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Food & Drink: Lefse Day a cherished family tradition

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The Anderson family will celebrate its 42nd annual Lefse Day on Dec. 21. This cherished family ritual started out modestly.

Marilyn Chalstrom and her sister, Beverly Anderson, missed the wafer-thin Norwegian flatbread their mother made for Christmas. They invited their brother, Kenny Anderson, and sister-in-law, Karen Anderson, to reinvigorate this family tradition at Chalstrom’s house.

More than four decades later, Lefse Day has grown exponentially. The official lefse count started in 2008 with 158. Last year, 30 family members — men and women — made 271 lefse. Each year there are more workers. At this large multi-generational gathering, children of all ages are encouraged to find their place as mixers, rollers or flippers.

Trista Darling, representing the second generation of lefse makers, began hosting Lefse Day years ago. When she built her house, she designed her kitchen to accommodate lefse-making parties with several spaces for work stations and lot of extra electrical outlets.

“I think we’re all obsessed with lefse,” said Darling’s sister, Kitrina Anderson-Depaolo. She holds this annual tradition holy and excuses herself from other commitments or invitations by saying, “I can’t do it. It’s Lefse Day.”

The Andersons’ devotion to Lefse Day is matched only by a passion for the Seahawks. The family flat-bread making party is planned to accommodate the Seahawks’ home game schedule, because no one wants to be forced to choose between Lefse Day or the Seahawks.

Tips from the queens

Darling prepares a large pot of homemade soup and appetizers. Guests bring a variety of drinks and bites to keep lefse makers and their guests from getting hungry and parched as they shape and grill large rounds of dough.

The original queens (Beverly Anderson, Marilyn Chalstrom and Karen Anderson) of Lefse Day offer tips for those considering making lefse.

“Get some help,” Beverly Anderson advised. Lefse making, like making tamales or Christmas cookies, is not meant as a solo kitchen adventure.

It’s also important to keep the mashed potatoes cold. At Lefse Day, they’re left out on the porch. If you put them in the refrigerator they will get too moist.

Karen Anderson recommends ricing the potatoes instead of mashing them.

You can roll the dough using a regular rolling pin and cook them on a griddle, but special equipment can help.

A traditional lefse-making rolling pin with grooves rolls a nice thin dough, but cover it with a cotton sock to make cleaning it easier.

A pastry board covered in cloth is helpful to prevent sticking, because adding flour can make lefse tough.

There’s also a lefse stick that is used to lift and flip the lefse and special lefse grills.

More important than any gear is making the lefse in good company.

“We’re been doing this for 42 years because we like it and we like being around each other,” Karen Anderson said.

The Anderson Family’s Lefse

Note: Recipe can be scaled down. The important thing to remember: the ratio of 1/2 cup flour to 1 cup of potatoes.

15 pounds of potatoes

1 1/4 cups of whipping cream

13 1/2 tablespoons of butter

4 teaspoons salt

Flour

Boil and then rice potatoes. Then add whipping cream, butter and salt. Beat with an electric mixer until well mixed. Cool. Cover the bowl of potatoes with a dish towel and put them outside to cool. Add 1/2 cup of flour to 1 cup of potatoes. Roll into a ball and knead until smooth. Cut into pieces about the size of an egg. Roll round and very thin. Cook at 375 degrees on a griddle. Place each finished flatbread between layers of waxed paper to prevent drying.


Rachel Pinsky can be emailed at couveeats@gmail.com. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @couveeats.

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