The very first thing that happened that evening was that I was astounded at how much I felt like home at this meeting. Even in the parking lot, I was greeted by several women, even though it was my first meeting and didn't know anyone. As I walked into the basement meeting hall of a Lutheran Church, I felt immediately that I Was Home. The cue was that before I reached the sign-in table, there was a huge pot of coffee and lots of coffee mugs. This brought back so many memories of growing up in a Scandinavian-influenced Lutheran Church in Minnesota that it immediately transported me back several decades. Of course, the coffee was most excellent. And there were a lot of friendly women who greeted me and made sure I had a place to sit along with some dinner companions.
Dinner was offered by several women (each month, a half dozen women decorate the tables and bring the food; this rotates, so it's not too often any one person is responsible for all of this). We had Gjetost (a goat cheese favored by Norwegians) on rye bread; cream cheese on date bread; ham and Havarti cheese on rye bread; Julekaka (fruit cake); cold pea salad (recipe to follow); pickled herring; pickled beets; wilted cucumber salad; green Jell-O salad with pineapple; strawberry Jell-O salad with strawberry yogurt; and little waffles with raspberry jam that was not too sweet. On the dessert table, there were rosettes; banana pudding; apple crisp; lemon bars; nut bars; date bars; and sugar cookies. I'm sure I've forgotten to list something, but I had a little of almost everything and this is what I remember. There may have been other beverages offered than coffee, but the coffee was so delicious, I didn't look for anything else. And I lost count of how many cups I had.
So here's where my sisters, daughter, and my entire family, will think I've gone completely bonkers because I'm including a recipe for Green Pea Salad. They'll think I'm bonkers because of my long-standing and vehement dislike of peas - and that dislike has been since I was very little and has been a source of teasing for decades. The story that illustrates my dislike of peas (and my brilliant creativity) is that when I was little - maybe 4 or 5 - my Mother tried to get me to eat my peas by not letting me down from the table until they were all gone. I had already tried hiding them under mashed potatoes, in my napkin, and feeding them to our dog, but none of that worked. She left me alone in the kitchen to finish the now cold and disgusting canned peas. So I took the peas, placed one in the center of each of the green floor tiles in the kitchen, and stepped on them to smash them into the floor. I thought it was brilliant, but unfortunately my Mom was too observant and noticed them. Sigh. For years, my Mom would share a recipe with me or make a hotdish or salad and "forget" how much I hated peas until she saw my face and then said, "Oh! I forgot! Well, just pick them out."
Cold Green Pea Salad
2 (10 ounce) bags of frozen tiny peas
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or 1 teaspoon Real Lemon
1 teaspoon dried dill weed (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
1 teaspoon dried chives (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Prepare the peas according to the package directions; drain very well and set aside
- In a small bowl, combine sour cream, lemon juice, dill weed, chives, salt, and pepper and mix well with whisk until light and smooth
- Gently toss the peas in the dressing
- Chill for at least 1 hour before serving