My Honey Girl flew back to college tonight. Everywhere now, throughout the house, there are reminders of her, and of our last week together: a scarf hanging to dry after a walk in the snow, boots tossed in the hallway, the last blueberry pancake from our breakfast this morning wrapped in foil in the refrigerator, her gym thingamabob on my key fob, a tin of British baked beans in the pantry which she bought while home and never ate, the smell of her lovely perfume on a scarf she borrowed.
When she was a baby, and my Dear Husband was completing a graduate program in England, I walked with her every day. We didn’t have a car, so I’d take her out in our Emmaljunga buggy, whatever the weather. We’d stroll to the shops–to the butcher or fishmonger, the bakery, or the grocer—for a bit of fresh air and sunlight, or to look at the hoarfrost or the landscape drenched in rain, and on the way I’d talk to her. I’d wonder out loud to that little, smiling face wrapped in a pale blue hood, what would she look like at five, at ten, at fifteen, at twenty? What would she like, and dislike? What would her voice sound like? What would interest her? As I said goodbye to her across the airport security lines, blowing kisses and catching a glance of her face one last time, I realized that this was it, my Honey Girl at twenty. I’d never wondered beyond this age. It seemed so far off, so impossibly distant. And it’s here, so quickly, much too quickly. Here she is, all of those mysterious details filled in. She is such a lovely person.
The transition when she leaves is always difficult; this one especially so. There are mothers who would sing Alleluia when the summer ended and school resumed, who sang the praises of summer camp, and nights with babysitters, and playdates at others’ homes. I never felt that way. I loved having her around—at every age—and her friends, too, their voices, their talk, their laughter filling up the house. It’s hard whenever she leaves because I treasure her so, because we’ve always had such a nice day together—every day, whatever the circumstances or season or age. My Dear Husband says that we’re entering a new phase: the adult friendship stage, one of true independence and an end to active parenting. That sounds nice, I suppose. But I think of it this way: she’s a cooked egg now, and she did such a good job of growing up.
I used to make these pancakes with warm lingonberries when she was a little pip. She and my Sweet Boy would eat them up as quickly as they came off the griddle. In fact, I made pancakes of one variety or another so many mornings together before school that I couldn’t possible count them. I can see them now, toothy grins over the edge of our tall table, my Honey Girl in a printed dress and my Sweet Boy trying to press down a rippling shirt collar, or both of them still in winter pajamas with fuzzy hair.
These pancakes are tender and remarkably light. If you can’t find fresh lingonberries, serve them with maple syrup, fruit preserves, or confectioners’ sugar. And if you want to squeeze making pancakes into a busy morning, mix together the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls the night before, and refrigerate the wet ingredients. In the morning, heat up a griddle, stir them together, and fry up the pancakes. These are even easier. The batter can be made the night before, excepting the egg whites, and refrigerated. In the morning, beat and fold in the egg whites. By the time little teeth are brushed and buttons buttoned, you’ll have breakfast nearly ready.
Feather Pillow Pancakes with Warm Lingonberries
Yield: about 20 4-inch pancakes
½ c. crème fraiche
1 ½ c. buttermilk
2 egg yolks
the zest of an orange and a good squeeze of the juice from each half of the orange
a little dribble of almond extract
1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 t. baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 c. all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur.)
2 egg whites
butter for the griddle
a bit of sugar for the lingonberries
confectioners’ sugar for dusting the pancakes
- In a large bowl, whisk together the crème fraiche, buttermilk, egg yolks, orange zest, orange juice, and almond extract.
- Gently stir in the butter.
- Sprinkle the baking soda and the salt evenly across the bowl and stir to combine.
- Add the flour and stir until well mixed.
- In a medium bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they are stiff and glossy.
- Gently fold them into the batter.
- Heat a griddle to 312 degrees F, or until a bit of batter dropped on its buttered surface sizzles gently.
- Butter the griddle. (I use a stick of butter and rub the griddle directly with it.)
- Spoon ¼ to 1/3 c. of the batter onto the griddle for each pancake.
- Fry the pancakes until the edges appear crisp.
- Flip them and fry the other side.
- In a small pan over low heat, warm the lingonberries with a bit of sugar to taste, perhaps 2 T to ¼ c..
- Serve the pancakes with the warm lingonberries and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.