For as long as I can remember, my dad’s been cooking Dutch Babies as a special breakfast treat on weekend mornings. I can remember, as a kid, feeling amazed at how high the edges of the giant pancake had grown when my dad pulled the skillet out of the oven. It seemed like magic.
For as long as I can remember, my dad’s also been a basketball coach. He started coaching my older brother’s team when we were kids, and though he’s had a few years here and there when he didn’t coach at all, he’s always been a loyal supporter (and yes, sometimes a crazy screaming fan) of the teams at the high school my siblings and I all graduated from. For the last couple of years he’s been coaching the JV team there, and when the Varsity made it to the third round of the playoffs this season, he was thrilled. It was fun for me, as his kid, to witness his excitement on behalf of a bunch of teenage kids I didn’t know.
The morning after the team got its last win of the season, I woke up at my parents’ house and my dad was getting ready to make Dutch Babies. He was mostly doing it because I asked him to, but it felt a little bit like a special celebration of the victory. One thing my dad loves to do is talk about all the ins and outs of a sports team he follows, and he had a lot to say about how the team played and what they would need to do to prepare for - and win - the next game. I got excited to see them play again just listening to him.
On that Saturday a couple of weeks ago when my dad made Dutch Babies (and bacon, duh), he also told me all about how he was friends and roommates with Tom Baack back in the day before he married my mom. After his stint as an athletic trainer at Stanford, he and Baack worked with the basketball team at Green Mountain High School when it first opened in 1975.
When I was in sixth grade, my dad asked if I’d like to be in charge of “the book” for my brother’s basketball team during their games. I figured it would give me something to do during the games, plus I totally had a crush on some of the players and wanted them to take me seriously, so I agreed. I learned very quickly why keeping track of team fouls is just as important - if not more so - as counting individual fouls. What really happened was I got screamed at by a middle school rec basketball league referee for not knowing what he was asking for, and my dad stepped in to defend me and teach me something that takes, like, 10 seconds to explain. And then I got really good at knowing the rules of basketball and keeping track of statistics and basketball has been my favorite sport ever since.
Now that he and my mom are empty-nesters, I suspect my dad will continue to coach and find ways to step into the lives of young people, teaching and guiding them the way he did for my siblings and me, the way he's done for countless young athletes over the years. He's good at it, and from what I can tell he's having a blast. I'm proud of my dad and I hope he can keep doing things like coaching basketball for years to come. Just as long as he's still available to cook me up an occasional Dutch Baby on the weekend.
1/2 cup of butter
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of flour
1) Preheat your oven to 425.
2) Put the butter in a 4.5-5 quart frying pan and set it in the oven.
3) Put the eggs in a blender and mix at high speed for 1 minute.
4) With the blender still running, gradually pour in the milk, then slowly add the flour. Continue blending for another 30 seconds.
5) Remove the pan from the oven and pour the blended batter into the hot melted butter.
6) Return the pan to the oven and bake until the Dutch Baby is puffy and well-browned, about 20-25 minutes.
7) Slice it up like a pizza and serve it immediately with fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar. And also with some extra crispy bacon. You know, if you consider yourself an American.
One of my goals for 2014 is to write one “Have At It” post per month, to include a story from my dad’s life with one of his recipes. I figure if nothing else, it will give me some motivation to get serious about getting my dad’s stories down, even if I have to write them myself.
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