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All Things Lefse Market

All this lefse stuff in one backyard market! Be still my heart!

This is an announcement of the first annual All Things Lefse Market next Saturday, October 16th, in my backyard. It is also a personal growth opportunity in that it encourages this Norwegian to do something un-Scandinavian: brag.

Do you know how hard it is for a Norwegian to boast? Certainly, some of you do. We’ve learned that tooting our own horn is just not done. If it’s good, whatever it is that you do or make, you don’t need to crow. No, no, no! What you do or make will speak for itself. In fact, if you speak for yourself, you and whatever you do or make are viewed with considerable suspicion, that your bluster is an effort to distract others from the flaws you are trying to hide. So, zip it. Let others speak for you and what you do or make — but when they do, you darn well better be quick to do a Norwegian Deflection in response, something along the lines of, “Shucks, it was nothing.”

Well, this All Things Lefse Market is not nothing. When I am at markets, there are all sorts of products to pull in customers, not just lefse. Not with this market. This All Things Lefse Market is an outdoor garden party featuring just lefse and all things related. I will be demonstrating lefse making, talking up my lefse classes, and showing off my lefse and lutefisk books. But that’s just a start. Yesterday, I spread all my lefse and lutefisk stuff over three large tables, and I certainly did not say that this spread was nothing. It was something, all the products I had developed over the years, very good products I am proud of.

There, it’s done. I sang my own praises and am glad. Sort of.

I hope you will be glad when you come next Saturday, October 16th, to the All Things Lefse Market between 9 am and 4 pm at 5205 Knox Ave. S. in Minneapolis. Weather looks great, and on display will be:

  • The most gorgeous heirloom lefse rolling pins and lefse turning sticks you’ll see anywhere. Think walnut, cherry, cocobolo, and spalted maple. These pins, including one I turned (my first), are made by members of the Minnesota Woodturners Association.
  • Lefse earrings, yep, made of lacquered lefse.
  • Lutefisk lip balm.
  • Lefse grills and replacement parts.
  • 2022 Lefse calendar.
  • Lefse jigsaw puzzle.
  • Lefse rolling board and special blue rolling board cover.
  • Lefse rolling pin socks.
  • Colorful lefse cozies.
  • Vibrant countertop protectors for under your lefse grill.
  • Lefse hoodie that says “Lefse is cheaper than therapy!”
  • Lefse song score for voice and piano, also for men’s quartet.
  • Walnut flower vases.
  • Lefse illustrations.
  • Lefse and lutefisk greeting cards.
  • Nostalgic lefse mixing bowls.
  • Lefse masks.
  • Compression socks for making lefse all day.
Lefse cozies and countertop protectors.
Heirloom lefse rolling pins galore.
Books, lefse and lutefisk greeting cards, lefse song, lefse jigsaw puzzle, lefse calendar, lefse earrings, and lutefisk lip balm.
Beautiful lefse turning sticks, bowls, boards, the revolutionary blue board cover, and the “Lefse is cheaper than therapy!” hoodie.
Head-turning walnut flower vases.
More lefse cozies and counter protectors.

Please come to the first annual All Things Lefse Market next Saturday 9 am to 4 pm at 5205 Knox Ave. S. in Minneapolis. It’ll help launch the lefse season and help me not feel rueful for tooting my own horn.

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How Grateful? Very

More than 100 books were mailed last month for my customer-appreciation offer.

People who are overcome with gratitude will often say something like, “I am so thankful. I cannot express just how grateful I am.” And it’s true; gratitude cannot be quantified or magnified by adding words, in many cases. Don’t get me started on how a heartfelt “Thank you” cannot be topped by the gushing cliche of the times: “Thank you so much!” “So much” adds nothing and subtracts a bit of sincerity, IMHO. So please, leave off the “so much”, thank you.

