DIY Family Recipe Towel

If you’ve never tasted aebleskiver, you’re missing out more than I can say.

A traditional Danish dish served around the holidays, these little buttermilk pancake balls are dipped in butter and sugar, then enjoyed until your stomach is ready to burst. You might even add in some really good sausage, served, of course, with homemade applesauce, to round out your meal — but in my opinion, that’s always been optional.

Is that my helping?

The aebleskiver tradition in my family comes from my maternal grandmother’s family. Both her parents were first-generation Americans whose own parents immigrated from Denmark in the late 1800s. We, sadly, have lost the language and probably a whole lot of our heritage, but aebleskiver is a piece that remains.

Many years ago, there was a picture in our small town newspaper of me, my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother making aebleskiver together. My mom’s now-laminated recipe was typed by my great-grandmother and contains a couple of hand-written notes, and the distinctive cast-iron pans used to make the breakfast treats are special gifts among my cousins.

Megleskiver — Sister Meghann whips up a batch of batter for a New Year's morning feast.
Megleskiver — Sister Meghann whips up a batch of batter for a New Year’s morning feast.
Mom's got her hands full with two aebleskiver pans.
Mom’s got her hands full with two aebleskiver pans.

For Christmas this year, I decided to capitalize on a bit of the tradition by making hand-stamped towels featuring the recipe. (My first idea had been to have custom fabric made out of a picture of the original recipe, but since the recipe card isn’t handwritten, I didn’t think it would be that cool.)

I started by designing a simple version of the recipe in Illustrator.

Then, I sent it off to this company to have a stencil created. (In retrospect, I should have had a stamp made instead — it would have held up longer and bled less — but a stencil is what came to mind when I was planning.)

While waiting for the stencil to arrive in the mail, I searched for some simple flour-sack towels. It took a bit of research to find what I had in mind, but I ended up with some from Fred Meyer. (Had I more time and money, I may have gone for higher-quality fabric and made them myself, but you have to set boundaries somewhere.)

Flour sack towels
Flour sack towels

I pre-washed and then ironed the towels, then spent a couple of evenings stenciling the recipe onto each towel with fabric paint.

Fabric paint
Fabric paint
Aebleskiver stencil
Aebleskiver stencil

Like I said, the stencil did start to bleed, but I figured no one would be using their towel as the actual recipe. It’s decorative!

Then had to dry for three days for the paint to set (bye-bye dining room table), but then they were ready for another wash.

A full table of drying towels
A full table of drying towels

I found from my first ironing experience that these towels would never be crisp, so I didn’t both with a second attempt. I just folded them as best I could and wrapped each pair with some baker’s twine and a gift tag.

I didn’t bother with wrapping, either. I just handed them all out simultaneously at our family Christmas gathering. Definitely a big hit!


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