How to Make Lefse

Today’s post is brought to you by my dear friend Hibby (with a guest appearance by Hubby’s hand).  She’s a proud former Minnesotan, a Scandinavian-blooded sweetie.  I can’t think of a better person to teach you how to make lefse.  Enjoy!

——–

God Jul (Merry Christmas). Välkomna till Minnesota Mammas blogg: Svenska Edition!

Today brings us 2,000 miles away from Minnesota, to my little kitchen in Los Angeles. We will be making beginner-level lefse, a yummy, cozy, Scandinavian potato crepe that evokes images of warm kitchens in the dead of winter, twinkling Christmas trees, and jingling sleigh bells. Growing up, I loved standing around in the kitchen, eating lefse with my mom and sisters. Never did I think I could make it myself! But here I am, telling you how I did. Join me?

My recipe calls for four cups of riced potatoes. To be on the safe side, I boiled four medium-large potatoes. I ended up not using the entire bowl of them riced, but I’d probably do the same amount again—just to be safe. Oh, and do this step the night before! (That’s important to mention, right?)

Now, there’s a lot of controversy on how to boil the potatoes correctly. If you’d like to know the different options, feel free to leave a comment here. In the end, I peeled and didn’t cut them.

Cover them with cold water with a tablespoon of salt and of sugar. I ended up boiling mine too long—oops! You’ll want to boil yours just until a fork pierces easily. Don’t stab them too much; you don’t want the potato flesh water-logged like mine. Mine still worked; I just needed more flour in the end to counterbalance the excess moisture. So, do what I say, not what I do.

After they’ve finished boiling, pull them out and rice them together with a stick of butter (8 tablespoons).  Hint: that nifty little gadget pictured here is a potato ricer.

Once riced, I threw mine in the fridge for a couple minutes to cool them down a little before I patted them down. If that’s too high maintenance for you, I’m sure you can just pat them down right after ricing them. Don’t smash them down, but pack them down enough that they’ll end up relatively solid. Inside the bowl, place a couple paper towels and cover with plastic wrap. The paper towels will absorb any condensation overnight.

The next day, take the potatoes out and re-rice them back into the bowl.

Now gather the rest of the ingredients and our supplies. Perhaps you don’t have that honkin’ lefse grill or graceful lefse wand. S’ok, neither do I. Along with the prepared potatoes, this is all I used.

Ingredients to gather: Milk, salt, ground cardamom (optional, but seriously? Just do it; the smell is heavenly!), flour, sugar.
Tools to gather: shallowest skillet you have, broad spatula, rolling pin with sock (I also don’t have the grooved lefse rolling pin; no problem), pastry cloth, two smooth towels, and that’s it!

Measure out roughly (erring on more) 4 cups of the riced potatoes.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cardamom. Pour into the potatoes and combine. Add in two cups of flour.

Work quickly to roll all the dough into egg-sized balls.

Stick the bowl into the refrigerator; we want the dough as cold as we can get it before we start working with it. At the same time, turn the heat on the skillet. I turned my stove top on the highest setting. Don’t add any oil or butter; we fry lefse dry.

In my little kitchen, there wasn’t room to have the production set up right in a row, but it still worked ok. My pastry cloth was fresh out of the pack, so I taped it to the counter and started rubbing flour into it. Keep rubbing flour into yours until it doesn’t hold any more. Seriously, you don’t want your dough sticking to the cloth. Same with the rolling pin sock; flour it up! Next to the skillet, set up the two towels. This is where you’ll deposit the finished lefse.

When you’re ready to begin, take one ball out of the fridge at a time, leaving the rest in the bowl in the fridge. Squish it flat, turn it over once on the cloth; you don’t want to over-flour the dough, but you don’t want it to stick. Roll it out using short strokes from the center out to the edge, lessening the pressure as you reach the edge.

Once it’s rolled out, use the spatula, and your other hand for support, to transfer it to the hot skillet. Depending on how hot yours is (and you can adjust as necessary), let it sit on the one side for just a bit, searing it. You don’t want the tell-tale lefse spots on this side, just light flecks of color. Flip it over, and cook until the lefse spots are light brown. Don’t cook longer than necessary, as overcooking dries it out. Play around with the temperature of the skillet (I turned mine down from the top heat by a little bit).

And guess what. My first one turned out horribly! Not circular, it had stuck to the cloth when I tried transferring it, and I left it too long on both sides.

After that one, though, I got into my lefse groove. I made sure to scrape, with a knife, any dough that had been left behind on my cloth. I also rubbed in extra flour over that spot. Remember to dust flour over the whole surface and sock between each sheet, just don’t over-flour. I rolled out subsequent balls of dough just the way my great-grandma said to: when you think you’ve rolled it thin……start rolling! Don’t know how thin you should get yours? See if you’d possibly be able to read a newspaper through it.

Once the lefse is finished cooking on the second side, transfer one on top of the other, between the two towels and cover the stack immediately. This is to help them cool, but to trap the moisture in.

Even Hubby joined in on the fun. He thinks making lefse ROCKS!

