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Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Day 7 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Lefse #3 (Instant Potato Lefse)

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Today is Day 7 of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas and we’re making Lefse #3 (Instant Potato Lefse). This is the third recipe for lefse that I found in Grandma’s file. The other 2 have been absolutely delicious, and this recipe was also delicious, but I had some issues with it. I’ll elaborate as we go along. I remember that when we first started to make lefse, we did use a recipe that had instant potatoes in it. While this may be that original recipe, I’m just not sure.

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As you can tell, this recipe is incomplete at the end, so I’ll fill it in as we go.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lefse #3 (Instant Potato Lefse)

Boil:

3 1/2 cups water

Add:

1/2 cup margarine (I used butter)

1 teaspoon salt

Pour mixture into:

4 cups instant potatoes

Mix well.

Add in:

1/2 cup cream

Mix well.

Cool.

Cover with plastic wrap.

Chill in refrigerator overnight.

This is the end of the recipe, but what to do with the 2 cups of flour? Grandma had written “wait” after it on the card, and after going back to look at other lefse recipes I’ve made, you mix in the flour the next day before frying. So that’s what I did.

Make balls of dough, roll thin, and fry on lefse griddle at 350-400 degrees.

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It’s funny how such simple ingredients can turn out so many different and delicious recipes.

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This is adding the butter to the boiling water and then to the instant potatoes.

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Here we are – all mixed up and ready for the frig.

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The next day – mix in the flour and start frying.

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Here is my set-up. I do things the way Grandma and Grandpa did – a pastry cloth and a sock over the rolling-pin, extra flour to sprinkle on the cloth so I won’t get too big of a wet spot, a nice lefse stick for moving the dough from the board to the griddle and back to the cooling area, and a paper towel handy to wipe down the top of the griddle if I get too much flour on it.

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Here is the cooling area. I only do this because Grandma and Grandpa did it this way, but it’s a good system. There is one baking sheet with paper towels on it for cooling down the lefse (it absorbs the moisture and condensation from the heat of the lefse), one baking sheet with paper towels on it for stacking the lefse after it’s cooled, and a freezer bag for packaging the lefse to it can be put in the freezer and well hidden so there will actually be some left by Christmastime.

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I did this batch of lefse by myself, so I had to have everything ready to go.

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This was one of the first ones I did and it got a bit too dark. Grandma was always adamant that she didn’t want them to be too dark, but I kinda like them that way. This lefse wasn’t as tender as the other 2 recipes I’ve made for this blog. I tried turning the temperature up and turning it down, but these got a bit tougher and crisper than we like. I prefer the recipes for Lefse and Lefse #2 to this recipe.

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Here’s a little secret about this griddle. This was Grandma and Grandpa’s griddle, so it’s been around awhile and there have been some repairs done. The thermostat went out on it years ago and instead of just buying a new griddle, Grandpa bought a new one that cost more than the griddle itself. The other repair (not really a repair, but a modification) is that one of the legs fell off, and we modified it by finding a ceramic electrical bulb fixture that just happens to be exactly the right height to keep the griddle level. Works great!

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Everybody likes butter on lefse, but some of our family like honey on it and some of our family like cinnamon and sugar on it. Some of our family like it with the works. It’s all in what your preference is.

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For this particular piece, I put on butter with cinnamon and sugar. Yum.

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Here is the lefse all rolled up with all the goodies inside. I had to try a couple of pieces warm off the griddle – it’s best that way! The rest is already packaged and hidden in the freezer. Here’s hoping it lasts until Christmas! We’re so lucky that we were able to learn from Grandma and Grandpa how to make lefse. Traditionally we made it with them on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It was fun to learn how to make it, but more than that, it was fun to talk and laugh and tell stories about the old days. It’s a great tradition for us all to have been a part of and I’m so grateful.

 

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Day 5 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Sandbakkels

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It’s Day 5 of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas, and we’re going back to an old post for this one. Sandbakkels are the Norwegian cookies made in little tins. Click on the link below to see this post and the recipe for these delicious little cookies.

