Learning New Tricks...
Patience may be a virtue, but alas, I am not one of those lucky few that have that quality. Yes, I will admit, I am a child of “Instant Gratification”. I am one of the billions out in the world that have succumbed to the “I want it now” disease. This revelation came to me this morning as I was making pancakes for my husband and me. Yesterday, Rachael Ray was demonstrating grilling patty melts, explaining how the burner has to be lowered so that the bread doesn’t burn, and the cheese can melt properly. It dawned on me as I was about to start our pancakes, maybe the problem with my pancakes, is that I’m always in a hurry to get them done. In the past, the bottom always cooks way too fast, gets really dark brown and stiff. Then, when I try to flip the top side the batter slides off, goes everywhere, and doesn’t stay together. I have a small stovetop griddle; allowing me to make two pancakes at a time. So when I go to flip the second pancake, it too splatters all over the small surface, and over onto the first pancake –and again, having to flip once more to cook off the raw batter – resulting in hard and tough little discs. I also realized in previous attempts, because I had the burner at a higher temperature the middles didn’t cook all the way, and again, I had to flip causing leathery pancakes.
Well, maybe old dogs can learn new tricks! Because I took Rachael Ray’s advice and tried cooking with a lower heat. Yippee! For the first time, in a very long time, our pancakes were heavenly! Light, airy, and melt-in- your-mouth are the words we were using to describe our fluffy breakfast this morning. You know, I always thought I was a good cook but lately, have been a little self-conscious about my culinary abilities. Now, I’ve discovered that I still have a lot to learn about myself, and the wonderful world of cooking. Since I am an impatient person I have to slow down, and as they say, “A watched pot never boils”... relax and take the time to do it right.
The recipe for pancakes I use is from my mom’s Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook, circa 1962. The binding is weathered and cracked, and the pages are torn and worn. You can certainly tell which recipes she used the most frequently; the pages are splattered with dishes from my youth. I love this cookbook so much, it reeks of my childhood, and when I open it up, I can see her in our old kitchen, cooking away, making not only meals, but also memories for our happy family.
Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook
1 ¼ C. Sifted All-purpose Flour
3 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 T. Sugar
½ Tsp. Salt (I personally use about a ¼ tsp. to watch our sodium levels)
1 Beaten Egg
1 C. Milk
2 T. Salad Oil or melted shortening, or bacon fat (Me, this morning I used the bacon fat, since I had made bacon and it was ready to go, it gave the pancake a nice added element)
1 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Paste (my secret ingredient)
Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Combine egg, milk, vanilla paste and salad oil; add to dry ingredients. Stirring just til flour is moistened. (Batter may be lumpy) Bake on a hot griddle. Makes about 12-dollar size, or eight 4-inch pancakes.
As I mentioned, the pancakes were fluffy, light, and airy, and in fact, did melt-in-our-mouths. “By George” the lesson is learned! When you cook the pancakes at a lower temperature between medium-low and medium, the bottoms are golden brown, the middle is soft and evenly cooked – rising high, and they flip beautifully!
If you look closely at the photos, you’ll notice little black flecks throughout the pancakes; my secret ingredient for the delightfully flavorful cakes is Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste. Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe I haven’t discovered this treasure before now! Just a small teaspoon into the batter and the flavor changes from ordinary to extraordinary, and a little dramatic! Almost a heady aroma, the slight hint of vanilla takes breakfast to a higher level. And, I love seeing the little vanilla seeds float in the batter. Visually, the seeds expose my secret, but it’s definitely worth it to share with those indulging in these lovely cakes.
My mom always heated our maple syrup, and I continue that tradition. I think it makes the pancakes better.. Really, I can’t explain it. I have had both room temperature and heated syrup. I personally think warming the syrup prevents the pancakes from cooling down too quickly. Add a pat of butter between the layers and ta-da; you have a delicious start to your day!
Well... I think the lesson I’ve learned today is that I need to slow down, take time and put in the effort, at least, when it comes to cooking.... Microwave meals aren’t from scratch, so it would go to reason that if you hurry too much, you lose more than just the flavor... you lose the soul of the dish! Okay, well it seems that I’ve gone a little philosophical, so I think it’s now time to get to my real job. I have to write a story for the newspaper about a really interested storyteller who came to town. It is nice to actually get paid, to what you love to do!
Until next time,
May your life be as delicious as your dishes!