I first published this post five years ago, a week after my mother died. Today I’m republishing it to celebrate Mom and her prized Belgian Waffles on what would have been her 82nd birthday.
Family recipes are a wonderful way of keeping those who have gone before us present in our lives. Three more great-children have arrived since Mom left us, and they’ve joined the older two in talking about my parents as if they knew them. One of my four-year-old Little Misses likes to tell me stories about Metje, and always informs me that “she was your Mom.” I’m so grateful the older two girls and Mom had time together, but of course my heart aches for all that has been missed since then.
I’ve decided to let this post and its title stand as I originally wrote it, adding only this introduction and the recipe. I finally made Belgian waffles for the first time this Easter for our family brunch. The stories flowed and it was like having Mom at the table with us again.
Farewell to My Mother
It’s been quiet here through the kitchen window lately, and the little writing I’ve done has felt flat to me. Sometimes life diverts us from our normal interests and routine to something more important and profound.
My mother died recently, peacefully, following a cruelly wasting illness. I’m grateful for the time we spent together in her final days.
Mom came to Canada from Belgium as a young teenager, and built a rich and full life here. She was a determined, creative and talented person who excelled at everything she did. Her interests were wide-ranging. They included everything from woodworking and plumbing to a diverse range of arts and crafts (most notably pressed flower art and card making), gardening and, of course, cooking. When she was in her early sixties she taught herself to overcome a fear of public speaking, and started teaching pressed flower art.
Mom was a perfectionist, but she also had an artistic eye and brought grace and elegance to all that she did.
Last fall my daughter Jennifer and I stayed over at her house and the three of us spent the evening poring over old family photos, from both the old country and the new. It was bittersweet, as we already knew that her time with us was drawing to a close. The next morning, Mom showed us how she made her renowned Belgian waffles.
Someday I’ll share the recipe and more video of Mom’s technique, but for now I just wanted to post this clip. It’s another chance to hear her voice with the accent that I hardly noticed in person, and to see her beautiful, hard-working hands doing what they did best, creating something for others to enjoy.
♥ ♥ ♥
Making Belgian Waffles Together
The recipe card in Mom's elegant script says "DELICIOUS!" and that's not an overstatement. She also noted that the recipe is from the Gazette van Detroit (which has been serving the Belgian American community — and some in Canada! — for 103 years).
This is the recipe as written on Mom's card. When I doubled it, it served 10 people: five adults and five Little Misses who rivalled the big folks in their capacity to consume waffles with whipped cream and strawberries. I used Mom's waffle iron, which produces thick Belgian-style waffles.
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 cups milk (500 ml)
- 2 cups all-pupose flour (500 ml)
- 1 tbsp baking powder (15 ml)
- 1/2 tsp salt (2 ml)
- 1/3 cup oil
- 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
Beat egg whites first. Set aside.
Preheat waffle iron.
Put all remaining ingredients in large bowl. Beat on low until moist, then beat on medium until smooth.
By hand, gently fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.
Pour ladle in centre of grid until golden brown: 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the kind of waffle iron. Standard brand flat, 3 minutes. Belgian thick 3:30 to 4 minutes.
Serve with your favourite toppings.
First published 2014 06 19
Republished 2019 06 06
Sending you thoughts of love and strength. I can’t wait to one day try her recipe. When you say she brought grace and elegance to everything she did that totally is how I would also describe you.
Thank you for your lovely comment, Redawna, and for that amazing compliment. Hugs.
Oh, Mar, my heart is so heavy for you and your family right now. What a bittersweet moment being able to hear your beloved mom’s voice and see her sharing her love of cooking with you. Those precious hands have given you a lifetime of memories. Sending you lots of love and hugs.. xxxx Barb
Thank you, Barb, for your support and friendship. I’ve been humbled by all the care and concern that’s come my way. Hugs.
This is a beautiful tribute! I am so happy you had that video and I was able to hear her voice again. I’m thankful we got to spend that time with her, and that we got to have those wonderful waffles one more time! ♡
I’m so glad we spent that time together. Metje was so proud of you, and always happy to share family memories and recipes with you. ♥ I’m happy you liked the video.
My condolences on the passing of your mother, Marlene. May your fond memories of her translate to wonderful times ahead. Mothers never leave us.
Your beautiful words touched me, Sharon. Thank you.
Marlene, your kind words about your Mother bring me to tears. No wonder I see so much goodness in you.
I can only imagine how heavy your heart is feeling these days. Sending you best wishes…
Thank you, Movita, for your kind words.
Dear Marlene, I have just read this and I am so very sorry to read of your dear Mom’s loss. My heart goes out to and I’m so very touched by the little video clip you share here. I’m so glad that you got to spend the time with her that you did, and your memories of her will never fade away. She has left behind the most beautiful legacy and you have written a deeply touching and elegant tribute to her. I’m sending you a big hug and my deepest condolences. Fondly, Sherri x
Sherri, thank you for your warm and kind words. I’m feeling wonderfully supported by my friends in the blogging community.
