Friday, December 18, 2015

Late Night Pancakes

When I was six, Grandma Astrid came to live with us full time. My mother was very ill at the time and my parents needed someone else to help take care of us kids. It sounds terrible, but I seldom remember either my mom or my dad from that time -- they were at the hospital taking care of mom, the orbit of their lives taking them out of the realm of my understanding. Me and my brothers and sisters were happy when they were around, but it had ceased being strange to have them absent. Grandma Astrid had tried to fill that void as well as she could.

I have had the misfortune of being a poor sleeper my entire life. I find it difficult to fall asleep and difficult to stay asleep. My other siblings slept like logs every night. An hour or so after bedtime, I’d wander out to the kitchen where Grandma Astrid spent most of her time. She didn’t seem to sleep much. Not one for too many words, she’d pull a chair over to the counter and I’d knead bread dough with her in silence, or make pancake batter, or pit cherries, or whatever project she had going.

After I had started yawning again, she’d make hot milk with honey. She’d turn the gas burner on and melt a bit of butter into the cast iron pancake pan that she had. It had seven rings to make seven thin crepe-like pancakes. The batter would hiss very quietly as she spooned a bit of batter into each ring and then deftly swirled the pan to coat the bottom of each ring. As the pancakes cooked she’d flip each one with her thumb, somehow not burning herself. She’d place them on my special plate that had a picture of Gonzo the muppet on it and squeeze lemon and sprinkle sugar on them.

I’d crawl back into bed with butter still on my fingers.

Cast Iron Swedish Pancake Pan


Swedish Pancakes

4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cup whole milk
3 eggs
pinch of salt
optional: zest of one orange or lemon, pinch of cinnamon, or a ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the eggs and flour together until smooth. Add the melted butter and milk slowly while whisking to form a smooth batter. Add the pinch of salt and any optional ingredients. Let batter rest 30 minutes (can be kept in the refrigerator overnight if you wish to prepare it the night before).

Heat Swedish pancake griddle over medium-high heat with a bit of butter in each ring. Add a tablespoon of batter to each ring and swirl pan to evenly distribute. Flip pancakes after about 2 minutes, when they have started to brown a bit. Cook on the second side for a minute or so.

Serve with sugar and lemon, or with lingonberry jam!

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