Hyggekrog Sweet Hyggekrog

Remember the song Liza Doolittle sings in “My Fair Lady” –

“All I want is a room somewhere

Far away from the cold night air

With one enormous chair

Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly?”

Obviously Liza was into hygge because she was describing what is referred to as a Hyggekrog. This roughly translated as a nook.

Meik Wiking, author of “The Little Book of Hygge” says his hyggekrog is by the kitchen window. “It is the place in the room where you love to snuggle up in a blanket with a book and a cup of tea.”

Your hyggekrog doesn’t need to be fancy. Just a corner of a room, with a comfy chair or a few cushions, soft lighting and a warm blanket. Wiking says “Your hyggekrog does not need to be by the window, however, even though that is really hyggeligt.”

If you take a moment to think back to your childhood home you probably remember there was a chair that your parents or grandparents always say in – sometimes referred to as the “good chair.” They were practicing hygge before it was cool. Elementary classrooms often have a reading corner where kids can feel safe and comfortable. Bookstores, especially independent bookstores, may include big, soft chairs you can sit in and look at a book. Continue reading

Warming Up To Hygge

Hygge is often translated as cozy and at this time of year cozy equals warmth. The winters in Denmark, where hygge originated, are dark and cold so the creation of a warm environment is part of their lifestyle.

There are numerous ways to bring warmth into your home and life.


If your home has a fireplace it can not only provide the physical feeling of warmth but the sounds, scents, and sight of a fire can create a sense of coziness and calm. An outdoor fire pit can bring that warmth to a gathering of friends and family. If you don’t have a fireplace there are videos that can simulate the sight and sounds.

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What The Heck Is Hygge?

You have probably heard of “Hygge.” It has been discussed on various television programs, written about in magazines, newspapers, and blogs such as this. And there are dozens of books about hygge and how to find it in your own life.

Ingebretsen’s is proud that its store and history reflects the hygge lifestyle. In the next few weeks we will be posting about different aspects of hygge and giving you ideas how to incorporate it into your own life.

How Do You Say It Correctly?

To start with let’s get the pronunciation out of the way. When I first saw it I was pronouncing it as some derivative of hygiene; and while I’m sure hygiene helps especially when gathering with family and friends, that is not even close to how it is pronounced.

It is pronounced “HUE-guh.”

(Author’s note: it helps me to think of it as rhyming with booga as in the first part of boogaloo.)

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A Norwegian Tragedy That Spawned a French Wedding Tradition

Marie-Andree cover

A guest blog from Anne Gillespie Lewis:

A century ago, the Norwegian cargo ship, the SS Ymer, was torpedoed by a German submarine off a small French island during World War I. An alarm went out and a 12-man lifeboat crew from the fishing island of Ile d’Yeu, off the west coast, set out to find any survivors. They rescued seven of the Ymer’s crew and finally managed to reach the French shore after a harrowing three days and nights fighting snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures. Six of the 12 rescuers from the Paul Tourreil and several of the Norwegians from the Ymer died during those days.

The heroic rescue and the tragic loss of lives are still remembered on the island and a statue commemorating the event, donated by the government of Norway, stands in the center of the island’s port.  Over the years the statue became part of the island’s culture.  Marie-Andrée Taraud Sadrant, who grew up on the island, remembers it well. She is the focus of the book Marie-Andrée at Ten/Marie-Andrée à Dix Ans, by Anne Gillespie Lewis. The book, which tells the story of one year in her life, when she turned ten, is a series of imaginary letters written to a fictional pen pal. Her version of the story of the statue and its place in island culture is given in the two letters below:


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A Smashed hit – Raghavan Iyer talk and book signing this Saturday, Nov. 4.


Savory potato aebelskiver. Hasselback potatoes with cardamom and lemon butter. Lefse and ….well, that would be telling. That particular combination will be revealed this Saturday, November 4 when cookbook author, recipe developer, consultant, and a 2005 finalist for the James Beard Journalism award, Raghavan Iyer, will be at Ingebretsen’s for his cookbook, Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked., and Fried. Too! Raghavan’s previous, award-winning cookbooks, such as 660 Curries and The Turmeric Trail, focused on teaching North American cooks how to make Indian food. In Smashed, Raghavan puts his attention fully on the potato.

savory potato aebelskivers
Savory potato aebelskivers in the making.

