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Lefse and rural farmhouse from Norway

posted on 24th May 2007 under Culture, Food, History

The Museum of Cultural History in Oslo takes you back hundred (sometimes thousands) of years back in Norwegian culture, architecture and the daily and rural way of living. The Open-Air Museum sets the scene for entertaining and educating activities all year. In my last post you saw Norwegian folk dance and our traditional costume Bunad. This time, still as my MIL was visiting, we’ll give you a nice treat; the famous Lefse. It’s a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread made out of potato, milk or cream and flour, and cooked on a griddle. Special tools are available for lefse baking, including long wooden turning sticks and special rolling pins with deep grooves. There are significant regional variations in the way lefse is made and eaten, but it generally resembles a tortilla, although in many parts of Norway, especially Valdres, it is far thinner. This woman in an old bakery house at the museum made it the Valdres way:

Click to enlarge!

There are many ways of flavouring lefse. The most common is adding butter and sugar to the lefse and rolling it up. In Norwegian, this is known as “lefse-klining”. Other tasty ways to eat it include adding cinnamon, or spreading jelly or lingonberries upon it. We had strawberry jam on ours. It’s very popular among Norwegian emigrants too of course. Their variations include rolling it with a thin layer of peanut butter and sugar, with butter and sugar, with butter and corn syrup, or with ham and eggs. It’s also quite good with beef and other savory items. Click here if you like to a recipe and how to make it.

Of course you can also put lutefisk in. If you don’t know what the traditional Yule dish lutefisk is, read my post from last Christmas about it. I’ve even heard that in some parts of the United States (such as Minnesota), lefse is available in grocery stores, just like tortillas; one Minnesota tortilla factory makes a run of lefse once a month on its tortilla equipment.

In the museum one can wander from one part of the country to another and virtually experience Norway in a day! So while I’m at it, let me also give a glimpse of some old rural buildings. We are visiting Hallingdal, a valley and traditional district in Buskerud a bit more than an hour drive west of Oslo. The first one is a loft or a storehouse:

Most of you might think of a loft as an upper room in a building, directly under the roof, used either for storage or to sleep in. Here you have a whole storing house. Observe that it stands on pillars to prevent moisture and animal intruders. This loft is from the 1700s at Grimsgard farm in Nes.
Update: My blog friend Mar from Spain has posted about their similar storehouse. Check it out!

Then lets take a look into a farmhouse, also from Hallingdal build in 1750:

You can see the coffee pot hanging over the fireplace and in front a copper kettle for logs. Remember; no electricity and the houses where quite cold, so the charming atmosphere as we see it, might have felt a bit different 250 years ago. You might also see the bed on the left side in the picture and that it is quite short. People at that time slept more like sitting than laying down as they thought it prevented illnesses like pneumonia.

Still hungry for more from this museum? Well, you might check my posts: The Christmas Fair in December and Advent time in Norway. Here’s the link to the Museum (don’t panic at the language – there is an English translation!).

29 Responses to “Lefse and rural farmhouse from Norway”

  1. Debra Iona says:

    just felt like droppin in.. woah.. its sweet when you can find a list of the best weed seed strains

  2. Teena says:

    I love checking out stuff like this!

  3. Sidney says:

    This seems like a very interesting museum especially since there are people who show how people were living in those far away days. (dancing, baking, etc.)This makes a museum more lively.
    Those houses look like they are coming out of a fairy tale!

  4. S says:

    Renny BA, I just love that old storage building! And the short bed, too.

    Now for my lefse, let’s put some wild blackberries in ok?

    I am glad that I still slay you, RennyBA!….BSOHOLIC aka Brandon did the twin Susie picture, so I cant take all the credit.

    Thanks again for the tour!

  5. missy says:

    I’ll have mine with peanut butter and jam please.

  6. RennyBA says:

    @Mrk: I’m glad I found your too! and I know your charm will bring you Nordic luck!

    @ET: Europe is Europe you know and you are always welcome back – for a visit!

    @Tin-tin: One day seams to be a bit short to explore it all, but you can always find a bit on my blog before you come:-) and Lefse will make you feel full!

    @OldOldLadyOnTheHills: Montana is kind of Little Norway you know:-)

    @Ginnie: So you mean Lefse is international then LoL

  7. Ginnie says:

    It’s funny how almost every country seems to have a variation on the theme of Lefse/flat bread, Renny! I like the idea of having potato in yours. That really sounds good!

  8. OldOldLady Of The Hills says:

    Renny, I first heard of Lefse on a blog of a fun young women who lives in Montana! I am going to give her the link to this post! Her roots are Norwegian…I would love to taste this great great bread….in ALL it’s variations!

