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Big, Big Batches of Lefse

To reduce the amount of toil in ricing potatoes when making big batches of lefse, I use an electric food grinder.

I am up late doing this blog for the newsletter because I’ve been making lefse dough, lots of it. In the morning, customers who ordered bags of lefse for Thanksgiving will pick up their rounds and folks will keep coming throughout the day. I love it! I get excited that so many people get excited about this tradition of serving good lefse for perhaps my favorite holiday. I can’t think of anything better than giving thanks.

I enjoy making these holiday batches, but it’s hard work. Of course, one way to reduce the work is to use instant potatoes. However, I like the flavor a little more that comes with boiling potatoes with the skins on, so I don’t usually go the instant route. With boiling potatoes to make lefse dough, I’ve learned how to lessen the work, so here are four tips on how to stress less and smile more when making mega amounts of lefse.

1. Use Instant Pots

You can schedule when you want your potatoes cooked with Instant Pots.to have

I boil potatoes in pots on the stove, plus I use Instant Pots. I can boil the same amount of potatoes in the Instant Pot as the pots on the stove, and I can program the Instant Pots to have the potatoes done at a certain time. They are electric, so I don’t have to use burners on the stove. And if I am not available when the potatoes are done, the Instant Pot keeps them warm for at least an hour. All in all, using Instant Pots gives me flexibility and makes it possible that I am not overwhelmed with all my potatoes getting done at once.

2. Use a Food Grinder

The grinder has a grinding plate with holes that are about the same size as ricer holes. After the potatoes are cooked, I peel the skins and use what’s called a stomper to feed the potatoes into an auger that pushes the spuds through the grinding plate (see opening photo). I skip the mashing potatoes step by using the grinder. However, I don’t skip hand ricing entirely. I hand rice the potatoes that have gone through the grinder to get as many lumps out of the dough as possible. I’m sure there is a grinder plate that has smaller holes yet, but I’m concerned that pushing potatoes through the grinder twice may leave them too soupy. Plus, ricing is traditional and not using a hand ricer in making lefse just wouldn’t seem right.

3. Use a Cushioned Mat

Get a cushioned mat that helps ease the strain on your feet and on up the line.

This mat is a must when I make lefse. I have one in my kitchen and carry one to markets when I roll there. Use one of these mats. Your feet, knees, hips and back will thank you — and let you know loud and clear when you are not standing on the mat when rolling.

4. Use Compression Socks

Keep your feet and legs happy wearing graduated compression socks. Ah, yes!

Keep your feet happy. After making lefse for hours and hours, my dogs are barking and my calves are calling! I have always used shoes with good arch support, but I also wear — and sell — Burlix Graduated Compression Socks. They are wonderful, and I’m not going back to plain old socks for lefse making. I also wear them when I do a lot of standing in the shop. And during the winter, they add a bit of warmth, which is always good.

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Gluten-Free Lefse Progress

Due North Gluten Free Bread Flour shows promise for making lefse.

In my ongoing campaign to find a gluten-free lefse recipe, I tried making lefse yesterday using Due North Gluten Free Bread Flour, which I discovered at last month’s Norsk Hostfest in Minot, North Dakota. Here is what I learned:

  • I substituted Due North’s GF flour for regular flour 1:1. However, when mixing the flour with my potato-butter-cream-sugar-salt mixture, I added one egg and mixed that in. I was told to do that by the Due North owners. The added egg created a sticky dough, so I added slightly more flour than what I normally add with regular flour just so this dough could be handled and rolled.
  • Rolling this dough with Due North’s GF flour was very good. Most GF flours make dough that is grainy, and the rolled out lefse rounds are thicker than normal and have an uneven edge with splits and cracks. This makes it impossible to roll a round round. Due North GF flour made a dough that could be rolled thin, and the edge, while not entirely smooth, had fewer irregularities than most rounds made of GF flour.
  • Turning the thin rolled-out round and transferring the round to the grill was also very good. The rounds did not fall apart, which often happens with rounds made of most GF flours. In fact, with many rounds made of GF flour, I have had to use two turning sticks to carefully lift one round to the grill. Not so, with Due North’s GF flour. No problem with the thin round hanging together.
  • Grilling was fine. My only wish is that the lefse would have been a bit more tender.
  • Taste was also fine. Jane Legwold, my wife who is gluten-free but not celiac, said the Due North had a little bit less of a potato taste but was good lefse overall. Butter spread on the lefse brought moisture to the round, she said, and this round made with Due North’s GF flour was more tender than lefse made with other GF flours — and she had no symptoms that she always gets with eating gluten. She added this lefse is not like tender, really good lefse made with regular flour by a really good lefse maker, but nothing is. All in all, thumbs up.
Lefse made with Due North’s gluten-free flour.
Happy Halloween!

