Because delicious is not the same as perfect

Mother's Day PeoniesHello, friends! This was going to be my Mother’s Day post. Then we bought a house (!) and moved (!!) and yes, we still have crates and cartons everywhere and nothing is quite in the right spot yet. But, but – we are exuberantly joyful! Deeply thankful! And we want to share our crepes with you! Even though this post, like my peonies, has languished. So let’s pretend that you’re still looking for something brunchy, or maybe just something delicious to make your morning extra good. Let’s also pretend that all my ramblings about motherhood and creating a world we imagine coalesced into something readable. We’ll just have to read it later. But crepes – those I can give you right now. Okay? Okay.

I’ll be back on Friday with a lentil salad that will possibly blow your mind, and then we should be on to our regularly scheduled programming for the rest of the summer.

(Just promise to ignore all the boxes in the background. Please.)

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I should mention that the boys made me gifts that I smile each time I see. Measuring cups (by Lucas) and a flower vase (by Jacob). Arguably the best part is that my dear frazzled husband, ushering them through the pottery studio on the sly, was perhaps thinking about some projects at work while he helped them paint, or perhaps just trying to make these gifts do double duty: whatever the case, the pieces are signed lovingly on the bottom, and then dated (by Daddy) with Mother’s Day 2014. And that is enough to turn my smile into a full on belly laugh, every time. I love those three.

Measuring cups

Vase

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Like my guys, these crepes are the bees knees, the business, the boom in my dynamite. Details are below, and we have been enjoying them all manner of ways. A photo essay, to illustrate:

Crepes

Kyle's crepes with leftovers

Lucas's crepes with fruit and yogurt

A belated Happy Mother’s Day, to all the moms out there, and to everyone who has ever nurtured something, or helped it grow, or held it close, or brought it to be. We have within us the power to create the world we imagine: I celebrate that with all of you today.

Every-Day Crepes (for Mother’s Day 2014!)
Adapted from my friend Natalie and Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook

My friend Natalie has a professional cooking background, three bright and busy boys, and a perpetual smile on her face. You get the sense that even in the midst of parenthood and its craziness, she is generally up for anything. I was at her house at 7:30 AM recently, helping prep for yet another school fundraiser she was hosting, and Natalie offered me a crepe. It was fresh-that-minute from her stove top. It smelled insanely good. How on earth was she making crepes – delicate! Vanilla-kissed! Piping hot, with a faint sparkle of sugar and a jammy smear of strawberry preserves! How on earth – with half our school fundraising team swarming around her house? Are you kidding me?  “Come on, I make these at least once a week!” She scooped more batter into the pan, tilted it smoothly, and hurried to get one of the hundreds of cookbooks that line the office behind her kitchen. “They are easier than pancakes! They are SO EASY!” I took a bite of the crepe, and then another and another, and then I took a picture of the recipe. The next morning I sent a triumphant text message: they are easier than pancakes! And way more delicious. Now I’m hooked.

Despite two four! weeks of regular practice, my crepes are not  remotely perfect. They are all a little different – some lacy edged where I run batter too thin. Some thick-edged, where I glop it too thick. Some dark on one side and light on the other. Some extra buttery, some with holes where I flipped them awkwardly or tore them with the edge of my spatula. (By the way, I use the fish turner that Kyle got me last year. Totally acceptable tool for crepe turning, no matter what the experts might tell you.)  But each one is perfect, too, because each one gets devoured, and each one makes my house smell the way I always wish it would – like vanilla and warmth and deep sweet goodness.

And now you can make these easy, imperfect, delicious treats too. Trust me, please, because – I make them at least once a week. They are easier than pancakes, honest truth. I have even made a savory version, omitting the vanilla, and used it to wrap leftovers in for lunch. Fantastic. (BHSers: anyone remember Crepes a GoGo? Because, that is totally what is happening around here lately!)

Note: the original recipe makes ~8 crepes, and uses only all-purpose flour. This version is a one-and-a-half batch, for ~12 large crepes, and uses 1/3 whole wheat flour. The original recipe calls for mixing all ingredients for 10 seconds in a food processor to make the batter, but I found that a whisk-and-bowl worked very nicely and made for easier cleanup. The original recipe also calls for dark rum, but at Natalie’s suggestion I use vanilla instead. (And I think the vanilla is what makes the unspeakably delicious smell.) Your call!

3 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of salt
270 ml milk (that is, 3/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons)
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour

Butter for the pan

Whisk all wet ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth. Sift the flours into the bowl through a fine mesh sieve or a sifter. Whisk just until blended (but make sure it is smooth).

