Friday, December 24, 2010

It's here, it's here!

That was the cry of five-year-old Morgan as she reminded me first thing today that it's Christmas Eve. Colin, Lisa, Morgan and Kegan are with me for the holidays, and the children are a delight. It takes them a day to warm up to me but they are softening. Their Scandinavian heritage prevails not only in their oh-so-blond hair but in the gnome they treasure--it will go back to the North Pole with Santa tonight.. And for Christmas we'll have Norwegian hamburgers instead of turkey--fine with me because it's much easier than the traditional dinner.
I"ve had a Facebook discussion with Elizabeth about these. They are called kjotkaker in Norwegian (with that o with a slash through it). Usually we have them on Christmas Eve but this year we've elected to do them Christmas Day. They aren't necessarily a holiday dish, and I fix them at home sometimes. In fact, the recipe can be found in Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books ( but here it is:

Norwegian hamburgers

3-4 slices of onion

3 Tbsp. butter (do not use oil)

1½ lbs. extra-lean hamburger (extra-lean is important)

2 eggs

3 Tbsp. cornstarch or potato starch

½ tsp. pepper

Milk as needed

4-5 envelopes instant gravy mix, prepared as directed

2 beef bullion cubes

Sauté onion in butter. Mix hamburger, eggs, cornstarch and pepper. Add milk as needed; start with ¼ c. and add ¼ c. at a time, but DON’T let the meat mixture get soggy. The last time I made a double batch of these, they tended to fall apart while I was browning them. I bet my mom's trick of throwing a little instant tapioca into meatloaf would work here, too. Shape into patties and brown in same skillet as onions. Remove.

Make gravy in skillet, according to package directions. Add 2 bouillon cubes. When gravy thickens, return burgers and onions to pan and simmer 45 to 60 minutes.

Serve with white rice, egg noodles, or boiled potatoes. Peas, beets, or green beans are nice with this.

Lisa learned to make these from her mom, Torhild, who grew up in Norway, and I learned from Lisa. But I can't believe some sixty yearsa ago they had packaged dry gravy mix in Norway! If you use the packets, don't forget the bouillion cubes--they hide the packaged gravy taste nicely.

Elizbeth, here's your challenge: can you make them gluten- and dairy-free?

Tonight we have a busy agenda. After 5:00 church, we have to put out cookies and milk for Santa, reindeer food, porridge for the gnomes and treats for them. Quite a list of chores. And then of course we'll track Santa's progress across the sky.

May your Christmas be joyous!

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