Made in the Midwest: Lefse, Just Like Grandma's

Posted at: 01/28/2013 7:20 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- For many families in the area, there's one food that must be on the dinner table during the holidays, lefse.

It's a Norwegian favorite and we're told the best in the area is made at Norsland Lefse in Rushford, MN.

What we found is that lefse, although simple ingredients, is made up of much more than its simple ingredients.

How do you make the perfect lefse? 

"You need good potatoes," said Catherine Bakkum employee at Norsland Lefse.

"Nice and thin," said Mark Johnson, owner of Norsland Lefse.

Ask any Norwegian and they'll likely come up with similar answers.

"Flour, vegetable oil, salt, there you have the recipe," said Johnson.

A simple one, but what it creates is a deep tradition within the Norse culture.

"I can't imagine Christmas dinner without lefse on the table," said Johnson.

"When I hear lefse, I think of my grandma," said Bakkum.

That's who most people in Bakkum's generation learned about lefse from, their grandmothers. But, it's a custom that may be fading from many kitchens.

"Some of these family traditions are slowly getting lost from generation to generation," said Johnson.

He wants his business to be a reminder of what lefse brings to the table. Good food and family.

"Our goal is to be as good or better than grandma made," said Johnson.

Norsland Lefse started 30 years ago.

"We rolled the lefse by hand," said Bakkum.

Eventually custom-made rolling machines took away the hard labor and they're still used today.

It's one of the ways the company sets itself apart. But Johnson says it comes down to each individual round.

"There's no two lefses alike and that's the key to staying unique and different," said Johnson.

Quality isn't something the company cuts either because in the end it's what keeps people coming back.

"It's everything, we wouldn't be in business if it wasn't for quality," said Johnson.

Visitors from up to 100 miles away are known to make the trip to Norsland Lefse.

Johnson says the internet helps spread their lefse around the country and connect them with more Norwegians.