Use an 8 or 9 inch skillet (I have been using cast iron, but my friend Natalie uses a nonstick – cast iron works well but is a little heavy on the rotation). Melt 1 generous teaspoon of butter over medium to high heat. (Note for my fellow cast iron users: I start my pan over medium high and gradually reduced the heat, so by the third or fourth crepe I have a low flame but the pan is still plenty hot. The butter should sizzle and bubble but not burn.) Add a scant 1/4 cup batter to the pan, tilting the pan to spread it thinly across the surface. It shouldn’t be too thin, but should cover most of the skillet surface. Cook for about a minute, or until it has golden edges and is set enough to flip. Flip the crepe over (easier than you think!) and cook the other side until just done.

Fold the crepe in half or in quarters with your spatula, and put it on a plate. (The folding helps it stay warm, and makes it a hand-held breakfast, ready for dunking in your favorite compote.  If you are planning on filling it, you can fill it in the pan and then fold.) You can sprinkle the faintest dusting of sugar over top if serving straight up or with a sweet sauce – my kids love that little crunch and dazzle.

So: some of you are already crepe-making pros and don’t need my encouragement. For the rest, I want to emphasize that this whole process is shockingly easy and quick. Had I not seen Natalie do it, I wouldn’t have believed it myself, but it is actually much faster than making pancakes for breakfast. And your house will smell like heaven. Like, Polly’s lemon-cake good. Vanilla and butter and sweetness and just – home.

For serving: jams, compotes, marmalades or curds … fresh fruit, ricotta, honey …. go savory with breakfast meats, eggs, cheddar cheese, refried beans …. Or, like Kyle, repurpose a hodgepodge of last night’s leftovers by wrapping them in a crepe. You really can’t go wrong. (But you might want to skip the fairy dusting of sugar if you are planning a savory filling.)

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one of the last days at the old house

20 thoughts on “Because delicious is not the same as perfect

    • ooooh! I do not usually covet kitchen things, but I might have to see if I can wrangle myself a steel crepe pan somehow! Happy breakfast (and mom’s day) to you ~~

  1. So good to see you’re back! Congrats on the move. The crepes sound lovely. I like to add buckwheat flour to our savory crepes. We haven’t made them in a while, but my favorite filling was curried spinach and tofu. But I think your sweet crepes may be in order later this week. I’ve got strawberry rhubarb compote to along with them.

    Love your peonies. Ours are just starting to open. Perhaps the best scent in the world.

    • The idea of a buckwheat-tickled crepe was too much for me to resist Tara! I tried these using buckwheat in place of wheat, with rhubarb compote and fresh strawberries. Oh yes! We will be having that again. I never think first of savory when I think of crepes, but some curried spinach and tofu might get me there – Kyle has seen no problem using these as a savory wrap for all manner of things, so one of these days! And yes, the peonies – they are such glamour queens, all ruffles and perfume. Love them.

  2. Love the photos as usual. Don’t worry about the boxes– they will happen at some point. Enjoy the new home!

  3. Hi~I can’t get over how beautiful the measuring cups and vase turned out. One of a kind art! Crepes look great — sounded even better when Jacob told me about them on the phone. Peonies are so pretty – mine are so full of ants I can’t bring them in the house, but put a few in a container on the front porch. I know you had a great Mother’s Day and we are so happy you have a new home — your very own!!! Lionel Ritchie on Today Show – good times!
    Love,
    MeMa

    • Thanks MeMa :) Yep, the boys and Daddy had a good old time with the gifts – they’re great. These last two days J and L have picked me about a dozen zinnias in the yard – and each one went right back outside when I put it on the counter and earwigs started crawling out of it! Bugs are great but definitely more fun outside. Miss you guys – xoxo

  4. Congrats on your move! I hope your new place is the site of many, many happinesses. I love crepes but I don’t make them nearly often enough. The last time we had them, I stuffed them with a filling of herbed goat cheese, sheets of smoked salmon, and fresh, springy arugula. SO good.

    • Wow Chelsea that filling sounds brunch-worthy for sure! On my list to try soon. After two years of looking we are pretty excited to have found a place – thanks so much for your good wishes.

  5. Congrats on the new house!! Beautiful vase and measuring cups your boys made you too! Your Mothers Day 2014 reminds me of the time I sent my mom a Mothers Day card and wrote “Hope you have a wonderful birthday!” (her birthday is in Nov), whoops….I had no idea that I did it until she told me months later. The crepe recipe looks delish and since you say they are easy I think I might give it a try….I have some nutela and bananas at home that would be delish in one. I am also a fan of crepes filled with potatoe, egg, cheese, salsa served with a mimosa :)

    • Alicia there is zero surprise that you would have such good brunch-y ideas for crepes. You really are a breakfast queen! That is so funny about your mom and the card – I’m sure she appreciated the gesture despite the mistake. Ha. Let me know if you try these – I really couldn’t believe how easy it actually was.

  6. I dreamed just before I woke up that I asked my BIL for crepes–then as I woke up remembered that I could make them right this second. So I did, and they are delicious! Thanks, Hannah.

    • Yes! This makes me so happy Natasha. I know crepes are old hat to many people, but making them so easily is still the best kind of newness here. Enjoy!

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