By Gini Rainey
It’s days like these that absolutely drive me crazy, living here in east Texas. One day the temperature is in the 30s and the next it’s in the 80s. This is no secret to any of you who know me, but I believe my body was meant to live where the temperature is cool all the time and where the humidity stays below 50%. That being said, today, looking out the window at the day, it’s very gray and gloomy and just shouts “comfort food!” But, the temp is in the mid 70s with humidity knocking on 70% and this girl, who is a member of the Secret Sweaters Society, can’t keep the secret any longer and is sweating like crazy!
So, what do I do to lower my body temperature? Well, looking at the cookbook that my sister gave me for Christmas helps a bit. “The Scandikitchen,” written by Brontë Aurell and published by Ryland Peters & Small in 2015, is filled with some wonderful recipes and photos of the homeland of my ancestors. I know that there are those of you who are reading this right now (my husband-the leader of that band) who wish we would just get on with the warm weather, but I feel totally cheated this winter because we didn’t have any snow or ice days. I seem to really thrive on that kind of weather – in the winter, but in the summer I can totally get my hot weather game in gear.
But, I digress! (what else is new?) This cookbook is absolutely lovely and I must say, I will definitely be trying some of the amazing recipes that are included. However, I do believe I will have to invest in a conversion chart because the measurements are all metric, and I was one of those who dug her heels in when the government was suggesting we embrace that system. Opening this book, though, I expected to find “10 ways to prepare lutefisk and like it!” Thank goodness I was totally disappointed, however there are some recipes using reindeer! (sorry Santa!) But! The amazing desserts absolutely grabbed my attention! They make full use of lingonberries, strawberries, apples, pears, cherries, and my all-time favorite, raspberries, (oh, and hazelnuts!). I know that I will be making some amazing desserts using these recipes.
I have to tell you that the intro to the Dinner Section is so representative – and myth busting – of this entire cookbook. I quote, in part, “Scandinavians are simple folk…of course, you can go out and eat expertly prepare New Nordic food made from foraged ingredients harvested by maidens in the moonlight – but, this is not what you will find in our kitchens at home. Here, you will find good food made with a lot of love and tradition that will fill your belly!”
So in that tradition, tonight I am preparing a bit of Beef Stew. I started by browning, in a Dutch oven and with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, one pound of bite-sized pieces of very lean beef, dredged in flour (left over beef roast works equally well). Then I added about 6 cups of water and one medium onion, chopped. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer, covered, for about 3 hours and then add 6 cubed medium potatoes and 3 sliced carrots. Bring back to a boil, add a cup of water and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the veggies are fork tender – about a half hour. Now, mix ¾ cups flour with 2 cups water (use a whisk or a covered bowl and shake like crazy!) and stir into the stew broth. Salt and pepper to taste (always taste what you are cooking along the way – just to be sure the blend of spices is correct) and serve with crackers or biscuits. Yum, yum, yum! Some good comfort food eating is going to be happening!