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Planning a 50th wedding anniversary party for my Scandinavian parents - menu ideas?

My parents will celebrate their 50th anniversary in late September. Both have had major health issues this year and a couple of months ago it seemed highly unlikely there would be another anniversary to celebrate. My dad is a tough, 90-year-old Norwegian and has rallied again, so I need to get planning!

Here are some logistical details:

Party is on a Saturday (9/24), middle of the afternoon for a couple of hours so we can control the end time for my dad. We are using our church fellowship hall and kitchen, which is adequately equipped and large enough for our expected group. I am guessing 50-75 guests, probably 2/3 local extended family and the rest friends. Budget - nothing hard and fast set, would be happy to spend $1500-2000. No alcohol since my parents aren't drinkers and we are using the church.

My food goals are:
1) to serve some of my parents' Scandinavian favorites
2) have enough variety and flavors to please our guests
3) make it easy on myself (and my husband, who will help a lot and my brother who will want to help but will be mostly useless) so we can enjoy the day and our guests, and
4) to personally make at least a couple of the menu items

Right now, I am thinking of a smorgasbord type meal, with smorrbrod (small openfaced sandwiches in a variety of types), Swedish meatballs, cold meats and cheeses (gjetost, Jarlsberg, havarti, etc.) with crispbreads like Wasa and Kavli. Some kind of salad, cucumber seeming to be the most traditional. Then the sweets--lefse, kringler, not sure what else.

Please let me know your thoughts--what am I missing? Thanks in advance!

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  1. Several types of herring/fish. Beet salad? Overall, sounds very good, though most smorgasbords I've seen don't have made sandwiches. You are going the extra mile with those.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Joebob

      Oh yes, must have herring. My folks are pretty unadventurous eaters, even by Norwegian meat- and-potatoes standards. We will have guests who will enjoy the traditional foods like greasy, salty fish :-). Beet salad is another great suggestion.

      Today I was in Ballard (Seattle neighborhood with lots of Scandinavians, meaning good places to find traditional foods). I found a place that makes a variety of beautiful smorrebrod and will do party platters.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

      1. re: jlhinwa

        Hi, jlhinwa:

        Since you are in Ballard, you must have found Scandinavian Specialties on 15th. If so, you are in good hands! Make sure they include some Rullepølse, and be aware that Norwegians traditionally favor one kind, Danes another (I think of lamb). You might also consider an oxtail barley soup with traditional bulla (spoon dumplings); this would be a good DIY dish.

        Good on you for doing this for your parents.


        PS If either mom or dad likes fresh lingonberries in dishes, I may have a name and local phone # for you.

        1. re: kaleokahu

          Hi kaleokahu! I don't actually live in Ballard, but make the trek from Federal Way about once a month so my dad can get some of his favorite foods and then have lunch at the Lockspot. We used to go to Olsen's and were heartbroken when it closed last year. I can still smell that store in my mind. Sigh.

          Anyway, we found Scandinavian Specialties after Olsen's closed and I just have to say "where have they been all my life?!?" Oh my gosh, I LOVE that store. That is where we are getting the smorrbrod sandwiches and other savory items. We just have to narrow it down because they have so much to offer. They also seem quite accommodating. Thanks for the tip about the rullepolse. That is not something I recall our family eating, but it sounds and looks very good. The spoon dumplings just reminded me of a potato dumpling dish served with lamb that is a favorite of my dad's. It has been years since we've had it--I think it was pretty labor intensive and my mom gave up rigorous cooking years ago...after all, isn't that why she has me?!? I may have to try that one out; if not for the party, then for a special dinner for them.

          My dad adores lingonberries and will eat it anyway--it is the one type of jam we must always have in supply. I would absolutely love to have a name and # of a local contact if you have it.

          Thank you so much! You guys rock!

          1. re: jlhinwa

            For lingonberries, check with Lenning Farms in Mt. Vernon. www.lingonberry.com (360) 466-3675. Ask for Beverly.

            1. re: kaleokahu

              Thank you so much! I will be heading north in a couple of weeks (the new American Girl store beckons...oh the joy). I will definitely call and speak with Beverly. Thank you so much!

              1. re: jlhinwa

                IKEA carries lingonberry jam.
                Now, if you could find cloud berry or mylte, jam, that's a score!

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  I've seen cloud berry jam at the Ikea here in the DC area...