But I digress. Last month I wanted to express just how grateful I was to my customers who allow this lefse train to keep on rolling. So free books were offered to anyone who emailed me. I did this last year and sent out a dozen or so free books, so I thought I’d do it again. I sent out the March enewsletter that included the free books offer.

I casually checked my email the night I sent out the offer, and there were scads of responses, like around 50. Yikes! I started adding up the shipping cost. Hmmm… . I have never done this before with my newsletter, but the next day my better-business self sent a follow-up “What was I thinking?” newsletter that said the free book offer would end at the end of the day.

So, after two days of checking emails and shaking my head—in gratitude—and then two more days of my grandson Zo and me stuffing envelopes, 105 books were lugged to the post office. I left my boxes overnight so that I not overwhelm the postal clerks.

When I returned the next morning to pay, I started to think that maybe you can quantify gratitude. I mean, shipping 105 books has to mean a ton of gratitude to my customers, even shipping at media rate, right? And certainly wasn’t I showing deep gratitude to my Canadian customers, since it is indeed a high price to pay for shipping anything to our northern neighbors?

After paying and as I folded up the 10-foot long receipt that listed all the tracking numbers, I reflected on what had happened. At the end of the day, I was glad for making the offer. I really was. I was grateful that there was so much interest in lefse and lutefisk books in this slow off season, and that people were expressing their gratitude for a chance to receive the books that I was glad to ship out. It was one grand gratitude fest, people thanking each other for thanking each other. I was especially gratified that most requests were for the book I have a special place in my heart for, my lefse novel, Final Rounds: On Love, Loss, Life, and Lefse. Very cool!

So I end with the only thing I can say, simply, to my customers in Lefse Land.

Thanks.

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HaikUff-Da Poetry Contest Winners

Being a poet of sorts and especially inspired by lefse and lutefisk, I wrote last month about the non-winners of Ingebretsen’s HaikUff-Da Poetry Contest. I was judge in the Christmas Foods and Traditions category. The non-winners I featured were good but they were non-winners because the poems had too many syllables in a line; haiku is strict about five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. Also, I was bound not to write about winners because Ingebretsen’s had not announced winners yet.

Well, the names of winners have been released, and the winners in the Christmas Foods and Traditions category are from New Mexico, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Who knew there were so many far-flung lefse and lutefisk haiku poets out there?

I must pat myself on the back because I am partial to lefse and lutefisk, and it was disciplined work not to favor haiku about my favorite foods. But I did it. The winner in my category, Doug Mattson from Albuquerque, NM, wrote about herring. So, good job Doug and good job Judge Gary!

Check out the second and third place winners in the Christmas Foods and Traditions category as well as winners in the other four categories: Midsommer, Ole and Lena, Nordics and Social Distancing, and Edvard Munch.

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Lefse Haiku, Woo-Hoo!

At long last, I can honestly say I have arrived! The honor of being asked to judge the Haikuff-Da Poetry Contest is … well, it’s the culmination of a career of writing four non-fiction books on lefse and lutefisk as well as my most recent book, a lefse novel called Final Rounds. How can I explain just what this honor means to me to judge the Christmas Traditions and Food Category, the highest of all categories, indeed? I have judged lefse contests at the top of the lefse world at the Norsk Hostfest in Minot, ND, and Potato Days in Barnesville, MN. I have sung my lefse song “Keep On Rollin’” on stage at the Norsk Hostfest and at scores of speaking engagements. I have had the privilege of teaching hundreds of people to make lefse in my classes. But these career triumphs are merely prologue to judging the Haikuff-Da Poetry Contest. Yes, tears are choking my words, so I lean on the lyrics of Cole Porter when I say it’s the top, it’s …
 
The Tow’r of Pisa
The smile on Mona Lisa
The most—it’s the max!

Winners will be announced July 31, but I can give you a sneak peek of the quality of each haiku. These are four haikus that did not win because, perhaps in their excitement at pulling off a haiku about lefse or lutefisk, they did not adhere to the strict rules about the first line must be five syllables, the second seven syllables, and the third five.