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State Fair Lutefisk Made My Day!

Ah, the good life: lutefisk at the Minnesota State Fair!

I asked at the information booth about THE new food at the Minnesota State Fair: Crispy Lutefisk Steamed Buns. Judging from the knowing “here’s another one” look on the volunteer’s face, I figured that the word was out and fair goers were going for the lutefisk a lot. Indeed, there were 173,724 people in attendance that Sunday, and I was sure that all but five of them were there to try the lutefisk!

The Minnesota State Fair was especially crowded the Sunday I was there, and I was sure the main attraction was THE new food at the fair: Crispy Lutefisk Steamed Buns.

Jane Legwold and I made our way through the crowds of strollers and backpacks and people waiting in long lines for Pronto Pups. (An average of nearly 30,000 Pronto Pups are sold daily at the fair.) We finally reached Shanghai Henri’s, where the Crispy Lutefisk Steamed Buns entree was sold. Now, the lines were nothing like Pronto Pup lines, but business was brisk. The guys waiting on me said they sold out of the “lutee” the day before, and things were hopping already at 11 a.m. In fact, the orders of “two lutees and a 20 oz.” (of beer) were in the air when I waited for my order. (Was the beer for washing down the food or for bracing for the lutefisk?)

I received my four buns, each cuddling a slice of baked lutefisk. The lutefisk was not boiled and jelly-like, which took off the table one of the typical complaints about lutefisk. Also, there was no fishy odor, another plus. The fish was covered with a delicious sweet hoisin sauce, then baked and topped with sesame seeds. Beneath the lutefisk was a blend of cabbage, carrots, cilantro and yum yum sauce.

I was about ready to eat my first bite, but I paused. It was the same kind of pause that happens before you push off on a zip line. A nearby man had been watching me. He laughed and shouted, “What are you waiting for?”

I smiled and said, “I’m collecting my thoughts.” I could have meant I was collecting my thoughts before I put together a prayer for strength and tolerance.

In a word, it was tasty. The hoisin over the fish and the vegetables dominated, but I could still detect enough of the lutefisk flavor to tell that it was indeed lutefisk. The bun was OK but a bit filling, but all in all the dish was good and very creative.

A man sat nearby with his daughter, I assumed, and appeared to be enjoying his lutefisk. His unsmiling daughter gave him sideways glances as if to say, “Dad, don’t do that in public.” She smiled when I asked her about what she thought of lutefisk and said she doesn’t eat it. The dad said he liked it and was impressed that for $14.25 there was a lot of food in the serving.

I asked another man what he thought of the lutefisk. “You know, I have not had lutefisk in 10 years,” he said, chuckling. “When I saw this was a new food at the state fair, I had to come and give it a try. I like it.”

There was relief in the responses, not only that the lutefisk was fun and tasty … but that the tasters had lived to tell about it.

For the first time, lutefisk is being served at the Minnesota State Fair. What if people actually LIKE it?
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Hope for Gluten-Sensitive Lefse Eaters

Jane Legwold, who is gluten-sensitive, savoring her first lefse she has eaten in years.

You know that old joke about the Norwegian who loved his wife so much that … that he almost told her? Well, two days ago I loved that Jane Legwold, my wife pictured above, could now eat lefse — good lefse — that I almost told her!

