“Everyone on Norwegian Ridge loved Christmas. They loved the decorated trees shining in the windows of each snug home. They loved the special songs. They loved making special gifts for their families and friends. But most of all, they loved the feast that the forest and meadow folk shared on Christmas Day.
Everyone brought their favorite food to share. Randy Raccoon’s fresh crawfish pie was good. Rusty Squirrel’s roasted butternuts were good. Dede’s sunflower cookies were good. Moley Mole’s earthworm pancakes were…okay. But Mrs. Mouse’s Christmas Pudding was the best.
… She made the pudding just like they did back in Norway. She called it by its old fashioned name, but most just called it “Christmas Pudding.”
From “Christmas Pudding”, a children’s story by Joan E. Tyvoll
A friend of Rest And Be Thankful contacted me last week asking for a good recipe for rice pudding. She plans on serving it to her son’s school mates while she reads to them from my children’s book called “Christmas Pudding”.
The Christmas Pudding that Mrs. Mouse makes in my story is our own Tyvoll version of rice pudding. It is traditionally called “rommegrot” in our family, but it isn’t a true rommegrot. Here is part of the message I sent back to my R&BT friend.
“Okay. Rice Pudding... long story here, but the “Rommegrot” that our family loves at Christmas is really a hybrid between German rice pudding and Norwegian grot.... it is great, but the recipe is one of those “little of this, little of that”... Steve’s family was pure German on one side, and pure Norwegian on the other, and the grandmother mixed the two! She made a typical German rice pudding, then a rommegrot, then mixed some of the latter into the rice and left a generous layer of it on the top. That is our Christmas pudding!”
My husband always assures me of how grateful he was for the German side of his family at Christmas time so he would have something to eat! The Norwegians had to have their lutefisk which is definitely an acquired taste, but the Germans always put bratwurst on the menu. And there was always rommegrot. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it.
I have learned a lot about rommegrot from a cookbook I got years ago from the Vesterheim, the Norwegian-American museum in Decorah, Iowa. Hilda Nelson from Fergus Falls, Minnesota, shared her Norwegian cooking expertise in that cookbook:
“No measurements were used for the many kinds of grot. True country rommegrot was made with very thick sour cream. City rommegrot was made like drawn butter gravy, except thicker. It was made from butter instead of cream.” Modern Norwegian-Americans prefer sweet rather than sour cream.”
I would agree with that. The kind of rommegrot I have tasted at church suppers here in the Midwest is made with heavy sweet whipping cream. Here is a recipe for that kind of grot:
3 cups whipping cream
2 cups flour, divided
8 cups milk, boiling hot (scalded)
½ tsp. salt
Sugar & cinnamon mixture
In a heavy saucepan heat the cream for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Sift in ½ cup flour, beating to make a thin porridge. Let it boil slowly until the butterfat starts to rise. Reduce the heat and skim off the butter and set aside. Gradually sift in the rest of the flour, turning up the heat a little and stirring well. Add hot milk stirring all the while. The grot thickens as it stands. It is served with the warm butterfat and sugar and cinnamon mixture on the side, for each to add as you like.
Norway does have a traditional rice porridge or rice pudding called “Risengrynsgrot”. You will need a double boiler, or you can cook it in a pan that is placed in a larger pan of water. It takes 2 hours to cook, so you will have to fit it in between milking cows and making lefse! (Or the Lutefisk!)
2 quarts milk
¾ cup uncooked rice
½ tsp salt
1 ½ T butter divided
Sugar & cinnamon mixture
Cook in a double boiler... Boil the milk. As it boils, stir in the rice, salt and 1 T. butter. Cover and stir occasionally so it does not stick to the bottom. When done, pile into a serving bowl, put a pat of butter on top and pass it around with the sugar and cinnamon. Serve with a glass of milk or lingonberry juice.
So you can see that the fine art of making grot is open to interpretation. I learned how to make “Tyvoll Rommegrot” from my mother-in-law. I stood by her and copied down every move she made, because, of course, “there are no measurements for many kinds of grot” to quote Hilda Nelson.
In the ensuing years my recipe card has become splattered with butter and cream, and I have made my own adjustments – mainly going back to using real cream and butter instead of my mother-in-law’s more healthy version. Our arteries can stand the real deal once a year!
So here is my version of the “Tyvoll Rommegrot”.
Cook 2 cups of rice, rinse and put in a serving bowl (about 4 cups when cooked) add about 1/3 cup sugar, 1 ½ tsp cinnamon and about a ½ pint of cream to the rice. Set aside for now.
Melt 1 stick of butter in a pan (1/2 cup), make a white sauce (roux) with the butter and about 6 heaping T. of flour, gradually add about 1 pint of heavy whipping cream, and another pint of milk (more as needed - not too thick, not too runny… JUUUUSSSST RIGHT!), about 1/3 cup sugar and when the pudding is smooth and bubbly take it off the stove and stir in 1 tsp. vanilla.
Mix some of the pudding with the rice, then pour the rest on top of the rice (it will be about 1 – 1 ½ inches of pudding) and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Before the grot is cooled and set, we stick an almond in the rice like the old timers always did. Whoever finds the almond gets a special gift and has all the luck for the coming year. No fair digging for it!
Mrs. Mouse makes her “Christmas Pudding” with wild rice harvested from Cady Creek (a little poetic license there as wild rice is nowhere to be found in our coulee) and maple sugar from Mr. Mouse’s Norwegian Ridge sugar bush. I am sure it is delicious, and of course, quite a standout from the earthworm pancakes Moley Mole always brings!
However you make your own rommegrot, R&BT friends, I hope it turns out and adds to the merry in your Christmas.