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.

Nordic Lodge member will be the featured artist in the UUCWI Gallery of Art in March & April


Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge member Lisbeth Harrje will be the featured artist at the UUCWI Gallery of Art in Freeland during the months of March & April.

Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, Lisbeth Harrje moved to the U.S. in 1967.  Living twenty-three years on the East Coast, Lisbeth pursued a career in nursing, taught Danish, and devoted herself to raising her family. In 1990, she moved to Whidbey Island where the natural beauty of the Puget Sound quickly captured her heart.  This has been home ever since.

Lisbeth says that music and art have fascinated and captivated her as far back as she can remember.  This exhibit features her img_2583
portrait paintings done in pastel & pencil.  She paints mostly from photographs, but sometimes from img_25841memory.  In her portraits she aims to define the nuances in a face, looking for elements of expression that fascinate and engage her.  She especially loves the faces of children and the elderly, finding that “painting children is like capturing a whiff of innocence in danger of slipping away” and “painting older people is like being invited into the journey of the life they have lived.”

Lisbeth’s artwork has found homes in Europe, across the States, and a few are even here on Whidbey Island.

The opening reception for Soft Impressions: Portraits in Pastel & Pencil will be held Sunday, March 5, 2017 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm.  Anyone interested in viewing Lisbeth’s work is welcome to attend.

UUCWI  is located approximately 2 miles north of Freeland at 20103 State Route 525 – on the west side of the highway. The gallery is located in the building’s entrance foyer. There are no regular gallery hours but artwork can be viewed by those attending events and meetings in the building. Phone 360-221-2189 for possible special arrangements.

The New Nordic Heritage Museum


On February 18th  Erik Pihl, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard,  will  speak at the Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge about the Museum’s new building,  scheduled to be completed  in 2018. Erik is seeking to hear and learn how the Nordic Heritage Museum might best benefit our community.

The modern 57,000 sq. ft museum and cultural center will be located in the heart of Ballard. The design is organized around a linear “fjord” that weaves together stories of homeland and the Nordic American experience. Bridges crossing the fjord intensify the experience of migration, connecting Nordic and Nordic American exhibits. A vertically-striated zinc skin will wrap the building exterior; inside, fjord walls will be composed of faceted white planes evoking its glacial origins. Along with the core exhibition galleries, active social areas – cafe, store, auditorium and classrooms – will expand the Museum’s capabilities and audiences.  More about the new museum may be found on their website at

Anyone interested in this program is welcome to attend.
10:00 a.m. Nordic Hall, 63 Jacobs Rd., Coupeville.


Nordic Book Discussion Group selects its reading adventures for 2017

The Nordic Book Discussion Group reading list for the coming year includes a wide range of subject matter, both fictional and non-fictional, and all selections have either a Nordic/Scandinavian theme or author.  Fictional stories take in Norway, Denmark, Iceland, United States, and Sweden.  One of these finds us in the far north of Norway – home to the indigenous Sami people.    Authors include some well known to us, such as Ivan Doig, Neil Gaiman, Vilhelm Moberg, and Per Petterson, and some who, though not as well known, are very well reviewed.

The Nordic Book Discussion group meets the second Thursday of the month September to June at the Nordic Hall in Coupeville, 1:30-3:00 pm. If you are interested in joining their adventures this year, please contact them at for more information and also visit  our Activities web page.

Finnish Choral Society of Seattle and the Evergreen Livakat Kantele perform at Whidbey’s Nordic Hall

At the January 21st monthly meeting of the Whidbey Island Nordic  Lodge,  the Finnish Choral Society of Seattle along with the Evergreen Kantele Group  performed a concert of Finnish music to delighted listeners.

jse_img_0606The Finnish Choral Society is one of the few choirs that still preserves traditional Finnish language choir music in the USA. The roots date back to 1964, when a choir named “Kaleva Korus” was started. The choir eventually merged with the West Coast Singers’ Seattle Chapter in the mid 1970’s and the name Finnish Choral Society was established around 1980. The choir’s current director ijse_img_0610s Dr. Heather McLaughlin-Garbes.   The choir sings mostly Finnish choral numbers —  folk, patriotic, humorous, sacred, and secular.

The Choral group opened the program in Whidbey’s Nordic Hall  with Finlandia, music composed in 1899 by well known composer Jean Sibelius. Finlandia is, perhaps, Sibelious’s most widely known composition.  
js46_img_0616-2Performing with the Finnish Choral Society was the Evergreen Kantele,  a Northwestern musical group playing the Finnish traditional instrument the Kantele.

Finland celebrates the 100th anniversary of its independence in 2017, and this concert opened  a year of celebration for  Finnish Choral Society of Seattle. For more about this and more of the music they performed at this concert, click here.

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