Many occasions called for a picnic: rodeos, sport days, end-of-school parties, church gatherings, Canada Day, 4th of July (a good many homesteaders were American), berry picking and harvest time.
With the arrival of automobiles, picnicking became an outing in itself. Community picnics often included a rare treat: ice cream made on site, the children taking turns churning the handle of the ice cream maker. Of course, the cream came right from the cow.
In summer 1915, Julie Feilberg packed a picnic for a family outing. The occasion: her husband, Ditlev, has discovered a "forest" not far from their homestead at Nokomis, which was such a novelty they hitched the horses to the wagon and went to see it.
In a letter home to Denmark, Julie noted that the trees were not much bigger than a "Danish hedge" but it was the first time her boys had climbed trees since coming to Canada. Their picnic included egg sandwiches, bread and butter, citron marmalade, layer cake, rhubarb pudding with cream and these traditional Danish cookies.
Jødekager are still popular in Denmark, especially at Christmas time, but are also quite at home in a prairie picnic basket.
1 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar, separated
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Cream butter with 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and cardamom.
Gradually mix flour into butter mixture until well blended. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and rest on the counter for one hour.
Working in batches, roll the dough on a floured surface. To prevent sticking, cover dough with floured wax paper. Roll to a scant 1/4 inch. Cut cookies and place on a baking sheet. Combine the scraps and roll again.
Mix cinnamon and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Brush cookies with egg white and sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon mixture. Bake at 375F until the edges are just starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
Do you have a prairie recipe with a story? Tell me!
(This article first appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.)