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Published: Sunday, November 6, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

How to pass down your best recipes so they can be treasured for generations to come

  • Lee Brevik rolls out lefse while Inger Dow mixes dough at Normanna Lodge in Everett. Brevik gave a demonstration during a Daughters of Norway meeting.

    Annie Mulligan / For The Herald

    Lee Brevik rolls out lefse while Inger Dow mixes dough at Normanna Lodge in Everett. Brevik gave a demonstration during a Daughters of Norway meeting.

  • Lee Brevik lays out lefse to cook.

    Annie Mulligan / For The Herald

    Lee Brevik lays out lefse to cook.

  • Edith Carlquist dusts off her pastry cloth after making lefse at Normanna Lodge in Everett. Carlquist came to the United States alone in 1947 from Nor...

    Annie Mulligan / For The Herald

    Edith Carlquist dusts off her pastry cloth after making lefse at Normanna Lodge in Everett. Carlquist came to the United States alone in 1947 from Norway and was later joined by her family in the Everett area.

  • Barb Brevik folds lefse into triangles at Normanna Lodge in Everett after a baking demonstration during a Daughters of Norway meeting in October. Brev...

    Annie Mulligan / For The Herald

    Barb Brevik folds lefse into triangles at Normanna Lodge in Everett after a baking demonstration during a Daughters of Norway meeting in October. Brevik's grandparents are from Norway and her husband, Lee, is also Norwegian.

  • Though recipes may vary, most lefse contains potatoes, butter, cream, salt, sugar and flour.

    Annie Mulligan / For The Herald

    Though recipes may vary, most lefse contains potatoes, butter, cream, salt, sugar and flour.

If you want to give a really great personal gift this holiday season, you might consider sharing a treasured family recipe.
Passing special recipes on to the next generation or even a good friend is a way to share a bit of yourself and perhaps carry on your family's traditions.
This is especially true if you're the only one who knows all the unwritten rules and tricks of making your family's top turkey gravy, a perfect pie crust or everyone's favorite Christmas cookies.
You won't be passing on mere words.
You'll be sharing a bit of yourself and maybe even powerful memories for your children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
You can go all-out and share entire binders of recipes or give just one you know your giftee will love or perhaps learn to love.
At Normanna Hall in Everett, home to the local Sons of Norway chapter, passing on traditional recipes is serious business, especially when it comes to lefse.
Lee Brevik and his wife, Barb, recently shared the official Normanna Hall potato lefse recipes and demonstrated how to roll lefse, a simple but somewhat tricky craft.
"I'm horribly proud of my Norwegian heritage and I want it to live on at least as long as I do, which may be a week," said Lee Brevik. "I'm the kid here. I'm only 74 and the next generation doesn't know how to do it."
Brevik said there are many types of lefse, but the potato lefse recipe the local Sons of Norway use has been around for, probably, 100 years and he wants to keep it going.
"I grab everybody by the ear who will listen and say, 'This is the way you do it,' " he said.
That includes children who love to eat lefse with butter, cinnamon and sugar at big Normanna gatherings.
Brevik encourages young ones to roll their own lefse right before it's placed on a hot griddle.
"Some of the little kids, they learn that you get one and then you go stand at the end of the line again," he said.
Follow these tips to make sure your family recipes and food traditions live on in future generations.
Give digital or hard copies: Yes, typing recipes can be a pain, but digital records are easier to share and store than hard copies.
Photocopies of original hand-written recipes are nice, but they can be hard to read. Also, digital files can be sent to web-based email accounts, making them virtually immune to fire or spills.
Enlist your children and grandchildren to do the typing, if you like.
Proofread before you give: Before passing on a digital or hand-written recipe, be sure to proofread and check it against the original for correct measurements and directions. Then check it again: You don't want your recipe to confound, rather than delight, your family because of a silly typo.
Don't skimp on details: Be sure to include all the tips and tricks you can remember that make your recipe special.
If you rub bacon grease into the pan before pouring in your cornbread batter, don't leave that out. It may be the thing that sets your bread apart.
If you rely on a particular kitchen tool, mention that, too.
Share your skills: If you have a special cooking technique, do your best to describe it in detail.
You never know how much experience younger cooks will have when they make your perennial dish for the first time. Don't assume they know how to make a pie crust or what it means to fold, rather than beat.
Include preferences and variations: If you use a specific kind of apple or type of flour, don't leave that information out. Share your favorite variations, serving suggestions or even family dishware you use.
Share the history: Offer a little story about how you acquired the recipe, why you liked it, when you made it and how the family enjoyed it.
Include pictures: If you're feeling really ambitious, include pictures, printed or digital, of you with your dish or a close-up shot of the finished dish.
Make it side-by-side: There's no better way to pass on a recipe than by making it with the person receiving it.
During the cooking, you'll think of things you would have never thought to write down. And your family member can ask questions and practice right in front of you.
Share again: Once you've done all this, share the recipe with even more people, including people outside your family. It might make it into your church or workplace cookbook or into the home of some other family.
And who knows where it will end up -- and how long it will live on -- then?

