I loved to wake up in the morning and discover that my Grandma had been making crepes. They were, and still are my favorite breakfast. Nothing fancy, just warm crepes spread with a choice of different jellies and jams. For me, orange marmalade is the absolute perfect filling for such a delectable pancake.
My Grandmother just passed away 2 days ago – 2 short weeks before her 95th birthday. I have a bunch of recipes that she shared with my Mother and I. All carefully typed out, with handwritten messages in the margins.
Many of the recipes have tips for making them with limited ingredients – the kinds of ingredients you would find on a military base at the “commissary”. Today there is quite a wide variety of items, but that wasn’t always the case long ago, so sometimes you had to get creative.
She had been a Drill Sergeant in the Marines during WWII while my Grandfather was flying in the Pacific for the Army Air Corps – which later became the Airforce. She wasn’t a cuddly Grandma, in case you’re wondering what kind of Grandma a Drill Sergeant is.
She was a woman who’s body had been strengthened and made flexible by years of dance training in her youth and young adult years. In the larger picture below, she is dancing at about the age of 12 or so while the famous composer Liberace is playing piano. Both grew up in West Allis Wisconsin – a small working class suburb of the larger working class city of Milwaukee. In the smaller picture, she is stretching while stationed at Camp LeJeune.
As long as I knew her, she spent every night stretching to keep her body in health. Every night. Usually after swimming her 50 laps in the pool. Oftentimes naked, which is why I never joined her. I wasn’t about to go swimming with my naked Grandma, so I swam during the day.
And because she only slept for about 4-5 hours every evening, she would go to bed at midnight, and be up by 4:30 or 5 to make crepes . That way they would be ready by the time us kids woke up in the morning.
Ha! No, not really! She didn’t actually get up that early just to make crepes. She just didn’t sleep very much. But I’ll tell you, I was always so excited when I would walk out and see all the assorted jams on that table, each neatly spooned into small dishes on a lazy suzan. It meant we were having crepes!
I love you Grandma, and I’ll be sharing more of yours and Grandpa’s recipes in the future. And I apologize – you never wanted to be called “Grandma” because you decided that was only for “old people”. So almost everything you signed was “Grams”.
This post is in honor of you Grams.
Gram’s Crepes (makes about 12 small crepes)
3 large eggs
1 C whole milk
1 Cup All Purpose flour (I’ve made great gluten free crepes with alternative flours)
3 T melted butter + more butter for the pan
Combine eggs, milk and flour in a mixing bowl using a handheld mixer or blender. Or…do it the old fashioned way – with muscles and a whisk. Add melted butter. Refrigerate overnight ideally, or for at least an hour or more. Enough time to let the flour absorb the liquid. This makes it easy to cook the crepes without tearing them, and they actually cook a bit more quickly.
I no longer have a crepe pan, but actually prefer my “crepe assembly line method”. Small nonstick pan on one burner. Larger nonstick pan on a different burner. Wooden board for a quick cool down, and a serving plate kept warm in the oven at 200 F.
Preheat small pan to med low, and large pan to a bit under that. Add a small amount of butter to the small pan, and pour in approximately 1/4 C of batter, quickly swirling to make an even, thin pancake. Cook for about 1-2 minutes until set. Gently loosen the edges – it should pop right out if the flour absorbed enough of the liquid. Flip onto the larger pan, and cook for just a bit – usually less than a minute. Repeat process with smaller pan.
Remove crepe from larger pan and set on wooden cutting board. This helps when you are making a pile of them to serve all at once. It brings down the moisture content just a bit so they don’t stick together.
Flip 1/2 done crepe onto larger pan, and put the finished crepe from the board on your serving dish in the warm oven.
Repeat process, adding butter if needed to the smaller pan. Small pan, big pan, wooden board, oven. Small pan, big pan, wooden board, oven. This ends up going very quickly once you do it assembly line style!
Serve with different jellies, jams, or fresh fruit, and watch your family smile!
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