When I was growing up, my family and I made the 8 hour trek from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Pella, Iowa about twice a year to visit my grandparents. We didn't go on many other vacations over the years, but that was okay with me, these trips were the best vacation I could ask for. My grandparents house was full of fun and adventure. There was the pool table where we spent hours shooting pool. There was the old matchbox car race track which we would set up throughout the basement and hold races on. We also had several boxes full of old Barbies, a cabinet filled with games (my favorites were Mousetrap and Twister), Breyer horse figures, and the screened in porch with the hammock on it where we spent hours swinging and reading. If we felt like being outdoors, the creek that surrounded my grandparents house was a fun place to spend some time, wading in the cool water and following the bubbling water through the woods. We also spent hours reading through old comic books, my days were filled with Archie, Betty, Veronica and gang, Little Lotta and Dot, Casper the friendly ghost and Spooky the ghost, Wendy the good little witch and Li'l Jinx. If you never had the chance to read any of these, you missed out on some good fun.
The Pella house, such good memories!
Some of my other favorite memories about visiting Pella involve food (of course!). On the top of my list was a visit to one of the bakeries in town where we would fill up on bismarks, Dutch letters, frosted sugar cookies and meltaway coffee cake (my absolute favorite, I've never found anything similar anywhere else). Then it was off to In't Veld Meat Market for some Pella Bologna, delicious on its own or slapped between a soft, squishy bun. Back home at my grandparents there was orange juice for breakfast every morning, something I never had at home, and ice cream after dinner every night, definitely a treat. I also remember having my grandma's spaghetti on more than one occasion, usually with angel hair pasta and a sauce that never tasted like my mom's. There was just something different about it. Sundays often involved a delicious roast of some kind and all the trimmings. There were also pizza nights and trips to Dairy Queen for a sweet treat. So many delicious memories come flooding back from those years.
One last food memory I have from my trips to Iowa is of my grandma's pancakes. We didn't have them every time we visited, but when the yellow pancake pot showed up at breakfast it was a real treat. These pancakes are made the night before and left to sit on the counter overnight. In the morning all they need is a good stir and the addition of a little more milk, if desired, to reach the correct consistency. What I love about these pancakes is that they are different than your typical light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes. These are less cake like, they are thinner and creamy, the middle is soft and smooth (I always called them slimy, but that does not sound all that appetizing). These pancakes are delicious, but the best thing about them are the memories that flood back as I take my first bite, memories of many wonderful vacations spent with my amazing grandparents.
A big stack of cakes
Grab your batter, a griddle and some butter
and off we go
Start those pancakes cooking
Watch the bubbles form
Pile up the finished product
Add a healthy drizzle of maple syrup
Creamy and delicious
From, Grandma Van Zee
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 cups buttermilk
Sift together: flour, sugar salt, soda and baking powder. Blend beaten egg and buttermilk. Gradually beat flour mixture into egg mixture. Cover well, store overnight. In the morning stir well (add a little more milk if the batter is too thick).