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Norwegian Tortillas

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By Gini Rainey

Last week I dazzled you with tales of making flour tortillas, and today I am here to report that I made an amazing batch of said tortillas on Sunday.  Today I’m going to try and dazzle you with tales of lefse – pronounced lehf-sah, a yummy cousin of the flour tortilla.  I think I’ve mentioned before that it was pretty much culture shock for this girl when moved from the safe arms of the Norwegian/German cuisine I had grown up with straight into the unknown territory of good ol’ east Texas cookin’ and Mexican food.  You can imagine my joy the first time I spied a flour tortilla in the basket at El Charro’s.  I’d been politely pushing my tamale and enchilada around my plate, trying to eat them and having a tough time of it.  I’m here to tell you that no matter how much butter and sugar you put on a flour tortilla, it will never come close to tasting like lefse.

I can hear you asking, exactly what is lefse?  Well, it is a traditional Norwegian soft flatbread that is made from potatoes.  The lefse I grew up with was basically 12 inches in diameter and paper thin, and we generally purchased at the little neighborhood store.  I don’t remember my mom or any of my relatives making it and we usually only had it in conjunction with the Christmas holiday.  I’ve read that lefse is jokingly considered an antidote for lutefisk, another traditional Norwegian dish that is dried cod that has been treated with lye, then soaked and boiled, but that’s another story.  I do know that lefse and lutefisk are usually served on the same menu.  We always slathered our lefse with butter and either white or brown sugar before we ate it.

As you can well imagine, in Texas you can’t just go to the neighborhood store and pick up a package of lefse when the urge strikes, so I learned how to make it.  If you’re just wanting a stand-alone batch of lefse, you can start out by boiling and ricing your potatoes and going from there.  But, at our house, when the girls were growing up, I would take the left-over mashed potatoes from the meal and make a few pieces of lefse for our dessert.  As much as the girls loved mashed potatoes and gravy, they loved lefse more, and many times I’d hear Lisa whisper to Beth to not have a second helping of potatoes because she knew what they’d get to have from the leftovers!  Oh, and when they were big enough, the trade-out was they did the dishes while I rolled out the lefse.

Believe it or not, I actually have a cookbook dedicated to the heritage and making of lefse.  “The Last Word On Lefse,” written by Gary Legwold and published by Adventure Publications, Inc. in 1992, is jelly-jam packed full of heartwarming stories
gathered by Legwold and put together into a neat little book that also includes several recipes for lefse.  While most of the recipes have you generating pieces of lefse about 12 inches in diameter, mine are about half that size and a little bit thicker than traditional pieces are.  I find the size I make is more manageable, and I because I don’t have a lefse griddle, I use my large cast iron frying pan to bake it.  Most of the recipes in the book are very similar, but differ in the amounts of riced potatoes, lard or Crisco, milk or cream, and salt.  I kind of like mine, because I don’t have a ricer, and as the years have passed, Ore-Ida has come out with microwave steamable potatoes that makes it even easier to make lefse.  So, using left-over mashed potatoes (which should already contain milk, salt, and butter), begin stirring in flour, about a half cup at a time.  The trick is to not use too much flour because it makes for a tougher end-product.  Test the dough as you add the flour, and when it’s pillow-soft and not very sticky, form into 1 inch balls and roll out as thin as possible on a lightly floured surface.  Now, bake on a hot griddle or frying pan, turning once when bubbles start to form and turn brown.  Stack on a plate and let cool or slather on butter and sugar and eat while still warm.  Uff-da, that is some mighty good eating!

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Books

Spend the Summer Reading

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“Bring Me Back”
by B. A. Paris
Just when you think an author can’t out do their last book, they jump right out there and do it!  Filled with even more deception and intrigue than her first two books, Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown, Paris’ latest book will keep you spell bound until you turn the last page.  Telling the story about the mysterious disappearance of Layla from the perspectives of Finn, his girlfriend, and his fiancé while moving between the past and the present, it’s no wonder that Paris has carved out her niche in the psychological thriller genre.

As Finn digs deeper to determine who might be behind the disappearance and strange emails, his list of suspects grows to encompass even his closest friends.  Because Ms. Paris is a master at building believable characters, the reader finds himself drawn into the intrigue and feeling a certain empathy for everyone involved.

In Bring Me Back, Paris explores how traumatic events can impact, not only the individuals immediately involved, but also everyone they come in contact with.  Not afraid to explore new avenues of intrigue and mystery, she has created yet another spell-binding page turner that will keep you guess till the very last page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – St. Martins Press

“The Sisters”
by Janet Kay
If you’re looking for a book to read this summer that is filled with history, ghosts, romance, and family discord, this is the one for you.  Set in current day Galveston, this story tells the story of Veronica and Isabella, two sisters who had once be in love with the same man.

