Ingrid – July 30, 2019
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the wonderful Summerfest at The Danish Home on June 22nd. I’m still feeling warmed by the generations of family ties that are always so apparent at this annual festival that has been a favorite tradition for so many years. The smørrebrød and tasty frikadeller we enjoyed that day made me think about Danish fare and how unique – and yummy! – it is.
It also inspired me to try a few Danish recipes at home. Even though I work, my co-workers and I have adopted sort of a “Danish holiday” attitude these last few weeks of July, and I find myself with a little more time to experiment in the kitchen.
Focusing first on smørrebrød, the Danish open-faced sandwiches with infinite possibilities of delicious toppings that can be so beautifully and colorfully displayed, I created a large platter of them and invited some of our neighbors in our apartment building in Lincoln Park over for a taste of Denmark. (They all loved them, by the way, even though they’re not as good as the ones Chef Roger and his team create at The Danish Home!)
Before I began, I researched some Danish recipes for ingredients to use and decided I wanted to go as fresh and local as possible. I also consulted my copy of Chef Stig Hansen‘s cookbook, Cooking Danish: A Taste of Denmark. Chef Stig, called “The Viking Chef,” is a friend of The Danish Home and has prepared gourmet meals for friends and residents there in the past.
These days, terms like “farm-to-table,” “locally grown” and “organic” are tossed around like freshly picked salad greens. And with rooftop farms sprouting up in Chicago, urban farms budding in Detroit, and urban rooftop farms blossoming in Denmark, it’s easy for city folks like me all over the world to access fresh, locally grown food.
In Farfar’s time, as well as that of The Danish Home’s founding mothers, locally grown was the only option, organic was the standard, and farm-to-table was the rule, not the exception. If people wanted fresh produce, they had to grow it themselves or do without. I love hearing Farfar and others at The Danish Home tell stories about their family farms and gardens in Denmark. Learning about all of the amazing homemade Danish recipes created from their hard work makes me appreciate my Danish food culture even more!
While I was at my local farmer’s market shopping for smørrebrød ingredients, I thought of other Danish delights I could attempt this summer and into fall. Some ideas I had were rugbrød (dark sour bread) to accompany a meal or simply snack on, a tasty Flæskesteg (roast pork, cabbage and potatoes) dinner, and a delicious Biksemad (pork, vegetable and egg hash) for breakfast.
And because dessert is always on the menu for my palate, I thought of the Rabarbergrød (stewed rhubarb with vanilla cream) I could make with the gorgeous red stalks of fresh rhubarb I spied.
When summer winds down, I know the responsibilities of life will whip up again, and I’ll be dreaming of these lazy, hazy summers days when the locally grown fruits and vegetables tempt my taste buds and stir my imagination.
But until then, I think I’ll run over to the Lincoln Park City Market again this Saturday and maybe every Saturday until it closes at the end of October.