Last weekend we gathered in ASI's museum for a cookbook signing with author Pat Sinclair. After Pat signed my book I admired a table of fika treats prepared using recipes from Sinclair's latest volume, Scandinavian Classic Baking. I filled a cup of coffee and sat devouring Swedish apple cake, Norwegian Toscakake, and (my favorite) Strawberry Cream Cake. The Strawberry Cream cake is a layering of cake, whipped cream and cream cheese, and fresh strawberries. After our long winter, this cake reminded me that Midsommar will be here before we know it and the strawberry cake will be on my menu.
As I sipped and ate, I chatted with an older woman named Jean. A stunning blonde, 89 year old Jean told me about her life growing up in Minneapolis, and that her father was a home designer. In fact, one of his designs was featured in Sunday's StarTribune. The gorgeous Kenwood mansion housed the Donaldson family. Jean's grandmother learned the seamstress trade working for a wealthy family in Sweden. In America, family members referred to this grandmother as "uppity" because she was so well groomed and worldly after working in affluent conditions.
Jean's mother was an excellent cook, she told me. I asked her what dish she missed most, expecting to hear about a special bread or dessert recipe. Instead, she spoke about a rutabaga-potato mash that her mother served with pork roast.
After listening to Jean's description of the mash, I understood why she longed for it still. Years ago we enjoyed a dinner with our Norwegian neighbors. They served one delicious course after another, but the only plate I can remember is the mashed rutabaga topped with melted butter, bacon drippings, and tiny little bacon pieces. I had three servings.