the very best will be,

All the men that I have seen

Say it is of all cakes queen

Good enough for any king

That a husband home can bring,

Warming up the human stove,

Cheering up the hearts you love,

Only "Tyndell" can explain,

The links between corn bread and brain.

Get a husband what he likes,

And save a hundred household strikes.   

I don't know who Tyndell would have been referring to if anyone can enlighten me as they seem someone who would have been commonly known in 1917.

[Do YOU know who Tyndell is? Let us know via email at!]

My father's parents were from southern Norway, very, very close to the Sweden border.  In fact, at times in history, part of the farm WAS in Sweden.  My mother was from Swedish and Danish parents, so I actually did grow up with a fair bit of Scandinavian meals. 

One that stands out particularly is a traditional Norwegian breakfast, Rice Pudding. 

Norwegian  Rice Pudding differs from what may be considered normal, in that it is made from leftover, cooked rice and uses gelatine instead of eggs.  This was normal breakfast fare to me and so, years later, when I was sharing an apartment with my friend whose father was Cantonese from Hong Kong and a German mother, we both learned about cultural differences with similar food. 

My friend would cook a large pot of rice every night for her supper and then throw out all the leftovers.  I could not bear it and so asked her if I could have the leftovers for myself.  She was horrified to discover that I would make this rice pudding FOR BREAKFAST!!! 

This was a great sacrilege to her and I was mystified... didn't everyone have rice pudding for breakfast? 

I grew up on a dairy farm, and we had access to really good milk.  We always had two kinds of cream and two kinds of milk.  We would use the separator and get our multi-purpose cream, with the resulting milk being for drinking.  Otherwise, we would leave the milk in a large glass jar to sit until it separated. 

We would skim off the thick cream for desserts and pour over the rice pudding in our individual bowls.  The cream-laden milk, from hand-separating, went into our 'breakfast' pitcher to go on cereal and to cook rice pudding.  

Norwegian Rice Pudding

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 2 envelopes gelatine

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 cup milk

  • 1 1/2 cup cooked white rice

  • 2 tsp vanilla

  • 1/2 cup raisins

  • 1 cup top cream

In a saucepan, heat water, gelatine, sugar and salt. Stir constantly until gelatine is dissolved. Stir in milk, rice, vanilla and raisins. 

Take the pan off the heat and stir occasionally whilst it thickens.  This takes a few minutes, and we set the table and put homemade bread in the toaster while stirring.  

To complete this meal, you put a slice of cheese on your slice of toast.   

Norwegians don't waste bread by putting a second slice on top!  Mum had to be begged to make two-slice sandwiches for school as the other kids laughed at us with our 'sandwiches' being a single slice with a bit of wax paper separating the 'two sandwiches'. 

Luckily, by the time I came along, Mum was making them with two slices of bread, but always with homemade bread, which fills you like no Wonderbread ever could.  My dad could never resist commenting on the wastefulness of two slices and, to this day, I more often than not, still eat open-faced smørrebrød. 

Submitted by Tyra Grovet, AWI

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