I’m so glad Marlene x
When you said, “That’s beautiful,” it made me cry. Because it’s ALL beautiful, not only the waffle but also the tribute you wrote, and the loving relationship which is so evident in your voices–I love her accent, and yours (that tiny hint of Ontario in the vowels).
I’m so sorry for your loss. I just finished a novel about grief by Ann Hood, and she captures quite well the pain for which there is no remedy. People say time heals, but it isn’t at all a cure for grief, rather something of an opiate that eventually dulls the pain. I know from experience that this kind of loss is permanent, and I also know there’s nothing I can say that will make it easier. But that doesn’t keep my from wishing I could do something. I think the fact that people care does somehow make it more bearable (or at least we hope it does).
If I were nearer, I would make waffles for you, and then we’d eat them with maple syrup or strawberries or orange marmalade and powdered sugar; or even topped with chicken a’la king, as Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt used to serve them in the White House. And I’d ask you to tell me all about your mother and I’d listen with my whole heart. Because we’re almost twins.
May God bless you and comfort you during this difficult time.
Thank you, my almost-twin blogging friend, for such a heartfelt and comforting message. I will look for Ann Hood’s novel, as I’m sure it will be helpful for me to read it.
Truth to tell, except for a few brief episodes where grief has broken through, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks in a haze of exhaustion and emotional numbness. Fortunately, we’re on holiday now at the lake, which is easing the exhaustion, and I know that the numbness, which is a protective device, will at some point lift. And then I can cry and rail and move forward with the business of living and remembering. And that process will continue from time to time for many years.
My Dad died 11 years ago, so I’ve been through this before. And yes, while there are times I keenly miss him and grieve for all that he is missing, generally I feel the comfort of his presence. My kids and I talk about him a lot, and even my granddaughters are starting to talk about the Petje they never met but who is part of the fabric of their lives. So, I know both my parents will live on, for generations.
As my almost-four-year-old Little Miss said last week, “Metje’s with Petje now.” And that made me cry.
It’s called “the obituary writer.” And I’m like you; the grief takes quite some time to break through. I appreciate that you call it a protective device; I always just thought of it as my weird defect. Now I can see — it’s inner wisdom.
Children do have a way of breaking through our protection, though. And I think that’s mostly good. They are so alive…
Have a wonderful holiday at the lake.
I just visited with my 87-year-old mother here in Pennsylvania, where I grew up. Your video reminds me to record more of her voice and her hands. So poignant. And yet so comforting. What a testimony to the life force and uniqueness of each life that this simple act of removing a waffle can mean so much!
Thanks also for visiting the lovely post Tracy put up about my memoir and my online work. May you be held in the Light by many friends as you continue to walk down the Lonesome Valley of grief.
Shirley, thank you for your kind and comforting comment. I’m happy to hear that your mother is still here for you to enjoy her company into her elderly years. Both my parents left us long before what I would have expected their allotted years to be. They live on though through their children and grandchildren, and even their great-grandchildren who talk about the Petje they never met and, of course their Metje, with whom they were privileged to have a joyful relationship.
My thoughts are with you…
May the memories and joy of your mother be with you in the following months. Just this morning, when I was at the Granville Island market, memories of my father came to me, as easily as if he was still with us. Your post reminds me that we must create amazing memories for those who will continue after us. It is a way of passing the love of those who came before. Thank you for this remarkable post.
Thank you for you kind and consoling words, Rebecca. My father has been gone for 11 years now, and now I remember him in a comforting, companionable way most of the time. There is still the occasional sharp pang of grief, especially at all he is missing. You are absolutely right about the need to create amazing memories for those who come after; both my parents left a legacy of fond memories for their children, grandchildren, and for my mother, also great-grandchildren. As for my present, fresh grief I’m still feeling emotionally anaesthetized, which I know is a protective device. There is so much to do: a house to prepare for sale, my mother’s belongings to be dispersed, legal details to attend to, and I need to stay strong through all that. This too is part of the grieving process, but I know the day will come when I feel again the sting of grief as fresh as the day I sat at Mom’s bedside and held her hand as she left this beautiful earth.
This is the thought that came to me when Dad passed. It stays with me as I move forward on my timeline.
“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come. Rabindranath Tagore
You continue to be in my thoughts…
Thank you – that’s lovely.
Many hugs! 🙂
[…] My mother died in June. My brother and I are now emptying her house and readying it for sale. Most of the time that I’m there I work in solitude, and I’ve found the task of sorting through her things contemplative and memory-stirring. […]
Love the posting and your voices thanks for sharing. …keeping you in our prayers… hugs….
Thank you, Suzanne. I thought it would be nice to post this for everyone who misses Mom. Hugs.
[…] to my mother after she died, I did share her story and a touching video of her making waffles, here. But for now, the […]
Oh Marlene thank you for posting this!
I miss her so very much too Marlene.
Driving by the street so
often makes me think of her often!
So nice hearing her voice.
Love ya lady & I have to call you one of these days & catch up(:
Meanwhile stay warm.
I thought of you when I linked to that post, Lorraine. It was sweet to hear Mom’s voice again. I’m so glad I made that video, even though she absolutely refused to let me film any more of her than her hands. At one point I raised the camera to take in her face, and boy did I get it! I edited that part out, lol.