Category Archives: 2016

The Ring Road of Iceland

In 2015  Nancy Jewett & Frieda Ellison- two senior, retired women – spent three weeks on a self-driving tour of Iceland. At the Saturday,  March 18, 2017 Nordic Lodge monthly meeting they will share their adventures with those present.  They will tell us tales of whale watching, hiking to see Puffins, horseback riding, kayaking, participating in walking tours, and of general sightseeing. We’ll also hear about the geography and the history of the Ring Road, which was of special interest to them.  (This program was originally scheduled for October 2016 but had to be cancelled due to bad weather.)

All those interested are welcome to attend.  10am, at the Nordic Hall.

Holiday baking – it’s time to start!

And to help you get started, the Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge isberlinerkransermatprat offering a couple of baking classes. On November 30th,  Berlinerkranser and pepperkaker – Norwegian Christmas cookie favorites — will be on the menu, and on December 15th,  Æbleskiver – Danish pancake puffs or balls!
December 15th class has been cancelled.

Those attending will participate in the making of these favorites, get to taste a few and get to take a few home,   but the majority of the cookies that are baked will be frozen and served at the Lodge Julefest, which will take place on December 10th.

A reservation is required to attend one of these classes and a donation of $5  requested. Classes will start at 1:00 pm.

Call Ingri at 360-678-4889 to let her know you want to come
or email her at .

Image is from Arctic Grub website – a great place for recipes  and stories!

Lutefisk: A Strange and Beloved Tradition

lutefisk_junkie_mugWhether you love it or you hate it, lutefisk is a closely held tradition among Scandinavian- Americans. A wintertime rite of passage among many Sons of Norway lodges, lutefisk dinners remain a popular and important means of connecting with Nordic culture and heritage. But how did something as bizarre as fish treated with lye become such a cultural icon? Read on to learn more about this notorious Scandinavian food.

Unknown Origins
While no one is certain how or where lutefisk originated—whether in Sweden or Norway— there are a couple of legends regarding its creation. The first suggests that early Viking fishermen hung their cod, an invaluable source of protein for the winter months, to dry on tall birch racks. In a skirmish with neighboring Vikings, the racks of fish were burned but a rainstorm blew in and doused the fire. Left to soak in rainwater and birch ash for months, the reconstituted fish was later discovered by some hungry Vikings who ate it. The second less plausible tale of lutefisk’s origins describes a lye-poisoning attempt on Viking raiders by St. Patrick in Ireland. According to legend, St. Patrick served the raiders lye-soaked fish in the hopes of dispatching them, however the raiders enjoyed the fish and beheld it as a delicacy. Although an entertaining story, the lifetime of St. Patrick precedes known Viking activity in Ireland by more than three centuries.

What is known is that lutefisk gained its popularity in the U.S. after a sharp increase in Scandinavian immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Originally a food born out of poverty, descendants of immigrants now view it as a connection to their ancestors and their heritage. “These dinners represent important traditions in both families and communities, and for some, they are a valued connection to culture and heritage. While the food tradition certainly originated in Scandinavia, the immigrant communities—especially their churches and cultural heritage lodges—have played a major role in developing the phenomenon of lutefisk dinners,” says Carrie Roy, a Scandinavian cultural scholar and reator of the short documentary ‘Where the Sacred Meets the Quivering Profane: Exploring the public and Private Spheres of Lutefisk.’

How it’s Made
Modern lutefisk begins its journey from sea to plate as a whitefish, typically cod. Dried and reconstituted in lye brine, the fish is later soaked to remove the causticity and packaged for purchase. Cooked until a seemingly impossible combination of gelatinous and flaky, lutefisk is typically served with butter or cream sauce.

Facts about Lutefisk.

