Ever heard of Lefse and Pasties?

A Writing 101 assignment is to tell you about my favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted me and has deep roots in my  memory.  I can’t choose between two favorite meals, so I’ll share both.  Once comes from my Norwegian heritage: lefse, but NO lutefisk!  (Uff da!! That’s nasty tasting whitefish that’s been dried in lye to preserve it for the winter when fish were scarce. To use, it’s soaked in a pot of cold water overnight to rejuvenate it and remove the lye. yeuck!)  The other favorite, special occasion dinner comes from my Irish heritage: beef pastie pies.

Lefse is seasonal, so we’d have it during the cold months.  The special celebrations included my birthday, sometimes Christmas Eve and/or New Year’s Eve. Have you ever heard of lefse??? Lefse is potato flatbread.  Rolled flat, like a tortilla.  Only thinner, if made well.  You use leftover mashed potatoes with an egg yolk, flour, and butter mixed together gently so it makes a dough the consistency of a delicate pie crust.  This is rolled out in a circle, as thinly as possible and handled as little as possible or it gets tough.  Fried on a flat griddle, flipped when it starts to bubble and brown on the one side, then lightly browning the other side.  Traditionally it was served with lutefisk and mashed potatoes with blobs of butter smeared all over it.   My mom only made me try lutefisk once, thank goodness!  She’d normally serve lefse with flaky cod, poached in milk, salt and butter until done to perfection.  Add more wonderfully fluffy mashed potatoes, with gobs of butter.  Know how to eat it?  Lay the lefse flat on your plate.  Plop some mashed potatoes in the middle, and spread them out with your fingers or the back of a spoon.  Take chunks of the fish and place on top of mashed potatoes.  Put little dollops of butter all over the surface, lightly salt, then roll it like a burrito.  mmmmm–I’m salivating as I write this!  I grew up in Wisconsin, and there are lots of folks with Scandinavian roots up there.  Not very many here in Missouri, so I either have to make lefse myself or head north to find some in the cold months.  My great aunt Irene gave me her recipe, so it’s for real–it’s how my great grandmother made it for my great grandfather, whose parents came from Norway.  I don’t really have the right “touch” for lefse, but I do with pie crust.  I’m sure with practice I could make some really good lefse!  Maybe someday. But hubby and son aren’t that crazy for it and it’s very labor intensive.  Silly them!!

The other favorite celebration meal, pastie pies, were hand held ground beef pies wrapped in my mom’s flaky pie crust.  She’d only use salt, pepper and catsup to season.  I thought I’d died and went to heaven when she made these.  If lefse wasn’t an option, I’d get to have these.  I make them for my son and hubby, but add finely diced onion, potatoes and carrots along with some garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme.  After visiting Ireland and checking several Irish cookbooks, I found these additions to be the norm, and it tastes so much better to my advanced palate.  Jeepers–I must be hungry as I’m salivating again!   I think I need to make some this weekend and bring my mom’s spirit into the kitchen with me.  What’s your favorite, special meal from your childhood??

With warm wishes on your journey,

Nance

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Wanderlust runs through me and 5 Place I want to go

I know people who haven’t visited hardly anywhere else in their lives, because being home is enough.  I’m not that way–although I LOVE being home.  In fact, I’m a genuine homebody with a wanderlust side. Is that possible?  Can you relate?  

I was a lucky kid, who got to go on summer vacations with the family until I was around 10, maybe 11.  They didn’t happen as much when my older sister moved out.  Never thought about that before.  Huh.  That’s also about when we moved to northern Wisconsin from central Wisconsin, for my dad’s job.  Until the house sold, there was a lot of commuting back and forth, so I guess that counted as our “trips?”  We went on a gazillion Sunday drives, taking short day trips to different locales, eating different food, seeing different sights, so I’d say that counts. My parents divorced when I was 13, so no more trips until I had enough income to pay for my own travels.  My very first flight and vacation was when I travelled to Oxnard, California at age 21 to visit my older sister and her family.  The travel bug bit me big time!

I’d actually started dreaming of travelling the world when I was 8 years old.  Life magazine had an article, with gorgeous pictures, about the Emerald Isle or something like that–Ireland!.  Oh my goodness–I looked at those pictures and read the story over and over and over.  I was so excited when my mom finally told me I could rip it out of the magazine so I could keep it!  It was up on my bulletin board for a long time.  Last time I remember seeing it was in my mid 20’s, sorting through my “archive box” of memorabilia that I wanted to downsize.  I remember thinking that I’d probably never make it there, and the article was tossed on the discard pile.  For my 50th birthday, my husband “gave me” that trip.  It was everything I’d dreamt of and absolutely more.  Not kidding that I could move there.  Hubby won’t though–he’s an American through and through.   

I have friends who travel the globe, and I was so envious of them until lately.  They literally left for England yesterday!  Funny thing, I’m so glad to be home, taking care of things, writing on this blog (which I COULD do anywhere, I know!) playing with my two dogs, planning the garden, working on little projects…  Right now the wanderlust in me is dormant.  I suppose it’s because I just want to get healthy, and am focused on being whole as well as not being worried financially.  But if I could travel…  hmmmmm….  The five places I’d like to go…

–Thailand–I’d love to take my husband and son on a food journey through Thailand.  We LOVE Thai food.  When we eat out, that’s the most common place to find us.

–Back to Ireland, FOR SURE.  I’d seriously love to have a place there, so I could go home to County Kilkenney whenever I wanted. 

–Back to Italy, again (went before in my early 30’s) on a food journey with my hubby and son–that’s our second favorite food!  I’d really enjoy taking them to the places they’ve heard about and seen in my picture albums.

–The other two locations would be in the U.S.  I’d like to stay somewhere on a horse ranch, and also a place in the mountains.  A couple of weeks would be long enough to get a feel for the life/area. Mountains call me most of the time, but I do enjoy the ocean as well.  Had one of my most relaxing vacations EVER two years ago on the beach in South Carolina.  I loved living in San Francisco, thoroughly enjoyed Colorado when we visited there 10 years ago, loved visiting Boston, couldn’t get enough coastline in Maine, found the Redwoods to be spectacular…

Yeah, I’ve travelled a bit.  And hope to continue because my wanderlust probably won’t dissipate.  Don’t think I’d want it to–it’s definitely part of my adventure called life, part of my journey helping me experience happiness. 

With warm wishes for your journey,

Nance