Lutefisk, a food?
You lye if you make it, and
You lie if you like it.

Naughty gnomes, nisses;
Fraudulent frolicsome friends,
Crunch Christmas Krumkakes!

Lutefisk or Glögg
Uff-da what a choice that is
Maybe I’ll just have both

Hot fire crackling
At the window a frost bead
My lefse sizzling

These are good and it is too bad there was a syllable miscount with each. Who knows, one of them might have won. Anyway, high marks to Ingebretsen’s for hosting the second annual Haikuff Da Poetry Contest. Check for the winners July 31.

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Change Is Gonna Come

I have two grandchildren who are seen as black but are Colombian and black. You met them in my books Keep On Rolling! Life on the Lefse Trail and Learning to Get a Round and in fiction form in Final Rounds: On Love, Loss, Life, and Lefse.


When the kids came into my life, I was terrified. I explain my fears in this video I made at the request of my minister. She asked for my reflections, as a white grandfather of two grandchildren seen as black, on protests stemming from George Floyd’s killing. I gladly agreed to do the video because it helped me think and feel and not just fear. The video served as the intro to a song I sang for the service that streamed online last Sunday. The song is “Hold On”, a song about holding onto faith. I won’t take you into the service and the singing of the song, but please watch this two-minute video.

Fears turned out to be the foundation of a blessing.

Love Wins

The takeaway is that my fears turned out to be the foundation of a blessing, one of the biggest blessings of my life. I learn about race daily because of the make-up of my family—and I got two great grandkids as part of the deal!


I write and speak and teach about lefse, primarily, with a little bit of lutefisk on the side. I do it because I want to preserve and pass on lefse and lutefisk traditions to my family and others. Some have asked that with such diversity in my family, am I concerned that the lefse-lutefisk tradition will die off in my family when I die? Sure, but I would worry the same if my family were all white. Passing on traditions is a concern, period, for all parents.


I go back to what I said in the video: Love wins. The love between my grandchildren and me has overridden my fears and has led to their love of lefse and the lefse-making tradition. My 12-year-old granddaughter Amaya rolls lefse and has helped with my lefse classes. My grandson, Zo? Let me tell you a lefse story about Zo.

A Lefse-Rolling Lesson

Last holiday season at the local farmers market where I do a lefse-making demo and sell my books and related products, Zo asked if he could roll a round. He and Amaya help with setting up and tearing down our table, and with selling. I pay them handsomely.

Ten-year-old Zo is a natural in the market, checking out other exhibits and chatting up and charming vendors—who reward him with free samples. When he asked to roll a round of lefse, he understood that all eyes are on lefse makers as they roll; it’s just too cool to ignore. But he was undaunted because he wanted to do this cool thing.


I have coached him, but mostly he learns by watching me and then trusting his own style. He started to roll just as two white customers came to the table and asked me lefse questions. As I answered, I realized they were not listening to me but were intent on watching Zo roll.


I feared they may say something about race, something about a black little boy making a Norwegian food. It is the same fear I have had since I put up my Black Lives Matter sign in my yard many years ago. Would it scare away those who take my lefse classes? No one has ever said anything about the sign. I imagine a few have had issues with it, but I also believe in the good in people. I believe most have come to support this movement toward justice and away from racism. I see more and more of these signs in my white neighborhood, so I do believe people want justice for blacks — and that black lives do matter, just as they do for me.

My other fear regarding Zo in the market that day was that he was rolling a rag of a lefse round and that the customers were in horror as this lefse-making train wreck was unfolding. I followed their eyes to the pastry board … where Zo was rolling a perfectly round lefse round!

I smiled and turned back to the customers, who were aghast. One of them finally said, “I can’t do that!!”

The customers smiled at Zo and congratulated him repeatedly on his lefse round.

