It was a combination of my 60th birthday celebration and a trip down memory lane. We chose to have a family vacation in Palm Springs, the place we travelled to six weekends a year, for a period of 20 years, visiting my in-laws, snowbirds who came from Toronto to soak up the sunshine and be near their West Coast children and grandchildren. The years were 1984-2004. We were fortunate, my in-laws chose to rent in The Greenhouse because our friends’ parents wintered there as well, and so it ended up that three generations of Saigers and Androns spent those weekends together. Every family member had a playmate, even the Volvo wagons arrived in twos. The other grandchildren arrived as well, from Israel and Canada, and so while the participants varied, the landscape remained the same.
The grandmothers, Esther and Lil, would sit by the pool, and shep naches, watching their grandchildren passing the long lazy days swimming and playing endless games of Marco Polo, only to be interrupted by tennis, or food. The kids had the run of the place, going back and forth between the grandparents’ condos, and running to Izzy and Mollie, an elderly couple from Winnipeg, for their daily dose of candy.
On this trip our first stop was at Hadley’s for date shakes and, of course, to stock up on snacks, but it also set the tone. When we arrived at our hotel, we slipped into our bathings suits and into our new roles with the same ease. It was our turn to sit on the chaises and watch the “kids” in the pool as they played with Manya Lily. I remember wondering how my mother-in-law was able to spend so many hours watching us, but the pleasure that she derived from it is now obvious.
There were many nostalgic moments, walking on Palm Canyon, hiking in Joshua Tree, and visiting The Living Desert. We made sure that the trip included a meal in a Mexican restaurant and of course we went to Elmer’s, the only place my in-laws ever went to for breakfast, a yearly ritual in celebration of David’s birthday. No surpise, my kids ordered what they had always ordered, German pancakes.
Yesterday I spoke to my sister-in law Gail and we ended up reminiscing about those years. Gail said it was the consistency that made it so special, that the kids loved going to the same place over and over, year after year.
I hope we can create a family tradition that echoes the experience of my children, but for now, making German pancakes in my kitchen allows the taste and the memories to linger on.
3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tspn salt
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 apple peeled and thinly sliced, sauteed in little bit of butter for a few minutes and sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and add flour, whisking until smooth. Add milk, salt, and vanilla and mix well.
Add 2 Tbs butter to a cast-iron skillet and place in hot oven until the butter melts and skillet is really hot, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and quickly pour in the batter. Return to oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.
In the meantime, saute apples in a bit of butter for a few minutes and sprinkle with cinnamon to taste.
Place sauteed apples in center of pancake, drizzle pancake with lemon juice and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.