Getting my Volkswagen Beetle out of storage after the winter is a sure sign of spring. We put it away every winter for three months (of six!) mostly to save some money on car insurance. Another reason, though, is that although VWs do pretty well in snow, they have low ground clearance, making it a little dicey on some of our back roads. We have a truck and an SUV, so the VW just goes into hibernation.
I’ve also been known to underestimate its ability to clear an obstruction on the road. Once, I thought I could straddle a dead deer on the road. B-i-i-i-i-i-g mistake! I dragged the poor thing down the road with me and kept part of it in the undercarriage. It took a lot of extra hosing down -- and time -- to get rid of the mess. That happened well over fifteen years ago, but it’s one of those stories that gets retold often, and often gets more dramatic in each retelling. Sometimes I tell it on myself -- just to beat my husband to the punch and make sure he gets it right.
I do love my Volkswagen, though. I’ve had four. Number 4 is my first non-convertible. I had a yellow convertible Beetle, a blue convertible Rabbit and a grey convertible Cabriolet. (It was Number 3 that dragged the deer.) This black one is pretty special, too. It’s a 2001, has 31,000 miles on it (thanks to storage) and regularly gets 30 miles per gallon. It has heated leather seats and it’s turbo-charged. I love it when I’m on the interstate and someone behind me thinks they just have to pass that little Beetle and I’ll just punch it and surprise them, gleefully, I have to add. The only thing I don’t like about my car is that it doesn’t have a CD player. Easy enough to fix, I suppose, but I probably won’t.
My Volkswagen’s first outing this year was a trip to the local post office. The post office in Fisher, which also houses a store, is exactly 1.2 miles from our house. So it was a perfect run to make sure the sleepy battery was charged. I cajoled Jackie, our postmaster, into taking a picture of me in the VW to celebrate its first outing. Jackie kindly obliged. Jackie is not only our postmaster, she’s also chief of the local volunteer fire department. Of course, she’s the storekeeper, too, or as she puts it, “I’m the Sam Drucker of Fisher!”
Since I’m inclined to associate celebrations of any kind, even the VW’s first outing, with food, I wanted to make something special and springlike to commemorate the day. I decided I was going to make chicken and broccoli crepes, because I had chicken and broccoli in the fridge.
I love crepes. The first time I ever made them was a long time ago, but I remember thinking to myself as I was making them at the ripe age of 25 that I was a cooking diva and that these weren’t nearly as hard as I’d imagined. They’re a lot like pancakes. And they were fun to make.
Cooking crepes is a not a quick job, though, and takes a little planning, and a little practice. Like pancakes, sometimes the first one doesn’t come out right. The recipe for the batter I use comes from the first “Three Rivers Cookbook” published as a fund raiser in 1973 by the Child Health Association of Sewickley. It remains one of my favorite cookbooks. The smears can attest to it. A "Mrs. Edward A. Montgomery, Jr.," supplied the crepe recipe and I thank her. It’s never failed me. The first time I made these crepes, I was making cannelloni (another Mrs. Edward A. Montgomery, Jr., offering,) probably my all-time favorite dish to make, even better than lasagna. (I’ll save that for another post.)
I know that there are sweet crepes, too, but I’ve never made them. The ingredients for the savory crepes are simple. Another good thing about the crepes is that they freeze well, making it almost possible to have a spur of the moment celebration. Part II of this post – tomorrow -- will have the crepe filling. (You have to let the batter chill for two hours anyhow.)
1 C cold water
1 C cold milk
4 large eggs
½ t salt
2 C all purpose flour
4 T butter
Place the water, milk, eggs and salt in a blender and combine well. With the blender still running gradually add the flour. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before cooking.
When ready to cook, melt about a ½ tablespoon of butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Using about ¼ cup of batter per crepe, pour into pan and quickly swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. When bubbles start to form, turn crepe with a spatula and cook briefly on the other side. Add more butter as needed, about every other crepe. Put parchment paper, or wax paper, between crepes after they’re cooked so they don’t stick together. Makes about 24 crepes.