After the customers moved on, Zo the charmer started working on his grandfather. “Papa,” he said, “you know what I’m doing here for you, right?” Meaning, Zo was drawing paying customers to the table, not only because he’s so dang cute but also because he rolls a pretty dang good lefse round. He was angling for a tip.

“I’m way ahead of you, Zo,” I replied. I knew where he was going the minute he shrugged his shoulders in an “oh, by the way” fashion and said, “Papa …”

At the end of the day, I paid him handsomely … and gave him a handsome tip.

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Lutefisk Ts for the Times

A must for getting though life and especially tough times is humor. Where to find humor in a pandemic? Not a problem for lutefisk lovers. Poor old lutefisk—which I love—can generate humor in any situation, and that humor often shows up on t-shirts.

My lefse/lutefisk friend Jeanne Sumnicht tipped me off to a Facebook page called I Love My Norwegian Heritage and it sells all sorts of apparel that would be fit to wear in these times and maybe even for the right Syttende Mai celebration, which is Sunday. Comments for the t-shirt above include:

No problem….if you have a plate of lutefisk, I will be standing WAY farther than 2 meters away!

One plate of lutefisk will kill the virus.

This t-shirt generated 94 comments, all variations of “Amen!!” Here are a couple:

The reason my son was happy to go to Norway with me – he knew that no one would try to talk to him.

Including marriage!! Remember the Norwegian who loved his wife so much, that he almost told her…

I’ve always said lefse is the antidote to lutefisk, so I end with the above sweatshirt that balances all the negative directed at lutefisk.

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Funeral Lefse

Last February, I got an email from Penny Wells. Penny had signed up for one of my lefse classes last fall but had to drop out because her mother was ailing. The email said that her mother had passed away at the age of 90, and Penny was looking for lefse to be served at a visitation before the 3 p.m. memorial service on March 7.

I was honored to be asked … and I was a little nervous about the task of making 40 rounds of lefse for a funeral. It had to be perfect, I thought, and that thought is like kryptonite to a recovering perfectionist like me.

But I did it, and I was very glad I did. I felt good as I imagined how the lefse would add to the celebration of this life, much the same way it did in my novel, Final Rounds: On Love, Loss, Life, and Lefse. And when Penny picked up her lefse the morning of the memorial service, I was especially glad to learn a bit about Phyllis Harriet Schutz.

Penny said her mom, known as Nana, was spirited woman, and Penny impressed me as being like her mom. The obituary said: “In typical Nana fashion, her last days were full of smiles and laughs (and a few scowls), surrounded by family and friends.” Nice way to go out, I thought.

Nana was born in 1929 (like my mom, Darlene Schumacher) in North Dakota (like my mom) to Elvin and Aagot Iverson, “hardy Norwegian farmers,” said the obit. Nana moved to Fargo for work (like my mom) and met James Schutz on a blind date and soon married.

Penny pointed to the last few lines of the obit, which made me even more happy that I got to know Nana through lefse. It read: “Nana’s infectious spunk will live on in all who knew her. Nana loved people, cigarettes, and vodka gimlets, perhaps not in that order.”

Here’s to you, Nana!

“Let us make our glasses kiss;
Let us quench the sorrow-cinders.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Phyllis Harriet Schutz.
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Free Books! Early Start on Spring Cleaning

Yes, I know we’ll get socked with a big snowstorm or three here in Minnesota in March, but there are many days when spring is in the air. Which means spring cleaning.

I have many “returns,” books that are fine except for a small blem that caused the bookstore to return them. I won’t sell them, but I will give them away.

So here’s the deal for March. If you buy my novel Final Rounds: On Love, Loss, Life, and Lefse, I will include in your order a free return copy of both of The Last Word on Lutefisk and The Last Toast to Lutefisk.

