Meet … Kay, The Lefse Lady

Kay Christensen, wearing a shirt her family got her years ago, pauses between batches of lefse in her home kitchen in Flandreau. Christensen taught herself how to make lefse, a traditional Norwegian potato flatbread, when she was just a young woman. It is a labor intensive process and tedious because there can be no lumps and to bake it, it has to be incredibly thin. Recipes vary, she said and everyone likes to eat something a little different on theirs. Many, including her family, like their lefse with a little sugar or brown sugar. Others might include something meatier, like lutefisk. Another customer of hers enjoys it with cranberry relish.

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It’s like a really thin bread made out of potatoes, said Kay Christensen, of lefse.
While many remain unfamiliar with the traditional Norwegian potato flatbread, Christensen just wrapped up orders for another six dozen ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
“I was raised with lefse,” said Christensen, a lifelong Flandreau resident with a Czech and English background. “My mother never made it so I taught myself how to make it because we liked it.”
Christensen first started selling lefse once she felt she had gotten good enough at it, about 40 years ago. Young and newly married, and she really enjoyed making food at the time. In fact, Christensen has long held a dream of opening her own coffee shop or restaurant.
One year, she went through 200 pounds of potatoes, she said, making lefse for others. She’d head to work and have the potatoes prepped in a pot. Before she would return home, her husband Daryl would have the potatoes cooked. She’d hand rice the potatoes to get them smoothed out, put them in the refrigerator and make the large potato flatbreads the next day before heading back to work.
Having just started a career at the Post Office however, along with waitressing and cooking nights at Walker’s Steakhouse on Wind Street, and helping to raise her three boys, making lefse on the side for fun and a little extra money got to be too much. Other than for special family occasions and her own personal enjoyment, she put the rolling pin away.
Until this year.
Newly retired and looking to get back into something soul-filling, Christensen decided to embrace a tradition she knew resonated with others.
She turned the griddle back on.
“I enjoy it,” she said, of making traditional lefse. “I love working and when I retired at the Post Office…I’ve just been lost. I worked there for 40 years. When you do something for 40 years, it’s just part of you. Plus I’ve always loved to work, my first job was when I was 17 at the Corner Cafe. The Pantry Cafe paid .50/hour and Corner Cafe paid .60/hour so that’s where I went. I’ve always enjoyed working,” she said — a good thing as orders stack up heading into the Christmas holiday season.

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