ON MY MIND: Once a year delight

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

The day we moved into Greenville was a Saturday. We pulled into downtown with our truck full of stuff and our two babies. We were stunned. The whole town was full. Main street was blocked with all kinds of booths. There were thousands of people all over. What have we moved into, we thought? What in the world is going on?

Little did we know it was Danish Festival Saturday. That was 41 years ago this weekend. And, now, here we are — much older, likely not much wiser, but still in awe of the Danish Festival.

I know some people live here and say they never take part. Some people say they leave town to get away from the crowds. I am not judging them, but I sure don’t understand that. My husband and my children and I all still get excited about the Danish Festival.

We began doing little kid events. We were in the kiddie parade. We did big wheel races. Our kids were in the talent shows. We ran in the road races. We have bought art and many things we couldn’t live without at the vendor booths. We have worked the booths.

Each year I delight in aebleskivers. And each year, I am so grateful to the Knights of Columbus folks who stand in blazing heat for hours on end to make them for the thousands that buy them. Those balls of light dough are a once a year treat. If I were any kind of woman, I’d go buy a special pan and make them myself. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll just go do that when I finish writing this. Yeah, that’s a mighty fine idea.

A dear couple, Gay and Shirley Hansen, started Gay’s Cleaners. They are now retired but they remain a wonderful local Danish couple. I asked if I could share their family aebleskiver recipe with you today. It has come down through their family for years and, I gotta tell ya, these are the best aebleskivers I have ever, ever had. My friend, Maureen Wolverton, is now part of their family and she makes some for us every year and brings them over. Our whole family gets excited when they see her van pull up. It is the most wonderful and fun gift – not to mention, yummy.

So, here goes. And it comes with a big thank you to the Hansen family for sharing it with us.

The Hansen Family Aebleskivers

3 eggs, separated

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Beat egg yolks and buttermilk together.

Sift all dry ingredients together.

Mix the above with the vanilla.

Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Fold them into the batter.

Here is the tricky part. Get your aebleskiver pan hot. In each well of the aebleskiver pan, put about 1 teaspoon of Crisco. When that melts, put in about 1 teaspoon of butter. When that melts, put the batter in to fill 2/3 of the well. Batter should bubble and it should move on its own. With a tooth pick, flip it around and around cooking it evenly. Do this procedure with the Crisco and butter each time you cook a batch. Be careful not to burn the butter.

To eat, roll in brown sugar, powdered sugar or dip in jelly. Sue, the Hansen’s daughter, said they break them open and eat them with butter and jam. This was something I did not need to know. I don’t need anymore ideas. Personally, I like to roll them in a mixture of brown and powdered sugar. No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong with a hot aebleskiver. Oh, and Maureen said this recipe “makes a ton.”

When we are other places and we tell people we live in a Danish community, they always look stunned. “Really?” they ask, “Are there real Danes?” And then we tell them about all the Hansens, Christensens, Sorensens, Petersens, Jorgensens, Andersens, Rasmussens. And, of course, we could go on and on. They just stare in awe.

I remember when we first moved here we went to a local follies show. Stan Kemp was in it and he told a Danish joke. He said he had lived here his whole life and was 17 before he realized that “damn Dane” was 2 words. I still remember the twinkle in his eye as he told that and laughed.

There is another Danish joke I love. It is about Orley and Lena. Lena died so Orley called the paper to put in an obituary. The lady asked which ad he wanted. He said, The cheapest.” She said that would give him six words. He agreed and told her to put, “Lena died Wednesday.” She said, “Sir, you can put in three more words.” He thought and thought and thought and added, “Buick for sale.”

The Danish Festival offers so many things, you could never do them all in one year. This year we will be in the Parade of Lights on Baldwin Lake. We will browse all the booths downtown. We will be judging the main parade on Saturday. We, hopefully, will get to see the art all over the city. What a great addition that is to the festival. We will likely enjoy some of the performances on the grand stand downtown. We will, hopefully, get to take our grandsons to the play. Those are always fabulous!

We will basically begin the Danish fun on Thursday and end it on Sunday. I am hoping you will do the same. And maybe, I will hear you smacking your lips as you enjoy the above recipe. For the weekend, we can all enjoy becoming Danish.

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

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