Swedish meatballs with slaw

Bits, Bites, and 1500 tiny Swedish Meatballs – Ingebretsen’s at the Food&Wine Experience 2015

Photo courtesy of MInnesota Monthly

The 2015 Minnesota Monthly Food&Wine Experience at Target Field.

Participants tasting curry

People at the Food&Wine Experience didn’t hesitate to try Ingebretsen’s offering of yellow pea coconut curry with fried lefse strips .

In a total of 8 hours over 2 days, the intrepid cook and servers behind the Ingebretsen’s table at the Minnesota Monthly Food & Wine Experience served 6,000 people a variety of foods, including 1500 Swedish meatballs and 186 cups of soup.

Guest sampled Swedish meatballs with orange zest and ginger on a bed of quick-pickled slaw, Nordic Cool smӧrgås, yellow pea coconut curry with crispy-fried lefse, and tempura-fried pickled herring with lingonberry hot sauce. (For recipes, click here.)

Patrice Johnson

Patrice Johnson developed the recipes for the Food&Wine event, cooked, served, and remained smiling throughout the process.

“The event was awesome,” said Patrice Johnson. “People lost their minds over the meatballs and herring!”  Patrice created the recipes and oversaw the preparation and service. “We had a steady stream of people coming to the table. It was a little slow at first when we were serving the tempura pickled herring, then the word got out that it was good. People started coming to the table asking, ‘Are you the herring table?’ and taking a sample.”

sliced veg

Vegetables ready for quick pickling.

Swedish meatballs with slaw

The end result: Swedish meatballs with ginger and orange on a bed of quick pickled vegetables

People who attend the Food & Wine Event are generally an adventurous lot when it comes to flavors and combinations, so only a few questioned why Asian influences were paired with Nordic foodstuffs. But adding new twists to old favorites is an idea as old as the Vikings, who made use of the foods they encountered on their raids and explorations.

A much more recent example is curried fishballs (fiskeboller), now considered a “comfort food” in Denmark. According to Danish chef and food writer Trine Hahnemann, an English curry blend was popularized in Denmark around 1935 and combined with classic meatballs and gravy. The varieties of meatballs expanded, including vegetarian versions with lentils and root vegetables starting in the 70s.

“When someone approached me with a ‘This doesn’t look like Scandinavian food’ comment, I reminded them that across Scandinavia, just as in the East Lake Street neighborhood where Ingebrestsen’s is located, we greet many new immigrant neighbors every single day. Taking old immigrant ingredients and updating them with new immigrant flavors honors both communities and tells a new story of immigration,” says Patrice.

zested oranges

Denuded oranges, after contributing their zest to the meatball mix.

But does one really need a reason for adding orange zest and ginger to the Ingebretsen’s Swedish meatball mix besides it’s tasty and fun to try?  Most people at the Food & Wine Experience weren’t concerned about the sociological implicatons of bahn-mi-inspired slaw with their meatballs. They simply enjoyed good food and great flavors and in the spirit of another great Minnesota food enthusiast, Andrew Zimmern, they were willing to try the new and unknown. We hope you’ll do the same.

yellow pea coconut curry

Yellow-pea coconut curry with crisp fried lefse

The Tiny Wish – Anja’s Adventures Continue

Anja's adventures continue with The Tiny Wish.

Anja’s adventures continue with The Tiny Wish.


Children’s literature has a rich tradition of stories of very tiny people looking at our world from a very different vantage point. Scandinavian authors have contributed some of the most beloved fairytales of this type. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, Thumbelina, and Children of the Forest all come to mind. Now there is The Tiny Wish to add to that list.

The Tiny Wish chronicles the summer adventures of Anja. Anja first appeared in The Christmas Wish, a story of an adventurous little girl who goes in search of Santa Claus. Along the way, she is helped by, and helps, Arctic animals as she travels the snowy far north.

Anja’s new adventures take place among green grass and moss and flowing streams. She is playing hide-and-seek, unsuccessfully, with her cousins. She wishes she were tiny so she wouldn’t be found so easily. Her wish is granted and Anja’s explorations of her familiar world, now filled with gigantic, meal-sized strawberries, and birds that can take your for a ride, are joyful and engaging.

Anja envied the  butterflies and birds as they swooped over the mountains and valleys.

Anja envied the butterflies and birds as they swooped over the mountains and valleys.

