Plenty to eat at Ole and Lena Days

Photo by Mike Lamb James Hendricks, left and Doug Anderson try some of the Norwegian sweets offered during Ole Lena Days inside Minnesota West Community and Technical College on Saturday.

GRANITE FALLS — Elaine Johnson of Sacred Heart knows what makes a good open face sandwich.

“We have open face sandwiches. And when you go to Norway to visit, that is what they serve you for lunch,” Johnson said. She was busy serving Norwegian foods during the Ole and Lena Days inside Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Granite Falls Saturday. She is a member of the Sons of Norway Lodge, which has been existence since 1972.

“My husband and I went to Hostfest this fall. That’s in Minot, North Dakota. That is everything Scandinavian that you can think of, and a Danish chef was there and he was explaining open face sandwiches,” Johnson said.

“He said it’s not truly an open face sandwich unless there is some kind of spread or butter over the entire top of that sandwich. Not one single spot can show the bread. Then you decorate with peppers, olives or cucumbers or other vegetables. That’s really popular in Norway.”

Ole and Lena Days is an annual week-long winter carnival sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce in Granite Falls. It started with the 33rd annual Kilowatt Open Youth Wrestling Tournament at Yellow Medicine East High School on Jan. 27. A medallion hunt was held Jan. 29 and a lutefisk buffet was held Friday inside Prairie’s Edge Casino. Lutefisk is a white fish that is aged or dried.

“A really good lutefisk has to be mushy,” Johnson said. “It can’t be like a soup. It has to be cooked just right. If it gets over done, then it gets yucky. If it’s done properly, it’s very good tasting. You pour butter over it and it’s nice and flaky.”

Another popular Norwegian dish is lefse. “Some people like lefse with just plain butter and some people like it with butter and some kind of sugar. And everybody has a family recipe, but everybody’s lefse tastes a little bit different. Lefse is a bread. Potatoes mixed with flour and it’s rolled real thin and fried on a griddle.”

The Lodge also displayed krumkake at Saturday’s food and craft sale.

“Those are the ones that are rolled like a cone. And if you are truly Scandinavian, you eat it plain. Otherwise, some people put whipped cream on it. We just tease the ones that do that,” said a laughing Johnson.

Rommegrot was also on the menu.

“When our kids were little, my husband would tell them it’s a hot ice cream, because that’s what it tastes like. Then you serve it with hot butter on top of it, sugar and cinnamon,” Johnson said.

“We have Norwegian waffles. Very tiny ones in shape of a heart that you put whipped cream on and linnaberry jam,” she said. “We have rice pudding over there. That has to have some kind of berry topping on it too. Scandinavian people are really big into berries. Putting berries on top of sweets.”

According to Johnson, there are about 75 people involved with the lodge.

“It’s mainly our parents or our uncles and aunts who started it back then (1972). We meet monthly and we usually have a really good program with each meeting,” Johnson said. “It seems like you don’t get interested in your in heritage until you get a little older, so I guess we are at the age.”