                  1. re: Jeserf

                    Where? We've got a son in Arlington. thanks. In Norway, if you know where a mylte patch is, you tell no one.

          2. re: kaleokahu

            Fresh lingonberries?! Would you share the name and number with one more? Lingonberries are the one Scandinavian food I've introduced my Portuguese blooded fella to that he goes crazy over. I keep thinking that I need to buy some bushes.

            1. re: Vetter

              Lingonberries of tyttebaer in Norwegian, grow wold in Maine.

              1. re: Passadumkeg

                That should read, Ligonberries or tyttebaer, grow wild in Maine.

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  Gotcha the first time. :-) Seriously? That is very cool.

      2. Gravlax with mustard sauce, ham (easy and will feed many...swedes do a fresh ham but glazed, not spiral cut, will feed many and be easy. Lingonberries. There is a great glazed ham (orange marmelade, mustard, brown sugar) recipe in the saveur cooks american cookbook. Potatoes either boiled new peeled or potato salad. Beets, cucumber salad with white vinegar, dill, a little sugar and white pepper. Brown beans (bruna bronor) with molasses. Marcus Samuelson's Aquavit cookbook has modern takes on some of the traditional dishes.

        Strawberry creme cake...lefse not being part of my Swedish tradition....Norwegian? Shrimp unless crawfish are easy...September not a crawfish month?

        Let people make their own sandwiches....

        Decorate with red tulips. garnish with sprigs of dill..

        I wish I could help you cook! If you are interested in a gravlax recipe let me know. Egullet had a great one posted that I adopted several years ago.

        Also...potato sausage. Swedes will sometimes have two passes on the smorgasbord...cold food then hot. We do not do that but mix it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ldubois2

          Thanks so much! I love the ideas. Lingonberries, for sure. Beets and cucumber salad also. And potatoes...hello?! I cannot forgot some form of potatoes. These are all great ideas, thank you so much!

          Potato sausage is something I've never tried, being warned off of it by my dad. (Again, not at all an adventurous eater!). My aunt used to make it for Christmas every year...think they called it "potato skarv?" I'll bet one of my cousins has her recipe.

          I would very much appreciate your recipe for gravlax. Thank you for the offer. I have never made it before but salmon is one of my favorite things to eat and living in the Pacific NW, we can always get good salmon. I would love to serve that.

          No lefse in Sweden? I had no idea that it was a Norwegian only thing. My dad is from Norway, my mom is Norwegian, Swedish & Danish so on her side of the family. the foods we ate were probably a mix (like the potatoe sausage).

          I just found a Danish bakery today that makes kransekakke (pastry with the tiered rings and flags). Their prices are great and the items I sampled today were very good. I think I will try to focus on doing lefse and doing it really well. Considering I have never made it before, I need to get busy!

            1. re: jlhinwa

              When I read your post the first time, I saw Scandinavian and thought Swedish...;)

              No, no lefse in Sweden. They do make Swedish pancakes, of course.

              Here is the recipe I use for gravlax. There are many good ones, but I like the simplicity of this one. The key is to turn it daily and press with a heavy object. I have a brick wrapped in foil that does the trick for me.

              Gravlax with a Mustard Sauce
              Serves 10 as Appetizeror 18 as Hors d'oeuvre.

              The Gravlax preparation

              for the salmon itself, I go to Costco and buy the huge slabs of raw salmon (which have no bones and no skin):

              one 2-3 lb. piece of fresh salmon filet (use the thickest part for this) divide into two equal pieces

              The Cure:
              1/2 cup of sugar
              1/2 cup of coarse, kosher salt
              1 large bunch of fresh dill (stems included)
              2 Tbsp freshly coarse ground black peppercorns
              4 Tbsp vodka

              Mix dry ingredients together and rub into the salmon (which is cut into two large slabs and , at the end of prep, put the two pieces "face to face")... douse with the vodka and put the fresh dill on top ... replace the second slab of salmon on top of the first after rubbing in the curing mixture ... then I cover tightly with saran wrap, a bit of foil, and wrap a brick in aluminum foil to weight it all down ...