Lori explains the inspiration for the tale: “I became enamored of the idea of tiny worlds when I began to visit Norway almost 30 years ago and started hiking in the mossy forests there. I love to imagine exploring the lush microworlds of a patch of moss, or in the crack of a giant boulder. The idea of The Tiny Wish was born the summer after we started shooting The Christmas Wish; Anja was playing in her grandmother’s garden in Norway with a tiny doll that resembled her, and she put a leaf of lady’s mantle on the doll for a hat.”

The home of Anja’s Norwegian grandmother, Per Breiehagen’s mother, inspired the adventures in the story. Lori says, “The cousins in the book are Anja’s real cousins, and the horse is Per’s mom’s next-door-neighbor’s horse. We are so fortunate to have so many amazing resources like those and the architecture and landscapes that inspire these books.” Per’s photography showcases the beauty of the landscape without ever losing the importance of our heroine’s actions. This makes the story accessible to a wide age-range of children.

Every page shows Anja having an adventure, which engages children who can listen and follow a story line. But those of us who read to squirmy little people who have no patience for text can engage them by looking for details, such as the butterflies that appear throughout the book or finding the reindeer antlers mounted on the front of buildings.

Birds and squirrels play an important role in the story. Unlike Anja, who takes direction well according to her mother, the wildlife wasn’t as compliant.

“The squirrel was the most difficult animal to photograph. Per’s mother cuts bread, saves scraps and buys seed for the birds, squirrels and deer, so these animals visit her yard all day every day. Per had to be very patient with that young squirrel, even more so than with the birds, because the squirrel was skittish and fearful,” says Lori.

Anja and her mother share ideas for the book.

Lori and Anja working on the manuscript for The Tiny Wish at the family cabin in Raggsteindalen. Photo by Per Breiehagen.

Anja was more than a model for the pictures; she actively contributed to the creation of the story. When the family went on hikes to shoot for the book, mother and daughter took their own photographs alongside Per, and would reference those photos later as they worked on the story. While all of the adventures look like great fun if one could really become tiny, the one that appeals most to Anja is “flying on the bird’s back, because I would love to fly like a bird, and that is something I could never do in real life.”

If you’d like to meet the creative family behind The Tiny Wish, Anja, Lori, and Per will be at Ingebretsen’s this Saturday, February 14 from 1 to 3. If you would like a signed book, they will be available for purchase or you may bring a previously purchased book with an Ingebretsen’s receipt.

– Carstens Smith

Anja with her father explore the forest.

Per and Anja shooting ferns in the woods near Per’s mother’s home in Hallingdal, Norway. Photo by Lori Evert.

Sámi Day at Ingebretsen’s, a Twin Cities Tradition

Join us this coming Saturday, December 6, from 11 to 3.

Sámi Siida of North America is so thankful for Ingebretsen’s support over the years, including our annual winter gathering at their store right before the holidays!  This year, our focus will be on traditions.

Our special guest will be Marie Kvernmo from Sápmi. Marie, a member of the Sámi Jienat Choir, is a talented singer and will present a program on Yoik, the traditional vocal music expression of the Sámi. She will present her program at 11:30a.m.

Over the past year, Ingebretsen’s has participated in the tradition of duodji (traditional artistic handcrafts with a purpose) by hosting a variety of classes on Sámi mitten knitting by Laura Ricketts.  Throughout the day, duodji will be on display in the Ingebretsen’s classroom along with general information about Sámi culture. Authors’ Publisher books will be provided as door prizes. Kurt Seaberg’s calendars will be available for purchase, as well as other Sami themed items.

A sampling of the mittens knit during Laura Rickett's class.

A sampling of the mittens knit during Laura Rickett’s class.

We invite folks of all ages to come and visit. Buresboahtin! (Welcome!)

– Anessa Andersland, Community and Culture Representative

[The Sámi, are the indigenous people of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. This area is called Sápmi .Today, there are approximately 80,000 Sámi living in Sápmi.]

The many traditional patterns reflect a rich tradition.

The many traditional patterns reflect a rich tradition.

Smör, ost och sill bord (butter, cheese and herring table)

This post is courtesy of Patrice Johnson, friend of Ingebretsen’s and valued guest blogger.  Enjoy!

Patrice Johnson

Minnesota was once host to several smörgåsbord restaurants before 1970s trends changed the supper club and dining scene. Remember the Jolly Troll? I don’t remember the food or the buffet, but I do recall pressing my nose up against the glass to watch the animated trolls that served as the décor.

Smörgåsbord translates to “sandwich table” or “bread and butter table” and is the obese grandchild of a fashionable grandmother known as the brännvinsbord (the burning wine table or spirits table). In the 1700s the brännvinsbord was popular with wealthy Swedes who served the appetizer buffet before elaborate banquets. The table was laden with bread and butter, salted and cured fish, meat, cheese, beer and aquavit. Guests served themselves and stood as they ate, drank, and socialized.

