The legend of the Aebelskiver goes like this….The Vikings had finished with a fierce battle. As usual they were hungry after fighting. Their shields were dented from the battle and they had a batter of sorts. The filled their dented shields with the batter and a rounded pancake formed. As such, Aebelskivers were born of Danish legend and have become a tradition in Scandinavian culture.
For me, they are memories of Christmas and my sweet Grammy.
I was 20 the summer we went to Denmark.
In an antique store in Jutland I found a vase. It was pale blue with a small white flower on it. I showed it to my dad and he said “ohh, you’ve got the bug too.” And that’s when he connected the dots for me. The blue and white was Royal Copenhagen. It’s what is grown up with at my Grammy’s home. The blue Christmas plates lining the dining room, the white and blue China, the pale cream and blue figurines in the curio cabinet.
It was so much more than a vase.
In Denmark, people spoke to me in Danish. That’s when I felt it. A pull to roots I didn’t know I needed.
I was 30 the winter my Grammy fell. I was living in Japan when my dad called me.
“Do I need to come home?” What a horrible question to answer.
My stomach sank asking it, but I needed to know. No promises were made, and plane tickets were booked.
In the rehab wing of the Lutheran home, I fed my Grammy jello, hugged her lots, and cried when I left. “You didn’t need to come all the way out here” she said. But I did. I needed to, I needed her grandchildren to.
The 10 years that had passed between our family trip to Denmark and then had been filled with beautiful memories.
Aebelskivers, Kringle, Kransegage at my wedding. Christmas plates, The Little Mermaid (not the Disney movie!) guessing where the Vikings had gone that gave us our high cheekbones and somewhat squinted eyes.
Toasting Aquavit and yelling “skoal” in a tent on the hottest day in Danish history (or at least what felt like it)!
My wedding day, and our Viking hats and silliness.
The passing of my grandfather, the love of her life for over 60 years.
The birth of my first child, named Lilly Elizabeth, after my Grammy and Grandma. And seeing them together so many times. Knowing that my little Lilly would hopefully remember how she smelled, and the cozy feeling of being in her home.
Over and over again, we made the trip to see Grammy.
To hear the stories. To learn the things.
And in the chaos of raising my own family, living overseas, moving to a new state, I started remembering more and more from my childhood
Christmas Eve was at Grammys house.
The china and crystal and silver graced the table. Aebelskivers were made on the stove, there were nuts to crack open. Wine filled the Waterford glasses.
Everyone squeezed on the couches to open gifts. Whomever got the nut in their rice pudding got to hand out presents. It was always me. Or me and my cousin that were close in age. It amazed me that we were so lucky. And it was cozy. There were hugs and laughter.
One Christmas I asked Grammy to play Christmas songs on the piano, and she did! We all sat in the living room, realizing that nobody knew the words as well as we thought. It was hygge.
Now as an adult, I wonder what Grammy thought of those holidays at her home.
I wonder if she looked at my hands like I look at my children’s hands now. So small, so much work for them to do in this life.
I wonder if she felt the weight of those Danish roots and the need to make a place for us to come back to. I wonder if she knew that her namesake would hold the same plates that her and I held together so many years ago.
I wonder if she felt the strange pull of loving the present, but longing for the past when she was the child, or the mother.
I wonder if she loved seeing the mess in the kitchen that defines making memories with littles.
This isn’t the first year my littles have helped make Aebelskiver over the holidays. In fact, we’re so lucky that this is the third year in Texas we’ve made them as a family. And we introduced them to friends while living in Japan too.
I’m trying to plant those roots.
I want them to hold the blue and white china that their great grandmother held. I want them to know that Christmas is time for Aebelskivers, family, and hygge.
And when they’re grownups I hope they’ll look at these photos and know that I loved every minute of this day with them.
And I truly hope my Grammy knew how much I loved everyday with her.
You’ll need a cast iron Aebelskiver pan!
- 3 eggs divided into egg whites and egg yolks in separate bowls
- 2 C flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 Tbsp. butter melted
- 2 C buttermilk
- Crisco for greasing pan (seriously-use the Crisco)
- Lots of love
- In a medium-sized bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they hold a stiff peak. Set aside for later.
- Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, sugar, egg yolks, melted butter and buttermilk and mix until smooth. Fold in the egg whites.
- Put some crisco in each well. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the batter into each well. As soon as they get bubbly around the edge, rotate to their side. I like to use a chopstick to turn them. Continue cooking, turning the ball until is is lightly browned all the way around and is cooked through (like a pancake). It might be hard to get each batch perfect to start, make sure to turn your heat down or you’ll burn the second batch!
- Place the Aebelskiver in the oven on warm until you’re ready to eat.
- Serve with powdered sugar, jam, Nutella or my personal favorite-brown sugar and sour cream!
- Reheat leftovers in a toaster oven or in the oven. They freeze well too, so make a big batch and save some for later!
In loving memory of Lilly and Paul Pedersen. My Grammy and Goppa.
Photo Cred-Shaun Campbell-Creative Force Photography
And a huge thank you to my wonderful friend, Emily, from Emily Anne Photography, for capturing these moments and joining in our Danish celebrations. I hope you felt the hygge too.