              Cover tightly and place in back part of your refrigerator and let cure for 3-4 days... I turn and baste it with the accumulated juices once each day. .... after the curing, wash off the Gravlax with cool water, dry with paper towelling, slice thinly (use a very sharp knife so as not to crush the delicate fish)

              serve with the honey mustard dill sauce(on the side in a little bowl):

              1 Tbsp sweet, regular yellow mustard (i.e. French's)
              1 tsp dijon style mustard
              2 Tsp sugar (or honey works well, too)
              1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
              3/4 cup salad oil
              chopped fresh dill
              salt & pepper

              Mix all ingredients except for the oil and dill .... then whisk in oil in a steady stream ( making an emulsion... like mayonnaise ) ... when thickened, mix in the chopped fresh dill ....refrigerate and let flavors meld (can be done after the 3 days of curing)...

              To serve: I slice the salmon very thinly and place on a large decorative platter (black lacquer is a nice color to set off the salmon) .... serve garnished with lemon wedges, chopped red onion, capers, grape tomatoes (or sliced beefsteak tomatoes), more fresh dill sprigs for color, creme fraiche ...

              Hope you and your guests will enjoy it! Very simple ... 15 minutes prep and then let it sit for the 3-4 days .. slice and serve ... how simple is that for such a delectable and beautiful presentation?

              Hardly original, my first efforts were inspired by the preparation of Chef Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit in NYC ....(copied and adjusted from egullet.com)

          1. Thanks for the gravlax recipes, suburbanmom and ldubois2! I really appreciate your help.

            Oddly, my parents don't enjoy smoked salmon and my husband is a vegetarian, so that is something I've never really thought about preparing at home. My daughter and I both love to eat it, though. I am thinking we will have a wonderful time trying it out in advance of the party! I'll let you know how it turns out.

            1. It sounds as though you are in great shape with a place that makes smorrebrod and a place that makes kransekakke and other food ideas so I will not speak to food as such but just to general things I learned from catering my parents' 50th a few years back.

              1. You cannot make too many or too detailed lists, including everything you will be serving and a timeline of preparation and/or pickup and plans for storage, including fridge/freezer space.

              2. Confirm absolutely everything you have ordered not once but twice. First maybe a week before and again a day or two before. The one place I did not do that second confirmation my stuff was not ready.

              3. Delegate as much as you can, including designating people to stand by the door greeting arrivals, people to take coats if relevant, and so on. If you delegate anyone to pick things up, double-confirm that with them too, even if they think you are being a control freak. :)

              4. Think through if you want to put "no gifts" on your invitation or if you want people to bring old photos, etc. Then plan for some people to do something different as well as some to go along with the request and have someone who can cope with all of it so you don't have to.

              5. Consider hiring some help to pass stuff and fill stuff up and clean up along the way and at the end. I was on a pretty tight budget and that was money very well-spent that allowed me to enjoy the party too. If it applies, remember to tell them to speak up when addressing the honorees and others.

              6. If you are going to have speeches or anything like that, be sure to communicate the plan clearly to several people who can help with crowd direction and so on.

              7. Plan to do nothing whasoever the next day.

              8. Have fun -- you will be so glad you did it!!!

              2 Replies
              1. re: GretchenS

                Gretchen, thank you so much for the excellent suggestions! Many of the items you have suggested have not occured to me at all. Typically, I am a plan-ahead type person, but I hadn't even thought about some of your points so this will be invaluable to me in getting started! I am going to start list-making tomorrow and will get my brother and husband in on it with me, like it or not (they are more "fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants" types).

                My father has been so ill and sadly developed severe dementia about a year and a half ago. When his 90th birthday rolled around this past April, we were holding our breath to see if he was going to make it--his health was that fragile. There was no way we could even consider planning any type of party to mark the occasion and he was so disoriented and combative that it would have been hugely unpleasant even if his health was stable.

                For reasons I still don't understand, his health has stabilized nicely and his mental state is much better. He definitely has dementia, but it is a much more pleasant form these days and he isn't combative or unpleasant. He just happily repeats the same stories about 25 times in a visit. :-) My mom has her own physical and cognitive health issues but hey, it looks like they are going to make it to 50 years and be in decent enough shape to have a party, So we are going to have a party!

                Considering the fact that it seemed unlikely they would reach this milestone, I feel so very blessed that we are able to plan a party for them. I want it to be very special, but not over-taxing for them. And I also want to enjoy it myself...I want to be able to sit with them as they visit with guests and enjoy their special day. Good thing that #3 (delegating) is the one thing I am pretty good at!

                Thank you again! I am so very grateful to have this wonderful CH community to help me plan a special occasion for my folks.