Final Rounds: On Love, Loss, Life, and Lefse

To get three books for the price of one, here’s what you do:

  • Order online Final Rounds: On Love, Loss, Life, and Lefse.
  • DON’T order the lutefisk books. I will automatically include them in your order unless your write in the notes section of the order that you don’t want the lutefisk books.
The Last Word on Lutefisk: True Tales of Cod and Tradition Cover Image
The Last Word on Lutefisk: True Tales of Cod and Tradition Cover Image
The Last Toast to Lutefisk Cover Image
The Last Toast to Lutefisk Cover Image

Please help with my spring cleaning. Order a good novel and get two more fine books for free, books that are too good to sit on a shelf unread because of a little dent or slight crease in the cover.

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A Father’s Day Toast and Joke

The devil’s is in the details about why we make toasts.
Illustration by Peter Krause from The Last Toast to Lutefisk! 102 Toasts, Tidbits, and Trifles for your next Lutefisk Dinner.

Dads are often the keepers of humor in families, ready to risk telling a joke or pulling a prank and usually appreciative of any sort of wit and humor coming their way. So for lutefisk lovers, I offer a toast, a joke, and a tidbit you can use at the dinner table on Father’s Day. All three are from my book The Last Toast to Lutefisk! 102 Toasts, Tidbits, and Trifles for your next Lutefisk Dinner.

The toast has just the right mix of sentiment, wishful thinking, and humor: May you live as long as you want, and want lutefisk as long as you live.

The joke about two retired fishermen is kind of a groaner. Bjorn and Magnus had been buddies at sea for years and years, catching cod, eating lutefisk, and drinking aquavit. But now they are retired. They still eat lutefisk and still drink aquavit. But they don’t catch cod anymore and hardly ever see each other. Kinda sad. And when they do see each other, all they say is: “Long time, no sea.”

The tidbit is a bit of history. The gesture of clinking glasses began when early Christians wanted to produce a bell-like noise that would banish the devil, who was repelled by bells. Another explanation: Clinking glasses brings all five senses into play, so you taste, touch, see, smell, and—clink—hear the drink.

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Free Lefse Calendar for Funny Lefse-Lutefisk Joke

This illustration by Peter Krause sets up a joke for lutefisk eaters who like football.

I’ve been so caught up in the holiday lefse-and-lutefisk storm that I missed an anniversary. The previous The Lefse & Lutefisk News was the one-year anniversary issue! Woohoo!!

To celebrate, I’m giving away copies of The 2019 Let’s Make Lefse! Calendar.

Well, not quite giving them away … but I’m giving them to the first 15 readers who send me a lefse or lutefisk joke. If the joke is good — and just about any lefse or lutefisk joke is good (except some lutefisk jokes) — and you are among the first 15 who send in a good joke, you’ll get a free lefse calendar full of photos, illustrations, lefse quotes, lefse-making tips, and humor.

So email your jokes to glegwold@lutefisk.com and I will let you know if you are one of the 15 winners.

To prime the pump, here is a football-lutefisk joke (kinda edgy) from The Last Toast to Lutefisk! 102 Toast, Tidbits, and Trifles for Your Next Lutefisk Dinner.

Two Green Bay Packers fans we’re seated next to a Minnesota Vikings fan at a lutefisk dinner. The Vikings fan must have had a problem because he kept excusing himself to go to the bathroom.

The Packers fans, being the prankish sort, spit on the Vikings fans lutefisk when he went to the bathroom. He returned, took a bite of lutefisk, and did not seem to notice the spit.

The next time the Vikings fan left the table, the Packers fans asked him to please return with two beers. Again, the Packers fans spit on the Vikings fan’s lutefisk.

The Vikings fan returned with two foamy glasses of beer, which the Packers fans drank with great satisfaction. The Vikings fan sat down and took another bite of lutefisk. With a look of disgust, he said, ”How long must this go on? Why can’t we rivals live in peace? What causes Packers and Vikings fans to stoop to such lowliness that we spit on each other’s lutefisk and pee in each other’s beers?”

In summary, be among the first 15 to send your lefse or lutefisk jokes to glegwold@lutefisk.com.