Now, for those readers who perhaps don’t know how to eat this delectable goodness, Hubby again steps in to demonstrate. The only change from the pictures below is that, depending on how big you made your lefse, I’d cut the circle in half, butter half of that, sugar it, fold it over, and roll that up. Otherwise it gets too log-ish.

Uff da, I know this was long, and if you stuck with me to the end, tack så mycket! I had a wonderful time making mine, and I hope you give it a try yourself! I think lefse-making will become a holiday tradition in our family….

——–
Thanks, Hibby! And because I can’t resist “introducing” you further to this lovely individual, and I know how much she would love me for posting this, here’s a photo of Hibby and I being awesome (circa January 2007–can you believe it was almost 3 years ago????). Heh heh.

Advertisements

Sorry, John McCain…My Vote is Not for You

Tonight’s VP debate was less-than-exciting.  I half expected Joe and Sarah to join hands and begin singing “All You Need Is Love.”  Such a bad taste was left in my mouth that I asked Husband, who hates to write but never turns down an opportunity to “discuss” (read: lecture) politics and the economy, to write me a nice little guest post regarding the current state of the Republican Party.  If the word “politics” generally makes your eyes roll back in your head, I ask you to hear him out, as it could be the only place you get to hear these truths.  Because the liberal media?  They’re not telling you these things.

—————————

The Republican Party has been the party of conservatism and liberty. Conservatism is an ideal that says limited government, personal rights and responsibility, and freedom of choice, among other ideas, are what made this nation stand out in an exceptional way against the tide of history. The idea that the individual knows better how to spend their time and resources than the few in power. The idea that man should be allowed to keep the fruits of his labor. The idea that the government should be kept on a short leash, having only those powers explicitly given to it by the people. The idea that the power of force should be distributed among states, not centrally focused. The idea that everyday citizens should be elected to represent the various states, not an aristocratic ruling class like was seen in the British Empire that we threw off. These are ideas that can work and have worked wonderfully in our past.

The sad thing is that we have been sliding away from these ideas that made America stand out and ever more so in the last half century. The federal government has stepped way beyond its constitutional leash in every area imaginable. We are constantly hearing that the solution to every problem is more government. We’ve got an out of control federal government that wants to take more and more of our money, take our freedoms, and solidify its power of force over every aspect of our lives. It is full to the brim with corruption, ignorance, deception and hubris. What is needed to stem government is a strong voice of reason to counter the ideas of socialism and government first thinking.

That voice of reason is pretty faint right now, though, and the one of the big reasons why is that the Republican Party has lost its voice. By and large, we no longer have statesmen presenting and defending their ideals, we have politicians whose desire is to get and hold office no matter what. There is less and less of a difference between Republicans and Democrats, with the Republicans over the last decade capitulating on conservative ideas and pursuing bigger government more and more. Now is the time that we need them to be a strong voice for freedom against the interventionist monstrosity government.

The recent bank and financial institution “crisis” is a good example of the Republicans’ lost voice. The economic problems we are seeing right now are the direct result of government intervention in the form of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I won’t get into it here, but the Democrats and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy are directly responsible for this situation via Freddie and Fannie, whose criminal practices they allowed, promoted and fought to defend. It isn’t even a question that the government is at fault yet the same Democrats who brought this mess are decrying the “failure of the free markets” and calling for more government intervention in the form of a bailout with more “regulation”. Now, you would think that Republican presidential candidate would be exposing the Democratic scandal, the destruction that the strong hand government has wrought messing with the markets. If there was any situation to show why we need conservative ideas this is it. But, nope, John McCain isn’t talking about what caused this mess, and not only isn’t he talking about is he is aggressively promoting more of what got us into it, the bailout! This isn’t a real surprise though. John McCain is a total politician. He’s a “maverick” who reaches “across the aisle,” but all that really means is that he has positioned himself in the mush middle to try and gather as many votes as he can. McCain is not a conservative and cannot be trusted to forward conservative ideas.

The worst part, though, is that he and those in the Republican party like him are diluting and killing the conservative voice. By following the liberals over to the left but just not quite as far, they can say “well vote for me ‘cause I’m not as bad as the other guy.” Well, I, for one, am done with that. No more voting for the lesser of two evils. What we are ending up with by voting in liberal Republicans is two liberal parties and no voice for liberty and freedom. And that is something of which I am not going to be a part. They say we had to have a Carter to get a Reagan. We may need an Obama to save the Republican Party.

—————————

Husband also asked me to link to THIS POST if you want to hear what’s really happening regarding the bail-out.

Hibby and Hubby

It’s Monday, morning, and do I have a link for you!  My friend Hibby has started up blogging again!  I met Hibby shortly (as in, moving day, when she and 7 other strangers showed up to help us move in) after arriving in the Twin Cities.  Before I ever met her in person, however, I read some about her on our old small group’s blog (the one we ended up joining when we moved here), and I decided I liked her a lot.

On a fateful trip to a friend’s cabin in northern Minnesota, we got to know each other a bit better and found out that she liked (the word she used at the time was loved, however) me BACK!!!  Awesome.