                1. re: jlhinwa

                  It is so tough to go through all of that, I am so happy for you that you are now able to plan a celebration of such a joyous event! Have a wonderful time!

              2. These are non-traditional, but they're very easy to make for a crowd, and I think pretty evocative of the butter & almond glory of Scandinavian desserts. They're really reliable and positively delish. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                Ah, now you have me wanting to call my mom for all the cookie recipes she inherited from my dad's family matriarchs - mmmm cookies, glorious, beautiful cookies...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Vetter

                  Love that recipe, thanks! And you're right, the butter and almond paste definitely is well used and loved in Scandinavian baking.

                2. I recall seeing fried chicken on many a smorgasboard...might be an idea. But I love the smorrebrod buffet.......you can do SO much with that. If you need recipes for some of the classic smorrebrods, I can help you out with that: Fireman's Midnight Snack, Hans Christian Anderson's favorite bite (roast beef w/ leberpastej and jellied stock.)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mamachef

                    Hey MC, I would love the recipes, if you don't mind. I am really getting into the Scandinavian food theme am excited to try recipes out. I know I won't be able to do it all (not even close) and will have to choose what I do vs what we have catered, but it will be fun to experiment this summer. My dad is now living in an adult family home as of a couple of months ago and it looks like he will be staying there. He is getting much better care than we were able to provide here at home, but I have days where I feel very sad about not having him here with us and not cooking for him. I make him favorite foods fairly often and take them over so this will help me expand my repertoire of Scandinavian cooking, too. (I have really never embraced Scandinavian foods except the desserts. I am certain there is an inner Italian or Spaniard in me just screaming to get out.).

                    It is funny to see what he remembers (or not) given his advanced dementia symptoms. He apparently remembered that I don't care for potato lefse and have never been interested in eating it or making it. When I told him that I was going to learn to make it and would be practicing just for them this summer, he let out a full-on belly laugh. :-)

                    1. re: mamachef

                      Sure, will get them to you before end of Thursday. Also downthread I saw Pdk's suggestion for the pork roast stuffed w/ prunes, which, thinly sliced, would make a gorgeous entree or smorrebrod. Oh, what a nice thing you're doing! This is going to be one fine party.
                      (Edit; later) I should've been more clear: it's an assembly of ingredients, more than real recipes. The variations are absolutely endless, but here are some classics. They are built on light or dark buttered rye, and are by no means dainty morsels, no ma'am. These are BIG Bites!! And, on the leberpostej? You can use braunschweiger or rolled liver sausage, room temp, as a sub.
                      Veternarian's Midnight Snack: Buttered rye, liverpaste, a slice of corned or smoked beef, and a dice of meat aspic. This is not an easy one to produce in the home kitchen, but if you've a little space and time, it can be done. (The trickster is the aspic part.)
                      Smoked eel on dark buttered rye, topped with a spoonful of scrambled egg and chives, diced radishes.
                      Liverpaste, crispy bacon and sauteed mushrooms, served warm on buttered light rye.
                      Rare roast beef on buttered dark rye, with a spoonful of remoulade, and some grated horseradish and diced onion or radish.
                      Pork roast, spoonful of sweet/sour red cabbage w/ clove, garnished with a slice of orange.
                      Tartare! Minced best-quality raw beef, mounded onto dark rye, topped with a quail egg yolk and horseradish or chopped fresh radish.
                      If you want more, ask.....but really, your imagination is the limit here. Also so many wonderful cheese options for these......ask pdk, he knows more than I about that end of things. Don't mean to call him out, but the man be knowing his cheeses, 'specially from those parts.

                      1. re: mamachef

                        Thank you for all the suggestions! I love it! My mouth has started watering already. Rye bread...must have! Scrambled eggs and chives...totally forgot about that but just got a visual and smell flashback when I read your suggestion. Now the question is, do I let the peanut gallery in on the planning (my brother and husband, both of whom will have opinions) or do I just decide myself and tell them what their part in the production is?!?

                      2. could it be possible to recreate or pay "homage" to their wedding?
                        maybe decorate the hall like it was at the place when they got married?
                        if they had a special dinner? recreate their favorite or special meals?
                        did they have a wedding cake?possibly making a small version of it?
                        special music they had? such as a wedding dance? or just favorite artists?
                        we did a picture cake using the wedding photo for an anniversary cake a while ago..

