Author Archives: Matthew Arbanas

Folk Recipe – Scotland

Scottish Bread Pudding


  • Suet, 4 oz (110 g), you’ll need to order at least 175g, use a grater (watch those fingers!)
  • Self-raising flour, 2 oz (50 g) sifted
  • White bread crumbs, 4 oz (110 g) from the Bakery, not the Supermarket
  • Salt 1/2 teaspoon
  • Nutmeg (freshly grated) 11/2 teaspoons (you must grate this just before mixing)
  • Cinnamon, 11/2 teaspoons of freshly ground (buy a cinnamon stick/quill and grate this just before mixing)
  • Ground ginger, 1/3 of a teaspoon
  • Ground Cloves 1/2 of a teaspoon
  • Soft dark brown Sugar 8 oz (225 g)
  • Currants 10 oz (275 g)
  • Sultanas 4 oz (110 g)
  • Raisins 4 oz (110 g)
  • Dates (dried or fresh) or Prunes 4 oz (110 g) cut into pieces, removing the stones.
  • Peel, mixed & candied 1 oz (25 g) chop finely (buy whole candied peel if possible, then chop it yourself)
  • Almonds 1 oz (25 g), skinned and chopped (packet bought is OK)
  • Pear or Apple, 1 small, peeled and grated (remove core)
  • Lemon, 1 LARGE, grate the skin (zest) only the yellow surface layer, not the white bit!
  • Eggs, 2, size 1 (large)
  • Guinness 5 fl oz (150 ml) you may use any dark beer. (you MAY substitute the same amount of Milk)
  • Muscat 2 Tablespoons (fortified wine, similar to but not the same as Tokay, but Port will substitute)
  • 6 silver coins and 3-Penny pieces (be very aware of the danger of choking, add these at your own risk, and warn diners!)

Every Christmas My mom’s Aunt Mary, who was my dad’s older sister, would make Christmas putting which was like bread putting. This was always done at the end of Christmas day dinner. Her and her 26 cousins would participate in this. In it she would put all these coins wrapped in foil. The coins that she used were nickels, dimes, and quarters, and then she would put a special coin like a half dollar in the mix. When my mom was around 5 years old and the year was 1965. The Christmas pudding was the culmination of the Christmas dinner. My mom told me that for the kids it was a very exciting time. Everyone would eat through it very quickly to see if they got any money. If you got money it meant good fortune but if you got the silver dollar it meant that you got a wish. None of the kids really liked the bread pudding but would eat through it anyway in search of money. My mother told me that it was very competitive. My mom never got the silver dollar but remembers getting nickels and dimes. Money was scarce and when they got money it was a big deal. This tradition was a very big part of Christmas and the traditional bread pudding finish characterized the dinner.

From what I can remember, I cannot recall the last time that we made the traditional bread pudding with coins at Christmas dinner. When I questioned my mother, she told me that we used to when my siblings and I were younger, however the game has lost its appeal now that we are older. Part of this reason is because I think that we realize that finding coins in your desert does not guarantee good fortune or a wish. I also think that it is because small amounts of change are not considered a large amount of money any more. One cannot purchase much with anything less than a dollar.

Folk Art – Norway


My grandmother Adele is extremely passionate about her artwork. Her favorite thing to do is paint Rosemaling. The pictures above are examples of pieces that she has painted for me. The first is a box that she gave me for Christmas, which is considered contemporary. The box has some Rosemaling but she updated it and was able to adapt to my tastes. In this particular case she subtly added golf clubs to the design because golf is one of my favorite sports. The other is considered more traditional Rosemalling and that was given to me for my 16th birthday. She was largely inspired by images of Romsemalling like those found in Rosemalling: The Beautiful Norwegian Art.

My grandma told me that there are seven different kinds of Rosemaling. This is because the valleys were separated and each valley developed their own kinds. She is knowledgeable in all seven. She told me that authentic Rosemaling is done on wood. When she took the lessons, it was really a challenge. They were all male teachers and they were all from Norway.