When asked what inspired him to devote an entire cookbook to potatoes, Raghavan replied in an email, “It has been a passion of mine since my childhood days – I have never done a single subject book and this seemed like the perfect medium to test the waters and explore the cuisines of the world through the fourth largest crop in the world.” (In case you’re wondering, the top three are corn, wheat, and rice respectively, according to the USDA.)

2016.04.25 JBF BBJ awards

As part of his research for the book, Raghavan took a lefse class at Ingebretsen’s from Martha and Dave Dobratz. He said of that experience, “I have sampled many lefses through the 30-plus years I have been in Minnesota. Martha and Dave showed me the beauty of an extraordinary lefse. It should taste like potatoes and have the lacy-thin beauty of the flatbread; you should be able to see the light shine through a lefse.”

Smashed takes old favorites, then gives cooks  strikingly original variations on those recipes.  Raghavan explains his creative process this way:

“Often I will look around and see what are some of the things people are doing with a particular recipe. I then I twist them around dramatically to incorporate flavors and techniques that deliver some amazing results. Sometimes I will throw combinations together based on what I have lying around in my pantry and or fridge. I am all about flavors and so I do incorporate an element of that in all my recipes.”

hasselback potatoes with lemon and cardamom
Hasselback potatoes with lemon cardamom butter.

Raghavan wrote on how to extract 8 unique flavors from a single spice in 660 Curries, so his suggestions on how to get the most out of the already versatile potato will ibe plentiful and will inspire you to experiment.

Please join us this Saturday from 10 to 10:30 at the main store when Raghavan will speak on getting the most flavor out of your potato recipes, as well as guidelines for creating your own new flavor combinations. A book signing will follow from 10:30 to noon. Details here.

RI with spice



Lillunn – Quality, Warmth, and Happy Sheep. Trunk Show on Saturday, Nov. 4


A recent Ingebretsen’s customer said, “I’ll never have to buy another coat,” while admiring her new purchase of a Lillunn reindeer jacket. She’s right. Lillunn emphasizes quality and careful hands-on production from the sheep to the showroom. When told of this comment, Hanne Messerich, American representative of Lillunn said, “True, your customer won’t have to buy another coat. Though after ten years, she may need to brush it a little.”

Lillun uses wool only from producers who have Norwegian eco-certification for their sheep raising methods. This means strict guidelines on which chemicals can used on the sheep’s fleece (If you don’t happen to raise sheep yourself, you may not be aware that sheep are soaked in chemicals to minimize the parasites that can damage their fleece. Some of these chemicals are so strong that they have caused neurological damage to the farmers that sprayed their sheep.) The guidelines also specify that the sheep are pastured and allowed to move freely, and that shearing schedules are dictated by what is best for the sheep’s well-being, not by production schedules.

During the fleece into wool and the garment seaming is done in Norway, ensuring product quality and good working conditions.

Lillunn started as company committed to quality when it was founded in 1953 by Unn Søiland Dale, the knitting designer who created the Marius pattern. She was inspired by the deck blankets on Norwegian cruise ships such as Hurtigruten and began designing and manufacturing coats made from high-quality 100% Norwegian wool blankets. In the 1970s, she began collaborating with Berger Plaid, a blanket manufacturer, and she revived the polar bear and reindeer patterns that artist Thorolf Holmboe created for Hurtigruten in the 1920s. She used these patterns to make the signature coats most often associated with Lillunn.



Dale not only designed wonderful blankets and coats. She was also a knitwear manufacturer who paved the way for other women to become involved in large-scale clothing production and the first woman to be admitted for membership in Norway’s Industry Federation. Dale designed for Givenchy and Dior, but her own company focused on sportswear and heritage design blankets.


Lillunn is now owned and run by Norwegian designer, Elisabeth Stray Pedersen. She has an MA in fashion design at Oslo National Academy with specialization in local production and Norwegian wool. Her experience within the textile industry makes her the perfect person to take over and continue the production and heritage of Lillunn, with a modern take.


The traditional Lillunn designs, such as Marius blankets and reindeer coats are still part of their product line, with the addition of contemporary coats, jackets, shawls, and pocket scarves. The quality has remained the same and each coat is an investment that repays you with warmth and style for years, if not decades.

