Good morning, friends!
Today we have a special treat! My friend and fellow Scandiphile has written a little book review of Linda K. Hubalek’s book “Egg Gravy”, which is about wonderful foods eaten by Swedish settlers here on our very own prairie. You can see my review of Hubalek’s first book, Butter in the Well, on the Scandinavian Folk blog. However, since I’ve fallen behind on updating that blog, I decided I’d share Winnie’s review here on the Audrey Eclectic blog in honor of the Easter Parade. Many thanks to Winnie for taking the time to be our reviewer!
Story by Winnie Nielsen
Following the completion of Butter in the Well, by Linda A. Hubelek, I ordered two more books in the series of Swedish immigrant, Kajsa Swenson Runeberg. How did it all end? I had to know.
Looking Back, provides us a diary account of the last week Kajsa, and husband Peter, lived on their beloved Homestead in Saline County , Kansas. From 1868 to 1919, Kajsa forged a life with her husbands Carl and then Peter in the wild untamed American prairie.
Life was difficult at times and every victory was the result of hard and determined immigrant faith and strength. Homes and farms were built step by step with one success upon another. Everything was earned by hard work and sacrifice. But, one family soon turned into a community of Swedish families working and supporting each other in this new and exciting land so far away from Sweden.
Now, fifty- one years later, Kajsa and Peter find themselves too old to continue the hard life of farming. They agree to sell their home and move to a smaller place in the city. Each day of the last week is spent lovingly reviewing every room and inch of the farm for the last time.
Remembering specific memories of their children and good times spent with family and friends filled the hours of packing and preparation to leave.
Finally on Thursday, a big auction was held to sell the animals and farm equipment. It was a bittersweet day filled the complexities of seeing the farm parts sell and the memories of each precious piece. Strangers and neighbors gathered to look over what was available to see if they could use it on their farms now. It was a happy day and a sad day all combined in what seemed like such a few short hours.
How amazing it was to see decades of hard work and love disappear with the hammer of the auction gavel. At the same time, however, it was rewarding for both Kajsa and Peter as they knew it was time to move on.
The next morning, Friday, was the last day on the farm. All of the animals had been sold but there were still the few basics from them in the icebox to make the perfect last farm breakfast.
Kajsa writes in the book, “ Egg Gravy. It has always been our staple meal no matter how poor or rich we’ve been. We always had eggs, milk and a little flour.”
The recipe for Egg Gravy is the first recipe described in the book Egg Gravy. The recipe is simple: 2 cups milk, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons flour, salt. Heat milk. Beat eggs, flour and a little milk. When milk is hot, pour and stir egg mixture into the milk. Cook until thick. Put on toast. Good served with bacon. One of the favorite staple breads was Oatmeal bread as oats were raised on the farm and used for both animal feed and grain for the family to eat.
This recipe is part of a collection of other old Swedish favorites and home remedies used during the homesteading days. From canning recipes for such favorites as pickled eggs, pickles, sauerkraut, plums, cherries and native berries, Swedish women worked to preserve every delicious thing they could to feed their families for the long harsh winters. The book also provides recipes for creating some of their
favorite foods from Sweden using American ingredients. Lutefisk, pickled herring, and favorite sausages were just a few made in the old world style.
Many of the recipes in Egg Gravy are dated and tell a part of the story of Kajsa’s life on the prairie. There are references to Christmas celebrations, recipes for cold remedies, and encounters with American Indians, and family celebrations.
The recipe collection is a wonderful combination of authenticity and history. It is worth reading for a better view into how what was grown and raised, was turned into delicious and sustaining nutrition for these Swedish immigrant families.
In keeping with the upcoming Easter Parade at Audrey Eclectic, I wanted to highlight the egg gravy recipe as a possible Easter morning or Easter week dish for the family. When researching Swedish and Norwegian Easter traditions, I learned that the usual Easter morning breakfast was celebrated with a smorgasbord of typical favorites: special fish dishes like pickled herring, salmon with scrambled eggs, favorite dark breads, and hard boiled eggs. Hard- boiled eggs? Now we are on to something I recognize!
Both Swedish and Norwegian accounts list colored hard- boiled eggs as part of the breakfast offerings. In Norway, yellow is especially a Favorite color associated with Easter. The hard- boiled eggs reminded me of my Mother’s favorite family recipe using egg gravy AND left over eggs.
While my mother was of German heritage, her recipe for egg gravy was quite similar to Kajsa’s. We had a large family and dyed 4 dozen hard boiled eggs every Saturday before Easter Sunday for the great family egg hunt in the afternoon following church and family dinner. The week after Easter, which was usually our Spring Break from school, Mom made her version of Egg Gravy to use up some of the left over eggs.
Here is the recipe that our family enjoyed every Easter week.
Melt two tablespoons butter in a pan, add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk together. Slowly add 2 cups of milk that had been heated and mix together to make a white sauce. Add salt to taste. Gently simmer until thickened. Peel and chop 4-6 hard- boiled eggs and add them to the thickened sauce. Heat through, taste again and season with more salt if needed. Spoon over toast and serve with some bacon
crumbled on the top.
This recipe is so easy and makes a delicious breakfast or brunch. If you wanted to be more Scandinavian, you could use rye bread , oatmeal bread or dark wheat bread and serve it with some favorite fish dishes instead of bacon.
However, since Kajsa mentions using bacon with her egg gravy, I chose it to accompany this recipe. It
is delicious! I hope you will try it out this Easter with your family. Perhaps it will become your new Easter favorite , or go to meal anytime the kitchen larder is bare except for the bare essentials of milk, eggs, and flour.
And don’t forget, we’re having an internet-wide “Easter Parade” on Saturday! If you’d like to take part, feel free to write up an Easter blog post and come back here and link up with the parade! Then we can all go a-visitin’ and see what everyone is up to for Easter!