More on why I loved her…

I remember…

Many years ago, a grandniece of Grandma’s was getting married in San Francisco (at least I think that’s the relationship … with Grandma being one of eleven children, she had a LOT of nieces and nephews.) Anyway, Grandma and I were sitting next to each other at the reception. Waiters were wandering around serving champagne and Grandma grabbed one, as did I. Seems like I recall some disapproving looks (probably aimed at both of us though I beleive I was legal by then), but Grandma just laughed and said, “Ya gotta live a little! A cocktail here and there never hurt anyone!” And, indeed, she suffered no ill effects. We drank a toast to the bride, and we joked and cackled, a little tiny bit tipsy. How harmless we were. How much pleasure we had in the moment.

No, Grandma wasn’t a big drinker, in case you were wondering. But she wasn’t a teetotaler. She wasn’t a smoker, either, thank goodness, though Grandpa smoked from 13 yrs old till he died. Grandma told me that during the Depression, when her family shipped her off to North Dakota because there was nothing to eat in Montana (and they thought that she was going to die if she stayed there), she rode on the train all by herself. It was then that she decided to try a cigarette, thinking that she was so terribly grown up now, the sixteen-year-old out on her own and away from a restrictive father. But she thought the cigarette was so foul that she immediately put it out, and that was the end of her smoking career! I recalled that story growing up and decided there was no need for me to try. If Grandma said it was so awful, I believed her.

When it came to food, Grandma enjoyed delicious food (especially strawberries, which we always ate mounds of together) but didn’t really overdo eating in general. She was a sucker for fresh baked bread, though. Ah, and she REALLY knew how to make bread from scratch. I never figured that one out. But she did teach me to make lefse, a Norwegian-American dessert. Lefse is made out of mashed potatoes, cooled and then mixed with flour to form a dough. It is rolled out thin and dry grilled like a tortilla and served with butter spread on it and cinnamon-sugar, all rolled up. DELICIOUS! Makes me want to cook some right now, except that you have to let the mashed potatoes cool for simply hours and hours before adding the flour or it gets all gummy. Besides, lefse is a holiday dish. You really shouldn’t make it until November.

Grandma taught me how to make lefse, and we did so together from the time I was little. Whenever I came for a visit, if it wasn’t the middle of summer, at least, we would make lefse. I have taught my 9-year old son how to cook it now. He’s finally old enough to be an actual help and not a hindrance in the cooking process, and he loves eating the rare treat as much as I do. Coincidentally, the Montana town where Grandma was starving to death in 1931, now has a Lefse factory. Opheim, Montana, population 103, is home to “Grandrud’s Lefse Shack” where they make some of the best lefse I’ve ever tasted. The folks in Opheim provided some wonderful hospitality for my son and me this summer (more on that in a later post on the trip), and we thoroughly enjoyed a whole supper of lefse one fine night in Opheim at the Homestead Hotel (“Ya gotta live a little, kid!”). Grandma would have really gotten a kick out of a lefse factory operating in the town where she once almost starved to death.

I miss her again. Strange how it doesn’t really go away, the hurting. You’d think after 15 months, it’d be easier.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: