It’s always nice to get together with friends and just sit and chat over a steaming cup of tea or coffee.
But in Sweden, if Mr. Svensson told his wife “I invited the Eriksens for coffee” his wife would throw a fit.
You see, it is customary and expected that the host bakes no less than seven* different kinds of cookies and pastries all freshly made and artfully arranged before the guests arrive.
This should be undertaken only by professional pastries chefs who have ovens as large as garages. For anyone else it is a recipe for a nervous breakdown. Is it a wonder that Swedes will do their upmost to avoid this social obligation?
If this is for coffee, what about dinner parties, you ask? That is a bit more complicated.
First, you have to go out and shoot a goose, stuff it, shoot another goose, cook it for a couple of hours and display it magnificently between the propped wings of the stuffed bird (wonder what the Vikings would have thought of that). And that is only the main course.
This information I learned in the wonderfully idiosyncratic Nordisk Museum in Stockholm. It is dedicated to all cultural aspects Sweden you never thought to ask. There are rows upon rows of doll houses, displays of crafts and furniture throughout the ages, old photographs of hardworking men and women and a collection of traditional customs. My audio guide informed me of the most curious things. Did you know that under the layers of petticoats and dresses, Swedish girls used to wear absolutely……. well, never mind. In anycase, for me the most interesting showcase was the full replicas of dining rooms replete with typical Swedish meals.
Although I would love to replicate the Swedish coffee party here, I will present you with a quick and easy, and most of all…stress-free oatmeal cookies.
Oatmeal Cranberry-Pecan Cookies
Based on a recipe by Cookie Madness. This cookie is packed full of energy and great with the morning coffee.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups oats (not instant)
3/4 cup cranberries
1 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 180°C (375°F).
Mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
Using a mixer, cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
On low (or my hand) add the flour mixture. Mix only until incorporated. Stir in oats, cranberries and nuts.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten dough slightly if you want a crispier and thinner cookie.
Bake about 10 minutes. Less if you want to chewier cookie, more if you want a crisp one. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 30 cookies.
*I have never been invited to coffee in Sweden but it would make sense if this tradition has eased up a bit from the 19th century.