For Tina Kloss there is one simple answer to any problem — if you’re stuck, go Norwegian.
That’s what the La Crescent Health Services dietary manager did when she was asked to submit a meal to the national Spirit of America Food Competition hosted by American Health Care Association.
Her trick worked and she was ranked eighth in the nation out of more than 5,000 applications for her meal.
The meal in question was a traditional Syttende Mai dinner, which was served to the nursing facility’s residents for Norway’s May 17 Constitution Day.
The meal was filled with meatballs and noodles, glazed carrots, lefse, rommegrot and krumkake. Many residents are Norwegian or grew up with Norwegian food.
Lefse is a soft, potato flatbread, rommegrot is a porridge made with sour cream and krumkake is a waffle cookie.
“It was a lovely meal,” resident Doris Engelhart said.
Kloss submitted pictures of the meal to the competition and heard back in July that she had placed and received a trophy.
“I think it’s important, because it shows our dedication to make each day special here. There’s a saying that nursing homes used to be a place to go to pass on but now they’re a place to live. We were able to celebrate the vast Norwegian heritage that lives in this area, in our staff and in our residents,” La Crescent Health Care Services Executive Director Abby Rand said.
As La Crescent Health Services (previously Golden Living Center)is new to the company, this was the first year that Kloss entered the competition.
“Quite a few people contributed to the meal,” Kloss said. “One cook brought in her Norwegian cookbook and that’s the recipe we used for the meatballs. The stroll — a cookie — was the business manager’s recipe and we got the lefse from Linda’s Bakery.”
Kloss, who has worked at the nursing facility on and off for the past 12 years, has worn many hats.
She started as a certified nursing assistant and previously worked in the business office but returned in the past year as the dietary manager.
“I grew up cooking. My mom taught me really young. It’s fun to bring together my personal life with work,” Kloss said.
Resident Liz Spangler enjoys the facility’s foods in general.
“I’m not a picky eater but you know when the food is good,” she said. “I haven’t heard too many complaints about the food in general so I think even the picky eaters don’t have much to say.”
Although Kloss placed in the competition, she does not take full credit.
“I didn’t dream it up, my ancestors did,” she said.