On mothers, marriage and pancakes

I laughed about it for weeks leading up to the momentous event. I was going to get obnoxiously intoxicated, I joked, and draw increasingly more embarrassed attention to myself as the night progressed by way of incessant speech-making. The speeches would be drawling and only partially intelligible. In a tone of strained self-congratulation, I would fixate on my personal achievements, and, should I be so generous as to spare a word for the happy new couple, I would say things that even the most ignorant and ill-mannered of party goers would think inappropriate, and I would also make sure to refer to the groom by the wrong name (e.g. Barrie instead of Gary). We laughed.  Even Bar… I mean, Gary, thought it was funny, mostly because we all knew that never in my life have I been obnoxiously drunk; also, I’m not much of a speech maker.  The risk of realization was low, and therefore we all laughed easily.

Needless to say, on the day of my mother’s wedding, I neither drank copious amounts of alcohol, nor did I make any embarrassing speeches. In fact, I didn’t make any speeches at all. But if I had, I might have said:

 Leading up to this day, I had joked that I would attempt to make my mother’s special day as much about me as possible—that any speech I gave would be crafted in such a way as to divert attention away from her so that I could revel in vain self-celebration. In other words, to play the role of the obnoxious extended family member or friend-of-a-friend who so often lurks at our dinner or wedding parties, awaiting the most inopportune moment to steal the show, leaving everyone feeling mildly uncomfortable and awkward.

The truth is, it is very hard for me to speak of my mother without talking about myself. I have been so very lucky—so utterly blessed—to have such a person in my life. Rarely a day goes by when I do not stop, for a brief moment, to consider and respect that who I am today is largely because of her.  So if I were to deliver a speech dripping with self-admiration, I would, in a roundabout way, be showering my mother with admiration as well.

My mother has shown me a kind of unconditional love and support that you might think only exists in fairy tales or movies. Because of this, she is the first person I turn to when happy or sad, excited or devastated. She is the first person I want to share good news with, and the first person from whom I seek comfort.  She is more than just my mother, she is my best friend and confidante. She knows when to listen and when to give advice, and she’s never tried to deter me from pursuing any one of my many dreams. No matter how poorly considered or naive they may have been, she has remained supportive and allowed me to chart my own path—always the first to cheer me on and share in my successes, and ever ready to pick me up and offer positive words should I fall. She is, in large part, responsible for many of my achievements, and my quick recoveries from failure. I have never met another person who could say the same about their relationship with their mother.

As someone who has given so graciously and selflessly and loved so unconditionally, my mother deserves only the utmost happiness, love and security. And so my heart absolutely swells, overwhelmed with joy, that she has found all of these things in this man with whom she wants to spend her life, and I could not be more happy or more grateful for today, for her, and for him.

Or something like that.

My overall sentiment is riveted to that last line: I could not be more happy or grateful for my mother’s marriage. My mother (and I hope she will not mind me sharing this) thrives in a companionship. She absolutely blossoms—blooming with life, creativity and energy—when she has someone else to share it with. And while I share many traits with my mother, from our innocent, yet blunt honesty, to our often naive wonder about the world, this is one area in which we differ. I am a rather solitary creature, much like my father. I enjoy holing up at home with piles of personal projects and hobbies, indulging in an espresso with a good book in a corner cafe, putting on a dress and taking myself out for dinner, or going on solitary road trips and cabin adventures. My default is independence and self-sufficiency, punctuated with a small assortment of quality friendships and social activities, and this worries her. She frets about me “being alone.” For someone so outwardly devoted and loving, it is hard for her to understand that my introverted self-enjoyment lacks loneliness.

But the truth is, what I miss most about being in a relationship is the spontaneity with which you can cook up more elaborate weekend brunches. Many of the things I love to eat most do not fare well in small single-person batches, nor do they store well for later consumption. In some cases, they are also simply not as enjoyable eaten alone. I’m thinking of tottering towers of pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and served with crispy bacon, custardy French toast, dusted with powdered sugar and accompanied with honeyed sausage links, all manner of pies, quiches, cakes, and biscuits with assortments of jams and jellies. For me, these are cornerstone companion foods—they take four, silent but loving hands in the kitchen, preferably hands belonging to two people who have spent a late morning lazing in bed. They are “I’ll set the table while you make the espresso,” meals, and I miss them. And while friends always serve as a good substitute, gathering friends together for brunch lacks the spontaneity of slow morning breakfast with your life-long companion.

I am convinced, however, that Dutch Baby pancakes are the exception to this rule and are perfectly suited to the single life. They perform beautifully in small batches, require few dishes and utensils for quick and easy clean up, and are baked in the oven rather than fried on the stove, leaving your hands free to prepare your side dishes or to make coffee. Also, you make them in a cast iron skillet, which for me is as handsome and romantic as cooking ware gets.

Having made a coconut cake for my mother’s wedding, I had a number of coconut ingredients on hand with which to experiment.  The result was a flavourful one-dish breakfast that seemed to combine everything I love about brunch. Light and airy on the outside, much like a popover or soufflé, but custardy and dense in the centre, like French toast, this pancake is mildly sweet, fragrant and open to all manner of dressings, from jam or jelly, to maple syrup or honey, or, in the more traditional fashion, a light sprinkling of powdered sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. It’s spontaneous, warm, comforting and entirely consumable by one person. And so I dedicate this coconut Dutch Baby Pancake to anyone who has ever felt so much love and happiness for the companionship of others, and to those who remain equally content playing a life-long role as a bachelor(ette).

Coconut Dutch Baby Pancake
(Makes one 6” pancake)

15g (1 tbsp) coconut oil
2 large eggs
15g (1 tbsp) raw cane sugar
50g (1/4 cup) coconut milk
30g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
5g (1 tbsp) unsweetened shredded coconut
Pinch of sea salt

Wedge of lemon
Powdered sugar
Coconut flakes and sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat your oven to 425F. In a 6” cast iron skillet, heat the coconut oil until melted (making all sides of the skillet are liberally seasoned with oil). In a small bowl, whisk the two eggs until light and frothy. Whisk in the sugar until dissolved. Add the coconut, flour and salt and mix until combined. Pour the batter into the skillet and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, a squeeze of lemon and a handful of toasted coconut flakes and sliced almonds. Eating the pancake directly from the skillet is also highly recommended.

3 comments on this post. Leave your own...

  1. Ilke says:

    That was a nice speech and even if you did not give it, I am sure she knows in her heart. She is beautiful, radiating.
    I have heard about these pancakes, when I feel like cooking up a handsome breakfast, I should remember these.

    • Calantha says:

      Thank you Ilke,

      And I do recommend these pancakes, but I warn you not to think of them as the more traditional pancake. They are far more dense and spongey (think rubbery almost, but in a good way) in the centre, not light and fluffy due to the high proportion of eggs in the batter and low proportion of flour. But I love that they can be eaten with a simple sprinkling of sugar and squeeze of lemon.

  2. marknesop says:

    Your Mom looks fabulous, she has lovely features; no doubt where you got yours although you don’t look exactly alike. She looks really happy.

    You would never have gotten through that speech without crying anyway, I bet you cried a little when you wrote it. For such a technologically-oriented society we still have so little control over our emotions.