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Sandbakkels

 

 

 

 

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Day 3 – 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas – Norwegian Mittens and Mitten Ornaments

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It’s Day 3 of the 12 Days of Scandinavian Christmas! Today we’re looking back at my post about the Norwegian Mittens that I make. The mittens aren’t really too Christmas-y, unless you make them in red or green, but I also make Mitten Ornaments.

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They’re so cute! Almost the same mitten, only smaller!

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They’re knit on 4 needles, just like the big mittens you wear.

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This is a great addition to your Scandinavian Christmas tree, but they’re also a great package topper, or pretty pinned onto your coat.

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Below I have included a PDF of the pattern for the ornaments, which is from an old magazine – Better Homes and Gardens Creative Ideas, Country Crafts, Christmas Edition 1989!! I’ve been making these a long time, too! Click on the link below if you’d like to give it a try!

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mitten-ornament-instructions

I have found, since I posted about the Norwegian Mittens, that there is the actual pattern out there on the internet. You can find it here if you feel like a challenge and learning to knit these very warm and very durable mittens. Click on the link below to visit my post about these beautiful mittens.

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Norwegian Mittens

 

 

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Krumkaka

Seeing this photo of me at 1 year old reminded me so much of Grandma and Grandpa, the farm, and holidays spent there, that I just had to share this one, too. Holidays were always spent with family and a lot of conversation, family stories, laughter and love swirling around the room. This photo is so funny! Can you say “presents?!!!” Haha! I seem to like the ducky toy enough to ignore the other present that looks like it’s bigger than me!!

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You can tell by the eyes that I don’t have any idea what’s going on, but I like it!!

Thinking of Grandma and Grandpa, the farm, and the holidays spent there brings me to another Scandinavian recipe! We always have Krumkaka at Christmas and they’re one of my favorite Christmas cookies. My mom has a stove top krumkaka iron that we usually make these cookies on, but this year we’re trying something new. My husband gave me a krumkaka iron for my birthday and it’s ELECTRIC. An electric one is great, but the BEST part about it – it’s a DOUBLE. Yes – you can cook 2 at a time!!! That means it goes twice as fast!! That’s a good thing – a very good thing – because this recipe makes A LOT of cookies. We usually cut it in half and THAT makes a lot of cookies. We sometimes have had a Scandinavian baking day (I’ve posted about a couple of those other cookies – Sanbakkelse, Spritz Cookies, Lefse, and Lefse #2) where my mom comes and one or both of my daughters, so the baking of all these cookies goes faster. If not faster, it just seems like it with all the conversation, family stories, laughter, and love swirling around the room. Sound familiar?

This card has my mom’s initials on it, so it originally came from her. There was another recipe on the back of the card from someone else, but it’s basically just the front recipe cut in half. But with more vanilla. I used the recipe on the back of the card (the half batch) with more vanilla.

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This one has the “Good Recipe” connotation on it!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Krumkaka (half batch)

Beat well:

2 eggs

Add:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat.

Add alternately:

1 1/2 cup flour

Scant 1 cup milk

Mix well.

Cook in krumkaka iron half a minute on each side if using stove top iron (I used my new electric iron and it took about 1 minute and 20 seconds to cook.

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Even if you have softened butter, I’d beat it well when adding the rest of the ingredients so you don’t have lumps of butter in the batter.

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Yay! Here’s my new electric iron! Put about a heaping teaspoon of batter on iron and hold it shut for about 30 seconds when cooking.

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After the cookies are done, remove them from the iron and immediately roll them around the wooden cone that is included with the iron. I’m hoping Santa brings me an extra wooden cone because I found that it would definitely help to have two when cooking two cookies at a time. The second cookie sometimes gets a bit too hard to roll if you don’t stay on top of the rolling thing. I mean, not that you can’t find something to do with those cookies that crack when they sat too long. Someone has to be the taste tester, and luckily, my husband is there with a can of Reddi Wip to squirt into those cracked ones to hold them together and make sure the batch is ok. Hmmm. Maybe there was an ulterior motive involved with this birthday gift.

