Meatballs & Lefse: Memories and Recipes from a Scandinavian-American Farming Life

2022 FAPA President’s Book Award: Silver: Cookbook/Home and Garden

Cynthia D. Bertelsen grew up in eastern Washington state, in Palouse wheat-farming country. Her father, a plant pathologist, researched diseases of wheat and cacao at a local university. And every spring he planted a big vegetable garden and tended the many fruit trees in the backyard of their old farmhouse, built in 1888. For heat, the house boasted a dilapidated oil burner in the middle of the living room. So, on most winter mornings, frost a half-inch thick covered young Cynthia’s upstairs bedroom window.

Despite this fleeting taste of rural life, when she married Mike Bertelsen, Cynthia had a lot to learn from her Norwegian-American mother-in-law Ethel, both about farming and life in general.

Through recipes, family anecdotes, photographs, and historical musings, Meatballs & Lefse tells the story of the relationship between a young bride and her mother-in-law, each coming from different worlds, yet united by love of family, the kitchen, the land, and each other. Meatballs & Lefse also shines a light on Scandinavian-American immigrant culture and cuisine.

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