Today, I was reminded why we jump through all of those holiday hoops. We make dozens of cookies, we drink hot chocolate or eggnog, we shop and we trim the tree. Just when we think we can’t do anymore, we clean the house and make 250 Swedish meatballs for the crew descending on us for our family Christmas Party (or whatever holiday you celebrate).
Every year we say we are going to cut down, make it simpler, but few of us rarely follow through. There is a reason why we do it — even if we are not 100% aware of that reason. It is that light we feel inside — may it be flickering at times, but when we see a smile, a look of appreciation, or the hear a roar of laugh from our great uncle Scrooge — the light is impossible to extinguish. So we do it again and again — just to have the light ignited.
My son-in-law and daughter come over each December to make lefse — basically the Norwegian equivalent to a tortilla. Every culture has a flat bread that is easy and inexpensive to produce. We Scandinavians have lefse. We don’t eat it with the usual meat filling of other cultures– for our family it is just butter and sugar — more of a dessert fare.
Back to my son-in-law…Donnie has had many challenges in his life. He lost his mother early and he lost most of his hearing from a childhood illness. Last year, however, was a banner year for him…he married my daughter at Cocoa Beach in Florida and had a cochlear implant which restored a great deal of his hearing –another story that will have you in tears for a later time.
One of Donnie’s fondest , faint, memories was of lefse, so this week he bought a lefse grill and today we made lefse. This is why we do it — this is why we bake cookies with grandkids, why you can deal with flour everywhere in your house, and do 4 loads of dishes. It is that light that sparks inside you when you see the delight of your son-in-law’s success at his first lefse adventure.
Holiday traditions have a purpose far bigger than just because mom did it — they are to connect us to our past, our present and our future – to spark the light we all have inside.
- 4 cups of riced potatoes
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1½ cups flour
- Roll out your dough to very thin to a 14 inch diameter circle. A couple of tips we learned today. Use a pastry cloth or flour sack tea towel to roll out the dough, if you don't have a pastry board. A ¼ cup of flour spread out on your tea towel before attempting to roll out each sheet of lefse dough is a must. Also, those great little rolling pin sleeves were fabulous!
- Getting the rolled out lefse requires a lefse turning stick -- gently slide the stick under the sheet, down the middle and move it quickly to the grill. Unroll your sheet across the gridle and cook the first side 30 second or so -- your sheet should bubble up and when you peak you should see light golden brown spots. Flip by using your turning stick, as you did previously pick up down the middle and unroll to the other side. This side should take less time - but watch for the golden brown spots.
- You can stack 10 to 12 sheets onto a flour sack tea towel, covered with another towel -- let cool -- dust off excess flour. When completely cooled package as desired. I used freezer grade plastic wrap and store in the fridge until I am ready to use.
Karen @BakingInATornado says
Never heard of lefse but it looks delicious. I love traditions, ones that were passed down to me and the ones I hope to start with my boys.
Real soft butter and sugar is our traditional topping. I love you are creating some traditions too.
Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden) says
This sounds delicious! In the Italian tradition of my husbands’, we have a pasta called potato gnocchi; nothing like this but I am sure the potato dough here is equally amazing.
I’ve never had lefse. It looks so good. So nice that your son in law enjoyed the experience of making it.
Thanks Rebecca — It really is a very delicate version of a flat bread — it is rolled very thin and is meant to be very soft and moist, rather than other unleavened flat breads that are sturdier — I think the closest is a soft flour tortilla if it was rolled out paper thin.
Pam Sievers says
Mary, this is just beautiful. So happy he found your family as well. Let the new traditions begin.
Thank you, Pam…that means a lot to me..
Antionette Blake says
Wow, I love holiday foods but they don’t love me back so I have to be very careful with what I eat. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season!
We have food issues in our family too, so we make a dairy-free version for my daughter and gluten-free for a few others. Have a wonderful holiday season to you too!
I absolutely love hearing about other traditions! These look amazing.
What an accomplishment for your SIL! A new family tradition is born!
Thanks, Diane. It has become one of the things we do each year together. Flour everywhere but worth it.
Bonnie K. Aldinger says
I learned about lutefisk and lefse when we moved to Silverdale, Washington, which was very close to the very Norwegian-flavored town of Poulsbo. Shops full of rosemaling and beautiful sweaters and the irons for those cookies, oh what are the cookies again? So yummy!
And not especially holiday related, but uff da is another good thing I first learned in Poulsbo and have had reinforced by friends of Norwegian descent. As I was saying on Facebook this week, what a perfect thing to have in one’s vocabulary for moments like responding to a dismaying phone call in a very public open office situation. Nobody gets offended by “Uff da!”
LOL — Uff Da — and Uff Da feeda have been my vocabulary as long as I can remember. I think the interpretation my dad gave was you say uff da when you see a cow pie, and uff da feeda when you stepped in it. LOL
Lefse is mostly a holiday treat in Norwegen communities in Iowa and Minnesota. The church ladies get together and make huge batches. And don’t get me started on lutefisk — awful, slimy and disgusting.
Bonnie K. Aldinger says
HA! I have to admit, I never tried the lutefisk. I did enjoy lefse a couple of times though – as you said, with butter and sugar. Yummy!
I only knew Uff Da – what a perfect distinction your father gave!
Karen Austin says
Oh, those photos are lovely! That lefse looks delicious. Thank you for taking the time to document that tradition.
Thanks, Karen. It is has been messy and fun!