31 July 2009

Pancakes, Pancakes

No, I don't mean the book by Eric Carle, which is cute and teaches kids the origins of the ingredients for pancakes. What I do mean, is a new recipe that I sort of invented by adapting an existing one.

My family - with the exception of my husband - love pancakes. To his credit, Chris puts up with them without whinging, but when I find a recipe HE likes, then I know it's a winner.

Now, pancakes aside, I was always taught that the best way to cook was to follow a recipe exactly as written the first time, and then monkey with it after that if you like. However, I'm a vegetarian who actually LIKED some of the meat dishes she used to eat (like Chili con carne), and if I want to even try a meat-based recipe, I must vary it some from the beginning, or else not bother. I'm also always looking for ways to improve the nutrient density of a recipe without sacrificing taste, or better yet improve on the taste if I can. So, that means I fiddle with recipes from the get-go pretty commonly.

One of the things I've discovered is that with pancakes, you can pretty much just use the vegetable oil of your choice (though not olive oil, as the flavor is too strong), in place of melted butter. The end result is very slightly healthier, and the taste is pretty much identical. I've also used soy milk instead of regular milk loads of times, but the pancakes don't rise QUITE as well (though still OK). I've also used whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour, and generally that works fine, too - though the cakes are usually a little denser.

Anyway, I stumbled onto a delicious variation of a recipe that I had to share. This time, my changes were caused not by attempts at better health, but by what I happened to have (or not) on hand. I was attempting to make the Four Grain Flapjack recipe in The Joy of Cooking, but I discovered that I didn't have either milk or enough soy milk on hand. What I had was 3 quarts or so (don't ask) of whole milk yogurt.

"Chris, do you think I could use yogurt instead of milk?"
"Yeah, probably. Try it."
"Will it make it sour?"
"I dunno. Try it."

I also, out of habit used 4 tablespoons peanut oil instead of 1/2 stick of melted butter. And, I couldn't substitute whole wheat for the all-purpose flour as I only barely had enough whole wheat to make the recipe as originally written. So all-purpose went in this time. And, I also wanted blueberries in my pancakes. So I added 1.5 cups of them after combining the rest of the ingredients.

And the result was...wow! Delicious, and not sour at all. I had made this recipe once before with my usual substitutions, but it was so much better this time around. The batter was thicker/fluffier than I'm used to - it didn't spread out as much, which means I had to keep turning them to get them to cook all the way through (cooking longer on a lower heat would also work). Anyway, the full recipe looks like this:

Blueberry Yogurt Four-Grain Flapjacks

1 c. whole wheat flour
¾ c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. cornmeal
¼ c. rolled oats
2 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1 ¾ c. plain yogurt (whole milk or low-fat)
4 tbs. vegetable oil (not olive)
¼ c. honey
3 large eggs
1.5 c. frozen or fresh blueberries

Cooking Instructions
  • Heat skillet or griddle over low heat.
  • Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl.
  • Whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients & whisk until just mixed.
  • Stir in blueberries
  • Increase heat to medium & brush skillet with oil. Pour batter, about 1 rounded tablespoon at a time.
  • Flip when set (watching for bubbles didn't work so well with this recipe. Just keep peeking under, and when brown, turn).

Oh, and yes, Chris thought these pancakes were really good. So, a winner!

28 July 2009

My "past lives"

I just created a Facebook account. Cathy and Garrett have them. Lots of friends and acquaintances do. So while Facebook seems vaguely creepy to me, I wanted to know for real -- rather than just having opinions in ignorance.

So, having just opened this account, I've been digging back through my past and looking for people that I've known whom I could befriend. In doing this (as some of you may have seen) I've written notes about gathering friends from my "past lives." An old friend, Tim, asked about that wording. And thinking about it, I decided to catalog them. I'm calling the "lives" blocks here.

My life prior to moving to Missouri (1970-79) is basically one block. The only people I might connect with from this time are family. I'd kind of like to find my two cousins and catch up a bit.

I think the next block is something like 1979-1984. During this time, I lived in Webster Groves, MO. I went to school for one year at Clark and then 3.5 years at Classical Junior Academy in St. Louis and half a year back at Hixson. And I loitered at The Shire and The Dragon's Lair quite a bit. There are people from CJA that I'd like to contact. Tim was the son of my dad's coworker and also a fellow Dragon's Lair orphan. I found him. Shawn, Mark, Steve and Mike are peers from this time also -- we also became acquainted around gaming at The 'Lair and I found all of them on Facebook right away. I suppose Paul deserves some mention here too. I met him in the same way, but I really think of him as being later in my life since we weren't yet BFFs (God, shoot me now).

High School (1985-88) must be the next block. I'm not sure who I'd want to talk to from this time. I was friends with the people from the previous block through this time also and most of the people I knew otherwise from HS were pretty casually acquainted. I bet that's not true for most folks...weird. I guess Josh would count from this block even though I knew him from Shawn, not HS (at first) -- I should look for him. And maybe Dawn. And Melanie.

1989-90 were my lost years. I dropped out of college, had like eight jobs and failed to take my community college load seriously. I think I hung out mostly with Paul and Josh and Inkpen as I drifted away or had falling outs with Shawn and Mike and Steve...and hey, Doug...is he around? Oh and MarkS... I did meet Bill during this time, so that was good.

90-91 were spent in Chicagoland living with Inkpen and Mike and Bill. I found Inkpen on Facebook and Jay -- but she hasn't responded yet to my friend request. No Keith, but I'm not sure of his spelling.

In 91 I moved to Columbia to go to school and stayed there until 99. I guess that's all one block. So that time could include ErikJ, a roommate. And coworkers from the Labs. And theoretically my employees at the labs, later. And my wife. :) And Teresa and Beth and David (who fit into the coworkers category). But also, Edmund and Aaron and James and Charles and Avril and Tim and Tim and ... who am I forgetting? Maybe Cathy's family since I got married during that time. I suppose I should count Garrett in that time though he seems to transcend these blocks in some ways. I guess this was also our first Gathering, so Bruce and maybe others would fit there, or maybe the next block.

My next block is the time lived in New Jersey -- 1999-2004. I worked at BMS -- I'd like to find Mark and Rui, maybe Jim and Bill and John. Who else? And we gamed at The 'Realm. Larry, Diane, Nick, Rob, etc.

And since 2004, we've been in Minnesota. So I have a few coworkers here. And my indie-MN group maybe, though I haven't searched for them yet. I have some online friends from this time too. I have to think about how to process them.

It's interesting, to me at least, that it was totally subconscious to allocate blocks, not only based on where I lived, but on who I was friends with and what I was doing.

25 July 2009

Trip to the North Shore

We just got back from Duluth and points north. Fun was had by all.