Every year in November, we get out our griddles, rolling pins, flipping sticks, and flour. We’ve all done our prep work, boiling the right number of Russet and Red potatoes, ricing them, mixing in the cream, flour, salt, and other ingredients. Yes, it is that special day of the year: Lefse Making Day.
Remembering my Grandma Ruth, my sisters, mom, and I dutifully carry out this labor of love. I always get a little teary as I remember the day Grandma gave me her lefse griddle and lefse flipping stick, carefully made for her by my Grandpa Wallace many years before. Although I use the griddle throughout the year for pancakes and crepes, the day it’s used for lefse is a special day. Some years cousins join in the fun, and some years it’s just a few of us. We work together to make the huge batches of lefse—we need enough to last us through the upcoming holidays.
My mom and sister Ricki are great at rolling the dough out to just the right thickness. If it’s too thin, it falls apart; too thick, and it doesn’t taste “light” enough. I carefully drape the rolled-out lefse over Grandpa’s stick, carry it to the griddle, and start frying it, flipping it, and laying it out to cool. We’re constantly talking—about life, our latest challenges and joys, what cousins and aunts and uncles are up to. We discuss our upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner menus, talk about who’s staying where, and brainstorm gift ideas.
We laugh as we remember the one year when, near the end of Grandma’s life, she gave us a lefse lesson. We’d had to delay the session due to her back problems, so needed to freeze the dough in the interim—bad idea. The dough got runny when it thawed, and Grandma had us add more and more flour so the lefse wouldn’t be too sticky. The pieces grilled hard and crispy, like crackers, and tasted kind of like flour tortillas. We named them “tor-lefses,” had a good laugh, and learned to never, ever freeze the dough again.
When we sit down for our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, the lefse is there on the table, some with toppings, some plain, and it adds a special element to the meal. There’s a sense of our heritage, doing something our ancestors did, and passing down a family tradition. As I take a bite of my lefse, I think that somewhere, Grandma and Grandpa know that we’re thinking of them, enjoying something they taught us, and honoring them in our hearts and memories.