Monday, November 1, 2010

Elva Kaffe

If you drive down a quiet country road, not far from where I live, you'll come to a small area known as Kost. Many around here know Kost for its dam, great for fishing and a pictur-
esque hike. A road sign indicates there is a pottery shop nearby.

Drive just a bit further and you'll come to a quaint, white country church. You have now arrived at Kost Evangelical Free Church.

When Kost was settled in the 1880s by a large migration of Scandinavians to America, they formed clusters which met in homes for the purpose of worship. From there, the Kost church was established in 1886.

The church continues to honor its heritage and share it with the community. Once every three years, they host a festive Scandinavian event called, Elva Kaffe, inviting the people of the area to come for coffee and cookies as they begin their preparations for the holidays.

My friend, Mary Kay, and I attended last Saturday. What an elegant, charming and absolutely enjoyable event this is. What a delightful way to spend a crisp, sunny Saturday morning.

We were greeted at the door by a man in Swedish costume. Then we noticed all the hosts and hostesses were also dressed in clothing representative of the various provinces of their homelands.

Scandinavian decorations were everywhere. Hearts are traditionally used, as the symbol of love, reminding us all to be generous to one another during the Christmas season, as well as all year long. Pines, the symbol of eternal life, and pine trees are also commonly used.

All four Scandinavian countries were represented in various craft displays in a large room: Hardanger, wood carving, Julgranskorg (woven hearts), Huvudia (woven head wreaths), rug braiding, birch and vine crafts, rosemaling, spinning, basket weaving, and more.

Flags from all four countries: Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Around the craft display room, there were demonstrations of Scandinavian foods, with samples being offered. All demonstrators were in costume, and you could hear Swedish being spoken. We tasted most all of the wonderful foods: abelskiver, krumkake, smørrebrød, krem, pepparkaka, köttbollar, fruit soppa, plättar and lefse.

I grew up with Scandinavian food and customs. But if you don't know what any or all of those are, let me just say that all are delicious. We were given a recipe book with directions for making these wonderful treats ourselves. Instructions were also provided for making some of the holiday crafts at home.

The Swedes say: Var sa god. Be so kind as to come to the table for a cup of coffee.

Across the hall from the demonstration room was their Kaffe Stuga. Tables were set for us to enjoy coffee. An elegant serving table, complete with silver service and crystal cake plates, was prepared with Scandinavian cookies, Jul kage (Christmas bread) and Kranse Kaka.

A tower of individual, graduated pastry rings is used to make Kranse Kaka, traditionally served at weddings.

Decorated with the country's flag, it is served from the top ring down and is broken into pieces and eaten as a cookie. It has a wonderful almond flavor, and uses only three ingredients: almond paste, granulated sugar, and egg whites.

It will be another three years before we can enjoy such a festive celebration again. You can believe that Mary Kay and I already have our calendars marked for 2013.

Tusen tak (thank you) to the Kost Church for hosting this wonderful event.

We are in the holiday spirit already. God Jul!