During the 16th and 17th Centuries it became common to present all food to be served during the meal on the table upon eating commencement (not unlike what we refer to as service family style). The modern smörgåsbord spread from these customs during the 1880s when travel by train increased as did the need for lodging and public dining. Moreover, new methods in food preservation allowed an abundant feast where out-of-season delicacies appeared alongside seasonal specialties. The popularity of smörgåsbord grew until WWII when, due to food shortages, the government prohibited it. Reinstituted in 1949, several decades passed before the smörgåsbord was again a national activity.

Now that I am an adult I am a stickler for smörgåsbord tradition. There must be a first course table with what I call the big money items: assorted herring dishes, gravlax and poached salmon, shrimps, boiled potatoes with dill, cheese, pickles, bread and crispbread (knäckebröd), all washed down with beer and shots of aquavit. The second course table includes cold dishes such as cold cuts, sausages, ham, pâtés, and salad. The third course table is known as the hot course and often includes meatballs, seasonal roasts, and Jansson’s Temptation (a potato, onion, and sweet anchovy casserole also known as Janssons frestelse). Lingonberries and warm vegetables also make appearances. Beer and aquavit continue to flow until the final table is visited. The final course is a dessert table loaded with an assortment of pastries, cakes, puddings, cookies, fruits, and occasionally cheese. This is also the time for a sobering cup or two of coffee.

(A gentle word on behavior I’ve witnessed at local smörgåsbord events: there are rules to be followed. Please change your plate for each new course. Do not overlap courses. Do not load your plate. As I mentioned, I am a bit of a stickler.)

Brännvinsbord  is alive today in that first big money course of smörgåsbord. Often referred to as Smör Ost och Sill Bord (butter, cheese and herring table), this unique spread can make your next brunch or cocktail party fun and unique. An updated SOS table perfect for entertaining and adapts well to seasons.

Spring is coming, I promise, and my spring SOS table will include pickled asparagus and ramps, boiled eggs with lemon and chive mashed yolks and caviar-topped, at least two kinds of pickled herring, gravlax kissed with beets, dilled new potatoes and cucumber salad, cheese and accoutrements, and local beer and Gamle Ode aquavit. The focus of my spring SOS will be small pots of brandade to be spread on good rye bread. The promise of this meal has me powering through lent.

Think of brandade de morue as fish and chips Provencal. Brandade is a puree of reconstituted salted cod, potato, and aromatics. It is especially popular in regions where commercial salt cod is available, such as in the Mediterranean. Home-salted cod is a satisfying substitute, and happily this simple yet glamorous dish plays well with Scandinavian flavors.

Serve the pots hot with bread or crackers or spread the pâté uncooked over crostini, garnish with the almonds and herbs, bake 10 minutes, and then pass a serving tray among your cocktail party guests. For a less formal snack, roll chilled brandade into balls and coat with egg wash and bread crumbs, then fry.

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Brandade Recipe

Servings: 12


1 pound cod
1 cup Kosher salt if making your own salt cod.
4 cups almond milk
Zest from two lemons and one orange
Fresh cracked pepper
Three sprigs thyme or dill, plus more for garnish
1 small white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed but not minced
1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg plus more for garnish
1/2 to 3/4 pound russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 to 3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or cream
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice from half a lemon

¾ cup sliced almonds
1 lemon, seeded and cut into 12 pieces

1 orange, seeded and cut into 12 pieces

1. Cover fresh cod completely in salt and refrigerate 24 to 48 hours if making your own salt cod. Soak in clear water if using salt cod. Soak 24 to 48 hours in the refrigerator. Change the water 2 to 3 times.

2. Remove cod from refrigerator and rinse very well with cold water; pat dry with paper towels.

3. Add milk, zest, pepper, thyme or dill, onion, garlic, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg to bread loaf pan; place in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Add cod to hot milk and return to oven. Oven-poach fish for 10 to 12 minutes or until flaky and tender.

4. While cod poaches, cook potatoes in unseasoned water until tender; drain. Push cooled potatoes through ricer or food mill.

5. Remove cod from poaching liquid and cool. Remove any bones and skin; flake flesh as fine as possible.

6. Combine potatoes and cod; add eggs and mix well. Fold in olive oil and lemon juice.

7. Divide mixture evenly into 12 buttered ramekins. Garnish each ramekin with 1 tablespoon of almonds, thyme or dill, and nutmeg. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with lemon and orange wedges and thin slices of toasted bread.