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: srsone

                          What a great idea about paying tribute to their wedding. We are planning to invite family & friends who were at their wedding (if still living, which of course many are not). It would be fun to tie in some memories of that occasion. They had a pretty simple cake and punch type of reception that was typical of their family custom at the time, but I could definitely work off the flowers and color scheme too. Thank you so much for the great idea!

                        2. I just found the thread. One very popular dish in Norway is forrekol or lamb slow cooked in cabbage. Another is lapskaus, a thick potatoe,polser (sausage) stew. As a beverage, tyttebaer saft (lingonberry juice concentrate). It is available at IKEA. The same w/ sweet Nordic-style mustard. Pickled mushrooms.
                          It's the middle of the night. Tomorrow, I'll look at my 2 Norwegian and 1 Swedish cookbooks for more ideas. They are in Norwegian and Swedish.
                          A few more: a shrimp & pea aspic, Norwegian style potato fish cakes(fiskekakker) and don't forget the lyttefisk! I supposed fried cod tongues and cheeks are out of the question. Fried cod roe too.
                          Ha det godt.
                          Ole Dumkeg

                          ps Don't forget to invite the Norwegian bachelor farmers!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            You are cracking me up, pdk! The Norwegian bachelor farmers...ah yes. My brother almost qualifies--he's 47, a confirmed bachelor, and though an accountant by day he is a gardener extraordinaire in his off hours. He is just too set in his ways to mess with...I have given up trying to set him up with any suitable woman that I like. I've had my heart broken too many times.

                            Okay, back to the menu...lamb, oh goodness. I am not such a fan of lamb myself, but my dear father loves it. I need to think about that one. Kumla (the potato dumplings) is something we ate with lamb and broth, and I think cabbage. Not sure I could tackle this one for a big crowd but I will have to give it some thought and at least save it for something else special for my dad. At the rate he is going, he will outlive us all so he may have a good number more special occasions in his future. :-)

                            Saft...my bro and I were just discussing that one last night. I forgot about Ikea, and we have one about 10 miles from home so that is easy enough to procure. I also really love brus (Norwegian soda...to me it is a little less carbonated and less sweetie-sweet than soda we drink in the US). Not sure how/where we would get it, though.

                            Fiskekakker...that is an absolute favorite of our family! What about karbonnader? Have you had that? Any good recipes?

                            1. re: jlhinwa

                              For soda, I preferred Epplemost, like bubbly cider. Karbonnader, as an open faced sandwich w/ a fried egg on top. yes, I'll translate a recipe for you.
                              Forekol is fool proof, simple to ameke and serve, just layer lamb and cabbage leaves and bake or crock pot until tender add a littl water or broth, if necc.
                              The photo is the Norwegian style aspic I made a couple weeks ago.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                I just looked up karbonnader in Gyldendals. As I thought, it is all in the meat. kjotdeg is regular ground beef, lean by American standards. karbonnadadeg is finely ground, VERY lean beef. In Norway, it comes in a tube and one just slices it. It must be fried in butter, it is so lean. Fry onion w/ the beef.
                                Gyldendals has 6 different types.

                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                  Oh my gosh, you are a fountain of useful information, PDK!! As soon as I read your post above I had another visual flashback to the meat tube and watching my aunt make it in her kitchen. You are right, the consistency of the meat is what makes good karbonnader and then the fried, minced onions finish it off. Wonder if I can get the tubed beef here. More research required, I can tell! (My sweet daddy doesn't remember that we just took him to Ballard last Saturday and is trying to get us to take him again asap...he may just get his wish.)

                                2. re: Passadumkeg

                                  Yes, Epplemost, that is another great brus. Do you know the name of the brand that has a few different flavors, one of which is "champagne," and taste more like a fruit punch or bubble gum flavor? I can see the bottle in my head, can't think of the name.

