Thanksgiving on the Farm
As my family and I sat down at the table to celebrate Thanksgiving, I felt a warmth wash over me as I gazed around the room. Here we were, sitting around the table as a family on the farm that my Swedish ancestors homesteaded in 1884,
our chairs sat on the wood floors that my great-great-grandparents walked on over 100 years ago,
“Come Lord Jesus” is a prayer that we would soon be reciting together – a prayer that was said by my ancestors, and the delicious homemade food we were about to eat came from recipes that have stood the test of time.
Traditions are more than things that are passed down through the generations. Oh yes! They are much more than that. Traditions have a way of dredging up memories, of allowing you to live in the past – if only for a fleeting moment, and of surrounding you with warmth, happiness, and contentedness.
My son and I were both diagnosed with celiac disease (part of our Swedish genetics we’re not so fond of), so for the past three years we were unable to eat stuffing, green bean casserole, and cranberry salad due to the gluten in the dishes. Because of this, Thanksgiving didn’t feel complete. Over the past few years, my family has learned to make all things gluten free, so this Thanksgiving, my son and I would get to indulge in the foods we had been missing. Finally! A complete Thanksgiving meal.
A Cranberry Treat
The cranberry salad was the dish I was looking forward to eating the most. This salad is more of a dessert, so I’m not sure why we call it a salad. Although, I have a feeling this article explains it well: Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Dessert Salads. Or, maybe we simply call it a salad so it sounds a little more appropriate to serve as a side dish with the main meal (as we serve pumpkin and apple pie for dessert). Sneaky, I know. Hey! We only do this once a year.
Layers of crumbled graham crackers, jellied cranberries, and sweetened whipped cream make this sweet, but tart dish a treat. My mother recently told me that my great-grandma Falk served this dish at Thanksgiving, and the family has continued to make it every year. After hearing this, I Googled the ingredients that are in my great-grandma’s cranberry salad, and read that this particular dish is a Swedish dessert.
Research is one of my favorite hobbies, so I contacted a few relatives who live in Sweden to ask about this cranberry dish. One was able to confirm that our favorite cranberry salad is in fact an old Swedish dessert called “giftas” (pronounced ‘yiftas’). So, maybe the recipe was actually brought over to the United States by my great-great-great grandparents when they emigrated from Sweden. Either way, giftas is a special dessert – a Thanksgiving tradition that evokes warm memories, satisfied smiles, and allows us to step back in time for just a moment.
I leave you with my great-grandmother’s giftas recipe (or is it my great-great-great-grandmother’s?):
Crumble 10 oz. of graham crackers (about two packages of regular graham crackers). My kids and I made homemade gluten-free graham crackers. If you would like the recipe for the gluten-free crackers, you can find it here. We crumbled the entire recipe, and had about 1/2 c. of graham cracker crumbles left over. Our chickens enjoyed a little Thanksgiving treat.
Growing up, my family used to crush the graham crackers using a rolling pin, but now a food processor finishes the job in less than a minute. Tecnhnology – a blessing or not?
Whip a quart of heavy whipping cream on high until soft peaks form. Sweeten the cream by adding a 1/4 c. of powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract (or in our case – 3-4 teaspoons as we can’t get enough vanilla flavoring).
Mash three – 14 oz. cans of jellied cranberries.
Using a clear serving bowl, layer the graham cracker, cranberries,
and whipping cream,
paying particular attention to making sure the layers show on the outside of the bowl.
Finish the gifta with a layer of whipping cream and add sprinkles of graham cracker crumbs on the top.
- 10 oz. of graham cracker crumbles (about two packages)
- 1 qt. heaving whipping cream
- 1/4 c. powdered sugar
- 2 t. pure vanilla extract
- 3 – 14 oz. cans of jellied cranberries
Do you have favorite traditions or foods that make your holidays special? I would love for you to share them. Skål! – Cheers!