For a variety of reasons, we will not be making lefse this year due to job demands and other projects that have been creeping in. As you are well aware, lefse making is an extremely labor intense activity and the mail orders we had last year were incredible–a nice problem to have but a little overwhelming.
As a result, we will not be demonstrating in Clifton this year at the annual Norwegian Country Christmas the first Saturday in December.
I know some of you will be disappointed as our repeat customer base has grown every year. Last year we even shipped lefse to Rhode Island! We have received so many positive comments about our lefse over the past years and truly appreciate the support we have had.
In Texas, it just wouldn’t be the holidays without family and friends gathering to make tamales. The same goes in Minnesota, only it’s gathering to make lefse. For those of you who don’t know what lefse is, it’s a round traditional Norwegian flatbread. I grew up making potato lefse, referred to as potetkake or potetlomper.
Both foods are extremely labor intensive and are usually made in large quantities—a combination resulting in multiple-day processes. It’s a perfect blend of traditional holiday food and bringing people together to work and play with a common goal—food and fellowship. By the time the tamales are steaming and the lefse rounds are cooling, family and friends get caught up, differences are aired, arguments are resolved and laughter dominates the kitchen. It’s about preserving memories and making new ones.
I remember my mom spending days in the kitchen every November and December making batches of lefse to be frozen for holiday use and for gifts. The folks from my mom’s Lutheran church gather yearly preparing thousands of rounds of lefse only to sell out within the first hour of the annual fall Norwegian Festival held at the church.
I use the same kitchen table that my mom used to cover with fresh lefse hot off the griddle and the same hand held mixer she used to whip the potatoes. It’s my way of having her there with me even though she is in Norske country. Both are nutritious and portable foods.
Tamales have been traced back as early as 5000 B.C. serving as a traveling food for Aztec, Mayan, and Incan warriors. Women used to get together in Norway and make enough lefse to last a year. Dried and stored in a barrel, this lefse called Hardanger-consisted of various types of flour and liquid ingredients. This type of lefse could only be eaten by wetting and warming it slightly. Potatoes didn’t appear in lefse until the mid-1700s.
LEFSE PROVIDED CRUCIAL ADDITION FOR PEASANTS
Resembling the hardtack eaten by sailors and soldiers of the times, lefse provided a crucial addition to the meager diet of Norwegian peasants and, later, immigrants to the United States. While there are significant regional variations on how they are both made, each can be served sweet or savory.
The most common tamales are made with beef, chicken or pork in a red or green chile sauce or sweet tamales made with raisins and cinnamon. Most are wrapped with corn masa in a corn husk and steamed.
Lefse is traditionally spread with butter and sprinkled with brown sugar, and maybe some cinnamon, but it also makes a delicious sandwich wrap for leftover chicken, deli meats, etc. I’ll bet it would even be good filled with various tamale fillings. (I’ll have to blend the two foods this holiday season!) The most traditional savory way to eat lefse is with lutefisk and lots of butter. People gather in Bosque County, the Norwegian Capitol of Texas, each year to share that tradition.
Like many other foods, both tamales and lefse have the honor of being included in the Guinness Book of World Records. The world’s largest tamale was presented at the Indio International Tamale Festival in California on Dec. 4, 1999 and measured one foot in diameter and 40 feet in length. The world’s largest lefse was rolled out to over 10 feet in diameter in 1983 in Starbuck, Minn., with a giant custom made rolling pin.
Although tamales and lefse have many similarities, I did discover one difference. The word tamale is an acceptable Scrabble word, but the word lefse is not. Why, it’s not even in the dictionary! That’s just not right.
Tamale and lefse making are becoming lost arts due to the labor involved. They are made for special occasions and holidays and are truly acts of love. Take some time this year to spend time in the kitchen with your family and friends. You don’t have to make tamales or lefse, just make it something that can be a shared experience.
Feliz Navidad, God Jul and Bon Appetit!
Potatoes are boiling, rolling boards and pins are floured and lefse griddles are heating up. We’re gearing up for another delicious season of lefse making! Once again we plan to be at the Clifton Norwegian Country Christmas the first Saturday in December and I want to update our handout that has different ways to eat lefse.
I know most people just like it hot off the grill with butter and sugar (yum!) but I am looking for something different. Once I wrapped a lefse around a banana and fried it, sprinkled it with sugar and cinnamon and drizzled it with chocolate sauce. Talk about melt in your mouth! What crazy fun yummy things have you done with lefse?
The Lefse Ladies demonstrated making lefse again this year Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Norwegian Country Christmas event in Clifton, Texas, the Norwegian Capitol of Texas. Lots of return customers and many new ones. We have already received several new orders via the Internet in the last 24 hours because of the event!