                                  That is a beautiful presentation, and I'll bet it was delicious. My shrimp-loving daughter just looked over my shoulder with her mouth watering and wanted to know when I would be making that. :-)

                            2. Fried mackerel; it's a rite of spring and a big deal when the mackerel run arrives.
                              Salmon pudding. Boiled new potatoes w/ butter and dill and if you really want to get old school authentic, boiled cod and boiled carrots, drowned in melted butter. The Norwegian word for boiling is kok (pronunced cook)!
                              If you can get a copy of Gyldendals Nye Store Kokebok, it is a tome of Norsk cooking, 676 pgs of traditional, mainstream Norwegian cooking. It is in Norwegian, but maybe you can get help w/ that. I found my copy in a used book store here in Ellsworth, Me. Lots of fish, and lamb recipes, pork too, fewer beef (expensive) and surprisingly few chicken recipes; a reflection of Norwegian food costs. When I lived there, the main kind of chicken sold were old hens, that needed to be boiled for 3 hours. Good for coq au vin.
                              If you need more help, feel free to contact me, either on this thread or through my profile. I'm moving back to NM for the school year next week, so things are hectic and I may be a little slow to respond.
                              Pork roast stuffed w/ prunes is a festive meal along w/ svinekutlet, pork schnitzel.

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                I just returned from Norway where I attended a 100-person family reunion that included a lunch and a dinner. I was surprised to find that both meals were more-or-less "make your own sandwich" with lots of rolls, crispbread, lefse, and bread along with many kinds of cheese, ham, and sausage; accompanied by a green salad and potato salad at dinner. Brown cheese (gjetost) was the star along with big cold bowls of hardly-sweetened cooked berries of various kinds.
                                My sister and I make a Norwegian/Swedish Christmas Eve smorgasbord with
                                - several kinds of herring and smoked fish
                                - cheeses, sweet rye bread, and cardamom coffee bread
                                - salads of cucumber, carrot, beet & apple, mushroom, and silsalat (salad that combines herring, beets, potato, pickles & hard-boiled eggs with sour cream)
                                - meatballs, potato sausage, ham, brown beans, and red cabbage
                                - rice pudding with lingonberries

                                Two classic vegetable dishes are
                                - Mashed rutabaga
                                - Hansen's temptation, which is scalloped potatoes made with anchovies (they melt into the dish and impart subtle deliciousness)

                                Please let me know if you want any recipes, and warmest congratulations to your parents.

                                1. re: taxidermygirl

                                  Velbekommen til Chowhound!

                                  Yes, mashed swede!

                                  1. re: taxidermygirl

                                    Lovely. But - I am confused? Is that Hansen's, or Janssen's, temptation? Or are they two different things?

                                    1. re: taxidermygirl

                                      Thanks for the info, taxidermygirl! You just jogged loose another old memory--cardamom bread. That is another family favorite and I know that cardamom is a spice used often in Scandinavian baking.

                                      The smorgasbord you describe making sounds incredibly similar to what my aunts and mom used to do for Christmas Day family get togethers in the past. Brings back a lot of really great memories.

                                      Hansen's or Janssen's temptation--I'm not sure what is the correct name and I had never heard of it before recently here on CH. It sounds really good, though, and something that I would love to try. If you have a good recipe to share, I would very much appreciate it!

                                      1. re: jlhinwa

                                        Jhonsson's (sp?) temptation is the potato dish that requires "anchovis i hummer sas".

                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                            Yes, it is "the dot on the i", as the Swedes say. Ikea used to sell it. I think Swedish food sites sell it too. A pink can.

                                            1. re: Joebob

                                              Wheere I lived in Norway, there was a restaurant, named Hummeren; very expensive, but very good. The Norwegian lobster is very much like the North American lobster. Now one can only buy cooked lobsters in Norway. People were buying live N. American ones and letting them loose. They are more aggressive and were killing the Norsk ones.
                                              ps Finland is bilingual w/ Swedish being the second language. When I moved to Helsinki from Norway, I just bought a Swedish dictionary and I was set. I used to read The Huvedstadets Bladet every morning on the way to work, watch the news on Svenska TV and go to Svenska Teateren, etc.

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                Ahhh, lobster. I never ate lobster in Norway, how sad! Lots of crab, though, which is my absolutely single favorite food. One of my uncles was a fisherman and lived right on the North Sea, not too far from Egersund. The dear man would take us out so we could throw out crab pots and then go back to see what we'd caught. I'm sure that is just what he wanted to do in the evening after his early mornings on the sea.

                                                I did not know about Finland having Swedish as a second language. I have been taught by my purist Norwegian father that Finns are *not* Scandinavian, they are Slavic, and that Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland are the only true Scandinavian countries. Interesting.

                                                I know that Norwegian and Danish read a lot the same, sound different but read very much the same. Of course, Norwegian can sound vastly different north to south and east to west just within its own borders.