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Aren’t they pretty?!! This batch made about 46. The first ones got a bit lighter than I like them to be, but I was still learning how to use the new iron. We’ve since made a second batch and they were better. I’m learning! I hope you get a chance to try to make some of these great Scandinavian favorites! Gather your family or helpers, make some memories of your own, and feel the love!

 

 

 

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Lefse #2

Today I just have to share this funny photo of Grandma and Grandpa from Christmas time 1940. That little blur on Grandma’s lap? That’s my mom at 9 months old!

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I would say this was supposed to be a somewhat formal photo, but that’s what’s so funny – it was formal until the little blur got going! So cute!!! I just LOVE this photo!

Well, it’s December, and that means it’s time for traditional Scandinavian treats. Oh how my family loves that traditional Norwegian specialty, lefse. I did post a recipe for Lefse last year, but since then, my mom has found even more of Grandma’s recipes and here is one more lefse recipe. We’ll call this one Lefse #2, and it’s a very good one. Our family traditionally makes lefse on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and this year was no exception. We tried this new lefse recipe (new to us, but it’s apparently been around since 1985). It worked great and we’ve decided that this will be the one we use from now on. Back when we started learning how to make lefse, Grandma and Grandpa taught us all they knew about how to make it. We heard a lot of stories about the old days during these lefse making days, and the grandkids and great-grandkids made a lot of memories of their own during those special days. This year, my mom was here to help, and all 3 of our kids. It was a beautiful day full of stories, laughter, love, and this delicious lefse with even more memories made!

Lefse #2

Note that this one also has the “V Good” connotation!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lefse #2

8 cups mashed potatoes (russets)

8 Tablespoons butter (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 Tablespoon salt

Cook potatoes (no salt), drain, mash.

Add butter, cream, and salt.

Cool completely.

Mix in:

4 scant cups flour

Roll in golf ball sized balls and fry on lefse griddle (or dry fry pan).

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I made the potatoes the night before and they were ready for the flour right away in the morning. My son was enlisted to mix in the flour.

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All mixed up and ready to roll into balls.

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My oldest daughter was in charge of rolling the balls.

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My son took his turn in the rolling out. When the pastry cloth moves around, I use cans (or a little piece of rubberized anti-skid mat) to keep it in place. We only experienced one of the dreaded “wet spots” with this recipe. That’s really something, and that alone is a good enough reason to use this recipe again.

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My middle child (youngest daughter) did her part with the frying.

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We pile the finished lefse on paper towels so they don’t get too damp before packing them in zip top freezer bags (so there will still be some at Christmas time and they’re not all eaten by then). We make them smaller than some people, but it’s nice to have them be more manageable on the plate or cookie table. We got 36 pieces of lefse out of this batch.

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They’re all ready for butter, cinnamon, sugar, honey, or all of the above – whatever you like on them. This is a great recipe and we’ve found our new favorite. It was very easy to work with and rolled out great. Make some family memories of your own and try this Scandinavian favorite!

 

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Sandbakkels

Today we’re making Sandbakkels. This is another Norwegian cookie made in special tins that you can get from Nordic Ware here. Grandma loved these cookies and I started making them for her when she couldn’t make them anymore. They are made from a simple recipe and are so delicious.

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Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sandbakkels

1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg, beaten

2 cups sifted flour

Cream butter and sugar together.

Add extract and egg.

Mix well.

Add flour.

Chill dough 1 hour.

Pinch off small amount of dough and press into tins.

Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

When done, turn upside down.

Tap tins lightly until cookie falls out!

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I mix up the dough and wrap it in plastic wrap to chill.

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I used a ball of dough about the size of a walnut to press into the tins. It works better to have too much dough than not enough and have to try to patch it in. I was thinking that I had them pretty thin, but as usual, not as thin as Grandma’s. Put the tins on a baking sheet to bake.

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You can see that they still got a bit thick in the middle. Turn them over to cool a few minutes before trying to take off the tins.

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Just a tap or two and the cookie really does fall right out!

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I have Grandma’s tins in these two shapes plus one smaller one.

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Stack them up and enjoy!

