Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pancakes... It's What's for Breakfast


I remember when I was a kid I used to come home from Sunday School and my mother would get drunk and try to make pancakes. 
                                                     ~ George Carlin 

Picture this: It's Sunday morning and you want to make your family/that special someone/your dog or cat a nice breakfast. You reach for the trusty box of everyone’s favorite fictitious pancake making Aunt, but alas, there’s hardly enough mix for 1 pancake.

It’s a dark and lonely road that we’ve all walked down. That depressing realization that the one thing you need to make what you want is not within the confines of your kitchen. You start wondering where you went wrong. Why do these things always happen to you? Maybe you had enough mix, but God commanded thousands of ants to sneak into your cabinet last night to take away most of it grain by grain because he/she knew you were not going to church today. These are the types of things that go through your mind in a situation like this. I know, I’ve been there way too many times. What to do, what to do…

Wait, I know! How about you… wait for it…

Make the pancakes from scratch!

I know, using a recipe other than Aunt Whose-a-What’s seems like a far fetched idea, I mean, why would you go through the trouble? It’s so easy to just follow the directions on the back of the box. Not to mention you don’t want to hurt Aunt Whaddaya-Huh’s feelings by not using her tried and true recipe. Which I haven’t checked recently, but I’m pretty sure it consists of words you as an adult would have trouble pronouncing.

Look, I didn’t want to be the one to tell you this, but I guess now is a good a time as any to let you in on a little secret:

Those things that you like to buy in a box because they’re so easy? You can make them at home without the box. With simple ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, and milk, there are hundreds of things you can easily make at home without the need of something that is processed at a plant in the middle of nowhere and is packed with additives and preservatives.

And if you’re doing it for the pancake flipping Aunt, guess what? She’s not real. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that face is just there to make you think the recipe came from a hard working woman who embodied southern hospitality and made pancakes for her family. When in reality, the Aunt who is pictured on that box is just a character. If there ever really was an actual pancake mixing Aunt, honestly speaking, there is a good chance she was probably a slave in the 1800’s, and depending on how she was treated, could probably give a rats ass if you liked her pancakes or not. Don’t think so? Check the dates. Also, check her out through the years. And while we’re on the topic: The rice loving Uncle may have been an actual rice grower during WWII, and the Cream of Wheat Chef, although his name was considered offensive, was an actual Chef in the late 1800’s, but was just paid to take the picture and had nothing to do with making the stuff.

See? Don’t say I never taught you anything historical.

Anyways.. Pancakes! From scratch! So easy, you’ll want to kick yourself in the head:

Pancakes     (adapted from here)

        1 ½ cups ~ All-Purpose Flour
3 ½ teaspoons ~ Baking Powder
    ¾ teaspoon ~ Salt
  1 tablespoon ~ White Sugar
  1 tablespoon ~ Brown Sugar (optional)
     1 teaspoon ~ Cinnamon (optional)
    ¼ teaspoon ~ Nutmeg (optional)
    2 teaspoons ~ Vanilla Extract (optional)
        1 ¼ cups ~ Milk
            1 each ~ Egg
 3 tablespoons ~ Butter, melted 

It looks like a lot but it’s really not. There are a lot of optional things that I like to put in the batter, but you don’t have to. I would recommend it, but its things the average person may not always have in their pantry. Also, if you’re the type to keep buttermilk in your fridge, I would definitely use that instead of regular milk. This recipe is going to give you about 9-11 medium sized pancakes, so if you or your cat wants more, just double it.

So here’s how easy it is:

  • Get a large bowl, put all of the dry ingredients in and make a well. And in that well, pour all of the wet ingredients, and then mix until it’s nice and smooth.

Was that too complicated? I’m sorry, I’ll try again:

  • Throw all of the dry and wet ingredients into a large bowl and mix it until it’s nice and smooth.

See? I skipped the whole “making a well” part. I know that may prove difficult for some, and I don’t blame them, it is an advanced technique.

And there is your boxless pancake batter. If you find it a little runny and not thick enough, you can add some more flour about a tablespoon at a time. Also, I try to not let the hot melted butter come in direct contact with the egg, but that's just me being paranoid from years of accidentally cooking eggs.

Set up your griddle or frying pan, throw some butter or cooking spray in there and get flapjackin’. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to walk you through how to actually make them. That is a simple process that should be second nature: Pour some batter on a hot pan, wait till you see the bubbles, check the color underneath just in case and flip. It’s not rocket science; you don’t need to attend a class or seminar. Just follow your instincts and don’t burn anything. I made the batter for you, so if you can’t make the actual pancakes, then please don’t tell me because I will make fun of you.

Although, I will tell you that there are quite a few variants once you have the batter done. With just a few simple ingredients, you can turn regular boring pancakes into amazing discs of flavorful love.

Have your filling ready, and pour your batter onto the hot pan, then add on top:

Chocolate Chips
Blue Berries
...Bacon (sorry, it was worth saying it again)
Or anything else your little heart desires

And proceed as normal. My favorites are Pecan, Chocolate Chip and duh, Bacon, in case you were wondering which I know you were. I’m also good with just powdered sugar instead of syrup... unless it's the bacon pancakes, in which case it is syrup. Every time. When your fork is holding a cut of pancake, a piece of bacon and it is drenched in syrup, there is a magic that happens when it hits your mouth. If you've experienced it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, just picture an entire chorus of people breaking into a dance while singing the happiest song in the world, all in your mouth.

Ok, wait, don't picture that. But it's like that, if not better.

Anyway, like I was saying, sometimes I'm good with just powdered sugar instead of the syrup...

Oh, alright, both, I use both, dammit. Give me a break, at least it’s not whipped cream on top of the powdered sugar and syrup.

These are pancakes, not french toast.

About Pancake Day: I know I'm a little late for it, but when dealing with pancakes, better late than never! In case you're in the dark about it, Pancake Day is not a holiday made up by the restaurant industry. It's roots go deep, back to the medieval times, is celebrated in many countries and is Christian based. Pancake Day, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday (all the same day), was looked at as the last day to eat richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which began the next day, Ash Wednesday. It was also looked at as the day of confession before Lent, hence Shrove, from the word, Shrive, meaning, to confess. So why Pancakes? Because they seemed like a good way to use up as many eggs as possible since eggs were a forbidden food during Lent.

Although, flashing boobs for beads during Mardi Gras is beyond me.

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