  9. tin-tin says:

    there’s a one day tour of norway? i’ll go there. hehehe.
    the first part of your post made me hungry. hehehe ;p

  10. Expat Traveler says:

    love it! Reminds me of some of the Alsace Region. And makes me want to be in Norway! :) Thanks for the comments on my pics.

  11. mirk says:

    That building is a wonderful! Thank goodness I found this interesting blog… I may have to repeat that comment on occasion!

    As for strings (a small modern one) between Scotland and Norway funnily enough I have worn a Thors hammer around my neck for the past 15-20 years now, as a lucky charm.

  12. RennyBA says:

    @Fleur de Lisa: Great, that means you have the original once too. My fav is actually sugar and cinnamon!

    @Mar: Woow, what interesting similarity in the Spanish store house. I’ve update my post with your link!
    Then off to your sit at your table:-)

    @Lime: I don’t think so at least I am not familiar with that kind of dessert.

    @Chase: Yes, very often they are called Stabur, but then they only store food in the house. You see them all around in rural ares in Norway.

  13. chase says:

    I love lefse with pølse or just butter and sugar. I always see lots of those stabburet when we drove past around Telemark area.

  14. lime says:

    YUM!!!. this sounds soooo good! is this the same thing that is sued to make some sort of multilayer cake looking dessert? i can’t recall what that is called but i am wondering.

  15. mar says:

    Another interesting post of yours! Lefse sounds delicious! and may I point this post of mine, here you can see the Spanish version for that storage place!
    happy friday! if you are hungry, the table is set at my place :)

  16. Fleur de Lisa says:

    The is a restaurant very that serves lefse. The owner’s mother is from Norway. I like to take mine with butter and cinnamon on top. Now you have made me hungry!

  17. RennyBA says:

    @Lifecruiser: Never too late and I know they can make it in Sweden too!

    @Shionge: State of the art in Norwegian History and culture I would say!

    @DianeJ: Good to know you can have lutefisk if you like then! Lefse you can make by yourself you know.

    @LyricalLemongrass: Glad I could take you down the memory lane then. Always good to know people who have been there! Hope you make lefse soon now then!

    @Claudie: Glad to know you had a great time surfing around my visit to the museum!
    You said something of important which newer generations seams to have lost: story telling!! Think of all the good stories that was told when they gathered around the fireplace!

    @TorAa: I know you love that museum Tor. Good to know you’ve had lefse baked in the good old traditions too!
    Wishing you and Anna a wonderful Pentecost weekend too!

    @Shantanu: Glad you find the pics supportive. Pictures says more than a thousand words you know:-)

  18. Shantanu says:

    Very interesting! The pics that accompany your posts are very helpful.

  19. TorAa says:

    How nice of you to bring you MIL to my childhoods favorite museum. As told before, I grew up as neighbour to this unique cultural institution.

    My late MIL, she did have a “takke” and made her own “lefse”. And as you wrote, “lefse” is not a “lefse” ’cause there is so many different recipies. From my grandma, I learned to know the type from South West Norway, which are thicker and softer than here in the South East.

    Great post my friend.

    Btw: Hugs to D and have a wonderful “pinse”.

    PS. Jobb PC’en skal retankes i dag, så jeg får tid til litt blogging de timene det tar. Men det blir bare vår standard SW som kommer på plass, så det blir my nedlastinger etterpå.

  20. claudie says:

    It was a nice walking in the past of Norway and I see that the past stays always present with the christmas traditions ! The link of the museum was not a problem for me because it was translate in french language too! I imagine the hard life people had in the past with the cold in winter! It was perhaps the same in Alpen, where life was certainly harder than in south. But people had so a family life with long evening meeting where old legend and stories were related. Lefse seems to be savoury!

  21. Lyrical Lemongrass says:

    I love lefse and I’ve been meaning to replicate it in my kitchen. Your pics bring back memories of my trip to Oslo two years back. I had a very pleasant walk in the museum of cultural history in Oslo. :-)

  22. Diane J. says:

    I have seen lutefisk at my local grocery store, but so far I haven’t come across any lefse. Looking at the recipe it doesn’t look difficult at all to make, though.

    Have a wonderful weekend, Renny and Diane!

    Hugs,

    Diane

  23. Shionge says:

    I do enjoy museum tour and I think this is wonderful not just for tourists but for the younger generation in Norway too.

  24. Captain Lifecruiser says:

    Aha, so finally I got to read about the famous Lefse :-D

    Only problem is that I got very, very hungry…

    *off to a kitchen raid*

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