Vern, videreføring og fornying


When talking about tradititonal arts, the Norwegian words vern (preservation), videreføring (passing it on) and fornying (revitalizing) are big. The trick for each individual artist is to decide how much of each you want for any given project. Oh wait, that’s the academic in me talking….”decide what percentage of vern and what percentage of fornying you will have….” GRRR! NEI! Bah! Vanskelig! It might sound OK, but is really cumbersome from an artist’s standpoint. However, it might work out really well for someone analyzing the work.

I can, for example, look at a piece and draw connections to traditional techniques or motifs presented in a new or exciting way. However, as an artist, how much of this is done consciously and how much just happens…Some of the best art is a result of accidents or unintended things that result from the raw materials just being what they are. Still, analyzing the work is super fun.

Last night, I tried to make a Norwegian variation of an American Sloppy Joe – I call it

Norwegian sloppy joe sandwich made with moosemeat

Norwegian sloppy joe sandwich made with moosemeat

“Grisete Ola”.

It is like a traditional moose-meatball dinner rolled into a sandwich. The ingredients are traditional (vern), but the presentation is completely whacked(fornying). In this case, I guess videreføring is analogous to digestion. Here’s the recipe:


  • 400-500 g ground moosemeat
  • ca. 5 dl gravy or “brown sauce”
  • 3-4 ts brown sugar
  • 1 ts tomatpuree
  • fresh finely chopped thyme
  • lettuce (optional)
  • finely chopped onions (raw or fried for garnish)
  • sour cream (optional) – for garnish or mixed in with the brown sauce
  • lingonberry jam (optional garnish)

Brown the moosemeat and season as desired – fresh herbs are always nice. Since moose is a really lean meat, it can be good to use real butter or cream with it so that it is not so dry and flakey. Make a gravy or brown sauce any way you like and add the moosemeat and drippings from the frying pan. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, thyme or anything you like. I put garlic in it because garlic grows so well on my windowsill.

Bake homemade bread (or use rolls that you like – see HOMEMADE BREAD RECIPE below). Slice rolls down the middle, spread with butter, fill with meat mixture, garnish as desired with lettuce (I used spinach in the picture because that it what I had), onions, sour cream and/or lingonberry jam. Serve with homefries and carrot sticks.

HOMEMADE BREAD (use what you have)

I make bread with a kitchen machine with a bread paddle. I do it every day or every other day so it needs to be quick and clean. Here’s my method for fluffy soft bread:

Pour some flour (roughly 6 dl of whatever kinds you have, and maybe some oatmeal) into the kitchen machine. The more white flour (or spelt) you use, the better it will rise. Lots of whole grains and seeds will be healthy, but heavier. If you like healthy dense bread, go for it!  You have my support! Add a teaspoon of salt, a package of dry yeast, a 4-count of oil, a little sugar/honey/sirup (optional, but I always do it) and whatever else you want: grated potato or carrot, mashed potatos, cottage cheese, sour cream eggs, yogurt or kefir, herbs (fresh or dried), dried fruits, seeds, etc. It should be different every time. Mix these ingredients a bit in the kitchen machine to get them evenly distributed.

Let the kitchen machine run on low speed and add lukewarm water or milk to the mixture a little bit at a time until the dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl all by itself. You will know that you got the right consistency when the dough just sticks to itself, but not to the sides of the pan. It can stick to the bottom a *little* bit. Just try not to use so much flour that you get hard dough. You can always add more flour later. You’ll figure it out through trial and error. Run the kitchen machine on low-medium for 7- 8 minutes to knead it thouroghly and to activate the yeasties. If you’re like me and trying to balance bread making with 5 other simultaneous projects, set a timer for the 8 mintues.

Remove the bread paddle, cover the dough with plastic wrap or a dishowel and place it in a warm spot for 45 minutes. Again, set a timer if you are like me. If I don’t set a timer, I never let it rise enough. I grew up in Arizona where everywhere was a “warm spot” for dough to rise. In Norway, where I live now, I put the dough next to the wood-burning stove.

After 45 minutes, your dough should have risen quite a bit! If it didn’t. I’m really sorry.

Dump the dough onto a work surface. I have a gigantic wooden cutting board that I use. If you mixed it right in the mixer, you should be able to form the bread to any desired shape without using any extra flour. However, if you dough was a little liquidy in the mixer, you might need to use some flour to roll it out. Again, this is more of a “feeling” thing….

I like to make rundstykker, or rolls. This is because they only take 10-13 minutes to bake instead of the 45 min a loaf of bread requires. Also, I have 2 small kids and rolls are just the right size for them. For rolls, I roll the dough into a long “sausage” or “snake” as my son likes to call it. I then cut it into roughly equal raquetball-sized portions. I then roll out each portion into a ball.. Yeast dough (unlike piecrust) likes it rough, I’ve heard tell. I place the rolls on a big sheet of wax paper that covers the whole surface of the pan in the oven. This wax baking paper can be reused afterwards and keeps you from having to scrape gunk off of your pans.

At this time, you can sprinkle your rolls (or bread loaf) with whatever you want to make it pretty on top. I like green pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for the heartier variations. For white bread, I use poppyseeds or seseme seeds. I use sea salt flakes if the rolls are going to be used for fish soup or something like that. You can also cut pretty patterns in the top with a knife. When the rolls rise, the cracks will open up and look cool 🙂

Cover the rolls (or bread) with plastic or a dish towel again and let them rise in a warm place for 45 more minutes.

Bake rolls at 200C for 10-13 minutes. The time will, of course, depend on your oven. If you want, you can brush them with water or milk or a beaten egg before you put them in the oven and this will give a nice crust and a darker color to the tops. My little kids are not the biggest fan of crusty bread and, frankly, neither am I because the crumbs get EVERYWHERE and fall down my shirt and cause me to itch.  When the kids grow up, I might change my mind.

You know that the rolls are done when they are lightly browned on the top and bottom. If you knock on them with your knuckles, they should feel/sound hollow.

If you are baking bread, you can make a big pretty round bread or a braided bread or a twisted bread or bread in a pan or whatever. My breads usually need to bake for 45 minutes in well greased breadpans.

I have gotten complaints that fresh baked bread is good when it is fresh out of the oven, but it gets dry and gross after a few days. I used to get slightly miffed at people who said this, but I have to admit that I actually agree. This is another good reason for making rolls. However, when I do decide to bake bread, I expect to use the leftovers to make crutons for salad or soup or bread stuffing for turkey or stuffed chickenbreasts

Frog rolls with pumkinseed eyes

Frog rolls with pumkinseed eyes

Hot dogs wrapped in bread-dough with feet, ears, tails, cheese and pumpkin seeds for eyes

Hot dogs wrapped in bread-dough with feet, ears, tails, cheese and pumpkin seeds for eyes

or porkchops.