The reason that she wanted to learn was to get back in touch with her Norwegian heritage. Her mother was from Hallingdal and her father was from Gudbransdal. Those two names are important because they are the names of the Rosemalling styles that originated from them. She told me that Nils Ellingsgard is one of the more famous Rosemallers to come out of Norway. He was recognized by the king and was whom she learned from. The book by him is very important to her because she was able to look at it and learn from it. She also told me that she was lucky enough to take lessons from him up in Seattle.

As far as Rosemaling itself goes, it is a very disciplined type of art to begin with. The Norwegians painted everything, even there ceilings when it snowed and they could not get out. The people of Norway are doing their best to perpetuate the art and keep it going. Both Norway and Norwegians want it to stay in circulation. It used to be done entirely by men but now anyone can do it and many women are taking up the practice my Grandmother said. She also told me that artists are now selling the patterns that she learned from. “You kind of took from other people’s patterns to learn how to do it,” she said. If you used some of them in your work, the contemporary Rosemallers use this phrase: “The telemark design inspired by …” to give credit that they learned it from whomever. She said that it would be wrong to say that it was not inspired by someone else.

One thing that I found extremely interesting was that the people in Norway said that those painting in America were too disciplined, and wanted them to be more contemporary. There seems to be some discrepancy in this. This seems to be the case in most traditional practices that are maintained abroad from their origins. The ones doing it are much more traditional than the ones that live in the actual place. Norway has stated that those trying to learn the art are trying to be too authentic and not adapting it to their new cultural surroundings. They want the Rosemallers who are practicing abroad to be more liberal with their creations and not worry about being governed by the traditional forms of the art.

Annotations: Blanck, Helen Elizabeth. Rosemaling: The Beautiful Norwegian Art. Minneapolis: Woodland Park Fine Arts: 1974.

Legend – Manzanita, OR

“The Clatsop Indian legends speak of two ships that came to Manzanita, one that wrecked on Nehalem Beach with a cargo of beeswax, and a second ship that attempted to anchored offshore of Neahkahnie Mountain but ended up crashing on the point, forcing the crew on land. The landing party from the ship buried a treasure chest on the slopes of Neahkahnie, marking the spot with an inscribed rock., yet it is still unfound to this day. Many believe that to this day the ghost of a black man who was killed and buried along with the treasure guards it. Also, in another twist, the skeleton of a Negro giant was unearthed near the mouth of the Salmon River several years ago, and the remains of a ship are said to lie in the estuary. What is interesting about this and adds more mystery to the issue is the fact that the skeletal remains mysteriously disappeared afterward.”

As a kid, we always thought that the treasure was buried on our beach house property up in the cliffs of Manzantia. My sister recalls that these agencies would come and do excavations on the beach and in the mountains in hopes of finding the treasure without any luck. This legitimized our claim that the treasure could be buried underneath our cabin. This legend has been passed down through the family ever since we built a family beach house in Manzanita and is a favorite to be told around the fire while playing cards at the beach. My mother and aunts and uncles grew up learning about the buried treasure and my grandparents would send them on treasure hunts as kids. In our beach house, we have artifacts that we believe are from the shipwreck such as glass balls and large chunks of wax. Over all the years there have been several groups that have tried to find the treasure. Just two years ago, my sister remembers all us being down at the beach when they were filming a documentary on the treasure. Also, my sister made an appearance in a film on the treasure in Manzanita created by a close family friend, Jane Hall. My Grandparents have told us that the treasure was buried underneath the house so many times that we are all starting to believe it and that maybe one-day we will be rich.

From the research that I have done into the legend, I found that it originated with the Indian people passing the story of the ships crashing at the point to the settlers of the area. From there, the hype around the story has taken off and is very well known by the majority of the residents in the area. What is even more intriguing is that my grandparents have collected artifacts while on the beach, which they believe are the washed up remains of the ships. I personally believe the legend and my cousins and I talk of making an expedition to try and find the hidden treasure up in the mountain.

Proverb – Norway

“Altfor blyg kjem ingen stad fram

“Too shy gets nowhere ahead.”

“Who little ventures, little gains.”

