(by Brana Dane)
Some things never change. I’m a vegan now, but still, food holds such a tremendous power to transport you to a different time and place. I can’t remember the first time my mother made Finnish pancakes—the custard-y, egg-y goodness that goes hand in hand with my childhood. I must have been a toddler when she copied down that recipe from the women’s magazine she found while patiently waiting on queue at the grocery store.
Despite my young years, certain images and thoughts remain from this formative time. I remember lying in my young mother’s arms and reaching up, absolutely absorbed and enthralled by a small protruding mole on my mother’s neck. Apparently, she had this removed before I turned one year old; it’s hard to say though, because my mother’s memory historically exaggerates with passing years. She still insists that my great-grandpa Olin played the banjo on the radio after he lost one of his arms. Although this fact has been contradicted by my grandmother, who knows if we will ever get to the bottom of which instruments he could play with one hand? What I do know is that my favorite treat was served piping hot with jam, honey, and maple syrup every Christmas morning—well, afternoon.
Waking up on Christmas day, I had to wait in my room for her to finish wrapping my presents, write the cards to match, and finally get the video cam working properly after many months of non-use. By the time I was allowed to take my first peak at the tree brimming with glitter and presents, it could very well be 1 p.m. Of course, top priority as a child were the gifts. So breakfast could be often served around 3 p.m., which only made it more delicious.
I would help add all the ingredients into the blender—lots of eggs, a pinch of vanilla, milk, and some maple syrup. After a noisy blending, the concoction could be poured into a hot buttered casserole dish, to be cooked slowly until fluffy and crisp. You can’t wait too long to dig in—it will soon let all its trapped air out and fall.
All the memories of my childhood revolve around my mother. I assume this is somewhat normal, but how different my memories must be because my mother is a unique woman. From her silly sense of humor, suffocating rain of kisses, and iron-clad will, she is just as special as the Christmas traditions she created for me.
Brana Dane is a model, artist, and writer living in New York City, promoting female empowerment and environmental consciousness. A regular contributor at YRB and Bella Magazine, she chooses topics that appeal to the activist at heart, such as an interview with artist Hadi Nasiri, speaker at the Oslo Freedom Forum. Additionally she interviews on-air for FNL Network, airing on Amazon Prime globally. She can be found at www.branadane.com, Muckrack, and @branadane.
4 T. butter, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
4 large eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole milk
pinch of salt
up to 4 T. sugar, optional
splash of vanilla extract or maple syrup
Preheat oven to 400 F.
When the oven temperature reaches about 300 F., place an 8- or 9-inch cake pan or 10-inch pie plate in the oven with the butter in it.
The butter should melt, but not brown, while the oven finishes heating.
Place the eggs, flour, milk, salt, optional sugar, and vanilla or maple syrup in a blender.
Blend on high, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and even.
When the oven is fully heated and the butter is melted, pull the oven rack out far enough to work safely, and pour the batter into the hot pan.
Push the rack carefully back into the oven and bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until the pancake has puffed quite high and is a deep golden brown.
You can test the doneness by quickly inserting a butter knife in the center. If the knife comes out clean, the pancake is done.
Cut immediately (don't worry when it deflates somewhat) and serve topped as desired.