                                                1. re: jlhinwa

                                                  Finns are not Skandinavian and not slavic, but of the Finno-Ugric group; distantly related to the Hungarians. Swedan occupied Suomi for centuries.
                                                  Lobster was so expensive that when I first lived lived in Stavanger, we went to The Hummeren in Sola Strand and saw the price on the menu and thought it was cheap. We ordered lobster for the 4 of us. I didn't read Norwegian then and failed to comprehend that the menu price was per gram. My buddy and I had to leave our wives, take a taxi back to Stavanger, to find an ATM, to get money to pay the tab and retrieve our wives!

                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                    Per gram??? Oh my gosh, that is a riot...can you imagine what would have happened had this been before the convenience of ATM's? You would have been washing dishes for weeks.

                                                    1. re: jlhinwa

                                                      ATM's were brand new, that's why we had to go all the way back into Stavanger. There was also a phone booth in Sola that allow one, in error, to make an unlimited call to the us for 1 Kroner. Lines on the weekend!

                                    2. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Thanks for the additional ideas, pdk. Also for the tip about the cookbook. My brother is fluent in Norwegian, I am only when drunk. I don't drink anymore so would have to rely on him to translate.

                                      Where in NM? We just spent a glorious few days in Santa Fe last month and I absolutely fell in love with that place!

                                      1. re: jlhinwa

                                        An hour west of Albuquerque, 2 hours from Santa Fe. We like to visit SF, but also expensive and a little too pretentious to live there. I was offered a teaching at Capitol HS, but stayed put in the wilds of Grants. I'm an out doors kind of guy.

                                        I too speak better Nors, when "liten full".

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          Haha, it took more than just a "liten" to get me to speak fluently. My cousins were amazed, and so was I though my memory the next day was a bit hazy. Ugh. Too much homemade wine!

                                          I totally hear ya on the living in SF thing...I imagine it would be difficult to be a real person living a real life in that environment, at least for more than a couple of weeks. I was totally charmed by the town and the rich sense of history. I went expecting SW like Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tucson, where we spend a lot of time. I was totally blown away.

                                    3. Mindful of the venue, I would nevertheless smuggle in a snort of Akvavit for the inner circle..

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        Great minds think alike; silver flask, Linje, NOT AALBORG, akavit.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          +1. Linie may not be easy to find, but SO worth the search.

                                        2. re: Veggo

                                          What a nice idea. My parents have never been drinkers, but there are others who would very much enjoy a snort of something. And in fact, depending on the guests who show up and the state of my dad's dementia and my mother's general hysteria, it might be downright medically necessary for some of us!

                                          1. re: jlhinwa

                                            I have enjoyed this whole thread but no part of it more than the medical necessity comment! Our families must be related somehow....

                                        3. Again, I want to thank all of you for the wonderful suggestions, recipes, advice, and humor. And please keep it all coming if you have further ideas.

                                          This thread and all of your helpful input has given me the gift of re-connecting with my culinary heritage. I often mocked the bland diet I was raised on (meat, potatoes, boiled veggies, etc....little or no seasoning) and had no interest in cooking foods that are part of my heritage. How short-sighted and sad!

                                          Planning my parents' celebration coupled with the reflection that occurs when a loved one nears the end of their days has given me a new perspective on my Norwegian roots. Listening to your ideas has reminded me that there are a lot of very flavorful and interesting foods in my heritage and has inspired me to explore them. I am truly eager to get started on a number of things and doubt I will ever think of my culinary heritage as boring again.

                                          What a wonderful gift you have all given me. Thank you so much!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jlhinwa

                                            Don't forget Norwegian sweet saurkraut!

                                          2. No family get-together in our house was complete without Rullepølse (Norwgian meat roll). My grandmother was German, grandpa Norwegian. The version she made wasn't "traditional" but always pleased him and it was gobbled up by everyone.

                                            Pound a flank steak very thin. Spread with a thin layer of veal or pork mince. Add lots of minced onions, torn bay leaves, pepper, allspice or other spices to suit. (Sometimes I swear she added a bit of powered ginger but can't swear by that.) Roll it up tight and wrap with streaky bacon. Tie with string and pop it into the oven until medium rare. Leave to rest, snip off the twine and slice thin. Serve warm or at room temperature with pumpernickel or rye bread, mustard or horseradish cream, and tart little pickles. Can be made well in advance.

                                            Her cucumber salad was simple and really good: thinly sliced cucumber, red onion, soured cream, vinegar, bit of sugar and lots of dill.

