Monday, September 28, 2009

Pancakes At Home

Breakfast staples in our house include eggs, cereal, fruit, the occasional morning bagel run and, of course, pancakes. For most of my life, pancakes at home meant Bisquick, but about a year ago we started searching for something better, a recipe we could put together with our own ingredients and - hopefully - some whole grain component.

Saw Alton Brown on Good Eats at one point hawking his ultimate pancake recipe and dutifully wrote it down, but I can't really decide anymore whether or not he's trying to be helpful or intentionally difficult. In any event we could never get his version to come out the way they looked on TV, even after we went out and bought the Bunsen burners and electron microscope.

Another problem with Brown's approach was that it called for buttermilk, which we rarely have at home unless we've planned for a pancake fiesta, and in our house the meal is typically a spontaneous Saturday or Sunday morning consensus. So we kept looking for that rock solid recipe, and I think we finally found it.

Madison's recitation of the ingredients is listed above, this will get four people about 2-3 medium-sized pancakes each, feel free to double if you need more. We've customized this a little bit by experimenting with different kinds of flour, from the Bisquick-esque white to 100 percent wheat, or even a combination - maybe one cup white, 1/2 wheat or the other way around. This morning we made these with something new Gwen recently picked up, King Arthur Organic White Whole Wheat flour, and it was just about perfect. We also usually dial back the 3 tablespoons of melted butter specified in the original version to one or two, just because.

The execution couldn't be simpler (sorry Alton), combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Then add the wet ingredients and try to bring it all together without over-mixing, shoot for 10 to 15 stirs before introducing the resulting batter (in whatever sizes you want) to a hot, buttered pan. Cast iron skillet if you have one, if not get in touch with these people and take care of that right away.

And don't forget the maple syrup, the real stuff, preferably from Vermont, all due respect to Mrs. Butterworth and her high fructose corn syrup and cellulose gum goodness. We've been enjoying this kind for the last few months, in both the Fancy and Dark Amber grades. Also goes extremely well drizzled sparingly on a bowl of steaming hot farina, which is quickly emerging as another favorite breakfast option in our house being passed down from one generation to another, with care.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


At some point over the last few hours, this blog registered its 100,000th visitor. Now I realize this is nothing in the world of blogs, and I acknowledge that this little project, this little parenting journal, has been severely neglected of late, going a few weeks or (gasp) a full month between posts.

But the idea of 100,000 people having found their way to this spot, to read the words and look at the pictures and hopefully share the sense of humor and optimism that have dominated the space is incredible to me. That's basically the Beatles at Shea, with a second night added.

Granted, if you discount for repeat business the figure would be reduced considerably, but for right now we're going to focus on a big round number.

And we're going to say thank you.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Year

And a new line-up of bags cleared for take-off every morning. The Rickshaw has been joined.

Ava had serious opening-night jitters on the way to first grade, stemming from the fact that she didn't know anyone else in her class. What if she didn't make any new friends? What if no one wanted to sit with her in the cafeteria? All the standard apprehensions, to which we applied standard (but heartfelt) parental responses. It's going to be great, you're going to make friends, we promise.

Luckily enough we were right, and the forced nervous smiles that marked the morning bus stop were quickly exchanged for much more genuine and self-assured versions in the afternoon, to go along with tales of a nice teacher and three new friends. Madison's already a pro at this, and sailed into third grade without a hitch.

We're full-on into it now, packing lunches, polishing homework, perfecting the art of a farina breakfast. Funny how just a few days of a new routine (and some crisper weather) can provide such a clear line of demarcation.

Summer is gone. A new year stretches out before us. To go along with the row of bags leaned up against the wall, right off the kitchen.