Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lefse, anyone?

Although I spend a good deal of every day quilting, today we will spend the full evening making our winter's supply of lefse. For the past 34 years, I have partaken in this annual tradition courtesy of my husband's Norwegian heritage. (I only have a little bit of it in me.) At first it was simply eating it at the family gatherings and discussing whether Grandpa or Grammie did the better part of preparing it. While living in Maine, we bought our own lefse grill and were assisted by Mom and Dad with our very first batch. As the kids grew, so did the fun and the flour involved in making it. The folks had been more serious about the process, but I don't take anything to do with food too seriously. The biggest clean up messes of the year involved getting the flour out of all the nooks and crannies and off all the kitchen surfaces. Now it is back to just the two of us, so we make half a batch and share a little with the kids. Jamie has her own grill now.

The test piece was the best we have ever made, so I guess the weather conditions were just right! The pieces were very crisp almost as soon as they were removed from the grill.

Are you asking what lefse is? Lefse takes the place of bread at our holiday meals. It resembles a tortilla in appearance, but is much thinner if it is done right and is the flour type. There are two types of lefse - flour and potato. Potato lefse is stored in the refrigerator or freezer. We make the flour version because it is family tradition and because it can sit on the shelf in an air tight container for months. It is like a brittle cracker while sitting on the shelf. About an hour before the meal we sprinkle it with water and lay it between the folds of a dish towel, and it becomes pliable like a warn tortilla ---that is when the fun begins.

When we sit to the table we explain to our guests that they may put whatever they want on the lefse, but we generally put a little butter and sugar on ours. When I lift off the lace tablecloth at the end of the meal, I know exactly who chose the sprinked sugar version. Several relatives love to put their potatoes and gravy inside, and sometimes I opt for cranberries. Once you decide what to put on it, you roll it up like a crepe and enjoy. However, folding up a little bit of the end before rolling helps to keep the trimmings inside. Even for those unfamiliar with lefse, I plan 2-3 pieces. One of my brother-in-laws claimed that he was half Norwegian simply because he wanted more of the lefse.

What do we do with the leftovers? Well, I actually make planned-overs and try to hide them until the meal is over. These pieces are made into klings. I layer about 6-10 pieces, covering them with various toppings: butter, jelly, peanut butter, honey, and sugar. Instead of rolling them I cut them into bite sized squares and place them in a small container for later. When my husband was a kid Grammie would make them to take ice fishing. Delicious and decadent!

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