Monday, November 08, 2010


The college auxiliary was looking for a fund raiser, and with us being a Norwegian background college and church, I wasn't surprised when someone brought up a lefse sale.  Which is a good thing.  But, it's a bad thing too, because it is a ton of work.  And not too many of us learned the talent from our moms and grandmas who have now passed on to make lefse in Heaven.  Oh, some of us have tried, and many of us have helped, but the fine art of lefse making is quickly becoming a lost art.

So, do you all know what lefse is?  I usually describe it to non-Scandahoovians as Norwegian tortillas.  There is one big difference though.  Instead of being made of flour or corn, lefse is made with riced Russet potatoes.  Yes, needs to be riced, not mashed, and needs to be Russets.  (We were told this when we received the recipe for Saturday!)  The potatoes are cooked and riced, then cooled.  Then a bit of lard (substitutions are acceptable) and a bit of cream and a little flour is mixed in, and the mixture is divided into small lumps and kept cool until needed.  It's then rolled thin, thin, thin.  Thin as in transparent!  The round pastry looking piece of dough is then carefully picked up with a lefse stick and transferred to a lefse grill, or a wood fired cookstove if you have one!  You bake it until little brown spots appear on each side, then you pile the rounds under a cozy to steam a bit, and then transfer them to dishtowel covered tables to cool.  Most Norwegians eat their lefse with butter and sugar, either white or brown.  It's also wonderful stuffed with the thanksgiving turkey or mashed potatoes, and the Christmas Eve meatballs and gravy make the best stuffing.

We were fortunate to have an expert among us, and several others are nearing expert status.  The lefse grills had to be set up around the kitchen and social hall, plugged into different spots so we didn't overload, and thus blow, any of the circuits!
Here is our expert lefse maker demonstrating how to roll out the dough.
This gal is fast becoming an expert.  She is married to the Norwegian professor at the college, has her own decorated lefse stick, and has the required mug of coffee along!
This was my partner, also a pretty good lefse cooker!  She rolled, the hard part, and I flipped on the grill.
What a little sweetie this gal is!  She was with her grandma, my dear high school friend, and was the youngest lefse maker there.
This is our Christian Day School principal, and the only male lefse maker.  Doesn't he look like he belongs on one of those chef cookoff shows?
The rounds are cooling and will soon be packaged to be picked up after services on Sunday.  I don't know how much money we raised, and I don't know if everyone will think it's worth the work.  But I do know it's a delicious part of a traditional Norwegian Thanksgiving and Christmas, so many people who don't bake it themselves will be thrilled to have some for the holidays.  I forgot to order any for our celebration.  And, no, I won't be making any myself.


Anonymous said...

ok so when you fill these, do you roll them, or fold them like a tortilla? I have never heard of these, but it looks like a fun project for all involved!

I think it is so important to pass traditions down in the family, I have a feeling that little girl will be making lefse's for her grandchildren some day. how awesome is that

Marge said...

Tonjia, you just spread them with butter and put a blob of whatever in the middle and roll them up. The guys used to take lefse out deer hunting. They'd butter them and put sugar on them and roll them up. Then they'd stick them in their front shirt pocket, and when they got hungry they'd just reach in and pull one out. And it's very much a tradition that needs to be passed on. And I'm sorry I don't make it!

Jeanne said...

How very interesting! I made tortillas with mesa once but I don't think I'll be trying it again. It was a lot of trouble. I've never heard of lefses but anything made with potatoes has got to be good.

miracle receiver said...


You will need to let me know when you do it next time. I have my own lefse stick and I make it with my mom. I don't know if she will be able to do it this year.


* said...

Oh how I miss lefsa! My mom would make it when I was a little girl...but I never learned. Some day (some year) when I am able to spend more time in the kitchen I may try this. Thanks for bringing up a memory for me. I can actually taste it!

Lena . . . said...

BRING ON THE LEFSE, but leave the lutefisk out at my house. I'm a full-blooded ScandiHOOvian, but that doesn't mean I have to like lutefisk (sorry). I love lefse, and used to help my mother who made it every year for the holidays. I never learned all the secrets, though, so I buy mine from the local lefse maker. We've got two really good ones in the vicinity and you can buy it by the case. I usually ship a case down to my brother in New Mexico because it's unheard of there. Looks like you had a fun day, but I bet you were all tired by the end.