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After my previous Christmas posts focussed very much on Denmark and Sweden, it seemed only fair to head to Norway for a very special “Chat with”.
Award-winning food writer Nevada Berg, or ‘northwildkitchen’ as you may know her on Instagram, never fails to inspire; whether it’s with her delicious seasonal recipes, her insight into living more mindfully, or her adventures travelling across Norway.
So, if there was one person I wanted to find out more about celebrating Christmas the Nordic way it had to be Nevada. Luckily for me, she too was happy to share more about the tastes, flavours and traditions that she and her Norwegian family will be embracing during the festive season.
Over to Nevada to tell us more:
Shall we start with a little about yourself, where you call home, and how North Wild Kitchen came about?
I was raised in Utah and met my Norwegian husband in England while studying. After sharing a bit of a nomadic life together, we decided to settle down in Norway with our young son. Once here, I knew I wanted to look further into the history behind the dishes we were eating and enjoying, as well as discover more about the cuisine and ingredients.
Coming to the area of Numedal, I was taken back by the amazing natural ingredients growing outside on our doorstep; from wild strawberries and chanterelles to wild meats and fresh-water fish. The taste variations and quality are some of the best I have ever experienced. Learning about traditional methods, like smoking and curing, and the nuances and flavors that come from hand-made foods have enlightened my approach to cooking and it is these experiences I share and showcase through the recipes and stories on North Wild Kitchen.
When it comes to celebrating Christmas, when do your festivities begin? And how do you combine your own heritage with Norwegian traditions?
For us, festivities begin at the start of December following Thanksgiving. It’s our family tradition to bake pepperkaker (Norwegian gingerbread cookies) around the first of December, and then we bake other Norwegian and American cookies throughout the rest of the month.
We live in the mountains and always have lots of snow, so it’s a very dreamy winter landscape that is also familiar to what I grew up with. Blending our traditions has been quite easy as we typically celebrate the same way, such as opening gifts on Christmas Eve.
Which ingredients do you love cooking with at this time of year and what are your go-to festive recipes?
I adore juniper berries with their earthy and piney flavor. They add an incredible taste to wild stews and baked goods. Cardamom and cinnamon too, along with other warm spices, are also staples at this time of year. Rutabaga (suede) and cabbage are plentiful for us, so I enjoy making casseroles and side dishes with them.
Some of my favorite go-to festive recipes are sweet and sour braised red cabbage, mashed rutabaga, creamy rice porridge, lefse rolls, lingonberry-glazed whole roasted chicken, pinnekjøtt mac n’ cheese, lussekatter (saffron buns), as well as gløgg (mulled wine), and cardamon hot chocolate.
What will be on your Christmas table this year, and what would your top tip be for taking the stress out of festive cooking?
This Christmas we will serve the traditional Norwegian pinnekjøtt (cured lamb ribs) with creamy mashed rutabaga and boiled potatoes that my husband grew up eating, while for dessert, we usually have riskrem (rice cream) with raspberry sauce or caramel pudding.
My top tip is always to plan ahead. Make dishes beforehand where you can and include lots of simple dishes, that way you don’t spend the whole holiday living in the kitchen. Also, get everyone to help, and most of all make sure you enjoy the time with your loved ones.
Finally, after Christmas is over, what are you most excited about and looking forward to in 2024?
Next year I will be hosting two unique culinary experiences here in Norway. On the first trip we will be tasting our way along the rugged western coastline in June. The other, which I’ve hosted now for two years, will be a culinary journey from Oslo to Bergen, through the mountains and fjords, in September. Both are true Norwegian experiences with an intimate group, where we explore the food culture and landscape together.
Want to know more?
Thank you again to Nevada for the chat, I definitely need to take her advice and start getting my Christmas cooking planned ahead of the BIG day.
If you would like to find out more about Nevada head over to North Wild Kitchen, where you’ll also find more about her Norway Food Trips as well as be able to order copies of her cookbooks.
Images 1, 7 and 8 by Nicola Capper with the remaining courtesy of Prestel Publishing.
If you are a subscriber to the Nordic Notes newsletter, this week Nevada will be sharing with you her delicious St Lucia Saffron Buns recipe taken from her latest book, ‘Norwegian Baking through the Seasons’, so be sure to sign up below if you haven’t already done so.
Also, I’ve teamed up with Prestel Publishing to create an Instagram competition. One lucky Nordic Notes follower will win their very own copy of, Norwegian Baking through the Seasons, worth £26.
To enter: Just follow both nordicnotesblog and northwildkitchen on Instagram. Like the competition photo and tag a friend who you think would like to win. You can tag as many people as you like, and each tag counts as one entry.
Disclaimer: The giveaway is open to those over the age of 18 and living in the UK only. The giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday 13th December 2023.
The winner will be randomly selected and announced on the Nordic Notes Instagram account afterwards, with the book sent directly to the winner by Prestel Publishing. Please note this competition is in no way associated with or endorsed by Instagram.
Enjoyed reading this post? Then get ready for Christmas with help from Swedish design brand, Fine Little Day.