Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Foods of Durham Past: Swedish Pancakes

What we have here is a very poor picture of a very yummy food.

Explanation: I took this with my phone at a friend’s crepe party last month because I knew I wouldn't get around to making them myself, but it is an important food of Durham past. Only we called them Swedish pancakes because that’s what Dad called them.

It’s not like I’ve never made them before, but they never live up to Dad’s. Why? Because I don’t have the big cast iron skillet – I have a cheapo non-stick pan that does the job, but they aren’t nearly as good as Dad's (I need my Sur la Table employee discount back so I can get me a skillet).

This really was Dad’s signature dish and it was a big deal every time he decided to make them – usually on Saturday mornings. He had to have the kitchen spotless, the apron would come on and there could be no distractions. Mom can prepare a meal in a cluttered kitchen, talk on the phone, watch television and teach a piano student, while Dad can have zero visual and audible distractions because he’s trying to flip a pancake for crying out loud. I could say it’s a Mom/Dad thing, but I really think it’s a male/female thing. Women are just better at multitasking.

Crepe parties are pretty popular and guests are typically asked to bring a “topping”. You get bananas, berries, Nutella, whipped cream, syrup, etc. But crepes at the Durham house were traditionally served with melted butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar and squirted with fresh lemon juice and then rolled up.

My mouth is watering.

So at this crepe party I decided to bring butter, cinnamon powdered sugar and lemons. People didn’t try it at first, but after they got their familiar crepe with sliced fruit and whipped cream out of the way they gave my toppings a go, and they were surprised at how good it was.

This is how things typically went at the Durham home: Dad required that we tell him up front how many we could eat (I got better at gauging this as I got older. I’m not sure what my record is – maybe 5 or 6). The first pancake would either break into pieces or it would be mediocre. Dad would eat it or someone would settle for it. In fact, selfish little kids usually want their food first, but we knew the second pancake was always better than the first, so we all fought for the second pancake slot. Carter liked his “light” and I liked mine “medium” – meaning, a little darker. When we were really little Dad would put the butter, sugar and lemon on for us, and then ask if we wanted them cut in “big ones”, “little ones” or “triangles.”

We’d take turns eating them one at a time. So after everyone got one, you were back in the loop for seconds, thirds, and so on. Sometimes right before your turn, after Dad flipped your pancake, his face would light up with convincing anticipation as he declared the next pancake was most likely the best Swedish pancake he has ever made.

Would I eat them again? You better believe it.
Would I make them again? So I cheated and didn't make these myself. But it's been over a week and I needed a post. But yes, I will.
Would I feed them to friends? If they're nice.


Tara said...

It was always a special treat when my dad would make crepes for us growing up too! I remember I would always ask him to make them for our Saturday morning breakfast. Then when I moved out I asked him to get me a crepe maker for a birthday one year, so now I can make them myself! Though you're right, they still aren't as good as Dad's.

Kelly D. said...

Mmm, I can almost taste the TD Swedish pancakes melting in my mouth. They really are something else. I'd never had the butter/cinnamon/powdered sugar/lemon/lime juice combo on a crepe until I became a Durham. But boy, it sure is delicious!

carter said...

First of all, I'll stack up my multi-tasking skills against any woman's.

Second of all, great post. It seems like he would always serve them oldest-to-youngest (or vice versa), right? I love the part about him declaring, "This is THE best Swedish pancake I've ever made. I'm serious." He would make this claim at least once every time he made them.

I make them every now and then. Even though I think the spray-on grease works just as well, I find myself doing the paper-towel-Crisco thing because, well, Dad did.

Ilene said...

I've never made crepes. Or Swedish Pancakes.

You've never made them for me.

I thought we were friends.

I bet after this post you get at least three cast iron pans.

Thomas said...

Long before Carter, Laura and Lisa were born, my swedish pancakes gained widespread fame among the missionaries of my New England Mission (1969-1971). Elder Clinger ate 20! (Gadzooks) After the twentieth, he smacked his lips, rubbed his stomach, looked very satisfied, and leaned back on two legs of the chair he was sitting on when...CRACK! The chair collapsed and he ended up splayed all over the floor!

Jergs Family said...

This must be a Durham food because my mom (Laura's aunt) used to make them for us too! This was by far my very favorite breakfast. My favorite way to eat them is with butter, powdered sugar and lemon or lime. THE BEST! I love this post because I think your experience as a child with swedish pancakes is exactly like mine! Waiting patiently for my turn to get the pancake, and definitely fighting over the second since the first always fell apart. Mom always at that one.

Now, as a mom, I love to make swedish pancakes for my kids - althoug they like to call them "rolly-ups"...I think because they just didn't get the whole "Swedish" thing and because we roll them up. This is definitely John and Grace's favorite breakfast! Thanks for the post.

Lisa Marie Trent said...

I think- we should take advantage of our kids and say that Dad needs to have a Swedish Pancake breakfast, so "they can experience it for themselves....."

But really I just want it to be like a saturday morning in the early 90's when dad makes pancakes.

Man those are good. I make them too- but they aren't anywhere near the same.

acrspeech said...

Yes indeed! I still make the swedish pancakes, infact....maybe that is what we will have for dinner tonight! Thanks Laura!

Anyway, I remember Tom making swedish pancakes, using lots of butter for that special cast iron skillet! Yummy! Truly a Durham specialty!

You are taking me back Laura...I love reading about these foods that I once had the honor of tasting :)

Kristi said...

I've actually made these myself the last two Saturday mornings. It seems like the perfect Saturday morning breakfast. And since it's just me I usually have enough left over for Sunday morning as well. Or Saturday lunch. Whatever.