Monday, December 19, 2011

Riskrem (Norwegian Christmas Dessert)

First things first: I'm kind of an outsider here because my family isn't gluten free.  But I promise I ran my recipe by Erin first to make sure it's okay for those of you who do eat gluten-free diets. :)

And I'll apologize now because my post is so long!

My name is Tammy, and I keep a food blog called Fish Food Favorites (our last name is a type of fish).  Erin and I met our freshman year of college; we lived a few doors away in the same dorm.  Since she had to pass our door to get to hers, she'd often pay a visit to my roommates and me at curfew.  I remember one time she helped us polish off a carton of ice cream when she looked at the ingredients and saw that it was safe for her to eat.
Tammy & Erin (probably April 2003).
Fun times.  I've got so many awesome memories from my college experience.  Not to mention I met my husband that year (it just took him a couple years and a mission to Japan to figure out we were meant for each other).  Right now my husband, Matt, is in his third year of dental school.
Me with my hot husband and awesome little boys (July 2011).

It's hard for me to pick out one favorite holiday tradition because they all seem so intertwined to me.  We did the same thing every year as far back as I can remember, and it ran like clockwork.  (Well, mostly.)  My dad served a mission for our church in Norway (as did his father and both brothers), and we do have some Norwegian blood in us (as well as Danish and Icelandic--my great-grandmother was a full Icelander).  Because of that, some of our traditions and traditional foods are Norwegian.

Christmas Eve went something like this: Prepare the smorgasbord/feast together as a family (though some years my mom was locked away in my parents' bedroom while she furiously finished wrapping presents).  Stuff ourselves full of all the little finger foods we had made (including smørbrød, which are little open-faced sandwiches with all sorts of stuff on them).  Clean up.  Go look at Christmas lights.  Come home and eat riskrem.  Get ready for bed.  Read the Christmas story in Luke 2.  Open one present (usually from one of our cousins).  Family prayer.  Go to bed.

Christmas Morning: Wake up.  Chill with my two older sisters and wait for Mom and Dad to wake up (my husband won't let me sleep in on Christmas morning anymore, though--he's up before our kids are because he's so excited).  Dad checks to see if Santa came; tells us he didn't and receives the "yeah right, Dad" responses.  We line up in the hallway while Dad lights a fire, turns on the tree, etc.  Go see what Santa brought us.  Stop and have breakfast (Norske Vafler--not gluten free, or I'd post that one, too).  Sit around the tree and take turns opening presents.  Have to pause while grandparents and other relative call us.  Finish sometime around noon or 1pm (my husband is just itching by this time because his family does the complete opposite of what mine does).  Spend the rest of the day eating feast leftovers, talking to family on the phone, and trying out our new stuff.

So you see, I love it all.  My husband and I are still trying to work out what our own traditions will be when we stop going to our parents' houses for Christmas, but we're thinking we'll work some of both families' traditions in, along with incorporating a good deal of Japanese food.

Riskrem (pronounced "rees-krehm") is basically what it sounds like: a rice cream dessert.  But's not rice pudding.  By custom, Norwegian families would take a bowl of riskrem to the barn on Christmas Eve and leave it out for the Fjøsnisse (sometimes referred to simply as nisse or nissen), the guardian of the home and farm.  It's wise to remember him because he can be kind of a trickster, and if you really anger him, you may find your crops have gone bad.

Traditionally in Norway, one whole almond is hidden in the batch of riskrem.  Whoever finds the almond in his or her dish receives a yummy prize of a marzipan candy shaped like a pig, though in my family the prize was typically some See's candy or Smil (a Norwegian candy similar to Rolos).  Sadly, I'm the only one who's crazy about marzipan, so the pig is never an option.

My dad always eats the riskrem by the bowlful; for me, it's been a food for which I've had to acquire a taste throughout my life.  But I hope we can always make a place for it in our family's Christmas traditions.
Riskrem (Norwegian Christmas Dessert)

3/4 cup medium or short grained rice
4 cups milk
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 pint cream
Berry syrup of choice (suggestions: strawberry, boysenberry, raspberry)

Cook rice, milk, and salt covered in a double boiler over low heat, stirring occasionally, until nearly all the milk is absorbed (about 1 1/2 hours).

Remove from heat and stir in sugar and almond extract, then cool in refrigerator until cold (overnight is best).

Whip the cream and fold into the rice cold rice mixture.  Serve with a little berry syrup poured over the top.

If you want to check out Rodgrot, the other recipe I was going to share (but didn't have time to make), click HERE.  (Again, I checked with Erin to make sure it's gluten free.)  It's also Norwegian, and we'd sometimes have it at Christmastime, usually if I got around to making it.


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