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August 11, 2022

Why Have We Waited So Long?

This week I decided to cook one of my oldest and most labor-intensive desserts that took many trials and errors in the process of getting just right: Flambéed Crepe Suzettes. Now, this creation requires making the crepes and having on hand oranges, lemons, Grand Marnier and a cognac which I didn’t have in my liquor cabinet.

Years ago, my in-laws lived next to me in Watsonville on a small plot of land that boasted of a huge avocado tree, along with lemon and orange trees that were never void of fruit. Oh, how I miss the luxury those trees provided.

It was in my small kitchen on that plot of land that I began experimenting with citrus desserts. After several years of practice, I became known for my lemon and lime pies, but Crepe Suzettes became my favorite. When the cognac was poured over the crepes and set ablaze the adults would ooh and ahh, and the kids would scream with delight. Yes, the crepes were a favorite.

Yesterday, my phone was ringing as I came through the back door carrying oranges and lemons and cognac. It’s funny how these things go. I had just been thinking of those citrus trees and the fruit that had been free to me, as I was choosing the plumpest ones from the bins at the market which were marked at $1.29 each. The voice on the other end of the phone was that of my son, Kim, who told me that I would not believe who had just called him. 

“Mom, it was my cousin Michael, he wants to talk to you about the family,” Kim said.

Fifty-seven years have passed since I last saw Michael at his and my son’s grandfather’s funeral. All of those years I thought that he and his family were living in the Bay Area. We did not know Michael now lives in Spokane, Washington.

Putting my lemons away, I realized that the time had finally arrived, a time that I have been preparing for all of those past years. I sat for a moment, thanking the Almighty that this has come to pass, that I have been given the opportunity to bring this disjointed family together, once again.

I began my research on the family at the Salt Lake City Family History Library 30 years ago. Each February I would stay at the Howard Johnson hotel next door to the library for two weeks. When the doors opened at 10am, I would walk in and stay until 10pm every weekday. On Saturday nights I would attend the Mormon Choir’s rehearsal in the Tabernacle, and on Sunday I would walk across the street and attend the Salt Lake City Symphony’s performance the first week of that month. How I looked forward to the month of February. 

During the time I spent in the library, I uncovered many of the secrets of my children’s father’s side of their family—that is, up to the time of grandma and grandpa’s birth, for both were orphaned, so say the records written in the church books by the priest himself. I have photos of the houses they lived in as children, the rock walls crumbling now. I have photos taken of the family in Yugoslavia and other mementos. All to be shared with our family, separated by misunderstandings and jealousy from years ago. But now, Michael and his aunt Colly are planning a family reunion which will take place in Watsonville as soon as this ugly virus will allow. The past is in the past. Our walls have not crumbled as those in the old country have.  Why have we waited soo long?

Flambéed Crepe Suzettes (8 Crepes)

In a blender mix well for 1 min.

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 AA eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter, cooled
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. gran. sugar
  • ½ tsp salt If butter is unsalted

Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to overnight.

Then, on medium heat, butter an 8 in. non-stick fry pan. Pour in ¼ cup crepe batter in the pan and immediately swirl in a circle to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook for one minute and turn. Cook one minute longer. Crepes should be thin and have brown circles on crepes. Stack between layers of paper towels or parchment paper. 

When ready to serve, fold each warm crepe in half and then in half again. Should be a triangle.

Place on a rimmed dish. Keep warm.

Orange Grand Marnier/Cognac Sauce

In a heat-proof frying pan add:

  • 6 Tbsp. Butter
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Orange zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • Stir well and bring to a high simmer 

Pour over warm crepes. Heat 3 Tbsp. of Cognac in the microwave for 30 seconds. Pour over crepes and ignite.

When flames subside, plate and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Follow these steps and you will be amazed, I promise.

Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].

Colly Gruczelak
Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected]



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