Celebrate the Fourth with your own traditions


The Fourth of July is right around the corner. In the community where I live, strong traditions are a big part of this mid-summer holiday. We put on one of the best parades around. The tall neighborhood floats are spaced between school bands, cars carrying kids’ ball teams, people on horses with parade saddles and bridles, and large, enthusiastic groups of kids on decorated bikes.

Top it all off with a strong military presence, with Veterans of Foreign Wars and lots of American flags, plus large crowds of people and dogs seated and standing along the entire 2.6 miles long route, sprinkle in some waving politicians and there you have it!

The parade, plus the community fireworks, is what brings some people back “home” for the Fourth. The biggest draw, however, is the multiple-class high school reunions planned around weekends before and after the Fourth.

The several acre open space and sports fields that are part of the grounds of the oldest elementary school in the city, near the end of the parade route, are where the 10-years-apart reunion classes gather. It’s a melee of people of all ages, kids, dogs, bicycles, food and cold drinks. An opportunity to reconnect with the people you knew growing up, and to meet their spouses and kids, is priceless.

More and more in our mobile society staying in touch with friends and family over the years involves effort and planning — much like a class reunion.

My daughter Jenny and her family recently brought to fruition a year-long plan to vacation with her American Field Service (AFS) family from Lillehammer, Norway to celebrate her Norwegian dad’s 70th birthday. The whole family got together in Orlando, Florida for a week together, then went their separate ways to explore different areas of the U.S. (with one maverick son and his family breaking off to go to the Bahamas).

Jenny’s Norwegian parents flew from Florida to Chicago for several days, then came here to central Ohio for three days to have time with their American “child” and her family before flying to their last stop in New York, then home to Norway. It was good to see and spend time with them. I’m glad Jenny’s husband Chris and children Katie and Edward are connected to people who continue to mean so much to their mom.

I hope we’ll continue to have reunions and connections across the years and the miles. It’s always worth planning for!

We all had dinner together at our house on Jenny’s Norwegian family’s first night here. I made a Scandinavian dessert called Blotkake. It’s delicious when you use a 10-inch springform pan to make it. When you can’t find your 10-inch pan and substitute a 9-inch pan instead, well, the results are something less than perfect. Mine was rather brown and a little crunchy — all the whipped cream, strawberries and strawberry jam helped — by the next day! Everyone ate it, however, and none of us were the worse for the experience.

Try making blotkake at home. Be sure to use a 10-inch pan!

BLOTKAKE

5 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 cups raspberry or strawberry jam

Do not preheat oven!

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until stiff, light and fluffy (10-15 minutes). Fold sifted flour and baking powder into beaten egg mixture. Pour into greased round 10 inch springform pan.

Do not preheat oven. Place pan into oven and set at 350 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cake cool in oven with door partly open.

Cut cake in half to make 2 layers.

Dilute 1/3 cup jam with 1/3 cup water and spoon over both layers. Then cover both layers with a thin layer of undiluted jam.

Cover one layer with whipped cream. Place other layer on top and “frost” entire cake with rest of whipped cream.

Serves eight to 10.

This is a Norwegian recipe passed down to me 30 years ago. If you follow it exactly the cake will be very tender and flavorful.

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at ieatatmoms@gmail.com.