                                            Although perhaps not traditional, a salmon and leek pie in puff pastry goes well with the cucumber salad, and can be prepared in advance, served warm or room temp. See http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo.... (Dead easy; don't do the sauce; be sure not to overcook!) Steamed baby potatoes go well.

                                            Smoked salmon blinis with a bit of soured cream, decorated with lumpfish caviar.

                                            Smoked mackrel or trout pate with beetroot relish.

                                            Skewered pork bites with a prune and creamy mustard dip.

                                            Fill tiny crip tart shells (available at speciality shops) with smoked salmon mouse, sauteed creamed leeks, or chopped tomato - or even ground spiced meat.

                                            Fennel and apple salad.

                                            One of my all-time favourties: Fillet of Beef, Arugula, and Artichoke Crostini. Very easy, impressive, make in advance. See http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Journey

                                              Yum! Tongue w/ sour cream dill sauce as an app.

                                              1. re: Journey

                                                Oh my gosh, what great ideas. Thanks for the Rullepolse recipe...sounds wonderful and that is definitely something that has been a family favorite. The smoked salmon blinis sound heavenly and I love the idea of the tart shells.

                                                Fennel is a new favorite of mine...love the idea of a salad. Thanks so much!

                                              2. Reporting back after today's party. Thanks so much to all of you for your helpful suggestions and advice!

                                                It's a little eery how close we came to hitting all of my original goals. I hadn't looked at my OP again until today. We ended up with about 70+ people, came in at about $1500 all totalled, and pretty much did #1-4 above.

                                                As the date got closer, I became aware of how stretched I was going to be for time, so ended up making only two items myself: Swedish meatballs w/gravy and potato lefse.

                                                The menu consisted of:

                                                Swedish meatballs w/gravy
                                                Smoked salmon
                                                Cucumber salad
                                                Pickled herring w/onions, etc.
                                                Liver pate
                                                Various breads and traditional crackers (Wasa, kavli, knackbrod)
                                                Cheeses - Ekta gjetost, Bergenost, Jarlsberg
                                                Vegetable accompaniments - cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms
                                                Lingonberry jam
                                                Condiments (mustards, mayo, etc.)
                                                Kransekakke (Norwegian tiered wedding cake--almond and marzipan pastry)
                                                Cookies - apricot and raspberry foldovers, thumbprints cookies, Russian tea cookeies
                                                Danish pastries - raspberry creamcheese, almond, and apple
                                                Potato lefse - learning how to make this just about killed me, but I wasn't going to give up and I think it turned out okay
                                                Beverages - coffee, tea, and a punch I made out of Lingonberry safft (concentrate), lemon/lime sparkling water and pineapple juice.

                                                We had wayyyy too much food, but I am happy about that as most of the leftovers will be consumed soon, shared, or frozen where possible.

                                                Most importantly, my parents had a lovely time visiting with friends and family and I am thrilled that they were in good health and mind to be able to enjoy the celebration. Things have been touch and go with my dad for over a year now, so this milestone is not something we have taken for granted.

                                                Thank you so much for your help. The food ideas and the organizational suggestions all were invaluable to making this a very special day to remember, and one that I was able to enjoy with my parents without needless fretting.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: jlhinwa

                                                  Congrats on having such a successful event. And thanks for reporting back!

                                                  1. re: perk

                                                    Thank you! I have to say, I am relieved it is over and that we all survived!

                                                  2. re: jlhinwa

                                                    Oops, also wanted to mention that while I scaled back on what I prepared myself, I definitely am going to be using some of these suggestions in the near future. It appears that there was some planning of a "cousin's party" in the near future, which apparently I will be hosting. (Thanks to my brother...he is famous for volunteering me for these things.) I am going to make the gravlax--probably will try it first for my family and if I don't mess it up, will serve it for the party. I also am going to give some thought about the other ideas above.

                                                    I found that there was a lot of pleasure in planning and serving family/cultural favorites, even if they are foods that I haven't always enjoyed. I guess I must be getting old...I just can't bear the idea of traditions dying off!

                                                    1. re: jlhinwa

                                                      So happy to hear this went well - I'd give anything to have the chance to do something like it for my mom and dad.

                                                    2. re: jlhinwa

                                                      ok...i nominate Jlhinwa for having all the Scandinavian parties from now on...