Submitted by Jim Berg, Albert Lea, MN
LEFSA IN THE NAVY, A memorable experience
It was 1947, I was in the U.S. Navy. I was a journalist on board various ships in the Pacific.
We were in Tsing Tao China at the moment and it was just about Christmas time. Being a good Norsky, I just had to have my Lefsa at Christmas time.
I got an idea, lets see if we could make some on board the ship. First I had to get the recipe from Mom…..That done I asked the cooks on board the ship if they could save me some potatoes one night so that we could make some Lefsa.
I found a friend, “A Norsky” to help and he casually JUMPED AT THE CHANCE.
They saved some all right, picture a metal pan 24 inched across and piled to overflowing with boiled, pealed potatoes. It was the beginning of a love affair. Well we had to “rice them” but we didn’t have a ricer. The cooks had worked all day so they left me and a friend in the mess hall ricing the potatoes our way. They were fully cooked so we squeezed them with our hands but not quite mashing them. you have to have a little coarseness to make good Potato Lefsa.
We had flour, and all the rest of the ingredients. We had a rolling pin, not serrated but smooth. (Serrated is better). We had a good table, and a good oven. (They would not let us have the grill during the night, but the ovens were on all night long.(Had to bake bread in the morning)). It was built much like a Pizza oven is today. (They baked bread, pies, cakes and cookies in these ovens. We used the top oven with the doors open because the rest were too hot.
So we proceeded to roll out the Lefsa. The First few may have been a little thick, not to round, or had one problem or another, a potato lump here or there,but we proceeded to learn, learn from the memory of Mother making lefsa for the Holidays.
We found the butter in the refrigerator, and the first lefsa’s even though they were not round, tasted absolutely delicious. The whole procedure was a bellyful of laughs all night. The more we rolled the better they became. The better they became, the more we ate. We finally ended up with a stack of Lefsa bout 15 to 18 inches high, (Folded over in Quarters)
They were quite large in size, about 15 to 20 inches in for each of them. Now here was the hard part. We DID NOT have a Lefsa Stick. We used 2 Cake frosting spatula’s to pick them up because the ovens were only about 10 or 11 inches high. Picking up Lefsa with 2 spatulas is a little tricky. When you have them lifted off of the table the lefsa looks like an M hanging from the spatula’s.
Now you have to get them to the top oven to get them to cook the right way. We would loose some of them along the way because of the sharpness of the spatula’s. But we succeeded, we got us a good stack of edible Lefsa.
Now comes the fun part……Christmas day….. My friend and I Pick up the lefsa, our Navy Trays, utensils and preceded to Chow Don On Christmas Day.
On the way to our table we heard some comments like, “Where the HE–double toothpicks did you get Lefsa?? Of course we could not refuse good Norskies, so we asked them to join us at a separate table and then we all shared (being in China) a Norsky, Chinese Christmas.
Are not memories fun. Fun to relive the past, Fun to be with Friends, and Fun to be with your brothers and sisters, in thought word and deed………..and fun to be with YOUR FAMILY……
Anybody out there remember on board ship that Christmas of 1947?…………..
Ole from Minnesota………………………….. AKA Jim Berg, on the corner of I-35 and I-90….
Please see Jim’s version of Lefse History.