Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Norwegian Lefse

A few weeks ago a 6-week class on emergency preparedness and food storage was announced at Church. It was to be given during the Sunday School hour. Being that I have a great interest in food, nutrition and food storage, I signed up. Last Sunday was the 4th week and so far, I have learned only one new thing that I would deem potentially useful. The rest, to me, is pretty much useless. The food storage industry is big, but like the food industry in general, does not cater to being all that healthy.

I mentioned in my original post that I have a certificate in holistic nutrition so working with foods that are healthy is really important to me. I'm not a health food nut, nor am I vegetarian or vegan, I'm someone who was really sick and got tired of it so I decided to take my health into my own hands.

The potentially helpful thing the teacher said was that you can replace some or all of the fat in a recipe with mashed beans. You know, the dry kind you have to soak and cook for hours. I haven't tried it yet, but I cooked and mashed some black beans today. I don't think I would replace all the fat, fat has an important function in the diet as well as taste, but with my attempts at wheat free/gluten free cooking, I can see benefit.

So I made the beans and was going to make some oatmeal cookies with them. I haven't done much baking for a while. In that class mentioned above, the teacher challenged the class to bring in a food item made using at least one long-term storage item. I really don't like the concept of long-term food storage (meaning 5 or more years). I prefer to rotate in a 1 to 2 year cycle. That keeps the food fresher and more nutritious. Anyway, I made some oatmeal cookies last week using brown rice flour I ground myself instead of wheat flour and they were a disaster. The problem was the no wheat thing. The cookies fell apart, I mean really fell apart. Which is why I was considering using mashed beans, they might give stability to the cookie.

Then I remembered xantham gum. Xantham gum is a substitute for gluten and gives volume to gluten-free items. It also gives stability. How could I have forgotten about xantham gum? I really haven't done much baking for a long time.

So, I pulled my bottle of xantham gum out of the freezer and looked on the label. I've had this bottle for years. It actually came in a little bag and I transferred it to a jar to keep in the freezer. In one of my rare moments of clarity, I cut the front and back labels off the bag, and using clear packing tape, attached them to the jar. Turned out to be very helpful today, years and years later. I had to smile at myself - GOOD FOR ME!

There was a recipe on the front label and even one on the back! The front one was for something called Norwegian Lefse. Basically, a pan fried flat bread much like a tortilla, made of mashed potatoes & rice flour with a little Xantham gum in the mix. I ended up making those instead. They were great! I've been spending a fortune on teff tortilla shells and I just found a replacement!! If I use (holding my breath) potato granules instead of fresh mashed potatoes, that would be TWO long-term food storage items, not counting the salt. I made them today with REAL mashed red potatoes. And you can make your own rice milk, so that would be another ingredient represented. I think I'm on a roll!

Bob's Red Mill - Norwegian Lefse
2 cups hot mashed potatoes
2 T butter
1 T water or rice milk
1 t sea salt - I use Celtic Sea Salt
1 C rice flour - I use brown
1 t Xantham gum

Beat together the first 4 ingredients. Cover and chill for a couple of hours. Turn out on a lightly floured surface (rice flour). Sprinkle the potato mixture with half of the rice flour. Knead for 8-10 minutes, gradually adding the rest of the flour. Divide dough into small portions about the size of golf balls. Roll out to about 6" to 7". I did this by placing the balls between 2-gallon sized zip lock bags and rolling them flat. Peel the bags off the circles and place in a very lightly oiled griddle or frying pan. I used a dry pan and they did not stick. Cook until lightly browned, 4-6 minutes, turning once. It says you can butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and roll lefse up to eat as bread or wrap around a piece of food. I think they would make great tortillas and be used the same.

Basic Beans - any kind

Personally, I don't like the soak overnight and cook the next day method. That way seems to me to produce a more "gassy" bean. I like to do the "quick soak" method.

Wash and remove any broken beans or non-bean items (like little rocks that may have made their way into the bag), fill the pan with 3X as much water as beans, and boil. When they are in a good boil, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for an hour. After an hour, rinse thoroughly in a colander until the water runs clear. Fill the pan again with water and simmer for 2 or 3 hours or until the beans are tender. Rinse the beans again in the colander until the water runs clear.

At this point you can add whatever seasonings, sauces, meats or whatever you want and cook to taste. My family has never had a gas problem with beans I have cooked this way. If gas really is a problem (caused from hard to digest triple sugars that wash out in the water), you can rinse and replace the water a third time before they are tender. I never use baking soda in my soak or cooking water, and I don't add salt until the seasoning time. The fresher the beans, the less cooking time is needed.

You can get Xantham Gum at health food stores or from Bob's Red Mill online.(

No comments:

Post a Comment