Actually, I did tell her how genuinely happy I was that she could once again eat tender, tasty lefse after decades of abstaining or eating crumbly, inferior lefse made with gluten-free flours. To these flours I would add xanthan gum in a effort to replace gluten and hold the lefse dough together as I rolled and baked. Often, however, the rolled out dough, which was a bit crumbly, never became a round round, just a jagged splat. And the round regularly fell apart in getting it to the grill, to the point that I had to use two turning sticks and a delicate touch to do the job. The end product rolled up and eaten fairly soon after making it passed as lefse, I suppose, and was a blessing to those who could eat that or nothing at Christmas.

The last time Jane and I were at both our local coop and grocery store, we found Jovial einkorn flour. You can also find it online. Jane had heard about einkorn. It is a wheat NOT recommended for those with celiac disease. However, for those who are not celiac but are gluten sensitive, which Jane is, einkorn can be a just the thing because it is very low in gluten. It is made of wheat that has never been hybridized and has tiny grains with less carbohydrates, more protein and a surprisingly sweet flavor. Here’s how it is explained on the Jovial website:

Einkorn has never been hybridized and contains the original 14 chromosomes while modern hybrids have 42. Over time, in an effort to increase yield to feed a growing population, wheat was transformed from this simple grain to a high yielding modern food source that was versatile and hardy. Einkorn does contain gluten but the proteins that make up the gluten in einkorn are short, weak and brittle and break easily when mixed with water. Einkorn has a very different ratio of glutenins to gliadins which are the proteins that make up gluten. This property has made einkorn easy to tolerate by many who find the strong, stretchy gluten of modern wheat flour impossible to digest. 

“What Is Einkorn, and Is It Safe for Me?” on the Jovial website.

This all sounded too good to be true, but we bought the einkorn flour and I made a small batch of lefse dough with it kneaded in. I used my same recipe that I use for my regular lefse, but I simply subbed in the einkorn flour for the King Arthur all-purpose flour I normally use.

The dough was indeed sweet naturally and not crumbly. It rolled to make a round round. No jagged edges. I was encouraged. There were sticking issues, so I went extra light on the rolling pin and kept my rounds smaller than I normally roll, turning the rounds often in the rolling and moving them around my covered pastry board to prevent sticking. I also “sawed” my turning stick under each finished round to make sure the round was not sticking.

This lefse round with einkorn flour rolls out nicely without the ragged edges that are typical with lefse dough containing gluten-free flour.

So far so good. Now getting the round to the grill. Using just one stick, I lifted the round and rotated the stick to flatten the round on the grill. No problem! My excitement grew.

This lefse does not fall apart when transferring the round to the grill, which often happens with rounds make with gluten-free flour.

On the grill, the lefse browned beautifully, and the rounds were tender and soft after cooling.

I tasted the einkorn flour lefse, and it was very good. Moist, tender, tasty — just like real lefse! I was jovial!

But I am not gluten sensitive. Jane is, and with hope but also some fear that this einkorn flour thing was more marketing than truth, she spread butter on the round and rolled it. She slowly ate the round, waiting for the signs of how gluten affects her: trouble swallowing, aching joints, foggy thinking and bloating.

Nothing. No symptoms as the hours passed and in the next few days.

We are wary still that with repeated eating of the einkorn flour lefse, symptoms will return. But maybe not, and this is a very good sign.

Again, this is not for people with celiac, just for those like Jane, who are gluten sensitive.

I get asked a lot if I have a gluten-free recipe, and I always have to say no. I have not found a gluten-free lefse recipe that I can get behind. They yield lefse that is just passable. But I am hopeful about einkorn flour lefse dough. It makes lefse that is more than passable. It’s pretty dang good!

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Lefse Is Not a Hot Pad!

Sharon and Bob Hovland to my left at this year’s Potato Days Festival in Barnesville, Minnesota.

Everyone has a lefse story, at least in Lefse Land, and I hear lots of them when I sell at events such as the recent Potato Days Festival in Barnesville, Minnesota. The following story was told to me by Sharon and Bob Hovland of Barnesville, pictured above.

It seems that Wilma Fredrichs (Meyer) once traveled from Iowa to visit the Hovlands. Wilma musta chuckled when she told of the time she made lefse for a dinner, and when she finished placed her stack of lefse rounds on the dining room table. It was a potluck, and one of the guests arrived with a casserole, warm and ready to serve. With Wilma prepping food in the kitchen, the guest saw this distinctly attractive hot pad with brown spots on the table and, thinking Wilma had meant the hot pad was for the casserole, placed the casserole dish on the hot pad.

