A letter arrived last fall from an anonymous “faithful reader” in Middleton describing a “delicious” potato, bacon, beer soup she enjoyed at the Norske Nook in DeForest. Wondering if they’d share the recipe, the reader also included a recipe copied many years ago from the Wausau newspaper for tiny meatballs with sauce that became a favorite of her grandchildren.

Having already visited the restaurant many times in the past and breakfast a few weeks earlier, I welcomed the opportunity to return and was fortunate to find co-owner Kim Hanson on the premises. Hanson is also the regional manager at Norske Nook locations in Osseo, Rice Lake and Hayward, all three places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting in the past while learning of its history.

Helen Myhre was a Norwegian farm wife and exceptional cook in the Norwegian community of Osseo who opened a small café there in 1973 she named Norske Nook, meaning Norwegian Corner, where the retired Norwegian farmers stopped by every day and sat together in a corner for conversation and morning coffee. In 1993, Myhre and journalist Mona Vold captured it all in their book, “Farm Recipes and Food Secrets from the Norske Nook.” The book became an treasured overnight bestseller and is available at 100 E. Holum St. in downtown DeForest along with home cooking, lefse wraps, Wisconsin classics, slow-cooked roasts, and a seemingly endless list of other longtime favorites and, of course, prize-winning pies that draw crowds on a daily basis. In operation since November 2015, Norske Nook is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Because today is Ash Wednesday, specials are lefse smelt wrap, beer-battered cod sandwich, salmon wrap and shrimp basket. Mini-pies will also be available as well as their special Valentine cherry and cream pies.

Unfortunately, the potato-bacon-beer soup recipe is no longer available because the person who made it no longer is there. However, Hanson has shared another Norske Nook favorite to enjoy.

Cheesy potato bacon soup

6 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic salt

1 teaspoon pepper

4 cups water

8 potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 teaspoons chicken soup base

15 slices of American cheese

1 cup half & half

¼ cup flour

3 cups milk

1 cup chopped cooked bacon

Melt butter. Saute onions and celery for 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and pepper. Stir in water, potatoes, and soup base. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender. Add cheese slices and half & half and stir until melted. In a separate bowl, combine flour with milk until smooth. Pour into soup, stirring constantly until soup has thickened. Add bacon and serve.

This is the recipe clipped from the Wausau newspaper that is now loved by her grandchildren.

Tasty little meatballs

1 ½ pounds ground chuck

¾ cup quick cooking oatmeal

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¾ teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons chopped onion

1 cup milk


1 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup water (can make extra sauce if you like)

Mix together meatball ingredients and form into small balls. Place close together in a 9x13-inch pan. Pour sauce over tops. Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 1 hour. Baste with extra sauce after 30 minutes.

Serve with mashed potatoes or noodles.

While still having a bit of Norway on our minds, months ago a reader requested a recipe for kringle that didn’t turn out the way she expected. Here is the kringle recipe from the Norske Nook cookbook described as being a sweet, light, flaky treat, almost like pie crust that should melt in your mouth.

Kristiana Kringle


1 cup flour

½ scant cup butter

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cold water


1 cup water

½ cup butter

1 cup flour

Dash of salt

3 eggs

½ teaspoon almond extract

To prepare crust: preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, butter, and salt together in a bowl, and mix, using your fingers, as you would pie crust. Add cold water, and mix together, using your fingers. Form dough into 2 long strips about 3 inches wide, place them on a cookie sheet, and set aside.

To prepare the top: in a medium kettle, combine water and butter. Let it come to a boil, and remove from heat. Add flour and salt, stirring quickly with a kitchen fork until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each, using a wooden spoon. Add almond extract, mix, and spread over the two strips of crust. Lay it on thick. Bake for 45 minutes. They will be high when removed from the oven, but they will fall; that’s OK. Drizzle a little basic powdered sugar frosting over when slightly cool. Cut horizontally into 2-inch strips. Eat while fresh. Makes 2 kringles, each sliced into 12 pieces.

And now, think Italian. During a recent Italian Workmen’s Club potluck gathering, member “Butch” Pullara approached me describing a dessert he had just sampled and wondered if I could get the recipe for the dessert brought by fellow member Steve Loniello. I tested it myself and decided that I wanted it, too. Loniello was more than happy to satisfy Pullara, and please me.

Pistachio torte

First layer:

1 stick melted butter

¼ cup crushed walnuts

Crushed graham crackers

Mix melted butter with ¼ cup crushed walnuts with enough crushed graham crackers to make a nice crust. Press into a 9x13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until no longer soft.

Second layer:

16 ounces softened cream cheese

1 ½ cup powdered sugar

½ of a 16-ounce tub of Cool Whip

Mix softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and half of a 16 ounce tub of Cool Whip. Spread on cooled crust.

Third layer:

2 small boxes of Instant pistachio pudding

2 ½ cups milk

Mix together pudding and milk and spread on top of cream cheese mixture.

Fourth layer:

Remaining Cool Whip

More crushed walnuts and graham cracker crumbs

Spread the rest of the Cool Whip on top of the torte and sprinkle with more crushed walnuts and graham crackers. Refrigerate, then enjoy.

Recent request: No wonder readers didn’t respond to a request for “self-rising bread” recipe since the request was meant to be “salt-rising bread,” and now I hope for a response.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI 53708 or by email at greenbush4@aol.com.