“Imagine a world in which the major decisions affecting the community are made in the kitchen, rather than in a boardroom. . .” This statement greets readers the moment they link to the Institute for the Musical Arts’ (IMA) website. Readers might expect the first phrase to be about music and empowering young women, but this opening line makes sense once they learn about IMA and its founders. In 1987, Ann Hackler and June Millington created a space that nurtures musical interest and talent in girls and young women. Hackler and Millington worked tirelessly to make IMA the success it is today, supporting many young girls and women as they learn to express themselves through music. In fact, many attendees of their Rock and Roll Camp for Girls are now working musicians, including Naia Kete, Sonya Kitchell and Kristen Ford. But we were pondering the notion of huge decisions, those that change the world, being better made in the kitchen. To find more insight on on IMA’s challenge to the norm, all one must do is link to Ann Hackler’s blog “Director’s Log: Leading from the Kitchen.” Let’s head into Ann’s actual kitchen to better understand the place from whence Ann’s philosophy was born: enter the farmhouse and pad through on a 200 year-old wood floor, down a hall that spills into a vibrant kitchen—which highlights the complexity of an old house with new intentions. Here you see bright colored bowls, a well oiled cast iron skillet, old tomato canisters laden with kitchen tools. Then, though, you see the grey stone countertops and commercial gas range installed once Ann and June realized just how many they had to feed during those summer camps. All of this points to the rich, eclectic environment that is Ann and June’s home and also the location of IMA.
While Ann and June spend a great deal of time and energy on IMA projects, they also make certain to set aside time for their friend-ily, an extensive tight-knit group of fellow musicians and artists. They’ve hosted a huge Christmas day meal at their home for years, which eventually morphed into a New Year’s Day open-house about eight years ago. At the time, Ann’s specialty was crepes, or “French pancakes” as her mother’s friend referred to them when Ann was a child. After a visit to France during high school, Ann secured her own crepe recipe and began serving them to all her friends. However, once she and June began the New Year’s open-house events, Ann found the crepes were not hardy enough to last the entire day; thus began her search for a replacement. She stumbled upon a recipe for Karelian Pancakes in a lifestyle magazine for New Englanders and promptly tried it. One try was all it took to see the Finnish pancake was the perfect food for their open-house.
For Ann, the pancake is definitely a celebratory food; she makes it the first of each year but also for friends’ birthdays. Since the recipe does not call for sugar, it’s an excellent treat for friends who either cannot eat sugar or prefer to limit it. Over the years, Ann’s served her Finnish pancakes with maple syrup; sometimes, though, she’ll add cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar or mixed fruit—preferring strawberries, apples and oranges.
Whether she’s gearing up for New Year’s or the summer camp, it’s clear Ann’s kitchen is the center of her life and her work, and we can’t help but wonder: what if she’s right? What if all life-altering community decisions were made in the kitchen? What shift would that cause? Those questions require more space than we have here, but what we can say is Ann named her blog “Leading from the Kitchen” because “if she were to write a book about the IMA that would be its title.” We hope she writes that book, and in it we hope to find some answers to those questions since the IMA is doing just what the quote suggests. For now, we’ll gather up the ingredients, call our friends, bake a Finnish pancake and muse over music, food and ways to keep life’s important matters in the kitchen.
Karelian or Finnish Pancakes
2.5 cups of milk 6 eggs 1/2 tsp salt 2-3 cups of flour 1 stick of butter
Prepare the batter with all ingredients except the butter the night before and refrigerate it.
Whisk eggs and milk together, mix flour and salt, gradually add this dry mixture to milk and egg mixture and blend well with a whisk. Ann tends to use less flour (around 2 cups) because she finds that more flour can make the pancakes too dense. Once the ingredients are combined, the batter should be the consistency of heavy cream. Put in refrigerator and let set overnight. Next morning, preheat oven to 425 degrees and melt the stick of butter either in a pan on the stove or in the microwave. Coat a 9x15 heavy glass baking dish or a deep, well seasoned cast iron pan with melted butter. Whisk remaining butter in with batter, make sure you stir the batter well, as it has been standing overnight. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 10-15 minutes; check it out at this point and see if it needs more time. When the pancake is done, it should puff up and turn a nice golden brown. Make sure it isn't watery in the middle but keep in mind that there will be a lovely pool of melted butter on top. Loosen the sides of the pancake with a kitchen knife or spatula before slicing into wedges. The pancake can be served right away or even room temperature or cold. Ann likes to serve it with a drizzle of real maple syrup and slices of fresh fruit. It's also yummy sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Feel free to experiment with different toppings until you find the combination that you like best!
To read more about this wonderful Institute please visit the IMA's website
For more about Ann leading from the kitchen, please visit her blog "Leading From the Kitchen"