Wilma emerged from the kitchen, and all appeared to be ready on the table for the dinner … except one thing. “Where’s the lefse?” said Wilma.

The guests who brought the casserole didn’t know what lefse was and were flummoxed. Wilma figured out PDQ that the lefse was under the casserole dish and removed the dish.

Guest were blown away with the lefse (no surprise) and how tasty and tender it was … especially served warm.

Reminds me of this poem I wrote for The Last Word on Lefse:

"Here's What You Do With Lefse"

Use lefse as a shingle or
As chaps if you're a cowpoke.
You want a saddle blanket then?
Try lefse ... just a small joke.

What else? How 'bout as napkins or
As tire patches, too?
A bath mat made of lefse, though,
Is soon to turn to goo.

Lefse makes some nice diplomas.
As sheepskins, they would do.
If just Norwegians got them, though,
Who would you give them to?

It's just like toilet paper, but
That's simply lacking taste.
I say to those who make this claim:
"Lefse surely ain't for waste!"

Don't use it as a handkerchief
No, lefse wouldn't do.
To those who say that this is done
Just say that that snot true.

Alas, we've had some fun here
You have to know it's so.
The only use for lefse is
For eating, don't ya know.

From The Last Word on Lefse: Heartwarming Stories—and Recipes Too!

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State Fair Lutefisk: The Good and Not So Good

For the first time, lutefisk will be served at the Minnesota State Fair. What if people actually LIKE it?

Lutefisk is in the news, and that’s good. I think.

The Star Tribune recently ran two lutefisk stories, one about recruiting 50 competitors for the 50th annual lutefisk-eating contest in Madison, Minnesota, better known as Lutefisk Capital USA (see photo below).

Lutefisk-eating contest in November in Madison, Minnesota. Your chance to be a part of history!

The second article is more sneaky good, perhaps ominous. The article titled “How Lutefisk Got State Fair Slot” begins:

The Minnesota State Fair has never selected a lutefisk dish as one of its official new foods. Until now.

Now it’s the dish on everyone’s radar as we approach the Aug. 24 kickoff to the Great Minnesota Get Together: Crispy Lutefisk Steam Buns at Shanghai Henri’s food stand.

Star Tribune July 14, 2023

The good is that lutefisk is finally getting its moment on the big stage, the Minnesota State Fair, the second largest state fair attracting 2 million visitors in 12 days, compared with Texas, the largest state fair attracting 2.25 million in 24 days. And the vendor has ordered 2 tons of lutefisk for the fair. Impressive!

The not-so-good, perhaps, is the State Fair lutefisk will be dressed up so much that it won’t look like lutefisk nor taste much like it, either. “The exterior,” says the article, “is brushed with sweet-salty hoisin sauce and broiled until there’s a crispy crust.” This preparation of lutefisk is served in white-bread soft buns (see opening photo).

I gotta admit, that looks and sounds delicious, and I am making a special trip to the State Fair to sample it. (I think the last time I was at the State Fair was in 2018 when I just had to try Uffda Ale, a beer with a lefse crisp served on the side. It was good!) My hope is a lot of people try the State Fair lutefisk and like it and become lutefisk fans.

My Fear

My fear is this: If and when they try traditional lutefisk—no hoisin sauce or broiled crust, just a white sauce or melted butter—they’ll be bummed and feel duped, joining the ranks of lutefisk haters who have good stories about bad lutefisk. Or think about this: What if they do like it and go around crowing about how great lutefisk is. Hmmm. It’s like they passed a test but the test was watered down, or in this case hoisined up. So without the fishy smell or the jelly texture that lutefisk veterans have proudly endured (like war scars), there was nothing to hate—and part of the lore of lutefisk is the love-hate. Lutefisk lovers still like to poke fun at lutefisk but feel as if they have earned the right to be in an elite club of true lutefisk lovers who fully comprehend the lye of lutefisk.

