Robert Litt, along with his wife Hannah, are the authors of A Chicken in Every Yard (Ten Speed Press, March 2011) and the founders of the Urban Farm Store in Portland, Oregon. They’ve been featured on Planet Green’s Renovation Nation, National Public Radio, and Oregon Public Broadcasting, and Robert was recently named to Food & Wine magazine’s “40 Big Food Thinkers Under 40.” Here, he shares with us his Father’s Day moments and one of his favorite weekend morning meals.
My second Father’s Day as a dad will occur, my phone’s calendar informs me, on an otherwise unremarkable Sunday this June. My lovely wife will probably get up early to greet our daughter in her crib and relieve me of my share of her care for this morning. Somehow, she’ll also manage to make me one of my favorite breakfasts: crepes with homemade jam. As I enjoy the eggy goodness of these paper-thin pancakes, I’ll sing her virtues as a wife, mother, and cook. I won’t forget where the eggs that make this meal so special came from, either.
“I won’t forget where the eggs that make this meal so special came from, either.”
Our six pet laying hens in the backyard will be also enjoying the morning sunshine of that June Sunday. They will graze the lawn, jump for a ripe blueberry or two, and, before long, return to the nest to lay another egg. Unfortunately for our hens, there will be no avian Father’s Day to celebrate due to our city’s prohibition against roosters. The hens seem not to mind their absence, and will continue to lay one unfertilized egg after another in a remarkable display of plucky poultry optimism. Yes, on this Father’s Day, I will be truly grateful for all of the ladies in my life, both human and chicken.
Here’s the crepe recipe from our book, A Chicken in Every Yard: The Urban Farm Store’s Guide to Chicken Keeping.
Sunday Morning Crepes
These are something to look forward to on the weekends, when you have time to prepare them. Crepes are really quite easy, but require some forethought. We usually eat them as if they were pancakes, with maple syrup or homemade jam, but they can also be served rolled up around all sorts of delicious sweet or savory fillings. Make the batter the night before or at least 2 hours before cooking to allow the flour to soak up the liquid. Otherwise your crepes will be impossibly brittle and difficult to flip. We like to use all-purpose white whole wheat flour, which provides a slightly richer flavor and makes these seem slightly more virtuous. We also recommend whole milk, which is less virtuous but much more tasty. Double the recipe if you have a big crowd, would like extras to freeze, or just want to eat yourself silly. Note: If you are using an electric crepe maker, you will find this batter too thin for your needs—follow the manufacturer’s instructions for an appropriately thick batter. Makes about 12 large crepes
2/3 cups milk
2/3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup flour
Topping of your choice
1. Break the eggs into a blender and give them a quick spin to combine yolks and whites. Then add the milk, water, salt, and oil and blend until well mixed. Add the flour, a little at a time, until you have a smooth batter about the consistency of heavy cream. Cover and put into the refrigerator to rest. When you are ready to cook, give the batter a quick stir—it will have separated somewhat while resting.
2. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and use a cooking spray or smear the pan with a little oil. The pan is hot enough when a drop of water sizzles on it. Pour in a spoonful of batter and quickly tip the pan to distribute the batter evenly. You have used too much if the crepe is heavy and thick, and too little if your crepe looks like a spider’s web. Cook the crepe for about 30 seconds, or until the edges start to brown slightly, then flip it over with a spatula—or with a flick of the pan if you have fancy skills. Cook the other side for another 20 seconds, then remove and serve immediately or fold into quarters and keep on a plate in a warm oven until all your crepes are cooked.
3. Don’t be discouraged if your first crepe is a little ugly. In our house, this is the best excuse to sample the product and make sure it is satisfactory. As your pan gets warmer, and you get the knack, your crepes will become prettier and prettier.