Our first EVER blog series is entitled “Disney Dinners” and it is a 12 month exploration of 12 Disney princess films through an immersive journey into the cultures represented in the films. We chose this project to help expose our four year old to some very different traditions and cuisines that typically children don’t experience until much later in life… if at all. We felt that the family friendly content that the Disney films has to offer paired with some intentional culture exposure would be a perfect age appropriate immersion to a more conscientious and accepting worldview for our child down the road when we do set out to travel in 2020. You can read more about what our specific dinner plans are here. We intend to pair each blog post with specific video entailing the cuisine cooked and the Disney film experience our family shared.
January in eastern Kansas is notoriously frigid so when planning dinners for the year, Disney’s FROZEN just seemed like the obvious choice for our first dinner! FROZEN takes place in a country very similar to Norway so we choose Norway for our first cuisine pairing!
For the meal, I selected nearly every Norwegian dish I could to steer us away from Lutefisk. There was just no way I was convinced I could choke that down (let alone convince my four year old to do it).
We presented the idea to oldest daughter with the surprise presentation of her very own Elsa dress for the occasion and once she assumed her “role,” she was open to all the fun experiences we had planned to accompany our movie showing!
Norwegian meals aren’t typically formal affairs but we chose some more “formal” menu items that are typically prepared during holiday seasons just to get a better taste of authentic cuisine. We put the menu together ourselves so if you’re actually Norwegian and these pairings make no sense – we totally get it!
For the above menu, there were only two specialty grocery items required in addition to our regular groceries: the cloudberry preserves and the “gjetost” aka brunost cheese. Cloudberries are a tart orange berry similar to the raspberry that is native to the alpine region. When a quick Amazon search proved fruitless ($15-$30 for 4oz of preserves for a one-time recipe, NO THANKS), a bit of googling led to the realization that IKEA often stocks a 16 oz jar of cloudberry jam in their limited European grocery selection for a mere $7.95. This was more than enough for the trollkrem to fill our krumkake and provide everyone with a sample of the preserves from a unique fruit we had never tried!
The “gjetost” was a lot easier to find as our local grocery store stocked it. It’s a pricier item at $8.95 for 4oz – but once you try this rich caramelized goat cheese, you will never long for Anna’s chocolate fountain again. It has a smooth almost peanut butter flavor to it and pairs well with a crisp fruit like apples. Beware though, it is extremely rich and a little goes a long way.
The rest of our grocery list for this menu was fairly straight forward including items such as cabbage, ground beef potatoes, heavy cream, beef stock, panko bread crumbs and ground pork.
Our total spent on grocery items for this meal was $34.18/$60 or $8.55 per person.
Starting with the traditional Krumkake (pronounced kroom kaka) cookies, lacy thin waffle cones with a similar recipe base. These cookies require a special iron for their delicate detailed impressions and have to be rolled hot so they hold their cone shape. The recipe recommended setting aside extra time to perfect timing and technique. For only four people, we used half the ingredients in the recipe to produce 12 of our own krumkaker – a few to sample while cooking and eight to fill with trollkrem for dessert. Even with the introduction of a new appliance, these cookies are really easy to make and yield a tasty result with only a few minor finger burns achieved whilst rolling them.
Next, the kjøttkaker, or “meat cakes”. This was a familiar preparation with similar to that of the Italian meatball. One obvious difference was that the recipe recommended we shape the meatballs into more oval patties. Once the kjøttkaker were formed and seared, I simply put them in my crockpot on low and added the gravy over them about an hour prior to serving. Overall, this recipe felt like something we could add to our monthly dinner rotation because it was so easy to prepare and uniquely delicious.
Finally, for the bread element of our meal, Norwegian lefse or “potato cakes”. About this time, we started to pick up the cake theme… and it didn’t include your usual Betty Crocker mix. Lefse was an incredibly interesting concept in that while the recipe calls for flour, the primary dough of this flat rolled bread consists of cooled mashed potatoes. The final product results in a very thin, very flat and very bland bread that is used to aid in wiping the gravy from your plate. This was probably the least impressive element of our meal.
I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about preparing our first “official” Disney Dinner… what if it was a complete disaster?! As it turned out though, everyone was so excited about the event itself though that when it was time for dinner, no one even hesitated to try everything!
We started meal preparation about 11 am on the day of our Disney Dinner. The plan was to serve dinner at 6pm each time and we wanted to leave ourselves enough time for any unforeseen hiccups. Luckily, everything came together pretty quickly and seamlessly and the meal was ready by 2pm… leaving lots of time for princess prep!
This was another incredibly fun element to approach because it really forced us to work together on something as a team to determine how we would decorate in a special way with things we already had!
Since we hadn’t allotted any money for formal decor for a one night family occasion, we were in for a real surprise when Meme was able to pull off some pretty neat Frozen themed decor based on winter items and some Frozen toys we already had! Enlisting the use of a blue Christmas strobe light, her house looked just like the Arctic Tundra the moment we pulled into the driveway.
The coolest element of all though was the handmade Olaf she had sketched on construction paper and put on her front door… in a mere 20 minutes that afternoon!
The Rest of the Fairytale Evening
Overall, this evening went exactly as we had hoped. We had a fun and interaction dive -off point to talk with our daughter about some “light” cultural differences between what she was used to in her American routine. We introduced her to some very basic Norwegian phrases such as “Hello” and “Goodbye” and got her excited about some Norwegian folklore involving trolls. She willingly tried everything on her plate and while she isn’t a picky eater in general, this gave us the excuse to introduce some new items to her.
It definitely gave us all something to look forward to and plan – forcing us a little outside of our comfort zone to stretch our imaginations and palates as adults as well. And who doesn’t love a good excuse to watch a Disney movie as an adult?
Thanks for reading and be sure to leave any questions you might have in the comments!