Weaving a spell around not only present-day Galveston, Kay’s story helps to explain the reason so many of the historical sites in this Island community are haunted.  From the pirate Jean Lafitte to the estimated six to twelve thousand people who lost there lives during the hurricane of 1900. Described as the deadliest natural ever in the United States, this storm took the life the of sisters’ grandmother, who continues in her afterlife as Isabella’s spirit guide.

If you are familiar with Galveston, and even if not, this book is an intriguing read that pulls you into its web of family deceit and mystery as the sisters strive to learn where they have come from and reconnect on a congenial level of understanding and acceptance.  It will definitely keep you turning the pages to find out where it all ends.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – World Castle Publishing

“Neema’s Reason to Smile”
By Patricia Newman
This delightful book, colorfully illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, tells the story of Neema and her mother who share big dreams for their life in Kenya.  Neema wants to go to school, while her Mama, who sews clothes by hand, dreams of a sewing machine and perhaps her own business. By not only entertaining, but also educating, Newman’s story sends the message to all that where there is a will, there is a way.

Motivated by actual students at the Jambo Jipya School in the town of Mtwapa, Kenya, where many kids are unable to go to school, Ms. Newman’s story provides inspiration to children of any age to never give up hope for a better life through education.

A lovely feature of this book are the glossary, discussion questions, and activities at the end of the book.  Although geared for younger children, the message won’t be lost on older readers.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – Lightswitch Learning

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Books

Book Worm Central: July Events & Book Signings

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July 31st (10am) – Club Read – Join the Club Read group in discussing this month’s read, “Beach Music” by David Graham. The Tyler Public Library is located at 201 S. College Ave., Tyler. Club Reads’ events are free. For more info call (903)593-7323 or go to tylerlibrary.com.

August 4th (3-7pm) – Book Bash will be held at Harvey Hall Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St., Tyler. They are doubling the authors for 2018’s Book Bash – 80 authors are attending! There will be a free children’s reading at 12:30-2:30pm prior to the book signings beginning at 3pm. There will be multiple children’s authors present to read their stories and there may even be characters present to interact with the kids. Tickets will be on sale until the day of the event. Come on out and find a new favorite author as well as meet the authors behind the stories. For more info go to facebook.com/events/1715126465459268. Tickets are $12-$17. If you have a child 13 and under, they will be able to get in for $5 the day of the event. VIP tickets will get you in 30 minutes earlier and a tote bag full of goodies. The children’s reading is free to attend.

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Books

Chill Out With A Cool Book

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By Gini Rainey

Send Down the Rain – By Charles Martin 

In his thirteenth novel, this New York Times Award-winning author successfully weaves the lives of several different people into a wonderful tale of love and sacrifice that will leave you thinking.  Taking Joseph, a Viet Nam veteran with many scars to heal and Allie, who has recently lost her families business in Florida, Martin created a novel that is full of lots of raw emotion that will keep you turning pages until you come to the surprising conclusion. 

Joseph, a victim of PTSD, has chosen to live in his cabin in the Carolina mountains with his dog, Roscoe.  That is, until Catalina and her two children stumble into his life.  Making sure to get them away from her abusive, drug running captor, he loaded them up and drove them to Florida to meet up with her brother and close to where he and his brother had lived before they grew up and grew apart. 

Charles Martin has skillfully created such believable characters that you will find yourself totally immersed in the plot and all that takes place.  Without leaving your chair you will find yourself involved in the panic of flight, the angst of unrequited love, the unselfish sacrifice of a brother and the joy of rediscovering a lost love. 

This is a definite “must-read” for this summer and is guaranteed to keep you wondering until you turn 

Five of Five – Copyright 2018 – Thomas Nelson 

 

Lang’s Labyrinth: Forest of the Fae Book Three – By K. Kibbee 

This book came to me as an advanced reading copy from the publisher and because I love to read, I was excited when it arrived in the mail.  Then I realized it was “one of those books.”  You know, the kind I would never pick up on my own – one about goth, faeries, fantasy, changelings, etc.  I was also concerned that, because it was the third book in a series, I might not have a clue about what was going on. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Yes, this is a book about all of the above, however, it is also, on a much deeper level, about trying to figure out a mystery that was based on a secret code.  The main character, Anne along with her best friend Grace, who has been changed into a raven, is on a quest to solve the code so she can change Grace back to human form and rid the forest of all the faeries.  Along the way she meets some very interesting characters, and believe it or not, I found myself trying my best to solve the code too.   

I won’t even begin to let on how this book turns out for that would ruin all of the mystery and intrigue that Kibbee has created, but let me say it will take you on quite the adventure and make your summer reading most enjoyable.  Remember this too, don’t be afraid to try something new – you might discover you really like it – I know I did. 

Five of Five – Copyright 2017 – Incorgnito 

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