This week, a group from Grace First Lutheran Church in Bend is carrying on a tradition started more than a hundred years ago, in the form of a Norwegian delicacy.
Congregants have taken one week almost every year since 1916 to make Norwegian lefse, a flat potato bread, to eventually sell and raise money for charity.
Central Oregon Daily News paid a visit to the kitchen on Thursday, their fourth day of preparations this year.
Marianne Giottonini has been making lefse for nearly 50 years, thanks to her mother.
“She was 100% Norwegian,” she said. “Ten years ago for me, when we moved, I started here and that’s how I met all these nice ladies.”
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She brought her daughter Jody to help with the process,
“I look at it as very much a tradition that I grew up with,” Jody said. “Always having lefse at the holiday dinner table, we just never did not have it.”
The Grace First Lutheran’s history with the dish was born from the Scandinavian mill workers who originally founded the church.
“We’re not going out and harvesting our own raw potatoes anymore,” said Linda Bradshaw. “That was a big, big undertaking.”
The church used to gather leftover potatoes from one of the congregants’ fields, but they now use instant potatoes, and they say it’s a ‘massive time-saver’.
“I moved here to this church in ’81 and I have a German background, but they’ve made a Scanda-hoovian out of me,” Linda chuckled.
This well-oiled machine of laughter and cheer is churning out 2,500 lefses this week.
20-year participant Mary Berrigan guided us through the lefse-making process. You can view the full video below.
After the lefse is made, they’re taken to the drying rack to be folded and saved for the big sale on November 19 and 20.
“Even the ones that are too crispy…we eat them!” Mary said.
They’ll be sold to raise hundreds of dollars for a good cause.
“We use it to buy material, we make quilts for Lutheran World Action, disaster zones,” Mary said. “They get they go all over the world.”
A delicious conduit to carry on camaraderie and tradition.
“I look around and it’s like, is this a dying art? This is so sad,” Jody said. “This is something that, you know, I love to do with my grandmother, my mom and and you want to pass it on and be able to continue to share it with your own children.”
The Grace First Lutheran lefse sale will happen on November 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and November 20 from 11 a.m. to noon.
The Sons of Norway are also holding a separate lefse sale on December 10 at 9 a.m.
The church team warns that the lefse sells out fast at both sales, so it’s best to show up early to make sure to snag a bag.
You can view the full lefse recipe below:
Lefse Recipe (makes approx. 20-24)
-2 pkg. creamy mashed potatoes (Costco)
-5 cups boiling water
-1 cube butter
-1/2 cup half and half
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2 tbsp. sugar
-2 1/2 cups flour
-Mix all ingredients together except for the flour
-Place the potatoes in a rectangular cake pan or roaster, and pat down evenly. Lay a piece of paper towel on top of the potatoes and cover with plastic or foil. Refrigerate at least 8 hours.
-Remove potatoes from the pan and put in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and mix in well.
-Divide the mixture into thirds and roll each third into a 4″ log. Cut into 7-8 pieces, depending on how big you want to roll them.
-Shape each piece into a flat disc. Roll into a thin circle, on a well-floured board. Cook on a lease griddle.