I’m hopeful, however, and optimistic. This State Fair lutefisk shows imagination and a willingness to honor a grand old traditional food by adding some pizzaz. (Hey, I’ve made aquavit lefse, so I get it. ) That lutefisk finally has become a State Fair food is an indicator that this delightful, disputed, enduring and I dare say endearing dish is important to a lot of people. Otherwise, it would not be at the State Fair.

But if you don’t make it to the State Fair but do make it to a church basement dinner where the lutefisk is not overcooked or, better yet, a lutefisk dinner prepared by a friend, then expect a wonderful meal—I kid you not—that you’ll remember the rest of your life.

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The Spirit of Lefse: Roadside Stand

Taking lefse to the streets in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

Lefse is viewed as a limited edition of tradition, served at dressy Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with tablecloths and candles. But every summer, which is typically the lefse off-season, there are signs of life and vitality in Lefse Land.

Here are four examples:

  • I’m about ready to leave a wonderful fundraiser a couple of weeks ago when I’m invited into a friendly family feud about lefse. Which is better, brown sugar or white sugar on lefse? Of course, neither is better; it’s all personal. That bit of diplomacy didn’t fly, especially when Jane, my wife, jumped in and played the trump card by mentioning that I am the Lefse King. So I was pressed and said I prefer white sugar and cinnamon, which was the choice of part of the family but not the other, more vocal, part. The conversation went round and round, which supports my thesis that lefse and lutefisk are social ignitors. Mention those words at any—any—gathering and a lively and entertaining conversation will follow. This conversation ended with me and Mr. Brown Sugar bumping fists and smiling.
  • Back in June, Kristin Enger Niemi in Fresno, California, emailed that she usually makes her own lefse but couldn’t because she needed a shoulder replacement. Her 13-year-old son, Kurt, who had been making lefse since age 7, asked Kristin to make lefse so he could take it to school the next Monday. There was a happy ending because I made 15 rounds and FedExed it overnight so it arrived in time and in Fresno fresh.
  • Earlier this month, Jessie Turner in Spring Hill, Florida, sent an email on a Monday marked urgent. Oh dear! She needed 6 rounds of lefse delivered by Friday “for the star of a birthday party.” She could not find anyone from that lefse-less outpost to help her out. Could I fill the order and FedEx? I did and received a nice text from Jessie saying, “You have no idea how special this is for us to have for our celebration.”
  • Larry Lafayette of Minneapolis, who sends enewsletter items from time to time, sent this video of a lefse stand in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota (see photo). In the video, you’ll see Kathy Johnson and her grandchildren taking lefse to the people. She says she hopes their efforts will help make sure the grand old tradition will be “passed down to generations to come.” Someone say Amen!

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Africa, Lutefisk and Mopane Worms

African elephants were plentiful and breathtaking up close from a canoe. They were also chilling in my mind one night as they stomped by my tent.

“Travel expands the mind and loosens the bowels,” wrote author and physician Abraham Verghese in Cutting for Stone. This quote came to mind in my game safari last month to the Africa countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. An elephant stomped around my tent building in the first camp in Zimbabwe. It purred as it ate and moved (I didn’t know elephants purred), and I thought it was a lion sizing up its next meal. When it bulled its way through the bush inches away from the window near my ear, I knew it was an elephant and hoped a hip sway wouldn’t wipe out my sanctuary. It didn’t, but at breakfast a fellow traveler asked about my night. I told him of the elephant, and added that the incident was frightening enough to “end whatever travel constipation I had.”

The trip was a celebration of 50 years of marriage to Jane Legwold, and it was wonderful. Oh, the awe of finding and being really close to and hearing the hippos, hyenas, giraffes, lions, cape buffaloes, leopards, kudu, impalas and on and on. The spellbinding tales told by the guides. The history of these young countries in the context of colonialism. The tea times and sundowners in the bush. The elegant meals and deep conversations in camp. The sunny rains and rainbows of Victoria Falls. The spooky majesty of the baobab trees. The kindness and humor and constant singing — really good singing — of the people. By all means, go to Africa.

The spooky majesty of the baobab tree.
The singing group Amazulu introducing a song they sang for our group. Being sung to was a daily thing.
A hyena was as curious about us as we were about it one early morning.
Raincoats were a must in the mists of Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world and home of rainbows so low you can almost touch them.

