December 31, 2010 § 48 Comments

I’m finding it remarkably difficult to write this post.  It’s always hard for me when I really, really care about something.  You see, lefse for me, and many of my friends, is not just lefse.  It’s so much more.  But, maybe for the sake of those of you who haven’t had it – or haven’t even heard of it – I’ll start with what it is.

Homemade lefse (particularly when fresh) is hands-down one of the best foods on the face of this earth.  Truffles, caviar, foi gras, lobster, you’ve got nothin’ on lefse.  It is an inordinately traditional Norwegian potato flatbread.  Simple.  Soft and supple, a bit like a tortilla, but almost lacy thin and seductively buttery.  Hot off the griddle, they are absolutely unbelievable.  Our favorite – and the most traditional – ways of serving lefse are either wrapped around a hot dog and ketchup (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!  You’ll never look back.) or spread with butter and cinnamon-sugar (brown sugar is equally tempting and adds a lovely caramel accent).  Really you could use them to wrap up just about anything, including, it turns out, the phenomenal combo of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.  They are so good, I can’t even begin to wax adequately eloquent about them.  I would have to be a bard of potatoes.

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Going local in Northern Minnesota – part 1

April 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

A griddled sandwich on lefse – a Norwegian potato flat bread

In the growing hubbub about eating local, supporting local farms, growing your own food, yada yada yada…basically all the stuff that I feel so passionate about I have to act a little blase or else I might pop…I wouldn’t blame a person for thinking that the folks in places like Northern Minnesota (or Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, etc.) might be a little screwed.  I mean, the long, cold winters, the rocky soil and the general “inhospitableness” to farming, you get the idea.  So, it has made me so excited to find when I’ve visited each of these areas that local food movements are actually thriving!…  And people are embracing their love of root vegetables!  When I was just home to Duluth I was fit to burst with pride seeing all the connections that had recently been made between producers, restaurants, consumers, and so forth, allowing them to support each other and eat darn good food to boot!

Duluth (or D-town as some of us like to call it, pretending we’re all cool or something) has a strong, strong sense of place and community, I think driven by the immensity of Lake Superior on its horizon, the still quite strong Scandinavian immigrant culture (some of us are still pretty new!) and the fact that it’s not exactly a place to springboard your career, so most of the people who land there have chosen it for other reasons.  But, because of the community’s strong connection to each other and the area, I guess it makes sense that once people got a whiff of the local potential on the breeze they really dove into it.  In fact, a local community supported agriculture program (CSA) cleverly called The Food Farm (because so many Midwestern farms these days produce commodities, not food) just won a prestigious sustainable food award for the butt-kicking energy efficient root cellar they devised!

Even if not all the produce all the year long can be local, supporting the local food co-op and the locally owned restaurants binds people together and to the land even further, so the sentiment stays local.  And since my parents’ kitchen was in the process of remodeling the first several days while I was there, we had the unusual opportunity (being at-home eaters usually) to explore these local restaurants, many of which were new or else updating themselves to embrace the zeitgeist.

Norwegian waffle with lingonberry jam and whipped cream

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