  • The state of Wisconsin exempts lutefisk from classification as a toxic substance in its laws regulating workplace safety
  • Much of the lutefisk sold by Olsen Fish Company comes from Ålesund, Norway.
  • Sterling silver should never be used in the preparation or eating of lutefisk as it will stain the silver.
  • Left overnight, residual residue from lutefisk preparation is nearly impossible to remove.
  • The self-proclaimed “lutefisk capital of the world” is in Madison, MN, home to fiberglass codfish, Lou T. Fisk.
  • While more common in Scandinavian-American communities, lutefisk is experiencing a resurgence among restaurants and catering companies in Norway, up 72 percent from 2005 to 2007.
  • The first written preparation of lutefisk in literature is in the writings of Olaus Magnus in 1555. In his writings, Olaus notes that it should be served with salted butter.

This article was taken from the Sons of Norway Newsletter Service. Learn more about Sons of Norway by visiting them on the web at

The Nordic American Voices Oral History Initiative

Nordic American Voices2At the monthly meeting of the Nordic Lodge on September 17th,  Gordon Strand and Mari-Ann Kind Jackson, from the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, will talk about the Museum’s ongoing Nordic American Voices Oral History Initiative.
The primary focus of Nordic American Voices is to record, using high definition camcorders, the life stories of Nordic American immigrants and their ancestors in the Pacific Northwest. Individuals with stories of WWII experiences in the Nordic countries are also sought out.  To date, more than 550 interviews have been recorded, transcribed, and entered into a searchable database in the Museum’s permanent collection for research.

One book, Voices of Ballard and Beyond, and two documentaries, Under the Clouds of War – Growing up in Occupied Denmark & Norway, and This is my Childhood – Finland at War,  based on the stories graciously shared,  have been published so far. More are certainly to come.

All interested in hearing more about this exciting oral history initiative are welcome to attend the September Nordic Lodge meeting!  10:00 a.m., at the Nordic Hall.

Syttende Mai! Hipp, Hipp, Hurra!

jsw_img_0469One again this year thousands of people will line the streets in Ballard on May 17th to watch more than 100 groups – including marching bands, Norwegian-American lodges, drill team, classic cars and much more —  participate in the annual  Syttende Mai parade. It’s an impressive celebration!

Seattle’s first Seventeenth of May celebrationjsw_img_0418 took place in Seattle in May 1889, before Washington became a state in November and before the Great Seattle Fire in June.   More about the history of Syttende Mai may be found at

For more information on this year’s parade and other celebratory activities in Ballard visit

Other U.S. cities that celebrate in a similar major way include Brooklyn, New York, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Stoughton, Wisconsin.

“Hipp, Hipp, Hurra!

A Scandinavian Immigrant Story

skipping stones cover

Scandinavian mass migration, World War I, influenza epidemic, Great Depression, dust bowl, and World War II create the wide-angle sweep for Skipping Stones : a story of finding home written by local author Gloria Koll.  The novel is about Kari, a brave young woman who travels on her own from Norway to 1880s Dakota Territory to make a life for herself.

On Saturday, April 16th, Gloria will talk about her book aGloria Koll authort the Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge.  She will alternate her reading of stories from the book with American vocal & harp tunes performed by Claudia Walker. The program will last about one hour.

This novel will brighten discussions among readers young and old  who like well-told stories about women helping women, dissimilar Claudia Walker harpmarriages, mothers and sons, big, energetic families, American landscape, and men and women making it through hard times.

The program will start following a short business meeting of the Lodge which will begin at 10:00 a.m. The public is welcome. Refreshments will be served and donations  are welcome as well.

Scandinavian Flat Plain Carving Demonstration

carvingsThere are many styles of  woodcarving, some of which are Relief, Native American, Caricatures, Realistic in Humans, Birds and Animals, as well as Scandinavian.
On Thursday,  April 21st beginning at 1pm at the Nordic Hall just south of Coupeville, local carvers Dick Weber, Phil Kempbell and Chris Eliassen  will discuss and demonstrate the style of carving known as Scandinavian Flat Plain Figure Carving. All have taken classes from Harley Refsal, a nationally known flat plain carver from Decorah Iowa.  In small groups, there will be opportunity for attendees to observe the process by which the three of them, working on the same flat plain figure, approach and achieve the finished product. Time may not permit them to complete this carving, but there will be examples of completed works for visitors to look at.  The public is welcome at this event.  A donation of $5 will be appreciated from those attending who are not members of the Lodge.