My grandmother told me that she often heard this saying when she was growing up from my mother. The proverb is most often used to convey the idea that if one does not put themselves out there and experience life then they will learn little and not grow as a person. The saying has been passed down through my grandmother’s family originating with her Great Grandma. My mother and Grandmother tell me that my Great Grandmother was extremely adventurous. She was a seasoned traveler and made her mark known around the world, traveling to all parts of Europe and Asia. Her traveling greatly altered her perspective and changed her outlook on life, having a tremendous impact on her personally. Whenever her children were reluctant to pursue something new, she would often tell her children “who little ventures, little gains” in the context that if they do not venture out and see the world then they will gain little in life as opposed to if they stay stagnant.

The role of this saying in my life has also been equated with travel. My parents have often encouraged me to be outgoing and try new things. My mother has often used this phrase to coax me into doing things I have often been reluctant to do such as an exchange program to Barcelona, Spain when I was in high school or studying abroad in college. Today, I can also see this saying being used to capture the idea that if one does not take risks in the business world and be ambitious, then there is little profit that can be made. Especially in the United States, innovative and new ideas are key to maintaining steady growth in ever evolving markets. I believe that this saying captures the idea that sometimes the risk is worth the reward.

Legendary Others- Norway

“The Tomkin, the Nisse, is very traditional and represents the country with a high hat. He helps the farm animals. The Tomkin is generally depicted with a white beard and a tall red hat. This becomes very important with the war with Nazi. There were lots of them. There were many families of them. They lived in the roots of the great big trees. The doors were invisible and no one could see them. They helped so much around the farms and the house and worked very closely with the animals of the forest. He would help the animals if they were hurt in the field. He fed the birds. The Tomkin loves the wildlife and he loves to help. When something goes so well in the old farmhouses, oh they would say that the Tomkin has been here. They are just so thrilled. The general terms Gnomes of Norway.

The Gnome that is so bad is the Troll. The Troll, he is the one that the children were afraid of. And he is the one that lived in the mountains. There was a lot of superstition that came through the mountains. In other words, when there are no roads, and no cities or towns, and you are traveling in a small group through the country and with a small group you heard all kinds of sounds, and the wind whistling, and lighting; that was caused by trolls.”

My Grandmother explained to me that her mother introduced the Tomkin to her. Her mother did many paintings of the Tomkin. One that she clearly remembers was a water painting that she still has hanging in her own home. It shows the Tomkin coming out at night and working in the barn. My Grandmother explained to me that in Norway, the houses were not as we had ours here. They had one log house for cheese making, one for bread making, one for weaving, and then the main house for dining. The Tomkin would come into these cabins when no one was around and do their part to aid in the processes going on. The Norwegian people believed they would come out at night and be very helpful at night especially up in the farm country.

My Grandmother recalls that many Norwegian artists are extremely influenced by the Tomkin and often created pieces in which they are portrayed helping around.  My Grandma’s mother painted the Tomkin standing on a stool cause he is so small and he has a long stick and is stirring the Christmas soup. He is depicted as having one big eye looking out as if he did not want anybody to see him. However, if anything goes bad, the people of Norway are extremely superstitious; they blame it on the Trolls. They are generally depicted having really scary faces and the children hate to hear about the Trolls. Anything bad or scary happening to you was caused by trolls and unexplainable.

This tale says a lot about the Norwegian cultural beliefs, mainly those surrounding superstitions such as a responsibility to one another. I find interesting that they believe that there are tiny gnomes that come and aid in farming families daily duties. Images such as these can be found in the book Gnomes, by Rien Poortvliet and Wil Huygen, which coincide with my Grandmother’s tales of the Gnome. This could be translated to the Norwegian people having a mentality of helping one another out instead of being selfish and live for one another like the Tomkin does. It is also very interesting they equate any bad luck or bad happenings with the Troll in the hills. Surprisingly, when I questioned my grandmother as to whether the Tomkin and the Troll interact, she said no, never. Considering that they are opposite forces, I thought that they might. In researching this, I found that in fact they did. This led me to believe that there are different versions out there regarding the Tomkin.

Annotation: Huygen, Wil and Rien Poortvliet. Gnomes. New York: A Peacock Press/Bantam Book