Thursday, July 16, 2009

Norwegian treasure

A few weekends ago, I visited one of my favorite places in La Crosse -- the antique mall downtown. It's a three-story building of retro treasures. I didn't have to walk too far to find several kitchen antiques that caught my eye, including this small pie plate. Don't you just love the lettering. How could I not buy it?

I also was very excited to find multiple sets of rosette irons. I grew up in a small North Iowa town where everyone, I mean everyone, was of Norwegian heritage. At family gatherings, my grandmother served potato lefse, romegrot and the infamously stinky lutefisk, a cod fish that's "preserved" in lye. It's absolutely awful, but a lot of my family members love it.

Many women in town would place rosettes on their Christmas cookie trays. Rosettes are hard to describe -- kind of a lighter version of a funnel cake. (Lighter in texture, not calories.) To make, you coat the rosette iron in a pancake-like batter, then put the coated iron in frying oil. The finished rosette is crispy like a cracker and dusted with powdered sugar.

I had an 80-year-old Iowa woman tell me that the best rosette irons are the old ones. The new irons are flimsy compared to the heavy cast-iron ones they made before the 1970s.

I found several different antique rosette irons, in various conditions. I decided on the one pictured below, mostly because it wasn't so covered with gunk. (But maybe gunk is a good thing, I don't know.)

As you can see, the "patty" iron came in its original box and included a recipe.

Not sure why they are called "patties." The manufacturer was from the East Coast, so maybe patty sounded less "ethnic" to the homemakers. Most antique rosette molds I've seen were made in Minnesota -- home of the Vikings (which, not so coincidentally, was also my high-school mascot. It's Norwegian country, remember.)

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