Mopane Worms vs. Lutefisk

The safari was getting away, far away, from our normal lives in Minneapolis. No one knew of lefse and lutefisk, except when someone would ask about my books, and it was nice to escape and expand the mind. However, lutefisk came to mind when I ate mopane worms.

Mopane worms contain higher protein than other sources such as chicken and milk. In rural areas, worms are an affordable supplement for protein. Still, it is a worm, a fairly big, juicy worm that is fried with butter and tomatoes and served for dinner.

Mopane worms are an excellent source of protein.

Many people in our group politely declined, but Jane and I said sure, we’ll each try one mopane worm. After all, we had eaten lutefisk and lived to tell about it. Because of that, I felt my companions were at a disadvantage and perhaps secretly wished that they had been lutefisk lovers.

When the moment of truth arrived for the happy couple celebrating 50 years of marriage, I volunteered Jane to go first. She did but not quietly. I followed, getting on my knees in the dark hut where women prepared the mopane worms in a skillet over a low stove. Based on my first experience with lutefisk, I knew it was best not to think about it. I popped that critter in my mouth and chased it with a few tomatoes to buffer whatever may come next. The worm was salty and crunchy, which made me wonder about what is crunchy in a worm. I stopped wondering quickly; I didn’t want to know. I swallowed and smiled and headed out of the hut for fresh air and sunshine.

Mopane wasn’t bad, but I’ll take lutefisk any day.

My mopane moment.
Jane and I celebrated eating mopane worms — and 50 years of marriage — by having our faces painted before going to dinner.
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Lutefisk Limerick Contest Champ

Peter Holbrook, the Lutefisk Limerick Contest Winner.

Ah lutefisk, the food we love to hate … and, as it turns out, the food we hate to love. We carp about the lye and the smell of lutefisk, but we do so out of love. C’mon, if we didn’t love lutefisk, would the Lutefisk Limerick Contest have resulted in 123 lutefisk limericks? If we truly hated this maligned and most misunderstood food, no one would bother to agonize into the wee, dark hours to get that most brilliant limerick rhythm and rhyming just right — and then do it again and again because writing limericks is so much fun. No, the Lutefisk Limerick Contest would have been a bust.

But I am busting with happiness that so many people — one even from Berlin — have let their sense of humor and passion for our uniquely Scandinavian ish-fish override their aw-shucks notion that they have nothing to offer to the world of premier poetry. Uff-da!

First prize in the Lutefisk Limerick Contest is this first of its kind Glass-Honey Locust rolling pin.

Champion Peter Holbrook

I am most happy to say that the Lutefisk Limerick Contest has a champ. He is Peter Holbrook of Minneapolis, shown above! Congratulations, Peter, who wins the above Glass-Honey Locust rolling pin!

Peter submitted five limericks, and four of them could have been the winning limerick. Here they are:

From assassins King Harald had flown
And he wandered the land all alone.
So we made him a bisque
Made of stale lutefisk
Now he sits on the porcelain throne.

“If God loves us sinners,” said Tommy,
“Why is there still lutefisk, Mommy?”
“It’s a cross we must bear,
So just say a prayer
And eat it, before it gets gummy.”

A young jellyfish on vacation
Laid her eggs by a nuclear station
And when they were hatched
We caught us a batch
Of the best lutefisk in creation!

At dinner, Lord Henry was stricken
The inspector was stumped, ‘til it hit him.
“That bit of white goo
On his chin is a clue:
‘Twas the lutefisk supper that did ‘im!”

People’s Choice Awards

This year I am introducing an idea that came from Jim Leet of Roseburg, Oregon. Jim has placed in past Lefse Limerick Contests and is entered in the Lutefisk Limerick Contest. Jim’s idea for the People’s Choice Awards is to list the best of the rest of the lutefisk limericks that were not penned by the champion and then let voters determine who wins the prizes for second, third and fourth places.

Second place prize:

Third place prize:

Fourth place prize:

Below are 20 pretty dang good lutefisk limericks worthy of winning the above prizes. The lutefisk limericks are listed by number only, not by name. Vote for the number of your three most favorite limericks. You can vote for your own limerick and two other limericks by someone else. Vote simply by emailing me at glegwold@lutefisk.com and make sure you vote by end of day April 1, 2023.