We met so many people who used to live near where we grew up in Austin, Minn. It’s amazing how many Norwegian Americans are in Texas. I guess if you consider the colder alternatives, who can blame them!
Over the last few months, our lefse griddles have been staying busy cooking rounds of lefse. We’re preparing for the Clifton Norwegian Country Christmas event this Saturday, Dec. 4, in Texas’ own Norwegian Capitol of Texas.
We will be demonstrating making lefse next to others demonstrating Norwegian handicrafts hoping to help preserve Norwegian heritage in Texas. We will also have lots of lefse for sale if you can make it. Oh, and FREE samples!
One lovely surprise this year, this website-that we haven’t not really even been promoting-has gotten the attention of many in Texas looking for a more local source instead of having it shipped from places like Minnesota (where we grew up).
We’ve been shipping to locations throughout the state and orders keep coming in! I hope we still have some for this weekend! One lady e-mailed me after receiving her lefse and said it was the best she’s had in 40 or 50 years! Wow! What a lovely comment to hear!
We will be located in the demonstration room at the Armory at the Clifton City Park where part of the festival will be held from 9am-5pm this Saturday, Dec. 4. Once you are in the building, just follow the smell of the lefse coming off the griddle!
For more information on the event, visit the Clifton Chamber of Commerce website
Here’s a good spread to put on your lefse! And just in time for holiday entertaining! You can spread in on the lefse rounds, roll it up, and cut in serving pieces with those cute little frilly toothpicks if you like. I want to find some toothpicks with the Norwegian flag for a fun presentation!
This recipe is from Barefoot Contessa at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/smoked-salmon-spread-recipe3/index.html
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced
Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt, and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with lefse.
If you can find it, use Norwegian salmon; it’s drier and less salty than other smoked salmon.
Maybe it’s because the Norwegian Country Christmas in Clifton, Texas, this past Saturday attracted a bunch of Norwegians used to the cold weather, but there was a great turn out at the annual event featuring all things Norwegian, including lefse, lutefisk, folk dancers, etc.
We met so many great people who have been making lefse for years, lots of people from Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. We met a couple who grew up in Albert Lea, 20 miles from where we grew up in Austin, Minn. We also met a couple who were good friends of the man who used to own the camera/film shop we our family had photos developed for years. That couple lives in Fort Worth and were grateful that we had lefse for sale since they had not had a chance to make their own to take with them to the annual lutefisk dinner that night. I guess when you’re Norwegian, the world gets a little smaller, if not tastier!
The Norwegian Society of Texas brought a group down and I discovered from Mary Blaha of the group that one of the Norwegian folk dancers that was performing was a faculty member and former dean of one of the colleges at the university where I used to work. Who knew he lived a double life! We met some “real” Norwegians too when the group from the Norwegian Consulate in Houston came by to see our lefse booth. They gave our lefse an enthusiastic “thumbs up” and invited us to demonstrate and sell our lefse next November at their annual Houston event. I learned that there are over 6,000 Norwegains (not Norweigan-Americans) living in Houston!
Since we were demonstrators at the event, we had the opportunity to share with those not familiar with lefse what it is how to make it. We made about 100 rounds and cut up in pieces to give out as samples. It was fun to see some of the kids coming back for more, and more fun when they came back with their parents so they could take some home with them!
I also got to meet Twitter buddy, @GardenSage, from Fort Worth at the event! She bought some lefse too!
It was a great day, and I’ve been inspired to get back to my Norwegian language cds!
Lefse used as a wrap makes your favorite foods taste that much better! Get creative, but here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
- Spread with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. This is a traditional way to eat lefse.
- Spread with mustard and wrap around Polish sausage, brats, or hot dogs.
- Spread with butter or cream cheese and wrap around leftover chicken, turkey, pot roast, or your favorite deli meat. Eat hot or cold.
- Use as a wrap for salads such as egg, tuna, chicken and salmon.
- Fill with your favorite canned fruit, warm in microwave and serve with whipped cream.
- Spread with your favorite Jelly, jam or preserves.
- Make “Uff Da” chips by cutting into 1”x4” strips and deep fry until golden. Drain on paper towel and immediately sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Or spread whole round with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, cut into 1”x4” strips, put on cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees until crisp.
- Use with fish tacos instead of corn tortillas.
- Spread with cranberry sauce.
- Spread with Nutella.
- Wrap around warm meatballs.
- Spread with applesause.
- Wrap around scrambled eggs with or without crumbled sausage or bacon.
Here is a pdf file with all 254 counties in Texas with number of people in the 2000 census claiming Norwegian ancestry.