–Patrice Johnson

Generations of Quality

The magnificent silver brooches you see women wearing with their bunads, the Norwegian national costumes, are called sølje. The dangling spoons were once thought to deflect evil from the wearer; they protected one from trolls and other dangers, especially in times of transition. It was a loving gift to babies and brides.

Round Sølje Brooch

Round Sølje Brooch

Elisabeth Sleire-Gjerde, silversmith and a representative of Silver of Norway, one of our sources for jewelry, will be at Ingebretsen’s on Thursday, March 20 from 10 am to 2 pm. We appreciate her coming to the store, especially because we can’t imagine leaving a home as lovely as she describes.

Elisabeth i bunad

Elisabeth says, “I am the fourth generation goldsmith, working together with my mom. We design and handcraft all of our design jewelry, in our workshop in Norway. I am 40-years old, have three children and married to my husband, Thomas. We live in the countryside, with a small mountain behind our house, and a beautiful fjord as our view from the house. My mom and dad have a house right next door to us.”

This idyllic setting surely must inspire Elisabeth and her mother as they design and craft sølje. She shared some background on making this traditional jewelry:

The other characteristic of sølje, besides the spoons, is the intricate silver filigree work. Filigree is thin silver treads combined together in different designs and techniques. A filigree worker may work with silversmiths, goldsmiths or in separate workshops.

In Norway, we associate filigree with the Sølje for the national costumes. However, filigree is also used in other jewelry, such as bracelets, necklaces and earrings. The technique has been used for thousands of years, especially in Asia and the Latin countries.

Filigree artisans need the ability of accuracy, the good touch and good vision. We consider our work important; we are protecting our inheritance ad our culture. A filigree worker should have good knowledge of the filigree history, and our nation’s history.

Elisabeth has much more to share about sølje. Please stop by and chat with her this Thursday and learn more about the rich heritage of Norwegian silversmithing.

Skål to Aquavit!

Subtitles were rarely brief in 1616. An early Danish cookbook was no exception. Simply named Cookbook, the subtitle told all: Containing A hundred useful pieces, Which are about brewing, baking, cooking, aquavit and mead to make, as is useful in householding & which before not in our Danish Language is issued in print.

The subtitle had more information about the book’s contents than it had advice on smoked meats, a staple in Nordic cuisine. For those, the author simply stated, “Salt food, smoked ham, meat, tongue, mutton, goose to cook surely everyone knows how to cook, thereof we will write nothing.” Nothing like a side dish of shame for the poor soul who wanted guidance on how to prepare mutton.

Aquavit, though, that was something different. Not only did aquavit merit its own chapter, the author listed 13 cures and healthful benefits one gained from it. I was intrigued by #4 on the list: “If a man loses his speech near death, then give him aquavit in his mouth, and he immediately speaks.” This statement seems to beg for a punch line. I will let you, gentle reader, supply that. But you must admit, if any substance could be so reviving, it is likely to be aquavit.

The benefit that really caught my interest was the last one on the list. “He who rubs the skin on his head and face with aquavit has always beautiful skin, strengthens the mind and brain.” I asked Patrice Johnson, food historian and writer, if she had heard of the wondrous cosmetic properties of aquavit. “No,” she said, “but my face sure turns red when I drink it.”

Patrice Johnson

Mike McCarron, creator of Gamle Ode Aquavit, also said he had never heard of using it as facial tonic, but he didn’t rule it out as a possibility. “Remember the whole idea behind aquavit being the water of life was that it was safer to drink than regular water, so I suppose that would extend into other uses of water like bathing and washing up.  At the very least it would create enough of a marketing angle that an earlier era salesman could create a market for the product…maybe better than snake oil,” he said.

Mike McCarron

Mike suggested sticking to tried and true uses of aquavit – drink it with friends and stay warm in the winter. To that end, he shared the following recipe:

Det Sista Ordet  (Swedish for “the last word”)

Det sista ordet

This cocktail is a Dill Aquavit variation on a classic cocktail from the 1920s.

  • 1 oz. Gamle Ode
  • .75 oz. Lime Juice
  • .75 oz. Chartreuse
  • .5 oz. Maraschino
  • .25 oz. Simple Syrup

Instructions: Shake over ice and strain.

Garnish with a lime wheel.

The Cookbook author did counsel moderation when drinking aquavit. The traditional small glasses certainly help with that. Over the centuries, many beautiful and creative aquavit glasses have been designed to let you enjoy your drink in moderation and with style.

