I’m waiting for the potatoes to cool

Melanie helping make lefse for Easter, Mar/April 1992.
Melanie helping make lefse for Easter, Mar/April 1992.

One of our family traditions is eating lefse on Christmas morning. Lefse is a traditional flatbread from Norway that has a potato base and for North American Norwegians it is a holiday treat. Until she passed away, my paternal Grandmother was the one who prepared it and I inherited the turning stick and griddle shown in the photo above. With a few exceptions, I have made it every year since her death.

This year our family rescheduled Christmas because my brother and I had to work. It isn’t the first time we’ve done so and it’s nice for my sister as my brother-in-law’s family follows French Catholic traditions and as such is with her extended family on Christmas Eve for Midnight Mass. So we’re celebrating next week and that means today is the day I’m making lefse for this year.

As I put pixel to screen, my mashed potatoes are cooling. From what Wikipedia tells me, lefse is generally made with leftover potatoes. Since “leftover potatoes” aren’t really in my vocabulary (they are my mom’s favourite dish, no matter how many we make they always seem to get eaten), I always have to peel and boil the potatoes before I can make the bread. Once I mix in the butter, cream and salt, the mixture has to cool before I add the flour. So there is plenty of time to wait, yearn for lefse and blog.

I’ve taken photos of my lefse process many times and this year so no exception. Taking photos of food while cooking is challenging. In addition to my camera getting covered in potato and flour, my kitchen is poorly lit so the photos aren’t the greatest. However, I’ve got an idea that I hope turns out well. I’m taking photos at three semi-fixed positions of the various stages of prep and I’m hoping to edit them together in a video. Planning for a video is hard, I already know that I missed two shots (the butter alone, the butter and salt alone) but maybe this year will just be a trial run for next year. You never know, I might have a better lit kitchen by then.

As a note, one of the current items on my to do list is getting my digital photos organized, backed up and posted. Hopefully I’ll get the photo essays on lefse that I have planned done and eventually there will be a bunch of blog posts listed below that document my lefse adventures.

/fingers crossed

Starting fresh

I have tried to write the first post on my blog since I learned blogs existed. It was my first or second year and I was in a computer lab at Carleton when I read online journals posted by a student using free webspace provided by the university. Reading these journals was like peeking into the windows of the writer’s home. The barrier for contribution was being able to code. I’m sure if I asked someone to help me I could have gotten started, but I was still wary of having an online identity and so I waited.

Then LiveJournal came along. I remember desperately wanting an invite.  Somewhere along the line I must have been brave enough to ask for a code as they got rid of them in December 2003.  My first account is gone, but I made 68 entries in one LiveJournal between November 2003 and May 2005. The entries chronicled my day-to-day life in grad school. I made 23 entries between December 2003 and April 2007  in two other LiveJournals, but I can’t remember the password or access the email I used for either so I can’t see what they were about.

Then I started using Blogger. From what I can recall I had two blogs there, one personal and one shared. None of the posts still exist in their original format, but I’ve backed up much of my blogging adventures so I know they are around somewhere. I tried to start blogging in earnest after I finished my Master’s degree, but my adventures ended after taking a job with the public service. I decided early on that I wouldn’t blog about work and the public service is especially risk averse.

Nonetheless, WordPress came into my life in July 2007. A friend I made while gaming online encouraged me to sign up for a hosting account and I registered my first domain. After my therapist encouraged me to find something to do while I was at work, I taught myself how to run a blog. This also led to being a social media “early adopter,” but that is another story for another time.

I didn’t really blog though, I just thought about it. My posts were sparse, I didn’t really have much to blog about outside of my job or my personal life. But I wrote drafts, saved web clippings and wished I could be a better blogger.

Which brings me to now. Blogging hasn’t been much of a thing for me for a while. When Google Reader shut down, I stopped engaging with blogs in the same way. After repeated attempts to find a replacement, I settled on just following who I wanted on Facebook and hoping that I’d see their posts. Don’t get me started on the good old days.

My brain has always come back to the blog as one of my mediums. There are just so many things (including but not limited to chronological entries/timeline, self publishing, links, comments) that I love about blogs that I can’t shake the urge to put pixel to screen. I’ve been self-conscious about my writing for a long time, but I’ve gotten to the point where I think I’m gonna bite the bullet and just do it.

Every time I have changed platforms, changed handles or deleted everything to start again, I make a post very similar to this one. So here we go.

If you made it this far, you might also be interested in A Brief History of 9 Blogging Platforms.

Melanie Ching: cook, writer, photographer