Art and Irene Beem. One of the family’s favorites at Christmas is san bakkle, a crisp, rich-tasting Scandinavian pastry that goes well with coffee or cold milk.
Farm Weekly, Monday, December 20, 1948.
THE HOLIDAY season for the Art Beem family of Hornick, Ia., like on thousands of other midwest farms, is a joyous period of planning and preparation, cooking and baking, and anticipation of things to come on the day of all days – Christmas.
Christmas is eagerly awaited by the whole family and probably doubly so by the five children, who range in age from 2-year-old Nancy to 16-year-old Evelyn. It’s a busy season, too, for in addition to the usual chores are found on the 320-acre dairy farm, there is the Christmas program at the Holly Springs school, the 4-H party the week before Christmas, and the program and Christmas services at the Christian church.
HOME MADE CANDY—Janet Beem, 12, stirs up a batch of home made brown sugar fudge while brother Jimmy, 10, looks on with interest. Janet takes over the candy making department during the holiday season on the Beem farm.
Activities are shared, though, Mrs. Beem pointed out, and each of the children has some particular chore to do. For instance, 12-year-old Janet [Jeanette] likes to show her hand in cake baking and candy making; she’ll have quite a part in preparing the many Christmas dishes. Evelyn, 16, helps with the housework and washing of milk utensils, in addition to sandwiching in several hours of piano practice every day. Mary Jane, 9, and Evelyn take turns in gathering eggs and feeding and watering the flock of 200 hens and 10-year-old Jimmy, the lone boy outnumbered by four girls, helps his father with the evening milking chores. It’s his special job to take care of the calves. That leaves the youngest, 2-year-old Nancy, who doesn’t have any particular job except to be thrilled with the lighted tree in the living room and the shiny, red and white tricycle that Santa brought her this Christmas.
Evelyn watches 2-year-old Nancy who exclaims with delight over the red and white tricycle Santa brought her; Santa just couldn’t resist bringing the tricycle a full week ahead of schedule.
Traditional dishes are served by many families on Christmas eve or on Christmas day. Of course, some are purely American like turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and Christmas cookies. Others are reflections of old country background.
In her kitchen, Mrs. Beem annually likes to prepare some of the things that have evolved from her Norwegian-Swedish and her husband’s Danish background.
One of the family’s favorites at Christmas is san bakkle, a crisp, rich-tasting Scandinavian pastry that goes well with coffee or cold milk.
1 cup shortening.
1 cup butter.
1 1/2 cups sugar.
1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add flour to stiffen, usually about 3 cups. The dough is pressed into san bakkle tins, a sort of crinkled cupcake tin. Bake lightly.
This recipe will make from 25 to 30 servings. (See cover picture.)
Mrs. Beem said that originally this recipe called for two cups of butter. If you prefer, you may use it that way, although they are very good with the shortening substitute. Christmas eve lunch, traditionally calls for san bakkles, served with homemade ice cream and hot cocoa.
Beat 6 eggs until creamy. Add two cups of sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla and one-half teaspoon of lemon extract. Use half cream and half milk to sell a one-gallon freezer.
Pack with ice and let the children take over the freezing operations. The result: A rich, home-made ice cream that everyone goes for.
Preferred, too, by the family is a quickly made rye-graham bread that can be mixed in the morning and served for dinner.
GRAHAM RYE BREAD
Use half white and half graham-rye flour, following usual bread recipe. Add four cups of liquid, either potato water or milk. Use two dry yeast cakes, one-half cup sugar, two tablespoons of molasses, one tablespoon of salt. Let raise and form loaves.
SERVE WITH COFFEE – Mary Jane Beem shows the finished product, a tempting, frosted Swedish coffee ring, one of the favorites of the Art Beem family of Woodbury county, Ia. The recipe for this treat is given in the story.
For breakfast or in-between snacks. You may want to try another favorite, a Swedish coffee ring.
Use your usual sweet bun recipe, and then divide into thirds. Use one-third for the ring; the rest may be used for buns.
Roll to one-half inch in thickness. Spread with butter. Then spread one and one-half cups of chopped dates. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll as for cinnamon rolls. Instead of slicing make a ring of dough joining the ends. Place on a greased pan. Take scissors and clip every half-inch to a depth of one inch. Let raise for one hour and then bake 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Top with powdered sugar frosting.
With home-raised popcorn and home-made candy there are plenty of added treats for the children. Fudge, divinity and brown sugar fudge are usually on the holiday schedule and here is where Janet takes over. Here is her recipe for brown sugar fudge:
BROWN SUGAR FUDGE
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons syrup
2-3 cups rich milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cook and then set until cool. Then beat until smooth and pour into a buttered dish.
Fruit cake is traditional, too. Mrs. Beem always bakes it before Thanksgiving, insuring a good supply for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s day.
When the children were smaller Santa used to come Christmas eve when the children were asleep and bring the tree and gifts. Now Santa really exists only for 2-year-old Nancy and the rest of the children heartily cooperate to carry out that theme. The tree usually goes up a week before Christmas with all the children helping to decorate. Presents go under the tree but it isn’t until Christmas morning that the tension is relieved and everyone unwraps his presents.
CHORES TO DO – Work gets done faster and the whole family can enjoy Christmas festivities if everyone pitches in to get the chores done early. Nine-year-old Mary Jane Beem is responsible for gathering the eggs and feeding the 200 hens on the farm.
Mr. Beem gets up at 5 a. m. every morning to start milking his 30 cows, but Christmas morning is one time when all the children get up with him. No urging is needed. On the contrary, there are usually a few queries all through the night, “Mother, is it time to get up yet?”