So what do you do when you desperately want to make lefse but are desperate for lefse making-equipment?
Well, you learn from Karen Torjesen and a dozen others in her extended family. I know I learned a lot, and I was teaching a lefse class that served as a holiday family lefse fest for this spirited group. Three things I picked up from the class:
- Find time for family. A pandemic was not going to stop this family from getting together and having a good time making lefse. Zoom and Karen’s talent for herding cats from all over the world took care of that. Karen was in Kenyon, Minnesota, but most of the family was in North Carolina. Jenny Wright was in the Maryland, and John Ambrose was in New York. And then our far-flung lefse makers were Erik Torjesen in Singapore and Enrique Torjesen in Afghanistan.
- You can make lefse without lefse-making equipment. I have had people drop out of my Zoom lefse class because they didn’t have a lefse grill or turning stick or ricer. Not this group. No one whined about being without; they just made do and plunged into making lefse. Kristine Torjesen, perhaps knowing how I sing praises for my Blue Pastry Board Cover, slipped a black t-shirt over a cutting board and used that to roll her rounds without sticking. Erik said he once used a bottle for rolling lefse because he didn’t have a rolling pin. Skillets were also used as a substitute for a lefse grill, and spatulas for a turning stick. Jenny Wright used a panini press as a grill. And Jill and Catherine Wright ingeniously found a way of preventing sticking as well as lifting the rolled-out lefse round to the grill: They rolled the dough patty between two pieces of parchment paper and then carried the finished round to the grill using the bottom piece of parchment paper. Getting the round on the grill involved simply turning the parchment paper over and slapping the round on the grill. Brilliant!
- “It’s all in the wrist.” Karen’s husband, Hakon, reminded us all of the importance of the presence of the patriarch at these lefse fests. Judging by how Karen mumbled and rolled her eyes, this line—“It’s all in the wrist.”—was one Hakon used as a motto encapsulating the beliefs or ideals guiding the family through the trials of many decades. So lefse-making families, follow this example and come up with a motto!
Thanks Karen and family for reminding us what lefse-making is all about. Keep on rolling!