Recipe
The word is derived from the Latin recipere, which means to take or receive.

Resources
Sons of Norway: Normanna Hall, 2725 Oakes Ave., Everett; 425-252-0291; www.normannaeverett.org.
The Sons of Norway at Normanna Hall in Everett recently adopted the potato flakes option in this lefse recipe when they are making large batches for events, rather than the traditional, but more time-consuming one that relies on boiled, riced potatoes.

Lefse with potato flakes
Potato flakes, enough to make four cups of instant mashed potatoes
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, margarine or shortening
¼ cup heavy whipping cream, half and half or milk
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
About 2 cups flour
Measure enough potato flakes to make 4 cups mashed potatoes, according to the recipe on the package.
Boil the amount of water suggested by the recipe and add salt and butter.
Remove the water from heat and stir in cream and sugar, then add potato flakes, stirring until well combined, according to package directions.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature, about 3 hours.
Refrigerate overnight or until well chilled, and follow the mixing and rolling directions for traditional Normanna potato lefse (below).
Note: Do not add flour to the potatoes until you are ready to roll and cook your lefse.
Normanna potato lefse
4 cups peeled, boiled potatoes, riced (see note)
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/3 cup cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
About 2 cups flour
Note: Riced means very finely mashed. A tool called a ricer does a good job, hence riced. Let the potatoes sit for about 15 minutes to dry out a bit before ricing. Pack them tightly when measuring.
Add salt, butter, cream and sugar to the potatoes while they are still hot.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature, about 3 hours.
Refrigerate overnight or until well chilled, and follow the mixing and rolling directions for traditional Normanna potato lefse (below).
Note: Do not add flour to the potatoes until you are ready to roll and cook your lefse.
Lefse mixing and rolling
Take the potato mixture out of the refrigerator.
Stir the flour into the potato mixture just before rolling, using only enough flour to keep the dough from being sticky. Do not overwork the dough when mixing.
Use a small ice cream scoop to measure dough into small balls, a little bit bigger than a golf balls.
Lightly flour a pastry cloth or dish towel laid flat, take a little flour in your hands and add a measure of dough.
Roll the dough into a firm ball, flattening it into a hockey-puck shape.
Put the dough on a flat surface and flatten it a bit more with your fingers, maintaining the circle, turning it over if you need a little more flour.
Roll gently with a rolling pin, ideally a grooved lefse rolling pin, covered in a cloth rolling pin cover dusted with flour to help keep the dough from sticking.
Roll from the center of the hockey puck with push-pull, back-and-forth strokes in an X pattern. Use light strokes. Don't moosh.
As the lefse gets larger, begin to work from the center with push-push-push, then pull-pull-pull strokes to create a 10- to 12-inch-diameter circle. At this point, you can begin using a little more pressure on the roller.
Lefse should be as thin as a crepe, but sturdier.
Place the lefse flat on a hot, ungreased griddle, ideally 450 to 500 degrees.
Cook until golden brown spots appear, usually less than a minute on each side.
Use a long spatula or lefse stick to gently flip the lefse. Flip only once.
Serve hot or cool with butter, sugar and cinnamon to taste.
Notes: Each version of the recipe makes about 18 lefse, which can be served with butter, cinnamon and sugar as a sweet treat with coffee or with butter as a side dish with lutefisk or other savory dishes. Lefse can be folded into quarters or rolled up and cut into 2-inch pieces for easy eating.
High gluten flour works a little better, but it's OK to use what you have on hand.
In warm weather, put your dough bowl on ice to keep it cool.
Pa Norsk: "Du vil aldri fa en mann hvis du ikke kan rulle en runde lefse."
Mamma said: 'You will never catch a man if you can't roll a round lefse." Tante (Aunt) Ragna, ca. 1960



Story tags » FoodFamilyFamily funLocal FoodSenior activities

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