Monday, December 31, 2007




Lefse is a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread made out of potatoes, milk or cream and flour, and cooked on a griddle. Special tools are available for lefse baking, including long wooden turning sticks and special rolling pins with deep grooves. There are significant regional variations in the way lefse is made and eaten, but it generally resembles a flatbread.

It's pronounced Lefsa (with an A) not Lefse (with an E) that's what you might call someone who uses their left hand.

Here's my brother and his son wearing their matching Viking shirts. (His son requested a 'shirt to match Dad's shirt' for Christmas.

Dis holiday is da family lefse party! Yew got tew come en enjoy da fun! Yah Shure.


Scandinavians all over cook lefsa and my family cooks it every Christmas holiday. We get together and make Swedish meatballs and this traditional Norweigian Lefsa (it's like a thin tortilla made mostly of potatoes.)

When my father was alive, he resurrected a tradition his family had participated in: making the Scandinavian delicacy that's cooked on a special circular griddle-- made by boiling up a truckload of potatoes, skinning them while still hot, then "ricing" them (or pressing them through something looks like a large garlic press) adding cream (half and half) flour, salt then rolling the dough into small balls.

We used a special rolling pin (with grooves in it) to roll out each piece of lefsa. This part can be tricky because you have to use the right amount of flour to cover the rolling pin and the pastry cloth. Roll it till thin. When the lefse is thin enough, take a lefse stick (a stick that's rounded on one side and flat on the other) and slide the stick under the lefse, then pick it up. Carefully roll the lefse onto the griddle.

It took four of us in the kitchen to make the lefse. One person was peeling and ricing the potatoes while another was adding flour and cream to the potato mixture. Someone else was rolling out the dough balls-- possibly the hardest job because if you roll it too thin, the lefse flops when you're lifting it onto the griddle. Someone also sat at the griddle with another lefse stick, turning over the lefse when it started to brown. I remember my father doing much of the rolling in the past.

What I love most about making lefse is that it involves the whole family; it's not something one person does. As a family, it brought us together. And when I neglected my lefse making duties (which I did some years) I always got crap about it and less lefse to take home as well! This year I spent hours rolling lefse, so I think I did my share :)

After the cooking was finished, I was covered in flour. A thin coat of flour even stuck to my contacts; I had to take them out and wash them.

Below is a photo of my brother shredding carrots and potatoes. My grandmother would not have wholly approved of adding carrots and potatoes to the meat (she was a gourmet cook and her meatballs were made with unadulterated pork and beef and a sprinkle of nutmeg.) But my mother must have adapted the recipe, possibly to make the meat go further?

Just a little Lefsa will go a long way
Gives you indigestion all of your days
put it on your menu
and you'll be sure to say
just a little lefsa will go a long way!

Flour on Da Boobs
Here's me after rolling lefse in piles of flour for hours. I think I made up for all those years I was a slacker in years past. Dad would be proud!

An Ole Scandinavian Lefse Recipe (a little lefse humor) (compliments of

Yew tak yust ten big potatoes
Den yew boil dem til dar don,
Yew add to dis some sveet cream
And by cups it measures vun.

Den yew steal 'tree ounces of butter
And vit two fingers pench some salt,
Yew beat dis wery lightly
If it ain't gude it is your fault.

Den yew roll dis tin vit flour
An' light brown on stove yew bake,
Now call in all Scandihuvians
Tew try da fine lefse yew make!

Supplies you need:
Potato ricer
Lefse griddle
Lefse rolling pin
Rolling pin cover
Lefse stick
Lefse board


Hola, Mi Amigos, Feliz Navidad!

I teach ESL classes part-time to Hispanic mothers, most of who are from Mexico. One of my students, Ana offered to teach me how to make tamales. I've always loved tamales and have been dying to learn how to make them.


Here's Ana and her ninos at Rancho Market!

FIRST STEP: Buy ingredients to make Chile Verde. When doing this, pick the smallest tomatillos (the flavor is better this way :) Fill up a bag of Tomatillos

FYI- Nicknames for the loveable tomatillo: husk tomato, jamberry, husk cherry, Mexican tomato, or ground cherry

Grab a stash of Serrano peppers (about a 1/3 bag.)

The next step is to mix the masa (corn flour) with pork lard. Ana did this before I showed up. She said that she took a pork roast and cut all the fat off, then boiled it down. She took the fat from the pan and mized it with the masa to make this:

If you want to spare yourself the hardship of deflabbing and boiling a chunk of dead pig, you can use shortening and chicken broth... which is what some friends and I used a few days ago. Or better yet, coconut oil and chicken broth.

About 4 cups of masa to 1 1/3 cups shortening, 2 cups of chicken broth..... feel free to look up an official recipe

It's important to let this mixture sit for a few hours until the dough is firm, or Ana says, when you slap it with your hand, it doesn't stick but makes a sound almost like patting a blob of Silly Putty. (You can even play drums on the masa if you feel inclined.)

This is Andrea (another student) and her mother from Ecuador who also came to learn to make tamales.

1. Soak the tomatillos in water which allows the papery wrapper to comes off easier.
2. Then cut up the serrano peppers
3. Boil the peppers and tomatillos for at least 1/2 an hour until both are soft


4. WHEN THE TOMATILLOS AND SERRANOS ARE SOFT, it's time to put the chile verde sauce together. The next step is to blend a bunch of cilantro, salt, about 6-8 cloves of garlic and 1/2 an onion

5. ADD THE TOMATILLOS AND SERRANOS TO THE BLENDED MIXTURE to get this lovely green sauce that's also great as salsa!

6. Next, take the corn husks (you can buy them by the bag at the market) and soak them in water.

When they are soft, you are ready to slap a large spoonful of masa on the bottom edge of the corn husk. The amount you put in the tamale is your preference. Some families put more, some less. Some regions in Mexico roll the tamale differently. Ana says use only about 1 1/2 tablespoon full. Spread it out.

1. Add sauce to the masa. In the photo, I am adding a spoonful of mole, which we bought in a bottle at the market. We also made several with the chile verde sauce that we made above.
2. Add chicken (boiled chicken breast meat.)
3. Fold the top part of the corn husk down, then fold over the sides like the photo shows.

Next, stack all the tamales vertical in a large double boiler (Ana used a huge pot with water in the bottom. She stacked a metal pot lid unside down in the bottom of the pot and placed the tamales on the lid.) Then cover the pot and cook for about an hour until the masa in the tamales no longer sticks!

WATCH OUT the finished tamales will be very hot!! But sooo heavenly delicious~

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Below is a photo collage recapping some of my favorite dishes of 2007 and the favorite people I ate them with.

MAINE LOBSTER IN MAY (with John Blodgett)



CALIFORNIA ABALONE IN JULY (Brother Jim and his wife Rach at Fort Bragg)

UTAH CANTALOUPE IN SEPTEMBER (with Sarah M, Toni and friends)

IDAHO APPLES IN OCTOBER (with Sisters Cara, Amy and company)