Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lefse 2009

Every few years my mom, sister and I try to make a batch of Lefse.  Here is an explanation of what Lefse is.  Basically it's a Norwegian tortilla, except it's more thin than a tortilla and it's made from potatoes not corn.  But it is round like a tortilla.  Except when we make it.  Then you never really know what shape you'll get, but we try for a general circle.

In our family, Lefse is like Norwegian crack.  My grandma used to make batches and batches of it.  How she did it alone is beyond us, but she would have piles of it wrapped in wax paper in her freezer and would take it out as needed. 

First mom and Maddie prepared the dough.  This involved a lot of kneading.  This is actually one of the more physical aspects of making lefse and I'm very happy it isn't my job.

You need your basic lefse griddle...


or two as the case may be.  My mom called me in late October bursting with excitement to tell me she had purchased a second lefse griddle.  She said, "Now when I die, you and Tracy will each get one!"  I told her I was happy for her, but could probably wait for it.  Today she gave us strict instructions that these griddles are not to be used for pancakes or grilled cheese sandwiches.  They are only lefse griddles.  I'm afraid she might come and haunt us if we decide to try otherwise.

My mom recently made lefse with a group of women at work and learned a few new tricks.  One was the use of this board:

Notice it's round.  It also gives measurements if you want to be crazy and aim for cohesiveness in size.  Maybe 10 years down the road we can try for that.

These are the balls of dough waiting to be rolled out.  That doesn't look too daunting.  However, mom just kept pulling batches of dough out of the fridge.  By the end of her cutting things out, this bowl was filled with these little balls.  It got overwhelming when after 30 minutes of rolling and cooking we hadn't made a dent in the bowl.

You take the ball, place it on the special board which you've buried in flour.  If you don't have enough flour and the board gets any moisture it's all over for your rolling days.  Just ask Tracy.  She tried and tried to recover but had to finally get a new cover. 

The rolling pin is special too.  It has little ridges on it.  Then you cover it with a lefse sleeve.  I'm not sure what it all does to make the lefse roll better, but it works awesome - when you have enough flour.  Flour is key we discovered.

See how thin that is?  My dad informed us that we were making it too thin.  Everyone's a critic.  But, we prefer them this way.  Personally, I think most lefse sold in stores is way too thick.

Once you've rolled it out on the board, you have to roll it onto a lefse stick.  I have no idea what they are called but they are like long wooden swords.  You have to keep them away from small children or they might get mistaken for lightsabers.

Next you bring it over to the griddle and unroll it.  This can be tricky if you don't start far enough over on the side.  It can also be painful if you didn't do it right and go to move the lefse with your fingers.  I can tell you from personal experience that those griddles are hot.  So can Maddie.  And my mom.  Possibly Tracy too.  You'd think the rest of us would have learned from the first one or two persons' mistakes.

Tracy was a bit of a show-off by the time she finally got her board working and managed to produce an actual round piece of lefse.  That's not realistic at all.  Our first couple pieces looked like this:

Note:  There aren't supposed to be holes in lefse.

After it has cooked on one side, which doesn't take long (the griddles are very hot, remember), you take your lefse stick and slide it under the lefse in the middle and flip and unroll the lefse back so the other side cooks.

One should not wear black when making lefse. looks like Mike stopped by to help...

By this time we'd finally figured out our plan of attack.  Tracy and I rolled out the dough and transferred it to the griddles.  From here, Madison took over and flipped the lefse and after it fully cooked she transferred it to whatever pile my mom instructed her to use.  Mom then was in charge of cutting and bagging the pieces.  Mom also had made the dough the night before and did all the kneading and crummy preparation part.  Thanks, mom!

In the meantime, small children were starving.  Mom whipped up some PB&J sandwiches and found some cookies and doughnuts for everyone to enjoy.    Some more than others.

Jake and Austin found my parent's reindeer and proceeded to try and ride them.

Then they turned back into boys and things turned vicious for Blitzen and Rudolph.  I heard it can get like that in the North Pole.  That lead position is where the big bucks are. 

Get it!  Big bucks...reindeer...
Next show's at 10, folks.

Anyway...Tracy's little munchkins were getting restless and she was bound and determined that it was a nap day for all so she headed out with her crew.  Mom, Maddie and I finished up in about 20 minutes and we called it a day! 

Mom and I decided Maddie was too clean after this morning's process so we fixed that...

I believe we ended up with 26 or 27 bags of lefse.

We took our cut of seven bags and skee-daddled leaving my mom and dad to deal with this:

Before anyone sends me coal for Christmas, I did offer to help clean.  However, my mom refused and I know from past family parties that she really hates when people try to clean her kitchen.  She can never find anything afterward. 

So we granted her Christmas wish and left.  When we got home I immediately ate three pieces of lefse and about went into a coma from happiness.  Jake said, "'s not lefse.  It's heaven."


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