Here are the 20 lutefisk limericks eligible for the People’s Choice Awards. Email me at glegwold@lutefisk.com by end of day April 1st, and include the numbers of your three favorites.

1.
Such a clever Norwegian well bred
is that Helga who uses her head
to wear lutefisk perfume
that will empty the room
leaving lefse the others have fled.

2.
"Is the lutefisk that takes you two weeks
really worth," I inquired, "what it wreaks?"
The reply was, "Of course,"
from some salty old Norse,
"beats the hell out of turkey and leeks."

3.
Ole’s old “Homemade Recipe Primer”
Has this secret for making one trimmer:
On your lutefisk, pour prunes
About 10 tablespoons
And, you betcha, you soon will be slimmer.

4.
Single Ole's date was going well
They ate lutefisk and his heart did swell
Other girls ran away,
But this sweet gal did say,
"With long COVID, I can't taste or smell."

5.
There once was a man named Ole
Who loved Lutefisk - ate it solely.
He noticed one day
Even flies stayed away
But Lena's attraction - unholy.

6.
A stinky old dish is the lutefisk;
To taste it is taking a grave risk.
It smells like your feet
Not like something to eat
And its trip through your stomach is quite brisk.

7.
"A codpiece"? What comes to mind?
Something of a "manlier" kind
Than stinky lye fish
Served hot in a dish
But in Norway, that's what you'll find.

8.
The lutefisk smelled like a latrine
Its edges had turned a light green
I heard someone mutter
“Just add some more butter”
Then everyone licked their plates clean

9.
A gooey Norwegian fish mess
The recipe’s anyone’s guess
But lutefisk still stays
In Norse holidays
Some think it deserves better press

10.
Lutefisk – you love it or not
Some think it quite like warm snake snot
But others declare love
And always want more of
This Viking treat fresh from the pot

11.
Sven’s girlfriend Britt was a sinner
But she made him lutefisk for dinner
Transgressions forgot
When she served it hot
And Britt was revered as a winner

12.
With lutefisk for breakfast each morn
Add butter and spuds to adorn
White sauce laced with dill
Just sit back and chill
It makes you so glad you were born

13.
A lovely lass welcomed Leif in.
“The feast is about to begin!”
Leif took a great risk
and tried lutefisk.
“I’m vegan….” he said with chagrin.

14.
There once was a Viking named Thor
Who kept lutefisk outside his door.
The raccoons ran away,
And the bears said, “No way!”
But the skunks all said “Let’s have some more!”

15.
An aging old Norskie named Luke
Made some lutefisk, just on a fluke.
Ma said, “It looks great,
And fits nice on my plate
But the smell of it might make me puke.”

16.
Per died and so, dust to dust,
Ole stood up to say what he must,
"Per liked lutefisk best,
Thought this world was a mess."
His motto was: "In cod we trust!"

17.
Lutefisk is internationally notorious
And its preparation somewhat laborious
But with lefse and butter
The experience is utter-
Ly, fabulously lipsmackingly glorious

18.
I care for lutefisk jokes not a whit
Think up one and I’ll call you a twit
The dish is delicious
No need to be vicious
I’ll eat yours if you want to get rid of it

19.
It's a mystery down through the ages
This fish delicacy thought from the sages
But the recipe was wrong
With lutefisk all along
It was PIE not LYE on the pages.

20.
There once was a cod in the sea.
Caught by a fisherman was thee.
They soaked it in lye
for a Scandinavian high.
Plugging your nose is the key.

Again, email me at glegwold@lutefisk.com with the numbers of your favorite three. The People’s Choice Award winners will be named in the April newsletter. Good luck, all!

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3rd Annual Lefse Limerick Contest

Winner of the Lutefisk Limerick Contest wins this first in my line Glass-Honey Locust Rolling Pin.

Once again, I run the risk of offering a limerick contest, and this time the 3rd Annual Lefse Limerick Contest is actually the Lutefisk Limerick Contest. It’s time to give lutefisk its due. Can I have an AMEN?