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These cookies are great with a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate. Santa wouldn’t mind having a few of these!

 

 

 

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Lefse

Today’s recipe for Lefse is a traditional Christmas treat for those of us with Scandinavian heritage. It’s technically Norwegian, but all Scandinavians love it. We had some lefse in Norway that was amazing – unlike anything I’ve ever had before. It just melted in your mouth! We’re not quite to that point with our lefse making yet, ours aren’t perfect, but we’ll keep trying!

Grandma was Swedish and Grandpa was Norwegian and Danish, and they both loved lefse. We started having them make it with us so they could tell us stories of what they remembered of lefse and holidays growing up. Grandma had many stories of Christmas when she was young and of going to the Swedish midnight church service, or Julotta, on Christmas Eve. This was the church of which her family were founding members, and she and Grandpa were members of their whole married life. I once asked Grandpa if his Norwegian mother made lefse all year or only at Christmas time and he said, “only at Christmas”, but he also told us of his family receiving a Christmas Box – food and treats from someone his mother knew in the twin cities area. He was very emotional as he told of how they waited for and looked forward to getting that box. His mother was widowed when Grandpa was 2 years old and she was left with 6 children and a farm to run on her own.

Lefse is another one of those special treats that is made from the things that Scandinavian farmers (and others) seemed to have plenty of: potatoes, flour, sugar, and butter. Traditionally, we make it the day after Thanksgiving and the recipe we use comes from the cookbook put out by the women of the church Grandma and Grandpa belonged to. The whole family gets involved – even if it’s just for the eating part! You can find all the equipment you need to make lefse at Bethany Housewares here.

Lefse

You can see all the notes we’ve written on this recipe over the years. We’ve tried others, but this one is the one we’ve stuck with! You get a couple of bonus recipes here – give them a try, too!

Here is the recipe as we made it:

Lefse

5 cups of warm mashed potatoes (use a ricer to get a more even texture than just mashing, as lumps of potato that don’t get mashed fine enough can cause the dreaded “wet spots”)

5 tablespoons of lard (I used butter)

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons sugar

Blend the first 3 ingredients and chill.

Add the flour and sugar and mix well.

Roll portions very thin and fry on ungreased griddle.

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The mixture looks like mashed potatoes.

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Roll the portions into balls, but keep them chilled. We like to use smaller portions so they’re easier to handle when buttering, rolling, and eating.

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We roll them out on a pastry cloth and use a “sock” for Grandma’s old rolling-pin. A lefse stick is helpful to pick up the dough from the cloth and lay out on the griddle. Be careful not to use too much flour for rolling, but also be careful of the dreaded “wet spot”. That’s when the dough is too wet (or has a lump of un mashed potato in it) and you don’t have enough flour to counteract that and it makes a wet spot on the pastry cloth. It’s hard to get rid of once it shows up. We all (including the kids) take turns and practice all aspects of Lefse Day: rolling, frying, and eating.

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This is an official lefse griddle, but you can use a regular griddle or even a dry fry pan. We’re using a lefse stick here – it’s nice and thin and makes it easy to flip the lefse.

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Grandma was particular about how the lefse was fried. She didn’t like them to be too brown or too crispy. Some of us like them that way, so we try to do it both ways. Cooling them on paper towels on a baking sheet helps prevent them from getting too damp. If you’re going to eat them right away, I recommend storing them in the refrigerator – if they even last that long. We bag them in freezer bags and TRY to hide them until Christmas.

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There’s nothing like lefse warm from the griddle, and we all have to have our share of it that way, but it’s really good any time. Some of us like it with butter, cinnamon, and honey. Some like butter with cinnamon and sugar. I know there are people who put all kinds of things on it, but this is traditional for us.

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So butter it up, put on your favorite toppings, roll it up, and enjoy!

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Lefse is a bit of a chore to make, but it’s worth it. It may not be perfectly made lefse, but it’s one way we keep our traditions, and those ancestors who came before us, close. Lefse Day is more about being together and telling stories and eating the warm stuff, anyway. It’s an important Scandinavian tradition for our family – it wouldn’t be Christmas without it!

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