I love making big breakfasts once in a while. They can look so pretty, and it’s easy to make things delicious. This weekend's included fresh strawberries (fancied up with mint leaves and Johnny jump-up flowers), orange juice (Warren Henderson’s suggested blend of murcot tangerine and Valencia), crustless quiche with garden chard and snowpeas - and buttermilk pecan pancakes.
I have the reputation for being a good cook, which is really undeserved. I do cook a LOT – often and in huge quantities, which can be impressive. But the taste is all about the ingredients. I like using good stuff - fresh, local things and straight-from-the-garden veggies and herbs. And for baked goods, it’s got to be butter - the Fat of the Gods.
Pancakes are one of my specialties. Even I, who love to go out to breakfast and eat food other people have cooked for me, have never tasted better anywhere. The secret? Real butter and buttermilk - and never, NEVER Bisquick (or any of its sad variations).
Where did the idea of Bisquick come from? According to legend and Wikipedia, it sprang forth in the 1930s when a General Mills sales executive met a dining car chef who pre-mixed the dry ingredients for biscuits with lard – thus eliminating the need for refrigeration. This makes no sense to me since biscuits require milk and pancakes the addition of both milk and eggs. I imagine it was promoted as labor-saving – no need to melt that butter (or lard!) or fetch that salt, sugar, or baking powder. Clearly our forebearers were hoodwinked.
Go to the little extra trouble of mixing the pesky dry ingredients yourself and dealing with the butter for just a minute or two, and the results are so much better.
We usually add things to the pancakes. We cracked some more pecans last week so used those (John’s favorite addition). And soon we’ll have blueberry, everyone’s favorite, and sweet potato (mine).
My pancake recipe from my grandmother’s 1950s red-checked and tattered Better Homes and Gardens "New" Cookbook:
Favorite Griddle Cakes
1 1/4 cups sifted enriched flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter (they also recommend bacon grease...)
Whisk together flour with baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Combine egg, milk, and butter. Add to dry ingredients, whisking till smooth. Bake on buttered griddle. Makes 6-8 cakes (I double this for four or five of us.)