Gene Tokheim of Tokheim Pottery has a contemporary aquavit glass using a very ancient form, the fjord horse. His wife Lucy told the story behind the cup’s creation, “Gene’s sculptural side was delighted with the horse head form that we spotted on a gorgeous ale bowl in the Vesterheim collection. Our version of the ale bowl with horse head handles was a big leap into the world of Scandinavian folk art which inspired our other applications with the horse head form.  One of the latest of these is our very small mug with fjord horse form as a handle, perfect for espresso or aquavit.”

The Tokhiem Pottery horse-head mug is rustic, fits nicely into your hand, and just seems right for sitting by a fire with friends, creating the sense of hygge that keeps Danes so happy all the time. For the aquavit drinker who wants to enjoy friends while dancing to techno, SagaForm designer Matz Borgström created a line of aquavit glasses called appropriately, “Club.” Modern, colorful, playful, the glasses are surprisingly hefty and well balanced. Borgström rounds out his career as a designer with being a Techno and House DJ and he clearly understands the need to keep your drink from toppling over, regardless of what is happening around you.

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The choice of aquavits and aquavit glasses are many. But the effect is always the same. I think the Cookbook author would be pleased that this centuries-old drink is still popular and it still brings people together, all with beautiful skin and strengthened minds and brains.

Accomplished Lady's Delight

For people who love historical cookbooks, please visit Gherkins and Tomatoes for many more resources.
For those of you who want a Danish cookbook that doesn’t assume that you already know how to cook a goose, we suggest Danish Touches.

–Carstens Smith

Munch: “The Scream” Resonates Even More Today

Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” is not the most famous painting in the world. That honor, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, goes to the “ Mona Lisa.” I won’t argue with the editors of the venerable compendium. They have a 246-year history of studying such things very carefully. But “The Scream” is gaining greater recognition in a world where we feel more like the distorted man on the bridge than the ever-serene La Gioconda.

Besides, “The Scream” makes a better finger puppet.


Ever since the Dadaist movement in the beginning of the 20th Century, mocking influential images has been a lively sport in the art world and popular culture. Munch is a favorite target.

I asked Mary Jo Thorsheim, owner of Norway Art and an authority on Munch, why “The Scream” is so popular. She explained Edvard Munch was a symbolist painter. “Symbolists looked at the inner mind and reached into our emotional landscape. The background in “The Scream” represents Munch’s state of mind,” says Mary Jo. “Munch doesn’t have the kind of appeal where people buy prints and have the image in their homes. But when the national exhibit was on tour, the lines at museums were out the door,” she says. The simple, powerful forms of Munch’s art speaks directly to our emotional selves.

Munch was reviled by critics in his own era. But Munch’s visual language is more easily read by people today. We live a life surrounded by icons and images. We understand Munch’s imagery.

Ingebretsen’s carries a variety of “The Scream” themed items. Many of these items are from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, a company that says on its web site, “…, we have discovered that people seem to really like the giants of our culture reduced to little finger puppets, mugs and witty jokes.” I asked one of the Guild’s Deep Thinkers (my title for him) Jay Stern why he thought “The Scream” was so popular.

The painting was stolen twice, after all.

Jay said, “As an iconic image, it’s taken on more and more weight over the years as it’s held up as the epitome of expressionistic imagery. And it’s also been an object of kitsch and fun, which has only made it more iconic and recognizable. As a result, “The Scream” has become a shorthand image of existential angst. It can be both horrifying and hilarious depending on the context.”

Think MacCaulay Culkin and Home Alone.

Munch’s life was a litany of loss. He endured the death of family members, the mental illness of a sister, isolation, depression, and substance abuse. “The Scream” represents his decades of grief and anxiety. But our era has adopted the image to express daily reactions to experiences such as traffic congestion, raising teenagers, and the pain of opening one’s wallet and parting with precious cash.

The Screaming Scream wallet is Jay Stern’s current favorite item. “Every time you open the wallet, you hear a different existential scream. Hilarious,” he says, “Plus the colors and patterns of the painting transfer nicely to the wallet design.”


I find “The Scream” coffee cup, permanently parked next to my computer, a particularly good friend. There are few things that cause me to feel so completely meaningless as realizing I’ve just spent an hour battling an operating system and am on the losing side. “The Scream,” the ultimate symbol of existential isolation, reminds me that I’m not alone.


How would Munch react to our use of his painting? I like to think that someone who suffered so much in his own life would be pleased that he has added some humor to ours. Or maybe he would just scream.

–Carstens Smith