Then, tragically, last August, she moved out to California to be nearer to the man she would marry (It’s been almost 6 months for them–cheer, cheer!  And get this–they met via blogging…), and I lost a part of my ducky trio.  *insert whimpering sounds*

So anyway, I love it when she blogs (she’s a fabulous writer, let me tell you), and I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you to stop by and leave her a comment encouraging her to blog often.  This is very selfish, actually, because I mostly want her to keep blogging for MY sake, but trust me, if you visit her once, you’ll want to go back again.  And maybe her Hubby, the former Armchair Theologian, will occasionally guest post (the blog is called “Hibby and Hubby,” you know) and enlighten us with some of his seminarian knowledge.

HERE’s the link!  Go say hi from me!  And have some tea at her cute little coffee/tea bar for me, too.  Oh, and remind her that she is going to do a guest post THIS MONTH about making lefse on this very Minnesotan blog.

Guest Post – Mission: Unpredictable

I have a fabulous guest blogger today.  Her name is Jamie, and she blogs at ohbecareful.com.  If you don’t already read her blog, you simply must.  She is a talented writer, a wife to one and a mother of two.  Her color of choice is wine red.  And the best thing about summer, in her opinion, is that her favorite fruits and vegetables are in season: “romaine lettuce, zucchini, strawberries, raspberries… mmm.” She apologized for the length of this post, but I am much more inclined to tell you to REVEL in it, because I rarely write more than two incoherent sentences or post some silly photo.  So thanks, Jamie, and readers–enjoy!

———–

Mission: Unpredictable

My kids get along remarkably well considering the gap in their ages: my son is six, my daughter nearly two. Em adores her big brother, and Calvin has been equally smitten since the first time he held his sister when she was a scant nine pound bundle, newly born and rosy pink. They spend hours every day playing peacefully together, and I count it a blessing that their love for one another runs deep.

But they’re kids. They’re human. And despite their strong bond, they do have their petty squabbles.

Some days are more wearying than others, because I find myself repeating the same admonitions over and over again, ad nauseam. Be gentle. Don’t grab. No hitting. No biting your brother. No tackling your sister. No screaming. No choke holds. Be gentle. Don’t grab…

When you’ve given the same brief lectures dozens of times in the past week alone, and know that the darlings on the receiving end of your warnings will likely need to hear them 34,324 more times before they even begin to sink in, you lose the will to live say them.

Days begin to feel like an endless loop of programmed responses to minor sibling quarrels, with little or no variety; I sometimes think that the kids play out their various spats with such predictable sameness that a robot could take my place and do the scolding for me. And frankly, having a robot nanny to intervene when my children are busy aggravating one another and my patience is worn thin doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

In one recent episode of sibling rivalry, I came into the living room to find the kids a tangle of thrashing limbs; no one was squealing or crying out — they were simply engaged in a silent scuffle. They love to play-wrestle, so this is a fairly common sight in our house and not automatically cause for alarm. But sometimes wrestling is their preferred method of conflict resolution, too.

Em frequently lays claim to things that aren’t hers, sometimes innocently picking up a worthless trinket that her brother cast aside five minutes earlier (that only becomes the crowning jewel of all his earthly treasures and his only reason for drawing breath the moment she picked it up), or obtaining something from him by brute force. Once in possession, she wraps her fingers around it in a tenacious grip, her face set with determination, quietly declaring it Hers and defying anyone to challenge her claim. The moment Calvin spots her with said worthless trinket, she runs for all she is worth, her sober expression breaking into a gleeful laugh as she darts hither and yon through the house, a magical pixie keeping just out the reach of her pursuer.

When her brother does eventually catch up with her, a battle — not only of physical endurance, but of wills — ensues. She, determined to keep what she has found and dubbed “mine [forever]”; he, determined not to let his younger sister get the better of him or to keep what is rightfully his. Neither one of them is interested in appealing The Court of Maternal Justice when they can just duke it out instead.

This time, it appeared that Calvin was trying to wrench something from Em’s unyielding grasp, her little knuckles clenched in defiance.

“Typical,” I thought, sighing to myself, sure that mediation was going to require me to recite one of my oft-delivered speeches after prying the two apart.

“Okay, what’s going on, Calvin?” I demanded sternly as I marched across the room, “Does your sister have something?”

He glanced at me briefly (the only indication that he heard me) but didn’t answer; their hands remained locked in combat. I repeated my question in my best no-nonsense tone as I neared the kerfuffle. “She doesn’t have anything,” he responded quickly, but without turning his attention from his pint-sized opponent. I was close enough then to see that he was right.

“Well,” I asked, exasperated, “What are you doing?”

“I’m pretending that our hands are stuck together with glue,” he said simply, as though this was a perfectly ordinary thing to do.

Oh. Of course.

I’m pretty sure if I had my fantasy nanny robot, it wouldn’t have been good for much right then; instead of separating the kids and efficiently setting them straight, it would have been verbalizing a robotic error message in a monotone computerized voice: “Does – not – com – pute. Does – not – com – pute.”

Still, I can’t help but wonder how many times in coming weeks I will have to say “I know that you’re pretending that your hands are bonded by a layer of invisible super glue, but that doesn’t mean you can sit on your sister to her to keep her from running away.”

I hope not many.