Hanne will be at Ingebretsen’s this Saturday, November 4, from 1 to 5, for a trunk show of Lillunn fashions. Take a close look at the coats and blankets, knowing that they were sourced from happy sheep and made with care. Who knows, maybe a coat will follow you home. Just remember to give it a brushing in 2027.


– Carstens Smith

Halloween in Scandinavia

October 31st is the eve of All Hallows Day (or All Saints Day). Prior to being significant to Christians, October 31st was the day for recognizing the coming of winter in the northern hemisphere. It was believed that all the evil spirits, goblins and imps ran away to the depths of the earth at midnight on Oct. 31 to escape the cold. (In the United States rather than the depths of earth we run to Florida and Arizona.) Much mischief was played by these evil spirits, goblins and imps on people for the hours leading up to midnight to make up for the cold months when they will be in hiding.


Store shelves in Norway ready for Halloween Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch

Halloween was virtually unknown in Norway before the late ‘90s. When the cartoon classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” was translated into Norwegian, the Great Pumpkin became the Old Man of Olsok. It’s not completely clear how the holiday started to catch on in Norway. Whatever the origins, Halloween in Norway is a lot like Halloween in the States, even if some of the finer points have gotten lost in the translation.

Instead of saying “trick or treat” in English when the door is answered, Norwegian kids say “knask eller knep” or “digg eller deng” which both mean about the same thing as the English phrase.

The traditional Norwegian children’s game of lommelykt i høstmørket has a lot in common with Halloween. It is a combination of hide-and-seek and a treasure-hunt played with flashlights in the darkness of fall nights. So one contemporary explanation of Halloween in Norway is that “it’s lommelykt i høstmørket with the addition of costumes and goodies, practiced in the evening of All Saint’s Day.”

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Dobratzes say good bye to teaching lefse and share expertise on Saturday, Oct. 21

Martha and Dave New England

For fourteen years, Dave and Martha Dobratz have been leading lefse classes at Ingebretsen’s. They’ve shared their hard-won knowledge, encouraged people to make mistakes (“We want to show how to fix the problems that are sure to happen when you’re on your own,” says Dave), and let people know that the “perfect lefse” is the one you like best. “Thick or thin, Russet potatoes or red, it’s personal taste,” says Martha.

The Dobratzes have retired from teaching cooking classes, but they graciously accepted the invitation to speak at Lutefisk & Lefse Day, Saturday, October 21, to share tips, techniques, their favorite recipe, and give assurance that you, too, can create lefse and memories for your family.

Martha was a young adult when her parents learned to make lefse, so it wasn’t a tradition passed on in childhood. However, the love of the process as well as the product took root. “Dave and I started attending a lefse party with friends. We all learned together at the party. We did that for about 20 years,” she says.

When Dave and Martha taught, they wanted their classes to be as enjoyable as the parties they attended. “Making lefse is a fun thing to do together. We wanted to recreate that atmosphere in the class,” says Dave. “The most gratifying thing about teaching was getting people to relax and talk and laugh together.”

Martha adds, “It was also gratifying seeing mothers, daughters, sisters, families, all coming to class together because they are intent on continuing the tradition.”

They admit that often when driving to class in rush hour traffic, tired from prepping the evening before and the day of work just completed, they wondered why they agreed to teach yet another class. “But, by the end we’d leave buoyed and high, happy that everyone had a good time,” laughs Martha.

Though there won’t be hands-on practice making lefse, you will have a good time listening to David and Martha discuss how to make lefse and to have fun while doing so. Dave previewed the talk with these words of wisdom: “It’s all about the delicate balance of flour and moisture.”

Find out how to achieve that delicate balance and join David and Martha this Saturday in the Classroom at the main store at 10:30. You will receive their favorite lefse recipe and notes. Questions are encouraged. The talk is free and no registration required.

If you have taken a class from the Dobratz’s, we hope you will  stop by and let them know about your successes (it’s OK to talk about the failures, too) making lefse and thank them for their work keeping the lefse griddles hot for another generation.

Dave and grandson
A Dobratz grandchild demonstrates his skills with the lefse stick.



Circus Juventas – Nordrsaga!

