I have never even had homemade lefse before. Oh, we have been eating it around Christmas for as long as I can remember, but it has always been from the plastic Mrs. Olson's Scandinavian Lefse package. One of the moms from Jack's school invited me over for a lefse lesson, and of course I said YES! She told me to make mashed potatoes with a little butter and half and half, no lumps, a day ahead so that they would be nice and chilled.
Great! I said. And I hung up the phone. Then my brain started turning. Surely there must be more ingredients. More instruction. More direction. How much butter? How much half and half? How long does one boil a potato for mashing? (What? I never make mashed potatoes!)
So I hit allrecipes and found just what I needed to feel comfortable. 3lbs potatoes, 2 TBSP butter, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, and 1/2c heavy cream. I added the butter, potatoes and cream to my mental grocery shopping list.
A day or two went by. I woke up this morning slightly alarmed. I had planned on grocery shopping today and making the potatoes tonight for lefse fest tomorrow. But the back of my brain said 'Nina, check your calendar'. HOLY CRAP! Lefse day was today! In just a few hours! And I was almost out of butter, there was no cream or potatoes. There was also no time for the grocery store; both Jack and I were in jammies and we just can't mobilize that fast. I decided to improvise. We had a small, pathetic pile of shriveled red potatoes in the pantry, left over from our summer harvest (note to self, store potatoes in area with a tad more moisture). I guessed at how many made 3 lbs and peeled each little one. Into a boiling pot of water they went. Then I found a can of evaporated milk in the cupboard. That's close enough to cream, right? And there was only 1 tablespoon of butter.
Thirty minutes later the Kitchenaide was mixing up a storm. Guess what? They tasted good! No one (but you, dear reader) will ever know of my little ingredient debacle. I somehow managed to make a perfect 4 cups.
I arrived at Jessica's house, chilled mashed potatoes and toddler in tow, at noon. She explained that lefse is made with a special griddle and wooden tools. We sent the kidlets off to play and got right to it! You add 2 cups flour to every 4 cups potato. Mix with your hands. Roll a plum sized ball out onto a fabric covered board with your special fabric covered rolling pin. Then use super special lefse sticks to remove the lefse pancake and transfer it to your super hot, 500 degree griddle. No greasing is necessary! You flip it over as soon as it starts to brown. And repeat.
Now, my batch of lefse didn't look quite as nice as hers, because frankly- I suck at peeling potatoes and left all sorts of skin on them. But they tasted GREAT! And it was a blast to learn something new with a new friend. She even broke out her camera (because she knew I would want to show and tell, haha).
|Hi. My name is Nina, I'm 14 weeks pregnant and feeling fat. Behave or I'll beat you with my blue-handled lefse stick.|
Part of what makes lefse so special is the tradition of it all. Jessica's lefse tools were all hand-me-downs or borrowed from mothers, aunts, or grandparents. She told stories of making lefse every year with her family and of Grandpa saying that lefse is 'food of the Gods'. Even the way she folds her lefse was fascinating (because it's different than the way I've always rolled it, haha).
So anyways, there you have it. Nina made Lefse!