Monday, August 17, 2009

Sweet 16, Part III: Ethnic Festival

(If you have not already read "Sweet 16, Part I: Beautiful Music" and "Sweet 16, Part II: Enchanted Highway," please do so before reading this post.)

I had told Susan awhile ago that I would make her supper for our anniversary (last Friday)--but then the handbell concert at church got added to our calendar, and I knew we wouldn't be able to enjoy a leisurely meal at home beforehand. Therefore, I decided to prepare that anniversary supper for us the next night instead.

I usually prepare a Scandinavian-themed meal for supper each Saturday, but I felt free to make something non-Nordic this past weekend since we spent most of our day eating Northern European foods at the Northern Plains Ethnic Festival held at the Prairie Outpost Park in Dickinson. This was our first year attending that event. The local Sons of Norway lodge participates each year and asked us, as new members, to help out in several ways:

(1) Would we bring baked goods for the lodge to sell at the Norwegian food booth? Yes, we would. You may recall that Susan borrowed sandbakkel tins from another lodge member so that Susan and Suzanna could bake those cookies last weekend. Susan brought five dozen sandbakkeler to be sold at the ethnic food booth manned by the Sons of Norway.

(2) Would we be flag bearers during the opening ceremony? Yes, we would. Flags from each of the countries represented at the festival are brought into the Prairie Outpost Park's church building and displayed at the front. We Mobergs brought in the flags of Norway (Susan), Denmark (Suzanna), Finland (Abigail), Iceland (Hillary), and Sweden (moi).

The opening ceremony was held in the park's church building. Next to the American flag are the flags of the Ukraine, Germany, and the Czech Republic. On the other side are the flags of the five Scandinavian countries, brought in by our family.

At the end of the day, we were asked--after having spent five hours outside in the wind--to return to the church to pose. Somebody plans to use photos of us for publicity for next year's event. I'm so glad we were all looking our best . . . aargh!

(3) Would we teach Norwegian folk dancing as part of the day's entertainment? Yes, we would. We learned a few dances at Norwegian camp in June and taught them to others at a family reunion in July, so we figured we could do it again. Our time slot was 1:00-1:30 P.M. with the first few minutes eaten up by the removal of equipment from the entertainers before us and the last few minutes taken away by the early start of the next event . . . which was fine by us! People there were more interested in watching than participating, but the folk dances that we know require groups of people to perform. Two little kids jumped up to join us, and we convinced two other Sons of Norway members to participate. They plus the girls and I (Susan stayed at the microphone to give instructions for each dance) made for an awfully small group, and I can't imagine how uninteresting that must have been to watch. But we survived.

Between the opening ceremony and the folk dancing, we had several hours to sample a little bit at each of the ethnic food booths and to look around the various buildings that comprise the Prairie Outpost Park. We have been to that park several times before but never when the individual buildings have been open. It would be well worth a return trip! Some of the buildings housed festival-related events while others were just open for the day for viewing, and we looked in all of them. Volunteers were stationed in several to tell us about the history behind the buildings and to explain the artifacts inside and the time period represented therein.

For example, the volunteer in the Northern Pacific Railroad depot retired from a career on the railroad, so he knew what every piece of equipment had been used for and shared several stories about operating trains in the mountains of Montana. While we stood outside the pioneer house, a man in a golf cart drove up to us and told us that it had been his grandfather's home! A minute later, three women who had been neighbors of that man's grandfather approached us and joined in the conversation. Those four plus the tour guide inside the house told us a great deal that we never would have learned just from reading the placard posted near the sidewalk.

Susan and the girls pose on the steps outside the pioneer house.

While wandering around, we saw many friends, neighbors, and colleagues with whom we chatted between stops inside the park's many buildings. The visiting and the history lessons were bonuses of the day, but our main priority was to try the food at each of the ethnic food booths! (We even purchased their Northern Plains Ethnic Cookbook.) Here are the gustatory highlights:

