On the streets of Amsterdam, you’re likely to find an outdoor vendor selling hot-off-the-grill, bite-sized little pancake puffs called poffertjes. Just like our two oldest children (Lindsey served in Hong Kong and Macau for 18 months and Christopher is currently in Thailand for two years), I was a missionary in The Netherlands and Belgium for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, affectionately nicknamed the Mormons.
I absolutely loved my time in Europe and consider it one of the most significant points of my life, even character building. I have returned a few times and am on cloud nine every time, longing to relive those most cherished moments in my mind. The culture, the people, the sights and sounds are breathtaking and so dear to me. I can’t even begin to adequately express the impact that my mission had on me forever.
I love that I learned to speak Dutch! Being a foodie, I can easily articulate about that topic. Dutch and Belgian cuisine draws on food from many cultures, but poffertjes are truly local and one of my fondest food memories of The Netherlands.
Lindsey, the day we dropped her off at the Missionary Training Center, to learn Cantonese, was eager and prepared.
Being a missionary is extremely hard work. It’s a voluntary role that you pay for yourself or with help from your family and you take time off from dating and college to go help others round the clock, shortly after high school. As you can imagine, there’s an excessive amount of rejection and disappointment, but the things you learn and take home as a person make up for it, even if you only helped one other person the whole time.
Elder Christopher Larson towers over his trainer, Elder Gabriel Santeco, from Hawaii.
Undoubtedly the biggest success I count from my time in the beautiful European western countries that occupy a piece of my heart, is an unexpected one. While there, I met another missionary by the name of Elder Thomas van den Berghe. I met Tom in my first area while I was serving in Leuven, Belgium, with my dear companion, Sister Colleen Barner (Butler), now a member of the awesome Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with her husband, Craig. The remaining year of my mission was spent in The Netherlands.
De Kerk van Jezus Christus van de Heilegen der Laatste Dagen, the name of our church in Dutch. I’m the coolest in the shades and pink and green preppy sweater vest. Zuster Barner is standing next to me.
After the mission, I attended a big Netherlands Amsterdam Mission reunion in Utah, and as a 22 year old single young woman, I did not want to show up alone. I invited my little sister, Julie, who was only 18, whose only requirement was the guarantee that there would be cute boys there. When you’re that age, looks are the first factor to check off your requirement list.
We drove to the venue in my mom’s sporty Nissan 380 Z, where fate would have none other than Tom van den Berghe and one of his friends greet us in the parking lot. I will skip through the dating details since we are talking about poffertjes, but this young man ultimately swept my little sister off her feet and became my darling brother-in-law and has been one of the best men in the world to her and their beautiful family with five children. (Doctor VDB has also been a life saver to thousands of patients in the Salt Lake City area when he’s rescued their teeth and provided them with a dreaded root canal.)
Tom and Julie are a match made in heaven with a slight bit of assistance from me.
Tom has many talents and one of his hats he wears is the family breakfast provider on weekends. He’s got crepes, waffles, pancakes and poffertjes down to a science and creates a fantastic spread for his family on a regular basis. Tom carries on his grandfather’s Dutch heritage well including this poffertjes recipe.
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups flour
- 2 more cups milk
When my sister gave me Tom’s poffertjes recipe, it was from notes he had jotted down inside a little Dutch cookbook and only the ingredient list was written, and that it can be refrigerated the night before cooking. I am adding my own interpretation of the steps.
Mix the warm milk, yeast and salt in stand mixer and wait about five minutes. Add the eggs, flour and remaining milk and mix well. Using a hot poffertjes pan (found on Amazon), and a pancake batter dispenser, fill each well of the pan and cook on medium to medium high heat. Flip each puff with a knife and fork to cook briefly on the other sides. Transfer to a plate, and add butter and powdered sugar. Serve while hot.
Makes 11 to 12 servings of 16 poffertjes.
My poffertjes pan is heavy like an iron skillet. I have had a metal one in the past and don’t like it as much.