A post by our guest blogger, Kari Tauring, Nordic roots scholar, performer, and educator

Nordrsaga top pic
Photos courtesy of Circus Juventas

This past spring I was contacted by Circus Juventas and asked to lend my expertise in the myths and runes of the pre-Christian Nordic countries to their new summer show. I was quick to recommend Ingebretsen’s for unique catering and the organization Asafolk for Viking Era martial arts. We live in the center of a thriving Nordic ethnic enclave and resources are abundant! What a delight to get behind the scenes of such a production. The week before show opening my friend and colleague from Norway, Sonja Lidsheim and I presented Nordic songs and stories at the lunch hour. We sang in Old Norse, blew the birchbark lur and cow horn, and answered a barrage of questions from these talented youths who aimed to deepen their characterizations of these mythic entities. We gave the horn blessing at that time too. The first prayers in the horn were from Co-founder and Artistic Director Elizabeth “Betty” Butler whose first words were for the safety of these children as they push themselves to the limits of their ability. This set the tone for the opening night blessing as well.

icy image
Courtesy of Circus Juventas

It was a perfect summer evening outside the Big Top on opening night. Asafolk were sword fighting and ax throwing, venders were selling beers called Saga and Hell, and the crowd was swelling as we sang and staved Komme Alle, Come Everyone. We offered the earth gifts of water from this sacred land, geitost (brown goat cheese) from the land of Nordic peoples, and put it together with potato lefse, the inter-continental “glue”. Then we passed the blowing horn from hand to hand, a long cow horn in the key of D. Grandmothers and children, parents and supporters held the horn and whispered into the bell, prayers for safety and brilliance for these young performers. When the horn was full of good wishes, I blew them into the nine worlds with three blasts! Then we took our seats. My mother and son (who had taken a summer class at Circus Juventas in his youth) with his girlfriend were on one side of me and my fellow Nordic staff carrier Aneesa was on the other side with her daughter who had been part of this organization from the age of eight. Together we took in the spectacle that is Nordrsaga!

The first lines of the Eddaic poem Voluspa (the staff carriers prophesy) in Old Norse sets the context for the performance. In the beginning was only Ice and Fire and Ginungagap, the gaping void. It is my voice, but not mine – the old poem is chanted through the mist of time while young, glowing acrobats whirl up and down on silks that stream from the heavens. We were moved to tears by that first act. It was graceful, powerful, and connected to a deep Nordic root.

You can hear my voice again as the Norns, the three ancient fate women who give direction and advice, guiding the hero through the nine worlds. The story line connects a new character, Leif, to the god Thor and the hammer Mjolnir which he has once again lost. The hero must confront Frost Giants, Fire Giants, a host of Viking warriors, and prove his worth by rescuing the hammer. Protected by Freyja and Odin both, the hero learns more about his worth that he ever could have guessed.

firery image
Courtesy of Circus Juventas

The strength and stamina of these youths was simply amazing. For three hours, they twirled and tumbled, hung from the rafters and stilted across Midgard, holding one another up with feet, ribbons, sheer muscle, and an abundance of trust. If you have any knowlege of Norse myth you will easily recognize Freyja and her Valkyries, the Dwarves, Loki, Hela, the ice and fire giants. There is a nod to Tolkien as well when we are transported to Lothlórien the land of elves and an accompanying Finnish tune. The costuming and set design were brilliant and the whole thing was a whirling, magical, mind blower.

We all agreed that we should see the performance again. There is so much going on, so much to see, so much to experience, that it is impossible take it in all at once. Bring a stadium seat with you for comfort and a few extra dollars to spend on Ingebretsen’s kransekake bars being sold especially for this production and to support this amazing organization.

Circus Juventas was honored at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C. this past summer and seeing this production, you can surely understand why. As a mother who entrusted her child to this organization, as a participant in a new creation, and as a member of the community, I couldn’t be more proud of Circus Juventas. Best Summer Project Ever!

Nordrsaga runs every weekend through August 13. Tickets are available at: https://circusjuventas.ticketworks.com/

Kari on Medicine Lake


Ingebretsen’s is presenting Kari, who will be teaching her seasonally inspired Nordic root workshops at Norway House again this year. Her rune book and recordings are available at Ingebretsen’s.