Addding to a Memory
I am standing in my kitchen tonight, making krum kaker. Krum kaker are a Norwegian cookie made on an iron. They are a little like Italian pizelles only much more delicate. I roll them on a wooden cone mold, so they look like ice cream cones. They are a very rich sweet cookie. I only make them at Christmas time, partly because that’s the way Mom did it, partly because they take a tremendous amount of time and energy. Each spoonful of batter goes onto the iron to sit for 45 seconds, gets turned and sits for another 30 seconds or so. As it comes off the iron, while still hot it has to be rolled into a cone shape. When I was young and helping my mother, that was my job. Now when I burn my fingers and say ouch I can still remember Mom telling me how she had to roll them without the help of the wooden cone, making it much harder.
The magical part of these cookies is the iron that I use. It is a very old cast iron piece that was used many many years ago by my great grandmother in Norway, then my grandmother in this country and my mother after her. It has a beautiful inlaid design inside that makes the cookies look as if they were made of delicate lace. As I stand here (you can’t sit while you’re making cookies, Mom always said), I can picture my great grandmother and her daughter standing at an old wood stove with this very same iron, sharing a moment as they make their krum kaker for the holidays. If only it could talk, the stories it would tell me!
I wonder what those women of so long ago would think if they could see me now, krum kaker iron on the electric stove, stepping away from my computer every 30 seconds or so to take a cookie off the iron and roll it, listening to Christmas songs and Edvard Grieg on my Ipod. I’m sure they’d be scandalized by the fact that I am paying attention to two things at once, but happy that I can listen to music as I work. Such is the new tradition of Christmas in the Pettit household. I hope someday to pass the iron on to whichever one of my sons finds enough patience and time in his busy life to make the Christmas krum kaker. Yes Grandma, men cook too these days!
Well, the last cookie is in the iron, so I have a lot of crumbs to clean up, it’s easy to see what the name krum kaker means. Then the iron needs some tender loving care to keep it in beautiful condition for next year’s cookies and the cookies to be made many, many years from now by someone who will perhaps think of me along with the other women who have shared in the memories of this magical krum kaker iron.