  • Germans from Russia settled throughout southwest ND, and the group's food was served at the summer kitchen outside the stone house (which, by the way, housed humans at one end and horses at the other so that they all could share body heat . . . and, I'd imagine, odors!). We tried bratwürst (a tangy homemade sausage on a stick) and smutskuechle (a cinnamon-and-sugar-covered round of deep-fried dough).
  • At the Česka radnice ["Czech town hall"] we ate knudlova polivka (thin homemade noodles in chicken broth), rohliky (a warm dinner roll), and kolače (basically a rohliky with a sweetened poppy seed filling).
  • Scandinavian food was served at the stabbur ["storehouse"], and it included prepackaged delicacies as well as fløtekake (a white cake layered with fruit and whipped cream) by the slice and freshly made lefse (a soft flatbread made from potatoes) hot off the griddle. We didn't eat anything there, but we did buy two loaves of bread: Danish rugbrød ["rye bread"], a pumpernickel with caraway seeds; and Swedish limpa ["loaf"], a rye bread flavored with orange and anise. Oh, and one woman working there overheard Susan's telling someone else that she (Susan) has her mom's irons for making rosettes (thin cookies made by dipping decoratively shaped irons first in the batter and then into hot oil to deep-fry; the cookies are then sprinkled with sugar). The woman asked Susan if she has ever made rosettes (which Susan has not) and then offered to come to our house to help Susan whenever she's ready to try it for the first time. The woman gave us her name and told us where she lives so that we can find her in the phone book. How nice (and so typical of this region)!
  • From the kitchen of the Heritage Pavilion, we bought Ukrainian varenyky/pyrohy (flour dumplings), which were available filled with potato, cottage cheese, or sauerkraut ["pickled cabbage"] and were served with sour cream for dipping. We tried all three kinds.
  • I don't know why the Sons of Norway weren't sharing the Scandinavian booth, but they weren't. Instead they were set up in the general store and post office, where one could buy a sandbakkel or krumkake (both explained here) or a cup of søtsuppe ["sweet soup," a cold fruit soup] or some Hardanger lefse (soft flatbread made not from potatoes but from flour, flavored with cardamom and vanilla, and served with butter, cinnamon, and sugar). The Hardanger lefse had a different appearance from that which we had at Norwegian camp, so we tried some of that.

The Scandinavian flags were on display outdoors, too, near the entrance to the stabbur.

On our way back to the vehicle, I had the girls (left to right: Abigail, Suzanna, and Hillary) pose on the petrified wood display at the west side of the Prairie Outpost Park.

We returned home after the day's events ended around 2:00 P.M. Then I went shopping for groceries for our belated anniversary supper. The ladies did the laundry and other chores downstairs while I commandeered the kitchen to make pork Marsala with pasta and a side dish of sautéed vegetables.

I sliced a pork tenderloin into medallions that I flattened, breaded, and seared in olive oil. To the drippings I added butter, and I browned sliced portobello mushrooms, scallions, and garlic. I added Marsalla wine, vegetable stock, and crumbled bacon, thickening the sauce with flour. I tossed the pasta in the sauce and plated the pork atop the pasta, sprinkling the dish with chopped fresh parsley and grating a hunk of Parmesan cheese over everything.

I sautéed thin slices of zucchini, yellow squash, and carrot in olive oil and minced garlic. After just a couple minutes, I tossed in steamed peas and chopped fresh parsley for a simple, sweet, crunchy, delicious side dish. To complete the meal, Susan and I drank a tasty West Coast Riesling.

I have no photos of the dessert, but it was good, too. Left over from my birthday were a little bit of pound cake, some lemon pie filling, and half a lemon. In the fridge was a package of fresh blueberries. So I boiled the blueberries with the juice from the lemon, some white sugar, and some vanilla extract until the berries had released most of their juice and the sauce had begun to thicken. I refrigerated the sauce for a couple hours. When it was time to plate each dessert, I put a dollop of lemon custard on a slice of cake and drizzled blueberry sauce over it all. Easy and refreshing!

Saturday's supper concluded our two days of anniversary events. The busy weekend didn't slow down, though, until yesterday. After church Sunday morning, we ate brunch at the Elks Club. It was listed as part of the Northern Plains Ethnic Festival's weekend of events, but I can't tell what made it an "ethnic brunch" (as it was advertised). However, it was so-o-o-o delicious! They served a variety of pastries, warm caramel rolls, fresh fruit, English muffins, pancakes, French toast, hashbrowns, American fries, sausage, ham, scrambled eggs, and the tastiest egg bake I have had at a restaurant.

When we returned home, we got Susan and the girls packed into the vehicle, and I sent them on their way. They are spending this week at Detroit Lakes, MN with Susan's sister Cassie, her husband Nick, and their new baby Davis, who have flown up from their SC home to stay with Nick's family at Detroit Lakes. I remained here for work this week, but I'll join them all in Fargo this weekend for a family wedding at which I'll get to meet Davis myself. It has been awfully quiet around the house with everybody gone--quite an abrupt change after such an eventful week (my birthday, Abigail's birthday, our anniversary, and all the related activities)!

1 comment:

  1. I hope you're enjoying the quiet! It isn't terribly hot at the lake, but we're enjoying the time with Cassie, Nick, & Davis! We've been telling Davis that you'll join us in Fargo, so he's ready to meet Uncle Kevin :-)