So start cranking out the lutefisk limericks and send them my way. The Lutefisk Limerick Contest runs throughout the rest of the month of February until March 16, 2023. That means one month of oodles of doodles about our favorite love-hate topic, lutefisk.

Refresher on limerick writing:

  • Make sure you have seven to nine beats in the first, second, and fifth lines, with the last word in those lines rhyming.
  • Have five to seven beats in the third and fourth lines, with the last word in those lines having a different rhyme than the last word in the first, second, and fifth lines.

You will rise quickly in the ranks if your lutefisk limericks adhere to these rules, or you’re pretty close 🤓. Email your lutefisk limericks to glegwold@lutefisk.com.

High Risk, High Reward

Let’s get back to the risk. Wikipedia defines a limerick as “a form of verse, usually humorous and frequently rude,” in five-lines. Again, the first, second and fifth lines rhyme, and the third and fourth lines, which are shorter, have a different rhyme.

The form originated in England in the 18th century and became popular in the 19th century. Wikipedia says, “Gershon Legman, who compiled the largest and most scholarly anthology, held that the true limerick as a folk form is always obscene … . From a folkloric point of view, the form is essentially transgressive; violation of taboo is part of its function.”

Wikipedia cites the following example is a limerick of unknown origin:

The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.

A Clean Lutefisk Limerick

So you see the risk of running a Lutefisk Limerick Contest. To be true to form, a lutefisk limerick, it appears, should be “obscene” and “frequently rude” and a “violation of taboo.” Oh, dear!

Well, following the exact form of a limerick will never do in here Lefse Land. We have our fun with lutefisk, but we are never rude or obscene. No, no, no!

And yet … and yet … it is possible to dance along the borders of the true limerick to create an entertaining lutefisk limerick. Check this out:

There once was a Norsky named Niles
He endured a rough month with the piles
Ate lutefisk — cured!
So please rest assured:
On lutefisk lovers, God smiles.

Gary Legwold

There, that wasn’t so bad! I dance along the border of the true limerick with mention of “piles” in the second line, but I never cross the line. You must admit, the limerick could have gone decidedly south after that. But it didn’t, and we end up with smiles.

One Limerick Leads to Another

For the Lutefisk Limerick Contest, again, you must write a limerick about lutefisk—love it or leave it. Here’s one I just made up, for example. That’s the thing about limericks: You can’t write just one when you’re having so much fun.

Be happy, my friend! Be glad! Be well!

Lutefisk helps, oh, this I do tell.

It tastes great, so delish

Don’t dare call it ish

Provided (ahem) you get past the smell.

Gary Legwold

Ok, your turn. Write your lutefisk limericks and enter the contest. Keep it clean, remember, but be bold and walk the line! Check out this site on how to write a limerick. Again, do your very best with having seven to nine beats in the first, second, and fifth lines with the last word in those lines rhyming. Then five to seven beats in the third and fourth lines, with the last word in those lines having a different rhyme than the last word in the first, second, and fifth lines.

Send your lutefisk limerick or limericks to glegwold@lutefisk.com. Submit as many lutefisk limericks as you want until midnight on March 16. Winners will be announced in my March newsletter. Oh, winners will receive:

FIRST PLACE: the first in my line, the Glass-Honey Locust Rolling Pin. I experimented with this combination of glass and wood, and construction of the pin posed several challenges. But the outcome is beautiful. The sturdy glass handles sparkle and feel great in the hands, and the prominent waves in the honey locust make it clear why this wood is named after the color of honey. This is truly a functional piece of art. Use the pin with a steel rod and ball bearings for a smooth roll, and then display the pin after use. Just take care with the handles. The glass is sturdy, but it is glass.

OTHER WINNERS. If you don’t win first place, there is a chance your lutefisk limericks can still win one of the following three prizes:

The Santa Red Bowl for mixing lefse dough.
The Lefse: An Antidote For Lutefisk t-shirt.
The lefse hat that says it all: Keep On Rolling!

Now is the time for lutefisk limerick writers to rise up and put down bold and clever limericks about their favorite love-hate food. Enter the Lutefisk Limerick Contest by emailing limericks to glegwold@lutefisk.com. You have until March 16, 2023. Good luck!