Sunday, September 27, 2009

No Cooking for Us Today!

Immediately after church this morning, we zipped out to the vehicle and jetted off to Medora, braving the ridonculously strong winds while maintaining a brisk pace because we had to get the girls to the Medora Community Center on time for them to sing. Badlands Ministries, which runs the summer Bible camps that our girls attend (remember?) at its site on the Little Missouri River south of Medora, holds an annual fundraiser dinner and auction each fall preceded by a community church service. The camp director asked the children's choir from our church to sing at this year's service, so we had to get the girls (and a couple other kids whom we gave a ride) there straightaway after Sunday school.

There were a few choir members who didn't make it, but the small group did a fine job. The music overall was terrific. The pianist played every hymn at an appropriately vibrant tempo (not the funereal dirge-like tempo preferred by so many church organists); and for her prelude and postlude, she played "old time" hymns and religious songs from memory, rolling her nimble fingers up and down the keyboard in dramatic glissandi and arpeggios that made me think she would be an ideal addition to an office party, stationed at an upright piano in the corner with a brandy snifter on top stuffed with greenbacks from appreciative partygoers.

Can you spot the Mobergs? (Hint: They're blondes.)

After church we got in line for the dinner that followed, admiring the Community Center's facilities as we waited (and thinking more and more that Medora might just make for an idea site for a family reunion the next time that it's our branch's turn to host--family, whaddya think?). We entered the de Mores Hall to enjoy chicken made by the men of First Lutheran Church in Beach. It was served with potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, buns, and ice cream cups for dessert. We were greasy-fingered and -faced little piggies, but it was a delicious meal. We didn't stay for the fundraising auction that followed, though, because we had to get back to Dickinson for our next meal--I mean, event.

Our Sons of Norway lodge served its annual lutefisk ["lye fish"] supper this afternoon/evening at the Elks Lodge in Dickinson. Faithful readers will recall that our attending last year's lutefisk supper is what prompted me to sign our family up for membership in the Sons of Norway (remember?). So this marks one year of membership for the Mobergs! I don't know how we got out of having to do any duties at this year's supper (e.g., serving, cleaning, refilling beverages), but we did.

However, Susan and the girls did volunteer to be part of the cultural skills demonstrations done at the membership booth throughout the event (so that attendees could see some of the cultural skills taught by the lodge and perhaps be enticed to sign up for membership themselves). At Norwegian camp this past summer (remember?), Susan and Suzanna learned to knit, and they have attended weekly cultural skills meetings ever since at which they learn new knitting skills progressively from a mentor (one of our lodge members who is truly multi-talented). Hillary and Abigail have attended those meetings intermittently, so they, too, know the basics of knitting.

Susan, however, has achieved special recognition for her knitting abilities. The Sons of Norway has a Cultural Skills Program with guidelines for how to demonstrate competency in several areas of Norwegian culture (e.g., cooking, needlework, woodwork, music), and Susan earned a pin for showing that she can do the knitting skills required for Level 1 of the Hand Knitting category (remember the afghan that she knitted for our nephew Davis?).

The round metal pin (made to look as though it has been rosemaled) is the indicator of participation in the Cultural Skills Program. Each cultural area has its own bar, and you see that Susan has one now for "Knitting." Under that is a bar indicating the level of achievement for that cultural skill, so under "Knitting" is a bar with one white line for Level 1. When she reaches Level 2, she will get another bar that has two white lines on it. Should she try another cultural area, she will get a bar with the name of that cultural skill on it and start hanging level bars underneath it; but they will all hang from this one round metal pin, forming perhaps a rather lengthy column of metal hanging from Susan's chest someday!

So the Moberg ladies spent some time at the membership booth, their knitting needles click-clacking away while patrons came in to eat lutefisk. When their time at the booth was up, we went in to eat. Before last year's supper, the girls had never eaten lutefisk, and Susan and I took perverse delight in keeping them in the dark and letting them experience "eating lutefisk" for themselves without any preconceptions to color their reactions. It was priceless (remember?). However, there can be only one "first time" with lutefisk, and the girls went in today knowing full well what they were in for.

They were willing to fulfill their ethnic duty to take some lutefisk along with the other items being served, but they were not about to repeat last year's mistake of assuming that lutefisk was real fish and, thus, leaving it for last to "enjoy" after all the potatoes and meatballs were already gone from their plates. This year they screwed their courage to the sticking place and faced the lutefisk head-on right away, pushing it down into their cups of melted butter to soak while they buttered their lefse. After a few minutes of marination, out came the lutefisk and into their mouths and down their hatches, and they were done and ready to start the real meal of cooked vegetables, boiled potatoes, meatballs and gravy, lefse, pickles and crudités, and riskrem ["rice cream"].

Cooked peas and carrots, boiled potatoes, meatballs in gravy, and . . . lutefisk!!

You know, it doesn't really look all that gross here, does it? Until you have to dig into that heap of gelatinous blobs and try to get some portion to stop wobbling long enough to stay on the spoon and then transport it precariously to your plate and find a spot to set it and watch it start to decompose and ooze into the nooks and crannies of your other food items, spreading like goo instead of sitting where you put it as a real chunk of fish ought to. That's when you know that something just ain't right about lutefisk.

Guess what Suzanna has stuffed into her cheeks?!

Their riskrem looks pretty good, but it really wasn't. We have had good riskrem (remember?), and this did not compare. The rice was undercooked, and the cream did not seem real. It was a nice thought, though. And the lefse was truly delicious (made just two days earlier by members of our lodge)!!

It was a busy day, but it was busy with fun activities. And we had two meals that others cooked for us, so we felt very pampered!


  1. Although the day was a bit rushed -- zipping from activity to activity -- it really was quite nice to eat others' cooking and attend some special events.

  2. Susan's pin reminds me of the pins we were given as children in Sunday School. We received a new one each year as we grew. One new bar was added to the next that were all displayed from the initial round pin.
    Congratulations on your achievement!

    I'll never let that fish get close to these lips ever...!!!